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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word is question.

NDP MP for Esquimalt—Saanich—Sooke (B.C.)

Won his last election, in 2015, with 35% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Business of Supply February 12th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, I have to say that this project certainly looks a lot different to the residents of a riding like mine that sits on the Salish Sea, where one spill could destroy the traditional food fisheries and ceremonial fisheries of four first nations in my riding, where there are tens of thousands of jobs that depend on the clean environment, such as the recreational fishery and tourism. Nobody comes to see an oil spill as a tourist. The jobs the member is talking about, theoretical jobs and a very small number of jobs, are up against the very real jobs and the very real needs of first nations in my riding when it comes to this pipeline.

The member talked about the oceans protection plan and all the great things the government is going to do. Does she really believe that a standard that says that it will take six and a half hours for oil cleanup crews to get to my riding to start working on a spill and that a success would be a 15% cleanup, with a 400% increase in tanker traffic, is a plan that people in my riding can support?

Foreign Affairs February 7th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, one of the cruel ironies of this helicopter deal is that Philippine President Duterte, who is unquestionably presiding over one of the world's worst human rights situations, once admitted to throwing a man out of a helicopter and said that he would do it again. This is a country where extrajudicial executions continue to be condoned by the president.

It is absolutely clear that this deal would never be approved under the human rights standards required by the Arms Trade Treaty. Will the minister stand in the House now and indicate clearly that there is no way that the export of these helicopters to the Philippines will be approved?

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians Act January 31st, 2018

Mr. Speaker, I listened with interest to the member for Winnipeg North's speech and there is something revealing in it. Of course, we all acknowledge that there are improvements in this bill, and we will be supporting it. The peculiar thing to me is that the member expressed his concern about the big car manufacturers and the consumers, but he left out the people stuck in the middle when it comes to defects. Those are the car dealers.

In the committee, the members actually took out the provision that would have indemnified car dealers and protected them against the losses they incur when they are forced to hold automobiles that are under recall, and it would have made the big car companies responsible for those costs. The Liberals deliberately took out that section of the bill in committee. I wonder what the hon. member has to say about that. Of course consumers should be protected. I am not so concerned about the big auto manufacturers as the member seems to be, but I am concerned about the car dealers in my riding who end up holding a stock of cars they cannot sell until those defects are fixed.

Why was that section taken out of the bill at committee?

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians Act January 30th, 2018

Madam Speaker, in substance, I agree with the remarks of the member for Carlton Trail—Eagle Creek, although I always find it a little odd when the Conservatives start talking about the Liberals cutting budgets when the process was actually started under the Conservatives.

One of the questions I believe the member asked earlier of the parliamentary secretary is of concern to me. It is the responsibility for the financial losses for dealerships if a car is subject to recall becomes unsaleable and is stuck in the dealer's inventory. I believe the hon. parliamentary secretary said that she did not want to interfere in this commercial relationship, but I would submit that there is hardly any commercial relationship more unequal than car manufacturers and dealers.

Therefore, the amendment made by the Senate, which was taken out by the Liberals, seemed to be an important part of levelling the playing field for dealers so they would not be stuck with the cost of what was essentially the fault of the manufacturers. Does the hon. member share that opinion?

Public Services and Procurement January 29th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, in November in committee the Minister of National Defence promised to look at Phoenix pay issues from three DND civilian employees in my riding and fix them before Christmas. They came to Ottawa to represent more than 1,000 federal employees in my riding alone with serious pay issues, including a single parent who has been underpaid by more than $20,000. Two months later, the three who received the minister's personal assurances have not even been contacted, let alone had their pay problems fixed.

When will the minister take action to make sure that all of his employees are properly paid so they can get on with their work, which is so important to the defence of Canada?

Expungement of Historically Unjust Convictions Act December 13th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member's question is an important one that I have been pursuing the government on since it was elected, because it had stated that LGBTQ refugees would get a high priority. However, the government has not done, in most cases, the things that are necessary to make that a reality. There are difficulties in accessing our refugee system. There are difficulties with the settlement process for those who have a special need.

Why do we take special measures? People say that everyone should be treated equally, and the government tends to respond that it is treating them equally. Well, we take special measures because they are at higher risk than other people and because there are very few places in the world that accept queer refugees and where they can resettle safely.

If I could be indulged for a second, because this is probably the last time I will be on my feet, I would like to add my words of thanks to the staff of the House of Commons, to the Speakers, to the table staff, to the pages, the security staff, all of those who make our work here possible, and to the staff in all of our members' offices both here in Ottawa and in our constituencies, and to wish all of them and all members a happy holiday season.

Expungement of Historically Unjust Convictions Act December 13th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, after our committee hearings I am confident that the government has produced a bill that intends to make this process as accessible as possible, and I was reassured by the comments of the Parole Board about the assistance it will offer to members in filing the applications for expungement.

There are a couple more things that have to happen along with this. One of those is that we have to take care of the revision of service records for those in the military who received discharges that were less than fully honourable, or were dishonourable. That is not really covered by the bill, but it is very closely related.

The second part is that while there is agreement in principle in the class action lawsuit, we have to press forward and make sure that the lawsuit is settled to the satisfaction of those plaintiffs.

Expungement of Historically Unjust Convictions Act December 13th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, as a gay man, I take particular pride in standing in the House today to speak to Bill C-66. For me, the bill is an important and necessary part of the apology delivered by the Prime Minister in the House just a week ago. In that apology, the Prime Minister acknowledged that governments in Canada had run campaigns of humiliation, intimidation, firings, and persecution of fellow Canadians on the basis of their sexual orientation. This ranged from interrogations; to pressure to inform on colleagues, to firings from the public service, the foreign service, the RCMP, and the Canadian Forces; and to campaigns by police targeting gay men for consensual same-sex activity, all of this despite the fact that most forms of same-sex activity were legalized in 1969.

As a gay man of a certain age, I also take a personal interest in the expungement legislation. It was probably more a matter of luck than anything else that I was not caught in the nets cast to capture gay men in public places, like the 146 men arrested in raids on two gay bars in Montreal in 1977, places and a year in Montreal which I am familiar. More than 300 were arrested in raids on four bath houses in Toronto in 1981.

What is important about these two events is that both of them sparked public demonstrations for the first time against these campaigns of arrests. More than 2,000 turned out in Montreal and more than 3,000 turned out in Toronto. These demonstrations marked the beginning of the organized resistance of the LGBTQ community against these campaigns of oppression, resistance which has ultimately led to this legislation being before the House today.

Correcting some of the injustices resulting from these campaigns is indeed the purpose of Bill C-66, as those subject to these campaigns suffered real consequences. However, some of these consequences can never be reversed, especially as many of the resulting charges led to public humiliation when the names of those arrested were released for publication in the media, this at a time when being out was not really a thing and was far from being socially acceptable. Those who were convicted found themselves with severe limitations on their ability to retain jobs or to find new jobs if they were fired, as discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation was only outlawed in most jurisdictions in the 1990s, with the notable exception of Quebec, where it took place in 1977, and Manitoba in 1986.

A settlement of the class action law suit launched by those who were fired from their federal jobs, and on which agreement in principle was reached only days before the apology, will provide some monetary compensation to those still living who lost jobs. However, there are other consequences of convictions resulting from these campaigns against consensual same-sex activity that continue to this day.

Those with criminal records remain prohibited from volunteering with vulnerable people, whether that would be serving as a role model for LGBTQ2 youth, as foster parents, or volunteering to serve seniors with dementia. Of course, criminal records often result in severe restrictions on the ability to travel abroad.

While I am glad to see the legislation being dealt with expeditiously in the House, I have to remind my colleagues that many in my community have waited decades for this moment to come. Many never thought we would see this day and many, in fact, did not live to see this day, some simply because it has taken too long and some because having their lives and careers ruined as a result of those campaigns led them to take their own lives.

In 1992, NDP MP Svend Robinson raised the question of the gay purges with Conservative Prime Minister Mulroney, and he responded that “if” these campaigns had occurred, they would have constituted human rights violations and should have been investigated. However, 25 years ago nothing came of this.

Activists within the LGBTQ community first made formal demands for an apology in 1998, nearly a decade ago, but the Liberal government of the day did not respond. In 2014, long-time NDP member of Parliament and first out lesbian in the House, Libby Davies, introduced a motion calling for an apology. Also in 2014, NDP MP Philip Toone introduced a bill to get rid of these unjust criminal records.

When we look at how the LGBTQ2 community has pursued an apology and expungement of criminal records for 25 years, the words fast and expeditiously need to be used sparingly when it comes to Parliament acknowledging the unjust treatment of the community and responding appropriately.

Nevertheless, I take the apology very seriously. I hope it will be a springboard for action, not just to redress previous wrongs but to launch efforts to remove ongoing discrimination against my community, including ending the gay blood ban, fully implementing Bill C-16 to bring about equal treatment for transgender and gender variant Canadians, and ensuring the concerns of two-spirited Canadians are addressed whenever reconciliation is on the table.

At this point, I should restate the NDP position on the bill, and that is that the bill should go forward quickly, as there are ways within the bill itself to deal with the concerns that have been raised since it was tabled.

It is unfortunate that the community and the many researchers and activists who have been working on this issue were not consulted in the drafting. those like Gary Kinsman and Patrizia Gentile, who we can actually say wrote the book on this, when they published their book The Canadian War on Queers in 2010. For some reason, the Liberal government was determined to keep consultations on redress separate and apart from consultations on the apology itself.

Turning to the contents of Bill C-66, there is of course one big omission in the bill. It excludes bawdy house offences from the list of offences for which one can apply for expungement, never mind that raids on gay bars and bath houses were key parts of the campaign of persecution against gay men. It is a curious omission from the list for which one can seek expungement when the Prime Minister himself clearly labelled use of bawdy house provisions against the LGBTQ2 community as discriminatory, and specifically included both bathhouse raids and entrapment by the police in his apology. Therefore, it seems wrong that the list of offences in the bill is narrower than the apology delivered by the Prime Minister.

One might ask why am I arguing this bill ought to go forward with this gap in it. Clause 23 of the bill allows cabinet to add offences to the schedule by order in council. I trust the Liberal government will consider these issues that have been raised and discussed here today and will fully implement the apology after the bill passes by adding bawdy house offences to the schedule. The New Democrats will be here to remind the Liberals if they should forget or dawdle.

Some have expressed a concern that offences added later would have lesser status and could easily be removed by a future government. Let me point to the testimony by officials in the public safety committee Monday, reassuring us that once offences were in the schedule it would require legislative action to remove them.

On the question of ensuring there are no obstacles to LGBTQ2 citizens being able to use the expungement process, again we heard reassurance from the public safety, justice, and Parole Board officials. First and foremost was the confirmation that we had again here today, that there would be no fee to apply for expungement. Second, there was assurance from the Parole Board that the application process would remain “simplified” and that staff would be made available to help citizens file their applications so they would not be required to retain legal counsel to do so.

Another concern is the question of what would constitute proof of consent for offences, which are often quite old and are convictions for offences for which the question of consent was not germane to the conviction. The bill says that it has to have been consensual sex. Again, officials assured the public safety committee that dealing with this question was the purpose of proposed section 7(3), allowing sworn statements where records, and therefore evidence on the question of consent, are not available. Further, the government's charter statement on Bill C-66, which was tabled yesterday, very clearly says the following, “Pursuant to sections 12 and 13, the Board must expunge if there is no evidence that the applicable criteria are not satisfied...”

With regard to the age of consent provisions, officials again pointed out that the laddering provisions in effect at the time of the conviction allowing exemptions for those close in age would still apply to the expungement.

I stand here today as a proud member of the LGBTQ2 community and a proud member of a House of Commons, which has acknowledged the historical campaigns of persecution against my community, apologized for those injustices, and with this bill, has begun the process of redress that will complete the apology.

My community waited decades for this acknowledgement and apology, so I am glad we have moved quickly on the bill, even if we were very late at getting to the starting line.

Let me stress once again my hope and the hope of my community that the apology will mark a turning point and a springboard not just for action to address the historical injustices, but a springboard for action to remove ongoing discrimination.

Members of the LGBTQ2 community who were the subject of campaigns of persecution should not have to wait longer to see the formal part of these injustices undone. We have come a long way, but there is still more work to do.

Expungement of Historically Unjust Convictions Act December 13th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, it is important to note the progress we have made in Canada, when there are still more than 70 countries where it is illegal to be gay, and more than 17 jurisdictions where people can be put to death for being a gay man.

Just having the bill before us is a marker of progress. In particular, having all-party support for the bill, and particularly Conservative Party support, is a sign of progress. I want to thank the member for Calgary Nose Hill for her work in opposing discrimination and promoting acceptance for the LGBTQ2 community.

I am a little unhappy with her today since she has stolen from me the ability to be the first one to quote RuPaul in the House of Commons, but I will forgive her for that. I really do not have a specific question for her. I just want to acknowledge how far she and many others in her caucus have come, as well as what appears to be a united Liberal Party. I also want to thank the member for Saanich—Gulf Islands for her support of the bill as well.

Expungement of Historically Unjust Convictions Act December 13th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for Edmonton Centre for his remarks today, as well as the government and the official opposition for co-operating to get this legislation to this point before we rise for Christmas.

I have a concern with the remarks that the hon. member made about the use of bawdy house laws and why they are excluded from this bill. The member must be familiar with the history of police raids on public places frequented by gay men, either gay bars or bathhouses, which were defined as places of prostitution when they were not clearly. This was part of police campaigns to persecute gay men for consensual same-sex activity.

It seems peculiar to me that he is saying—and I hope I am wrong, but I thought I heard him say—that the government is not willing to add to the schedule of offences the use of bawdy house laws, because the Prime Minister included the bathhouse raids and entrapment of gay men in his apology. It seems peculiar to me that the list of offences currently in the bill is narrower than the apology that the Prime Minister gave. I am hopeful the Liberals will correct this, as the bill would allow them to do, as soon as it becomes law.