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

Pharmacy Awareness Week November 2nd, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I would like to bring to the attention of all Canadians that November 1 to 7 is Pharmacy Awareness Week.

The theme of the week is: "Talk to me, your pharmacist, your friend". The purpose of the week is to encourage communication between pharmacists and their patients. This week recognizes the important role that pharmacists play in health care, and in particular medication use.

During Pharmacy Awareness Week pharmacists across the country will be demonstrating their commitment to close the information gap on the safe use of medications.

I recognize today the work of pharmacists in the field of health. I encourage them to continue their work in ensuring that medications improve the health of all Canadians.

Petitions October 26th, 1994

The second petition, Mr. Speaker, has to do with the family and specifically with initiatives to compensate or to recognize the value of work in the home.

The petitioners are from northern Ontario and ask Parliament not to forget the family, particularly spouses who work in the home and care for preschool children.

Petitions October 26th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I would like to present two petitions.

The first petition is in relation to sexual orientation. The petitioners from my riding and surrounding areas pray that Parliament not amend the human rights code, the Canadian Human Rights Act or the Charter of Rights and Freedoms in any way which would tend to indicate societal approval of same sex relationships or of homosexuality, including amending the human rights code to include in the prohibited grounds of discrimination the undefined phrase sexual orientation.

Social Security Programs October 20th, 1994

Madam Speaker, I listened attentively to the member's speech. It is obvious that he has looked carefully at the legislation and is speaking well on behalf of his constituents.

I did want to raise a couple of points, however. I would like to hear the member's comments because I get the sense that there was an indictment that the government was somehow going after seniors. This is an unwholesome way to put the issue.

As we all know, the finance minister's last budget included a clawback in the old age exemption for seniors. That meant that once seniors had an income over the $25,000 level it started to be reduced until they reached just over $49,000.

To help explain the situation or understand the equity of the situation the member could have indicated that the clawback mechanism that is applied to the old age exemption is exactly the same clawback mechanism that is applied to the child tax benefit. That is the tax benefit that replaced the family allowance system we had for many years. That means people with children who made over $25,000 all of a sudden started losing that child tax benefit as well. That happened in the prior year.

What is worse for families with children is that last year they also lost the exemption for their children on the income tax return. As a father of three, I know how much that cost me as well.

One thing we have to ask ourselves is that if there is a cut in the old age exemption, is that simply an issue to do with seniors? I think not. When there are changes to the benefits levels that Canada can extend to its citizens, it is not just the people who enjoy them today, it is also the people who were hoping to enjoy them tomorrow. That means that I will never get an old age exemption. I have already lost a child tax benefit that most people ahead of me had taken advantage of.

All of a sudden we have to consider that any changes in the tax structure or in the deductions of the tax credits do not simply affect those who are presently benefiting from those benefits but also those who are to come later.

Last night the finance committee had a round table for some six hours with economists from right across the country. If members want to hear some draconian measures they should listen to some of these economists who, the member might be interested to know, were saying across the board cuts of 5 per cent or 7 per cent on everything, all programs.

Those kinds of things I do not think we will see this government embrace. There are certainly major changes that have to be made but they have to be done in a way to make absolutely sure-I know the member agrees and I know the government is

of this view-that those in most need are always taken care of in Canada, the best country in the world.

I would be interested in the member's comments.

Social Security Programs October 20th, 1994

Madam Speaker, I have to start by asking the Chair whether or not any thought was ever given to installing a large gong in the House that members could approach and hit.

I am absolutely astounded at some of the comments. It is irresponsible of the member to create fearmongering about all the different things he talked about. I cannot deal with all of them in the brief time I have, but I would like to address the RRSP question, for instance.

The member will know that the federal government had commissioned a major report. It was reported in today's Ottawa Citizen that the study the finance minister had commissioned would not be ready before the next budget. The article fairly reflected the fact that there will not be the information available for the minister to consider any major changes to RRSPs and pensions. There may however be some minor changes that may for instance lower the maximum limit one can contribute to an RRSP.

The member is somehow suggesting that every time a question is asked, will the minister do this, he has to say yes or no. That is totally denying the process of discussion with the Canadian public which has just commenced.

Last evening a roundtable of 20 groups representing economic organizations and groups from right across the country came before the finance committee to advise on the process and ways in which the government could address the deficit and the debt. That is consultation which the hon. member is denying. He wants answers and decisions right away before the consultation has even taken place. He discounts the value of communicating and consulting with the Canadian public.

Finally I would simply like to say with regard to MP pensions that I do not think the member is ever going to find any disagreement in this House with the need to reform MP pensions. That is coming. Indeed the Prime Minister said in this House that MP pension reform will be coming.

The government ran on the platform in the red book that included the elimination of double dipping and the delay in pension receipts until retirement age. With regard to those facts, just those two of the many things I could have mentioned, I certainly for one would have opted to take the hammer and hit the gong.

Immigration October 19th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I would like to bring to the attention of the House a glaring difference between reality and practice in the immigration sponsorship program.

Ideally under the terms of the program, someone who agrees to sponsor a family member also agrees to provide assistance, if necessary, for a 10-year period following their arrival. In reality, this agreement is of little worth as 62 per cent of all sponsored immigrants apply for social assistance within two years of their arrival in Canada. While undoubtedly some defaults are justifiable, in most cases sponsors simply do not live up to their agreements because they are not enforceable.

The credibility of the immigration sponsorship program must be restored. The creation of a mechanism which would be enforceable would give sponsored immigrants the security they need while at the same time protecting the Canadian taxpayer.

Corrections And Conditional Release Act October 7th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise on debate at second reading of Bill C-240, an act to amend the Corrections and Conditional Release Act and the Criminal Code.

Sexual offending is an issue of great public concern. The Coroner of Ontario has used a series of inquests to focus public attention on heinous acts committed by individuals. The reaction generated by such cases often implies that there are no current provisions for dealing with such persons or that the mechanisms available are entirely inadequate.

The Criminal Code of Canada currently has extensive provisions regarding dangerous offenders. These provisions have evolved significantly over the years. In 1948 criminal sexual psychopath legislation was introduced, which permitted the court to determine that person was a criminal sexual psychopath if he had been convicted of an offence such as rape, carnal knowledge, indecent assault, buggery, bestiality or gross indecency, or an attempt at any of those offences.

If the court found the offender to be a criminal sexual psychopath it could impose a specific term of imprisonment for the substantive offence and an indeterminate period of preventive detention to begin after the initial sentence had been served.

The concept of criminal sexual psychopath was modified subsequently to specify habitual criminals and dangerous sexual offenders. There was particular concern to distinguish between dangerous sexual offenders and petty offenders. The Criminal Code was amended in 1969 and the concept of a fixed term sentence was removed from the dangerous sexual offender legislation, leaving only the indeterminate sentence. The Ouimet committee considered dangerous sexual offenders and recommended creating a new category entitled simply dangerous offender.

Dangerous offender legislation was enacted in 1977 to replace former provisions for habitual offenders and dangerous sexual offenders. The current law is described in the Criminal Code in part 24. In that part the definition of serious personal injury offence is given in section 752 and the practical definition of the nature of behaviours covered is given in section 753.

This section is applicable to offenders who constitute a threat to the life, safety, or physical or mental well-being of other persons. This threat can be established on four different bases. The first is that the offender has demonstrated a pattern of repetitive behaviour showing a failure to restrain his behaviour and a likelihood of his causing death or injury to other persons, or inflicting severe psychological damage through failure to restrain his behaviour.

The second is a pattern of persistent, aggressive behaviour showing substantial indifference on the part of the offender for the consequences of his behaviour.

The third is any behaviour by the offender that is of such a brutal nature as to compel the conclusion that his behaviour in the future is unlikely to be inhibited by normal standards of behavioural restraint.

The final category relates to any conduct by the offender in a sexual matter where the offender has shown failure to control his sexual impulses, and a likelihood of causing injury, pain or other evil to persons through a failure to control his sexual impulses.

If the court finds an offender to be a dangerous offender it may impose an indeterminate sentence on the offender instead of any other sentence that might have been appropriate.

I raise the history of the development of this section and the definitions in it to bring to the attention of the House that various governments over an extensive period of time have been involved in wrestling with the problem of dangerous offenders. The current provisions have been tested at the Supreme Court of Canada and have been found to meet appropriate legal standards.

The possibility of changes to the current provisions has been the subject of consultations with the provinces who administer the provisions and the result is that there is general satisfaction with the current state of the law among those required to apply it.

The issue of the potential danger of charter invalidation, which has been raised in respect to the content of Bill C-240, has been addressed by other speakers and I will not repeat those points at this time.

The important issue which has to be addressed here is whether it is good policy to consider amendments such as those proposed in Bill C-240 which carry a significant risk of invalidation, when we already have comprehensive and effective measures to deal with the criminal aspect of dealing with dangerous offenders. Federal, provincial and territorial ministers responsible for justice have recognized that there are other important areas that need to be considered. There are jurisdictional difficulties which need to be addressed through greater and more effective collaboration between jurisdictions. Federal, provincial and territorial ministers responsible for justice will be meeting with their health counterparts to address these concerns.

The identification and effective prosecution of individuals using the dangerous offender provisions is also a matter which has been recognized. A process to track high risk violent offenders and make information about these high risk individuals available to crown attorneys for subsequent prosecution is another important undertaking for dealing with these offenders.

In closing, it is important to reiterate that the current state of our law and practice is the result of a long evolution. It seems clear that the informed opinion among criminal justice professionals who administer provisions respecting dangerous offenders is that the Criminal Code is an effective vehicle for dealing with dangerous offenders.

The proposals in Bill C-240 present a significant risk of invalidation to a system that has evolved over a long period of time. We are much better served over both the short and the long term by improvements in inter-jurisdictional collaboration, and by administrative and procedural improvements than we are by proposals carrying excessive legal risks.

Social Security Programs October 7th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, throughout this debate there is going to be a lot of smoke and mirrors based on the partisanship in the House. Unfortunately, Canadians from time to time are going to wonder if what members are saying is clear to all concerned.

The Minister of Human Resources Development tabled a discussion paper. Yet time after time when I hear opposition members address the discussion paper, they criticize it as if it were a piece of legislation. As the member has just said, they ask: "Where's the beef?" Well, if it were a piece of legislation it would have each and every single step and program the government was proposing to address the problems, but this is not a piece of legislation. This is a discussion paper for all Canadians.

The government has said very clearly that we can no longer simply tinker with social programs. It is necessary for us to make some major changes in the way and the kinds of programs we deliver to Canadians. That is why we have this discussion paper. That is why Canadians are being given the opportunity through their members of Parliament to express their views to make absolutely sure that all hon. members understand the needs, the desires and what we can afford to deliver to all Canadians.

Social Security Programs October 7th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to participate in debate on the discussion paper tabled by the Minister of Human Resources Development entitled "Improving Social Security in Canada".

Over the course of this debate, a few basic themes keep returning over and over. One of the most important is that any government program reflects the realities of the time in which it was created. That is certainly true of the status quo of social programs.

They were designed at a time when most people needed relatively few skills to get and keep work. What they picked up in school and on the job was usually enough to build a lifetime of earnings. People needed financial help between jobs. Others needed support if they could work at all, due to disability or family commitments.

The old system was based on a stable world with stable skills and stable jobs for the vast majority of working people. Is there a person who believes that holds true now? Too many people have learned the hard way that the programs and services we have are designed more to keep people where they are than to help them to get where they could be.

We have a system that gives people barely enough money to live but not enough opportunity to thrive, a system that at times rewards those who can manipulate the rules better than those who simply want to make something of themselves.

People see that. People know there is an activity that fits the letter of the law while offending the spirit. For example, I have a letter from a man in Ontario who points out how larger employers use the UI system to encourage workers to take early retirement. It may not be literally against the rules but it is hardly consistent with UI as a source of income for people who are genuinely between jobs.

Another person wrote about watching an economy develop in a small B.C. town around the unemployment insurance. He sees young people learning from their parents that it is all right to leave school relatively unskilled, work for only enough weeks to qualify for benefits and then collect UI benefits for the rest of the year.

Is there a member who has not heard these concerns? What do we say to people who raise these issues? It happens too often to say simply: "It is just an isolated case". It shows us that the status quo no longer works well enough and is in real danger of losing the support of Canadians. It goes a long way to show why

78 per cent of Canadians believe our social programs are essential but 85 per cent believe they must be reformed.

The polls say it. Our mail says it. Canadians are not satisfied with the status quo. They know that a more effective and a more cost effective social safety net is not just possible, it is necessary.

The value of the discussion paper on social security reform is that it lays out facts, ideas and real choices. It is helping Canadians to translate their feelings and experiences into useful advice to their government about social programs.

Canadians want to work. They want their fellow citizens to work. But between those goals and the reality of creating jobs and getting people into them lie a series of challenges. Some lack basic information on the labour market. Others are illiterate. Some have jobs but get little training to improve their skills. Other people face the issue of the lack of high quality, affordable child care. People with disabilities can list the barriers they face each and every day. The challenge is to set priorities based on needs and the probability of results given the real fiscal constraints that exist.

One of the central ideas in the section of the discussion paper on working is the value of community involvement. In setting priorities the federal government fully recognizes there can never be enough money to meet every possible need. That is why the discussion paper suggests that some mechanism which allowed communities to set priorities and to act on them would be appropriate.

What might our unemployment programs look like in the wake of real reform to social security? To begin with we might see communities with a centre of social program delivery. Some mechanism that allowed people to come together to determine local labour market needs and priorities would be a start. Using the best and most up to date information on what works in training, they might invest in a mix of employer based training and wage subsidies for the long term unemployed and for young people, and other forms of training from many different sources.

A partnership between governments in that community might lead to the creation of one location for all unemployment and income support services. Picture a person looking for income support who could be referred for counselling and assistance in developing good job search skills. Picture the sole support mother getting help with child care, housing and literacy training in the same place.

The agreement between the federal government and the province of Ontario to set up local labour force development boards offers a sign of things to come. These governments have agreed to work together with communities across the province.

Local boards with people from unions, businesses, education and many other segments of society will have the ability to determine and set priorities for government labour market spending. They will decide what training is needed and what employment development should be emphasized. This will be a case of people who know the regions and who care about building a better future having control of the tools to help realize those visions.

This kind of co-operation could lead to governments and communities working together to break the vicious cycle of UI dependence. Efforts to give people real skills, create real jobs and enable a real economy to flourish could all come together.

The paper looks at the issue of how unemployment insurance could better help people find and keep jobs. We are asking Canadians if we need two approaches within our insurance system, one that would provide a straightforward insurance coverage and another aimed at people who face regular unemployment and may need more assistance. We are asking them if tightening the current program is a better option or whether we should take both approaches at the same time. We want to know how they would deal with the needs of part time workers, self-employed contract workers and other people who get no help now.

These are real choices. Canadians deserve the right to determine their own priorities. We believe and they agree that giving people the skills and incentives to work is appropriate. We want to go a step further to explore what makes sense with the money we have.

How to balance the social and economic priorities of Canadians is not a simple task. We recognize that to meet our social program goals and to meet our fiscal obligations to Canadians will require some hard choices. Our citizens are capable of those choices however.

It is obvious that no one wants us to create some new scheme and impose it on Canadians. They want us to listen to them, not just to special interests, not just to the experts, but to the people who may need these programs and who will pay for them. This government is committed to doing just that.

With the release of this discussion paper we are saying we can get people back to work. We can build a society with skills that attract investment. We can help individuals meet the challenges of life in a society and an economy that face constant change. We can take steps to ensure that more people are better off in the long term, thanks to our actions in this House. The status quo will not be satisfactory. The time has come to act.

Lupus Awareness Month October 7th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, October has been proclaimed National Lupus Awareness Month. Lupus is an autoimmune disease that affects thousands of Canadians, mostly women during child bearing years.

The cause of Lupus is yet unknown. As one of its priorities the government has issues relevant to women's health. Here we have an example of an illness that affects women for which treatment is limited and about which medical science has yet much to learn.

I encourage all members of the House to support the many volunteer groups at work all year round to help and support the individuals affected by the disease.

Please join me in extending best wishes to Lupus Canada for a successful awareness month.