House of Commons photo

Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was french.

Last in Parliament September 2021, as Liberal MP for Sudbury (Ontario)

Won his last election, in 2019, with 41% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Criminal Code October 27th, 2020

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for Drummond for this important question.

Some groups clearly oppose this bill. On the other hand, it is important that we keep the dialogue going with these groups.

The evidence provided to the House and the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights shows the destructive impact these therapies can have on young people.

We have a long way to go with those who do not understand that impact. However, that does not mean we should step back. Rather, it is very important that we move forward and educate. We cannot just sit back and wait for this bill to pass. We need to engage with all stakeholder groups across the country and keep the conversation going.

Criminal Code October 27th, 2020

Mr. Speaker, similar to Timmins Pride, we have Sudbury Pride, Fierté Sudbury. I participate each year. I am always there with them and I bring my whole family to celebrate who they are and who we are.

As a country, we have a lot of work to get done. Bills like this are indicative of the direction the country is going in: to be more inclusive and to be the most welcoming country in the world. It is important to have these events in small towns like Timmins and Sudbury, and across the country.

Yesterday, I heard my colleague from Spadina—Fort York talk about the Toronto Pride parade, and how transformative it is for people to participate. It is such an honour to participate and support the people organizing such activities.

Criminal Code October 27th, 2020

Mr. Speaker, that is a question the member can ask at the justice committee through her members. I am not sure if she sits on the justice committee.

I have heard the debate over the past few days, and it is such an important debate. From the official opposition, we are hearing that the definition is too ambiguous and it should be clarified. Certainly, those suggestions for amendments can be brought to the justice committee. It is a matter of Parliament, so they have that ability.

I also want to reiterate the clause in the definitions section where there is a sentence that says:

For greater certainty, this definition does not include a practice, treatment or service that relates (a) to a person's gender transition; or (b) to a person's exploration of their identity or to its development.

That is very important.

Criminal Code October 27th, 2020

Mr. Speaker, I am happy to rise today to discuss our government's progress on our campaign promise to protect Canadians from conversion therapy.

The Minister of Justice and the Minister of Diversity and Inclusion and Youth have introduced Bill C-6, an act to amend the Criminal Code related to conversion therapy. It is an important piece of legislation, which would ban the shameful practice of so-called conversion therapy in Canada.

In the summer of 2015, the Ontario government passed Bill 77, effectively banning conversion therapy for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender children, and preventing medical practitioners from billing for it. One year later, I met in my office with Rita O'Link, a proud and prominent transgender advocate in my riding of Sudbury, who had led the charge for those changes in Ontario. Rita wondered why the federal government could not do for Canadians what Ontario had done for Ontarians and maybe expand upon it so that all Canadians could enjoy the same protections that Ontarians do.

Since then, I have worked with Rita and others at TG Innerselves in Sudbury to advocate for the rights of the LGBTQ2 community to make clear that, when we say that Canadians deserve to live their lives freely, that means freedom from judgment and persecution. Rita fought tirelessly for free expression for all Canadians and made clear that conversion therapy is a devastating practice that is extremely harmful to those individuals who are subject to it. It is an honour to reference Rita in my remarks today.

Contrary to what some might say, there is no right or wrong when it comes to who one loves or who one is. Conversion therapy has been discredited and denounced by professional and health associations in Canada, the United States and around the world.

Conversion therapy has no scientific basis in health care, and people subject to this practice will experience its devastating effects forever.

Research shows that young people are at higher risk for depression and suicide as a result of efforts to alter their sexual orientation or gender identity. Conversion therapy is based on a lie that being gay, lesbian, bisexual or trans is wrong and that we need to fix it. Not only is this wrong, but it sends a degrading message that undermines the dignity of people of the LGBTQ2 community. Minors, in particular, are adversely affected, and the repercussions of this often continue into adulthood.

In 2020, many believe that this practice is a relic of the past and something that could no longer happen in our communities.

Unfortunately, that is not the case.

Even today, there are groups operating across the country, providing services in an effort to correct or fix those they deem out of step with their own narrow views of how one should be or how one should act. The community-based sex now survey, conducted in 2019-20, indicates that as many as 20% of respondents had been exposed to this vile practice, so we know that this harmful practice is currently happening in Canada.

Our government has introduced this legislation to ensure that no one will have to endure this heinous practice.

I am proud of what the Minister of Justice, the Minister of Diversity and Inclusion and Youth and our entire government are doing to put an end to conversion therapy in Canada.

Our government has introduced the bill, which proposes creating five new Criminal Code offences targeting conversion therapy. These proposed offences would prohibit, first, causing a minor to undergo conversion therapy; second, removing a minor from Canada to undergo conversion therapy abroad; third, causing a person to undergo conversion therapy against their will; fourth, profiting from providing conversion therapy; and fifth, advertising the provision of conversion therapy. It will also define conversion therapy as “a practice, treatment or service designed to change a person’s sexual orientation to heterosexual or gender identity to cisgender, or to repress or reduce non-heterosexual attraction or sexual behaviour.”

If passed, the bill would make Canada's laws on conversion therapy the most progressive and comprehensive in the world, something I think we could all be proud of.

It is important to be very clear, however.

There is a difference between asking someone who they are and discussing it, and telling someone that who they are is wrong and in need of fixing. I can reassure the official opposition and Canadians that supportive teachers, school counsellors, pastoral counsellors, faith leaders, doctors, mental health professionals, friends and family members need not fear engaging in important discussions about someone's identity, discussions that are often critical to personal development. That is actually mentioned, exactly, in the bill as it is written.

What is being targeted here are those who are actively working and providing services designed to change someone's identity based on preconceived notions of how someone ought to be or ought to behave. Criminal law is an important tool to target behaviour that is reprehensible and harmful to others. It creates consequences for those who would continue this work in spite of the clear data that shows how devastating the practice truly is.

This bill is a step forward in eliminating conversion therapy in Canada, and it strikes a balance between progressive policy and constitutional considerations.

I want to emphasize that this is about people. It is about ensuring that every individual can be who they truly are. This is another step toward building the truly inclusive Canada we all talk about. It is clear the legislation is needed, because it is clear not all Canadians can be who they are because of practices like this. That is why it is so important it be banned federally, alongside provincial and municipal bans. Several provinces, such as Ontario, Nova Scotia, Manitoba and Prince Edward Island, have already banned health professionals from offering conversion therapy to minors, and Yukon also has such an act.

The Government of Quebec also introduced a similar bill last week.

A growing number of municipalities in Alberta and across the country have also taken steps to end conversion therapy. I congratulate them on their leadership and I thank them for their efforts.

We will continue to work closely with affected provinces, territories, municipalities and communities so that we can learn from each other and come together to eliminate this harmful practice across our jurisdictions. I hope all my colleagues can look to a national consensus that this abhorrent practice needs to be prohibited and support this legislation.

We will continue working with each other and all members to ensure their voices are heard and our government continues to respond. Canada is a country where everyone, regardless of their gender expression, gender identity or sexual orientation, can live in equality and freedom. That is the kind of Canada we should want to leave for all of our children and grandchildren, the most welcoming country in the world.

A country for everyone.

That is the kind of Canada that four years ago Rita O'Link came to ask me to help her fight for in Ottawa. I am proud to stand today, here in the House of Commons, on behalf of Rita, the courageous Sudburians at TG Innerselves and the thousands of Canadians from coast to coast who work tirelessly to protect the rights of all Canadians.

Mental Health Awareness Month October 26th, 2020

Mr. Speaker, COVID-19 has impacted the lives of Sudburians and all Canadians in many ways, including their mental health.

October is Mental Health Awareness Month. As Canadians, we must take care of our mental health just as we take care of our physical health. The three pillars of mental health are sleep, nutrition and exercise. We must eat healthy food at regular times, incorporate regular physical activity into our day and make sleep a priority. As all northern Ontarians know, getting outside for fresh air improves both physical and psychological well-being.

Small changes can play a big part in reducing stress, building confidence and increasing energy. Instead of focusing on what they cannot control, people should focus on what they can control.

If help is needed, one can look up for mental health services and supports nearby. There is no health without mental health.

Natural Resources October 23rd, 2020

Mr. Speaker, we have been working with the sector since day one. I want to congratulate the Minister of Natural Resources for his hard work in his province of Newfoundland and Labrador and the funding of $320 million to support that sector and the struggles it is going through.

Obviously the member forgets the support for TMX. Right now, there are 5,600 jobs in Alberta and B.C. As well, we have just approved NGTL, which will be thousands of jobs in that area. We have approved Line 3. We support Keystone. We have actually funded $1.7 billion for orphaned gas wells.

We have been there for the people in the resource sector and we will continue to be there to support that sector.

Regional Economic Development October 23rd, 2020

Mr. Speaker, as the member knows, there are right now 5,600 workers building the TMX pipeline. This is because of the time we took to do the hard work necessary to meaningfully consult with indigenous partners. Now there will be thousands of more workers going to work because we approved NGTL 2021.

The House knows very well that skipping steps and rushing through projects do not get them done. Taking the time to do the hard work to meet our duty to consult does get them done. We work with partners. We want to be sure that good projects are able to move forward and will create good jobs for the people of Alberta and western Canada.

Natural Resources October 9th, 2020

Madam Speaker, in the face of COVID-19 and at the request of several indigenous communities, our government extended the deadline for a decision on the NOVA Gas pipeline project in order to safely and meaningfully consult and address outstanding concerns as appropriate.

As the House knows very, very well, good projects only get done when we take the time and do the hard work to meet our constitutional duty to meaningfully consult with potentially impacted indigenous communities. We have learned that, and we are going to make sure that projects get built where there is meaningful consultations with—

Forestry Industry October 9th, 2020

On the contrary, Madam Speaker, we are working with the Province of Quebec on forestry issues. I had the opportunity to go to Quebec to announce measures in support of the forestry industry and the good jobs it creates all the way from Chibougamau to Témiscamingue.

I am very happy to continue working with the sector and the Government of Quebec to support workers and this industry, which is extremely important to Quebec and Canada.

Forestry Industry October 9th, 2020

Madam Speaker, I am very pleased to answer my colleague's question.

We are very concerned about this situation and we are having ongoing discussions with the Government of Quebec to see how we can support Quebec's forestry industry and the workers in Quebec. The spruce budworm is certainly a very important challenge, but we must continue to innovate and support the forestry sector in Quebec and across Canada.