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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 February 17th, 2011

Madam Speaker, the reason we have that right is that bad things happen when there is no proper scrutiny. When the Liberals took office in 1993, they inherited a $42 billion deficit and in order to balance the budget, there had to be substantial cuts in order to save it. One has to cut 20% to save 80%, otherwise it gets much worse. The real issue is that if we do not know history, we are doomed to repeat it. It is important we have this information and respect for Parliament.

I would ask the member to respond to the assertion that parliamentarians expect the government to be open, honest, transparent and accountable and this motion says it is not.

Business of Supply February 17th, 2011

Madam Speaker, the member referred to pension income splitting for seniors and the importance of that benefit. Documents are readily available that will show if we take out all the seniors who do not have a spouse to split with, if we take out all the seniors who are already at the lowest possible tax rate and if we take out all the seniors who do not have a qualifying pension instrument, it means only 14% of seniors even benefit and they are the highest income earning seniors in Canada.

Is the member aware of that? Would she maybe like to withdraw her comments that the benefit was for all seniors?

Business of Supply February 17th, 2011

Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order on a matter of relevance.

The member is doing a good job of outlining a historical revisionism of what the government may have done. However, the motion before the House is an issue of whether or not the government should release information to Parliament and whether in fact the government has demonstrated that it is in violation of the privileges of Parliament. I hope that before her time runs out she will at least make some commentary on the motion now before the House.

Business of Supply February 17th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, this matter has been going on for some time and it has not so much to do with anything else other than the unaccountability of the government, the secrecy, the control to make sure that there is no knowledge available for members to be able to do their job, whether that be financial projections for the next five years.

We know the Parliamentary Budgetary Officer has significant disagreement with the government's representation of how it is going to balance the budget within five years. The information we are asking for is going to allow us to assess it rather than the government telling us that this is the way it is, and by the way, the basis of the assumptions are cabinet confidence.

This is a violation of the privileges of parliamentarians and a contempt for the parliamentary system in which we operate. This is our system. We have to operate.

Does the hon. member believe that the government will maybe harm Canadians by hiding away this information and not allow us the opportunity to anticipate the consequences of its fiscal irresponsibility?

Business of Supply February 17th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, the motion before us has to do with whether a government is prepared to be accountable. As parliamentarians, we have responsibilities. Whenever we raise issues, such as the cost of justice bills, there is this presumption that somehow we will use that argument solely with regard to whether we would support a justice bill. However, the context of the information we asked for was with regard to vetting the government's projections over the next five years.

If we find that the expenditures on justice bills, for example, will far exceed anybody's reasonable expectations, then there may have to be consequences to other areas of policy and fiscal responsibility. It may impact health care. It may impact seniors and pensions. It may affect many of the important issues of the day on behalf of Canadians.

In the context of the motion before us, this is not an issue of whether justice bills are good or bad. This is an issue of whether parliamentarians have the right to information to make their own assessments rather than the government saying that it is a cabinet confidence and it is not going to tell us.

Abolition of Early Parole Act February 15th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, the member made some comments about who supported what. The House has not yet had a vote on the bill. The Liberals certainly did oppose the closure motion because it stole from parliamentarians the right to do their job.

The member also referred to the case of Paul Coffin who, in 2005, pled guilty to some 15 charges of defrauding the federal government of $1.5 million. There was restitution of $1 million.

Why did the Crown at the time only press for three of the charges and settled on two years less a day? Maybe the problem will not be solved by Bill C-59. Maybe the problem would be solved if we asked why the Crown did not proceed with the serious charges that were originally raised. Does the member have an answer for that?

Abolition of Early Parole Act February 15th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, the member is very familiar with the criminal justice system and the judicial system.

Many people have talked about some of the big white-collar fraud cases. We also talked about Clifford Olson and Karla Homolka and all the hot-button cases. The member knows and he might agree that within the subset of non-violent crimes, there are some offences which are not of big concern to Canadians or victims. In fact, many of them are victimless crimes, but they would be subject to the same penalties and the same changes in the legislation with regard to early parole.

With regard to this subset of non-violent crimes that are being touched by the bill, would the member consider providing some sort of a benchmark for serious non-violent crimes, such as the defrauding of seniors, et cetera, which would not be eligible for this parole, and the small crimes, such as the person who had Tylenol 3 for a medical purpose and gave it to somebody else and could be convicted for trafficking in drugs. This is not a serious criminal matter relative to the rest of rest of discussion.

Would the member consider that there are certain crimes that should not be subject to the changes proposed in Bill C-59?

Abolition of Early Parole Act February 15th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, this morning at the Standing Committee on Finance, the Parliamentary Budget Officer confirmed to us that the traditional practice of governments in Canada has been that once a bill is tabled and under consideration, the assumptions on the costing of such legislation no longer constitute a cabinet confidence.

The finance committee has not been able to get that information, but we as parliamentarians are here now debating a bill, the cost of which is not insignificant. In fact, the Parliamentary Budget Officer said, with regard to one bill, that he does have some information the annual cost would be about $1 billion.

Even more than that, there is an impact on the provincial side. The member is a former provincial member. He would know that when we make laws at the federal level, there are consequences at the provincial level which involve not only the incarceration, but also the rehabilitation side. These are important aspects the House will not have the benefit of debating because of the closure provisions.

Abolition of Early Parole Act February 15th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, the member suggests that we need to pass the bill quickly to protect Canadians from fraud. The bill is not just about fraud. This is about a range of non-violent offences, and many of them are very nominal. There is no evidence whatsoever that this will reduce the recidivism rate.

Is the member aware of any evidence whatsoever that longer incarceration will reduce the recidivism rate?

Abolition of Early Parole Act February 15th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, the member has raised some very good points. Clearly, without having the normal debate on such a bill, it interferes with parliamentarians' rights to have an informed discussion so that they can make good laws and wise decisions.

Having said that, the debate that has gone on so far seems to have focused on certain extreme cases to make the general case. My concern is there are some offences to which this bill would apply where to not have the option of early parole would not be in the public interest. Studies have clearly shown that recidivism rates increase when the amount of prison time increases relative to those who get early parole.

I would ask the member whether or not he is aware of any studies that show that more incarceration actually results in less recidivism in the community.