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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was jobs.

Last in Parliament September 2021, as Liberal MP for Mississauga—Malton (Ontario)

Won his last election, in 2019, with 58% of the vote.

Statements in the House

International Aid February 3rd, 2005

Mr. Speaker, Canada has a long history of helping the world's poorest countries. As finance minister the Prime Minister positioned Canada as an international leader on debt relief.

Yesterday the current finance minister opened a new chapter. Could the finance minister tell the House what led the rock star Bono yesterday to say, “This is the sort of Canada the world wants more of”?

Charles Carman Core February 2nd, 2005

Mr. Speaker, I would like to take this opportunity to pay my respects to Charles Carman Core who died last week at the age of 96.

Charles Carman Core was Brampton's 33rd mayor, holding the position from 1959 to 1962. Previously to being mayor, Mr. Core had served on Brampton's town council for 30 years. He was also the youngest member of the council at the age of 28, and over the years he filled many other positions, such as the warden of Peel County.

Although Mr. Core moved to South Carolina in 1966 to be closer to his daughter, his memory will always be remembered in Brampton.

I personally never had the opportunity to meet him, but I have only heard good things about him.

Mr. Core and his memory will never be forgotten and his legacy will live through his three children, 13 grandchildren and 30 great grandchildren.

First Nations, Métis and Inuit War Veterans December 10th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to join my colleagues in debate on this motion. A little earlier my colleague from this side of the House spoke mainly of the history of veteran benefits available to first nation veterans, specifically status of Indians living on the reserves after the war years.

Since this motion speaks to other aboriginal veterans, such as the Métis and the Inuit war veterans, I will speak more directly to their situation. The short story is that Métis and non-status Indian veterans were not affected by the same administrative realities that are applied to first nations veterans who settled on reserves after the wars. Research conducted to date has not substantiated allegations of any differential treatment of Métis and non-status Indian veterans from that of non-aboriginal veterans.

That said, I am fully aware there remains deeply held views by Métis veterans that they too were treated unfairly upon their return from the wars.

In 2000, two separate processes were initiated with the National Métis Veterans Association and the National Aboriginal Veterans Association to represent Métis and non-status Indian veterans respectively, to explore these issues with the federal government. The federal government funded these processes and participated along with Veterans Affairs Canada.

Funding was specifically provided for the National Métis Veterans Association to strengthen the capacity of its organization to “pursue compensation” for Métis veterans.

In order to determine what benefits Métis veterans received after the wars and under the current programs, Veterans Affairs Canada agreed to review veterans' files. The department has precise records of the demobilization benefits paid to Métis veterans and the file review to date reveals that the veterans received the benefits to which they were entitled.

Veterans Affairs Canada informed the National Métis Veterans Association that the file review clearly indicated that Métis veterans received the benefits to which they were entitled. The department extended an offer to further review these findings with the National Métis Veterans Association. Veterans Affairs Canada also encouraged the association to have individual Métis veterans who believe that they did not receive benefits to which they may have been entitled. or who have questions about the current benefits that Veterans Affairs Canada provides. to contact the department.

The Minister of Veterans Affairs has clearly stated that if a Métis veteran did not receive demobilization benefits, the department would of course be prepared to look into that individual case. However the review of the random file indicates that they have received the same benefits and continue to receive the same benefits as all other veterans.

In March 2003, the former minister of veterans affairs met with the then president of the National Métis Veterans Association to listen to concerns and to discuss the findings of the Métis veterans file. At that time, the government committed to develop an outreach program in consultation with the association to facilitate communication and ensure that Métis veterans and their spouses benefit from the full range of Veterans Affairs Canada programs and services for which they are eligible.

In March 2004, the Minister of Veterans Affairs met with the president of the Manitoba Métis Federation and an executive of the Métis National Council to further discuss the concerns of Métis veterans, including the matter of unmarked graves, the post-war treatment of Métis veterans and the development of an outreach strategy.

Subsequently, the department's prairie regional director general met with the Métis National Council representatives to provide information on Veterans Affairs Canada services and benefits and to explain the assessment/application process.

With respect to the third group of aboriginal veterans, the National Aboriginal Veterans Association was given funds to conduct research and compile a list of veterans. Veterans Affairs Canada conducted a random file review of case files to determine what benefits non-status Indian veterans received after the wars. Preliminary results indicated that these veterans also received the same demobilization benefits as other veterans upon their return from the wars.

Veterans Affairs Canada has extended an open offer to the National Aboriginal Veterans Association to review the findings and encourage the National Aboriginal Veterans Association to have any Métis or non-status Indian veterans who have questions about the benefits that Veterans Affairs Canada provides to contact the department.

Where does this leave us? Although significant discrepancies exist between the anecdotal evidence of Métis post-war experiences and those documented in the Veterans Affairs Canada files, Veterans Affairs Canada has offered to work collaboratively with both the National Métis Veterans Association and the National Aboriginal Veterans Association to further investigate their concerns.

In order to address current issues, Veterans Affairs Canada is developing an aboriginal outreach strategy aimed at facilitating communication and ensuring that eligible aboriginal veterans and their spouses are benefiting from the full range of Veterans Affairs Canada programs and services. As a part of the strategy, a senior officer within the department would be the first point of contact for aboriginal veterans, spouses and organizations.

On November 10 the federal interlocutor announced a total of $200,000 in funding for aboriginal veterans to promote their contributions to wartime efforts. The National Aboriginal Veterans Association will receive $100,000 and the National Métis Veterans Association will receive $100,000 as well to carry out projects related to their service in the Canadian forces.

The Government of Canada recognizes the service and sacrifice that aboriginal veterans made during the wars. It has already contributed approximately $500,000 toward the construction and unveiling ceremony of a national aboriginal veterans war monument as a tribute to Canadian aboriginal peoples military contributions. Contributions of $1.15 million were also made to establish the aboriginal veterans scholarship trust.

I know these initiatives, substantive as they are, do not satisfy all the concerns of the aboriginal community. I am in no position to comment on the feelings or the heartfelt experience of these gallant war veterans. As in so many things, when it comes to the application of official programs, government is constrained by the rules of the day, the law and the paper evidence found in 60 year old files. In the case of these veterans, there is no evidence in the files that they did not receive the demobilization benefits that were available to all eligible veterans.

However, I would like to stress that all aboriginal veterans who feel they are not receiving benefits are encouraged to and should contact Veterans Affairs Canada.

Kids for a Cure November 29th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, last week I met with two children from my riding. Both are living with juvenile type 1 diabetes. They were here with approximately 38 other children visiting various MPs to help promote Kids for a Cure--Mission Possible.

The mission of Kids for a Cure was to raise awareness among federal decision makers of the difference between type 1 and type 2 diabetes, share personal experiences and ask the federal government to commit to more research funding for juvenile type 1 diabetes.

Approximately 200,000 Canadians have juvenile type 1 diabetes. Diabetes kills more people than AIDS and breast cancer combined. It is the number one cause of death in Canada.

We all know that Canada was the nation that discovered insulin. Now we have the potential of being the nation that will help discard insulin for life. Cure therapies for juvenile type 1 diabetes are within reach. Let us act now, accept this mission and help find a cure.

Sudan November 24th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, as the House knows, the Prime Minister will be travelling to Khartoum to meet with Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir.

As we all know, over 70,000 people have died and over 1.5 million people have been displaced from their homes in the Darfur region of Sudan. Can we be assured that the Prime Minister will confront the Sudanese president about the continuing human rights violations in Darfur? Especially, will the Prime Minister highlight the Sudanese president's lack of commitment toward stopping the vicious Janjaweed militia?

Department of Human Resources and Skills Development Act November 23rd, 2004

Mr. Speaker, as a student not too long ago, I also share the hon. member's concern. I agree with him that there is a great deal of debt burden on students today. That is why we are presenting this bill. This bill reflects the government's commitment to ensure that we make sound investments in education.

I would like to highlight that we have invested over $4 billion into a whole host of programs that I outlined before which target over 500,000 students. Is it enough? It is never enough. Ultimately, we want to make a sound commitment and ensure that it is a stepping stone in the right direction.

The government has clearly demonstrated its willingness and desire to invest in low income families, and in individuals with disabilities to ensure that they are able to obtain a post-secondary education. We will continue to fight for this. We will continue to make more investments. It is a priority for the government.

I do share the member's concerns but, at the same time, I think the government has clearly indicated a strong mandate to invest in our children.

Department of Human Resources and Skills Development Act November 23rd, 2004

Mr. Speaker, the member clearly demonstrated and highlighted that the success of our nation going forward in the 21st century will be dependent on our ability to ensure that we are able to educate our population. More importantly, we must address and reach out to low income families and people with disabilities that had been disadvantaged in the past or not given the opportunity to reach their full potential.

It is important to recognize here, as the hon. member mentioned, that the government is doing a phenomenal job of making sound investments and ensuring that we encourage people to realize their full potential and make an investment in increasing their ability to obtain a higher education. I want to highlight again some of the key components of post-secondary education programs that have been put in place and will be put in place by the federal government.

The Canada student loans program helps approximately 330,000 students with approximately $106 billion worth of loans annually. The member mentioned the Canada millennium scholarship which is awarded to nearly 90,000 students. This amounts to approximately $285 million. That is a sound investment in our youth. The member also discussed the Canada study grants which are issued to approximately 56,000 students, totalling $75.5 million annually.

Another key component is the Canada education savings grant program which has paid out $2 billion in grants since 1998. These investments, coupled together, amount to billions of dollars of sound investment into promoting education which will help fuel our economy in the 21st century, so we can remain competitive and be the envy of the world.

Department of Human Resources and Skills Development Act November 23rd, 2004

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to speak in support of Bill C-23, an act to create the Department of Human Resource and Skills Development.

I would like to use the bulk of my time today to discuss something that I heard members raise yesterday, which is access to post-secondary education. I believe it is important to put some of these statements in context for all members, as we sometimes do not appreciate the value that Canadians and the federal government place on post-secondary education.

My colleague, the member for Brant, inspired my intervention today. He mentioned yesterday a fact that is very important and bears repeating. Canada is the second biggest investor in the world in post-secondary education as a percentage of gross domestic product.

What is more, according to a new report, entitled “A New Measuring Stick: Is Access to Higher Education in Canada Equitable?”, released on September 27, 2004 by the Educational Policy Institute, Canada has one of the best records in the western world of encouraging people from lower socio-economic backgrounds to attend post-secondary institutions. The 11 country, 10 province study on equitable access to higher education ranks Canada third behind Ireland and the Netherlands, but reserves the highest marks for the provinces of Manitoba and my home province of Ontario.

Canadians 25 to 64 have the highest attainment rate in post-secondary education in the world at 41%. We should also know that earlier this year a TD Bank financial group study found that the return on a university degree was 12% to 20% annually and on a college diploma it was around 15% to 28% annually. Tangibly, this means that over their lifetimes university graduates earn $1 million more on average than those without a post-secondary education.

Whether apprenticeship, college or university, these are investments students, their families and governments make in post-secondary education, and they are sound investments.

During the current academic year of 2004-05, it is estimated that approximately 470,000 full time and part time students will be assisted in accessing learning opportunities through Canada student loans, student grants and interest subsidies. The amount of total financial support is expected to reach nearly $2 billion. Of that amount, more than $1.7 billion will be disbursed as Canada student loans to approximately 365,000 students. Approximately $80 million will be made as non-repayable Canada study grants to over 50,000 of those students and the remaining amount will be disbursed in the form of interest subsidies to approximately 105,000 borrowers in study.

While the government and all Canadians can be proud of these achievements, the Government of Canada and the new Department of Human Resources and Skills Development is determined to do better. The legislation modernizes the mandate of the department to allow the minister to improve the Canada student loans program and ultimately access to post-secondary education in cooperation with the nine participating provinces and the Yukon Territory.

The Government of Canada will invest close to $137 million in 2005-06 to modernize the Canada student loans program. The Government of Canada is committed to ensuring that all Canadians have access to the skills development and learning opportunities needed to realize their potential and participate fully in the 21st century economy.

Fostering a culture of lifelong learning is a key fulfilment of this commitment. Access to a post-secondary education is an important component of Canada's strategy to secure a higher standard of living and a better quality of life for all Canadians. The Government of Canada offers a wide spectrum of programs and services that work together to help ensure that Canadians of all ages can achieve their learning goals.

The Government of Canada recognizes that the learning process starts with the birth of a child and continues into adulthood. The 2004 Speech from the Throne reflected this by proposing the introduction of the new Canada learning bond. The bond builds on the success already achieved by the Canada education savings grant, which has helped many parents to save for their children's education through grants and tax sheltering of earnings. Since its inception, $2 billion in grants have been paid to over two million Canadian children of all ages. The total asset value of registered education savings plan savings by Canadians for their children's education is $13 billion, up from a little over $2 billion in 1997. Currently one in four Canadian children between the ages of zero and 17 benefit from the Canada education savings grant. The Canada learning bond will also play an important role in ensuring that wherever possible any Canadian who wishes to undertake post-secondary education will have that opportunity.

The Government of Canada introduced Canada millennium scholarships in 1998 to help Canadian students acquire a post-secondary education and reduce student debt loans. The Canadian Millennium Scholarship Foundation is the autonomous organization responsible for managing a $2.5 billion endowment from the Government of Canada and providing scholarships to students across the country. Over 90,000 students have received Canada millennium scholarships, awarded through the Canada Millennium Scholarship Foundation, totalling $285 million annually. Recently, in a member's statement, I had the good fortune of recognizing individuals in my riding who received this scholarship.

While the government makes significant investments in post-secondary education through these and other programs, it is working to do more to ensure that every Canadian can fully participate in the workforce and society. The 2004 budget outlined new initiatives aimed at opening up the range of people able to acquire post-secondary education and student financial assistance, including introducing a new grant worth up to $3,000 for first year students from low income families to cover a portion of their tuition, also introducing a new upfront grant of up to $2,000 a year for students with permanent disabilities.

Above and beyond that, some of the other initiatives include increasing weekly loan limits of up to $210 per week, including computers as eligible expenses, extending loan eligibility to more middle income families by reducing the amount parents are expected to contribute and increasing income thresholds used to determine eligibility for interest relief and increasing the maximum debt reduction and repayment.

The budget of 2004 package of improvements is the result of a productive, collaborative dialogue with our provincial and territorial partners and stakeholders. In addition, each year the government youth employment strategy helps approximately 50,000 students between the ages of 15 and 30 by providing financial support to help them to return to their studies. To ease the transition to a post-secondary education for adult learners with registered retirement savings plans, the lifelong learning plan allow them to allow amounts from their RRSPs to finance training or education for themselves, their spouse or their common law partner.

Learners may withdraw up to $10,000 a year from their RRSP to finance full time training or education. Through the personal income tax system, the Government of Canada provides tax credits for post-secondary education tuition, educational expenses and interest paid on student loans. Courses taken to finish high school, improve literacy skills or upgrade secondary school credentials with the goal of preparing adults for specific occupations in fields of higher learning may also qualify for tax assistance.

In summary, the government and Canadians are doing the right thing when it comes to investing in post-secondary education. Again, Canada is the second biggest investor in the world, as a percentage of GDP, in post-secondary education. This is all the more important when we consider that research suggests that investment in education and skills training may rank as the most important factor for achieving economic growth over a long run via increased productivity.

When we look back at the years between 1996 and 2003, we note that the increased standard of living was largely driven by increased favour productivity.

The legislation is geared at creating the Department of Human Resources and Skills Development that is a machinery of the government bill, an important bill to ensure the minister and the department have the legal powers and tools needed to fulfill the minister's mandate. It is also a reminder of the range of federal programs that support post-secondary education and the tangible investments that Canadians value.

Justice November 16th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, as the minister knows, this is Restorative Justice Week in Canada. It is a time when interested groups come together to discuss new ways to resolve disputes and new ways to view Criminal Code acts.

Can the minister tell us what the Liberal government has done and is doing to promote the use of restorative justice in our justice system?

Visually Impaired November 2nd, 2004

Mr. Speaker, three million people or 10% of the population cannot access regular print due to a disability and therefore require alternative formats. Only 3% of what is available in print is actually available in audio, electronic text or large print.

Microsoft, in my riding of Mississauga--Brampton South, and the Canadian National Institute for the Blind are working together to change this. They have been recognized for developing the CNIB digital library benefiting more than three million print disabled Canadians. The library provides access to tens of thousands of new books, over 40 newspapers and hundreds of magazines.

On behalf of all print disabled Canadians, I would like to take this opportunity to thank Microsoft and CNIB for their efforts and congratulate them on being presented with the award from the Canadian Centre for Philanthropy for the second consecutive year. Congratulations on a job well done.