House of Commons photo


Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was tax.

Last in Parliament March 2011, as Liberal MP for Mississauga South (Ontario)

Lost his last election, in 2011, with 37% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Business of Supply March 10th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, the thrust of the debate in the House for some time now has been an assessment of the integrity, the honesty, the openness, the transparency and the accountability of the government.

I wonder if the member would care to comment on the reaction of the Conservatives to the Speaker's ruling where they seem to suggest that they will see what they can give us and maybe come up with some other reasons as to why they should not disclose the information that has been requested by the finance committee. It would appear that they are still fighting a Speaker's ruling on the rights and privileges of Parliament.

The Conservative government, obviously, is not a government that is here to govern in the best interests of the public.

Privilege March 9th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, if you check, you will see that under Standing Order 108 the mandate of the procedure and House affairs committee is in fact clear that this particular matter is specifically the mandate of procedure and House affairs and that to suggest it go to any other body outside of Parliament would be inappropriate. I therefore suggest that the amendment is out of order.

Business of Supply March 8th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, that is exactly what the court found and that is exactly what Elections Canada reported.

When we think about it, this is not just about the in and out; it is about the character of the government and the fact that it does not respect Parliament, democracy or the law.

We have had so many other things. We have the KAIROS issue and a minister lying to Parliament. We have another minister using his office for political fundraising. We had a public works minister using his office to interfere with legitimate access to information requests.

It is basically “do as I say or you're gone”, and that is the meanness in the Conservative Party.

Business of Supply March 8th, 2011

The Super Bowl, the Olympics and the Oscars, Mr. Speaker. Imagine how much it costs to run attack ads and slurs against another parliamentarian? Who paid for that? The taxpayers because the Conservative Party and the other political parties do not have their own money. They collect it from taxpayers who get electoral receipts.

No slur created a job, and the parliamentary secretary is absolutely right.

Business of Supply March 8th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, he is reading the wrong document. The Federal Court of Appeal found the Conservatives guilty of electoral fraud.

I have a list of 14 senior civil servants who were pushed out of government because they disagreed with the Conservatives. I wish I could read them in.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons gave a speech and he said, “A slur never created a job”. Let us talk about slurs. Let us talk about advertising that appeared on the Olympics, on the Oscars and on the Super Bowl.

Business of Supply March 8th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, this is a defined and un-cooperative government. It prorogues when it gets into hot water. It refuses to respect the rights and privileges of parliamentarians to call for persons, papers or records, Afghan detainee documents, finance committee requests for information. Conservatives are not open, or transparent, or accountable. They are prone to secrecy and they cannot be trusted to tell the truth. They have contempt for Parliament, democracy and the law.

Business of Supply March 8th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to participate in this debate. This is all about the Conservative Party's abuse of power and its belief that it is above the rules and above the law. That is a very serious statement to make, so I want to see if I can explain to the House and to Canadians why.

Four members of the Prime Minister's inner circle, including two Conservative senators, his former campaign director and the chief financial officer, face potential jail time after being charged with what amounts to electoral fraud as part of a $1.2 million scam to exceed national campaign spending limits in the 2006 election. As well, we found out today that the Prime Minister's current chief of staff, Mr. Nigel Wright, has also been associated with this scam. I listened to the debate all day today. The Conservatives have come back with one defence, and that is that everyone does it. That is patently false.

The motion before us encourages the Prime Minister to order the immediate repayment of any and all illegally obtained electoral rebates that were paid out to candidates of the Conservative Party of Canada as a result of this electoral fraud.

With regard to persons who have been charged, the motion urges the removal of all individuals, the two senators in particular who are facing charges for this fraud, from any position of responsibility within the government or the Conservative Party of Canada.

Let me see if I can explain in basic terms what in and out really means. If we really want to confuse people it is pretty easy with this one because parts can be left out. I will try to explain.

There was a transfer of $1.2 million to a large number of Conservative candidates in the 2006 election. That is legal because it is political money that is going to support the different aspects of a campaign. There is no problem with that. Then there was an immediate transfer of the same amount of money, $1.2 million, from those candidates back to the party. There is nothing wrong with that because there are no consequences. No receipting is involved. That money has already been receipted. It is simply within the political party system. No expenses are associated with that. It is basically a wash.

The transfer of the cash in and out has no consequences whatsoever and should not be considered in this debate. What should be considered is that the Conservative Party spent the legal limit of $18.3 million on its national advertising campaign. However, the party had more money and it had to figure out a way to get more of the cash spent during the campaign without getting charged with exceeding the limit for advertising.

The Conservatives came up with the idea that if their national advertiser, Retail Media, made the national ads it could provide an invoice. The Conservatives spent $1.2 million on it. If they had stopped right there they would have exceeded their limit. To get around that, the Conservatives made their own invoices and broke the $1.2 million down into smaller invoices and sent them to Conservative candidates. The overspending of $1.2 million was distributed among various candidates as if they had bought advertising. Although the cash had no impact on anything, the fact that they were able to transfer this expenditure among all of those candidates allowed those candidates to claim the invoice as an election expense.

Because advertising expenses are a legitimate election expense, they were then allowed to claim an election expense as a rebate, which is equal to 60% of the amount spent. Of the $1.2 million of invoices they gave to all the candidates, those candidates collectively charged election expenses of $1.2 million and received a rebate of $800,000.

Where did that 60% come from? It came from the taxpayers of Canada. They footed the bill for $800,000 just because the Conservatives figured out a scheme on how they could ratchet down the access cash they had into ridings and falsely claim them as election expenses.

It went to the courts. The government has said that this is an administrative dispute. The Federal Court of Appeal has looked at everything and, by unanimous decision, has said this constitutes electoral fraud. Four people have been charged. People are facing jail time. Moneys will have to be recovered. It is really a mess. Yet the government continues to be defiant and says that it will fight it in the courts.

The government will not pay for this. The Conservative Party will pay for the court case. However, as I said before, the Conservative Party gets its money from donations from taxpayers. That means this charade of playing it off in the courts will be paid for by the taxpayers of Canada. It is outrageous that Conservatives want to continue this all these years later. That is my breakdown.

If they are absolutely convinced that this is just an administrative disagreement, why did they filibuster the procedure and House affairs committee for six months? The committee tried to examine it and the Conservatives filibustered.

Then it was brought to the ethics committee and it was filibustered there again, but the committee finally got it on the floor. Then there were witnesses. What happened? The Conservative candidates and their official agents told those witnesses not to appear. Then the committee issued subpoenas? What did the Conservative Party do? It told the witnesses who were subpoenaed to ignore the subpoenas, to ignore the law. Then the Conservatives called an election to shut it down.

That brings us up to the 2008 election.

When the House resumed, what did the Conservatives do? It was not the Federal Accountability Act, I can assure everyone of that. The first thing they did was to produce a 200-page binder on how to disrupt committees and the House to make them look totally dysfunctional.

I am not sure of the rationale, but I think it is something like this. If the Conservatives make this entire place look dysfunctional, then everyone is treated the same, everyone is the same down at the bottom rung and nobody wins. They are happy with that because they believe they can beat other parties at the polls simply by the money they have to buy votes. That is my view.

As I have only one minute left, I would seek the unanimous consent of the House for an extra three minutes.

Business of Supply March 8th, 2011

Madam Speaker, the member was an excellent member of the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics which dealt with this issue. She may recall that the government filibustered the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs when it tried to deal with this. It filibustered our committee and witnesses were told not to appear and to disregard the subpoenas. Conservatives had a binder with instructions on how to make Parliament and committees dysfunctional. The government gets rid of senior public officials who do not agree with it. It prorogues the House when it gets into hot water.

The pattern of behaviour shows that the government cannot be trusted. Conservatives have contempt for Parliament, contempt for democracy and contempt for the law.

Does the member have anything to add to that list?

Business of Supply March 8th, 2011

Madam Speaker, I want to break down the transaction to see whether the hon. member concurs. This is quite simple. It says that the Conservative Party transferred $1.2 million to 67 candidates. It was then immediately transferred back to the party. That alone has no impact on any expenses or any rebates. It is just a transfer of cash.

However, the Conservative Party had overspent its national media by $1.2 million so it made up phoney invoices for riding associations and passed those invoices down to these ridings. The ridings then claimed the election rebate on the $1.2 million of phoney invoices and got $800,000 from the taxpayers of Canada.

What we have is the national government overspending its national campaign by $1.2 million and candidates getting $800,000 that they were not entitled to.

Business of Supply March 8th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, the issue is there seems to be a pattern of abuse of power and somehow a belief that the Conservative Party is above the laws of Canada. A simple example is when witnesses were asked to come before committee and the government actually told them to ignore the subpoenas. It is a right and a privilege of parliamentary committees to call for witnesses, to subpoena them. The government decided to put itself above the law and told them to ignore the law.

I wonder if the member has any comment on that.