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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word is csis.

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

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

Statements in the House

Copyright Act May 17th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I was very pleased this morning that the Minister of Justice introduced Bill C-16, which would guarantee equal rights for transgender and gender-variant Canadians. This bill passed in the House of Commons in 2011 and passed again in essentially the same form as a private member's bill that I introduced in 2013. I was very pleased the minister made a commitment to deal with this bill expeditiously.

Therefore, I would like to move the following motion: That, notwithstanding any Standing Order or usual practice of the House, Bill C-16, an act to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code, shall be deemed to have been read a second time and referred to committee of the whole, deemed considered in committee of the whole, deemed reported without amendment, deemed concurred in at report stage, and deemed read a third time and passed.

Business of Supply May 16th, 2016

Madam Chair, that raises the next question I have for the minister, and that is regarding support service contracts. Under the Conservatives, we saw a tendency to privatize more and more of what one might call the maintenance functions of essential services within the Canadian military. That was quite often done without considering its impact on the safety of those workers involved in the workplace, but also the safety and security of Canada as we bring more and more private contractors on to our bases.

Others, like the U.K., went way down this road and now they are spending billions of dollars to roll this back, as they found it did not actually save them money, and it did cause those health and safety problems, as well as security problems, on the bases.

Therefore, as we are acquiring lots of new equipment, there is work that sometimes euphemistically is called warranty work, which is really maintenance work. I would like an assurance from the minister that he will make sure that Canadian Forces keep our own independent ability to maintain that new equipment we buy, so that we remain independent of any company that might go bankrupt or have other priorities. We really can repair our own ships and our own planes and keep the Canadian Forces working with our own Canadian Forces employees.

Business of Supply May 16th, 2016

Madam Chair, I thank the minister for that answer. I still remain concerned that there seems to be more cheerleading in the discussion on ballistic missile defence on the other side, but that I guess remains to be seen.

I want to turn to some issues that come up frequently in my riding with regard to defence. One of those is the rollover of civilian contracts. Up till 2011, there was a practice with civilian employees that, if they were in a temporary contract for three years, they could be rolled over into a permanent position after that time. The Conservatives stopped that practice as a cost-saving measure. I do not think they really considered the negative impacts in terms of morale, staff relations, staff retention, or the fact that any savings they got were at the expense of families by taking away security of employment for those families.

Therefore, my question for the minister is this. Will he look at reversing that policy and returning to the policy where, if people have been in something called a temporary position for a number of years, we finally admit that it is a permanent position and give those employees the security they need?

Business of Supply May 16th, 2016

Madam Chair, when the defence committee was in discussions with NATO commander Admiral Gortney, who was the commander until last Friday, he took a lot of us by surprise by suggesting that NORAD was working on a proposal that would see folding sea, maritime, and land defence into the NATO command and establishing a joint command for the defence of North America.

I asked him very clearly if this was unclassified, if I was able to make this public, and he said yes. He said that the proposal will come forward to the Permanent Joint Board on Defence at its next meeting.

Given that one of the options in that proposal being considered is to turn over the defence of Canada to a U.S. command, will the minister assure us now that he will not take part in any such plan to turn over Canada's sovereignty and its defence to an American general?

Business of Supply May 16th, 2016

Madam Chair, there is a bigger concern for me, apart from the specifics of a non-working, very expensive system in which Canada would have no voice in its command, and that is the impact it would have on the larger arms race around the world. It is certainly true that building bigger and better BMD systems can only lead other nations like Russia and China to try to increase their offensive capabilities. Canada, by even opening this door, provides some leverage for those who would like to get into a large arms race.

So, again, has the minister really considered the impact of opening this door in terms of Canadian participation in ballistic missile defence? Would it not have been better to consider whether we could not do something multilaterally to try to reduce this arms race rather than promote it?

Business of Supply May 16th, 2016

Madam Chair, we have heard repeatedly in committee from both military witnesses and civilian experts that Canada faces no imminent threat from ballistic missiles. It seems to me that, when we have many other major questions that we need to be discussing, this is some kind of diversion for us to spend a lot of our efforts on the defence review, on something that addresses a threat that does not really exist to Canada at this time.

Business of Supply May 16th, 2016

Madam Chair, when the defence committee was down at NORAD headquarters, we were briefed on the meagre success rate, I would call it, of the U.S. missile defence system. It is public knowledge that only four of its eight tests were successful, and in those tests it actually knew where the missiles were coming from and what trajectory they were on and it still only managed to hit 50%.

We are looking at participating in something that might cost us an enormous amount of money, and we are investing really in a system that clearly does not work.

Business of Supply May 16th, 2016

Madam Chair, if we listen carefully to the minister and Liberal members on the defence committee, the government seems very enthusiastic about getting to yes on this question, so I will ask again. Why would we reopen this question when the defence committee heard very clearly in Colorado Springs that there has been no request from the United States for Canada to join the ballistic missile defence system?

Business of Supply May 16th, 2016

Madam Chair, that leads to my next question. The biggest surprise for me in the defence review was the fact that it puts on the table another potential decision that requires both operating money and capital money at a time when both are very scarce. That is reopening the question of participation in the U.S. missile defence scheme, I guess I will call it.

Given the pressing need for capital and operating expenditures from ships to jets, to new trucks, to north warning, all of these things we need to do, why would the government put on the table another very expensive capital and operating project?

Business of Supply May 16th, 2016

Madam Chair, I am going to start with a brief statement and then go to questions for the minister.

I want to start, like all members of Parliament, by thanking the Canadian Forces for the job they do every day in keeping us safe, and also the civilian employees who often get left out of these debates but who make the functioning of the forces possible, and of course, the families of both, who make all of this possible with the sacrifices they make.

I also want to thank the minister for his initiatives in reaching out to members across the aisle and making himself accessible and the bases accessible. It is a refreshing change in the new Parliament and I thank him personally for doing so.

There are some other things I might not thank him for. The government appears to be continuing with some of the things that the Conservatives did. The main theme is asking the Canadian military to do more with less. We know that the dollars provided in the budget actually are not increases. They do not come near keeping pace with the inflation rate in military expenditures, and we know that there are going to have to be some cuts made somewhere in the Canadian military. I guess we will see those later.

Of most concern to me is the reprofiling, as the government likes to call it, whether it was a Conservative government or a Liberal government, of the capital expenditures. We are now to the place where $10.4 billion in expenditures have been put off beyond the next election.

Is the Minister of National Defence convinced that we have enough life left in our F-18s, our frigates, and our long-range patrol aircraft to keep the Canadian military fully functional while we wait for these important procurement decisions to be made and while we look for the money, since it has been put off to an indefinite future?

The classic way to extend the life of military equipment is to reduce the hours. Are we facing an air force that is going to have to reduce its flying hours and a navy that is going to have to reduce its time at sea because of these delays in procurement?