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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word is genetic.

Liberal MP for Don Valley West (Ontario)

Won his last election, in 2015, with 54% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Committees of the House June 8th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 11th report of the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security concerning Bill S-233, an act to amend the Customs Act and the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (presentation and reporting requirements).

The committee has studied the bill and has decided to report the bill back to the House with an amendment.

Interparliamentary Delegations June 8th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 34(1), I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the report of the Canada–Africa Parliamentary Association respecting its participation at the bilateral mission in the Republic of Zimbabwe and the Republic of Botswana in Harare, Zimbabwe, and Gaborone, Botswana, from March 26 to 31, 2017.

Committees of the House May 30th, 2017

Madam Speaker, today I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 10th report of the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security, entitled “Main Estimates 2017-18”.

Agnes Macphail May 18th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, today I pay tribute to Agnes Macphail, the first woman elected to this House of Commons, and celebrate the Bank of Canada's special commemorative $10 bill honouring her.

Agnes Macphail was elected to Parliament in 1921, in the first election where women had the right to vote. She spent 19 years here working to improve the living conditions of labourers and farmers.

In 1943, she was elected to the Ontario legislature for York East, part of my riding of Don Valley West, and lived on the corner of Millwood Road and Donegall Drive in Leaside. She fought for, and won, Ontario's first equal pay legislation, in 1951.

Next week, as part of the 150th anniversary of our Confederation, I will join students at Leaside High School to honour the phenomenal achievements of an organizer, activist, feminist, role model, and Leasider: Agnes Macphail.

Interparliamentary Delegations May 18th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 34(1), I have the honour to present to the House, in both official languages, the report of the Canada-Africa Parliamentary Association respecting its participation in the bilateral mission to the Republic of Tunisia and the Arab Republic of Egypt, in Tunis, Tunisia, and Cairo, Egypt, from January 16 to 25, 2017.

Public Service Labour Relations Act May 16th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, this gives me the opportunity to thank the members of the public safety and national security committee that considered this legislation very strongly and at length, as did the Senate.

This is a lesson in parliamentary democracy. We have two Houses. We have a government that listens to both Houses. We have good deliberations in committee in both places. The government receives those recommendations and takes its time to deliberate. I am sure that it looked at the evidence heard in our committee and in the committee of the Senate and was able to take due deliberation time.

I also want to thank the members on the other side of the House on our committee, because they were effective in their questioning. They were effective in the way they brought forward issues, and I think they are probably very happy with the ultimate result.

I think they can rest assured and will support us in getting this piece of legislation done quickly so RCMP officers and Canadians can have a mutually beneficial relationship and Canadians will be safe.

Public Service Labour Relations Act May 16th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, the reality is that RCMP management needs to consider thoughtfully a number of issues that ensure the safety of Canadians. What the government is proposing is absolutely consistent with what it believes about collective bargaining. With collective bargaining, it is very important to ensure that everything is on the table that needs to be there, so the number of exclusions in the initial draft of the bill has been reduced to zero.

I am very pleased that the government is accepting the proposal from the other place that would ensure RCMP members have every opportunity to express themselves and negotiate issues of harassment, of appraisal, of relocation. These are the kinds of things they were asking for, and that is consistent with evidence we heard at committee.

The committee also heard that for effective functioning, for the proper appropriation of the authority given to the commissioner of RCMP, management needs to reserve rights to ensure they can target and appropriately use their authority under the legislation given to them by Parliament to ensure that Canadians are safe and that the operations of the RCMP are not limited.

RCMP officers face different challenges in different parts of the country. As a long-time resident of Yukon, which is M Division, I worked closely with the RCMP there. The reality is that some things are different in Yukon from what they are in other parts of Canada. Other places where a force is contracted to a province are different from the places where the RCMP is a national police force. The RCMP commissioner and the new commissioner who will be appointed sometime in the near future need to have that authority so that Canadians can rest assured that the operations of the RCMP are effective and safe.

Public Service Labour Relations Act May 16th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for Oakville North—Burlington.

I am pleased to have this opportunity to speak in support of the government's motion related to Bill C-7. This piece of legislation is important for both the RCMP and for Canadians. It is a step forward in Canadian labour relations.

As we all know, the bill originates with the decision by the Supreme Court of Canada more than two years ago, in January 2015. There is some urgency for us to enact this piece of legislation into law so that the RCMP can be the best police force in the world, with good management practices matching the ability of our RCMP officers to keep Canadians safe.

The court found that certain parts of the RCMP labour relations regime were in fact unconstitutional because they prevented the formation of an independent RCMP employee organization. The government took steps, including extensive consultation, to bring this framework into compliance with the Supreme Court's ruling, and Bill C-7 is the result.

I differ with the position of the previous speaker by saying that there has been extensive consultation. The bill has been under a microscope for a great deal of time in a committee of the House of Commons and a committee of the Senate, as well as through debate in the House of Commons and debate in the Senate. It is now time for us to act quickly on this motion to ensure that we can have effective collective bargaining for the very hard-working members of the RCMP.

With the passage of this bill, RCMP members and reservists would, for the first time, have a labour relations framework in place that would allow them to choose whether or not to be represented in negotiations by an employee organization, something that other police services in Canada already have. Almost 100 years ago, the Vancouver police union received its charter and was established with the mandate to effectively and democratically represent its members as a bargaining unit under the British Columbia labour code. It is time for us to act so that Canadians have a similar approach to policing in Canada.

Action is something that RCMP officers know a lot about. As the chair of the public safety and national security committee, I want to commend members of the RCMP for consistently and constantly serving and protecting Canadians with diligence, with grace, and with a tremendous competence that Canadians have begun to appreciate more and more. Whether it is diving into icy water to rescue a woman in distress or protecting us in this very place, RCMP officers demonstrate their personal dedication and self-sacrifice in service of others, and now we as members of this chamber need to reciprocate and take action to help them, to serve them, and to protect them.

The Prime Minister and the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness are strongly committed to whatever action is necessary to help RCMP members, trainees, and employees feel safe and respected among their colleagues and supervisors.

A number of steps have been taken since 2014 to protect RCMP members in the workplace. These include measures to address harassment and conflict management as well as promote a healthy and respectful workplace.

The RCMP continues its ongoing efforts to improve its work environment, including a modernized code of conduct, a streamlined harassment investigation and resolution process, and improved training for harassment investigators. Bill C-7 builds on these efforts to implement a robust labour relations regime for the RCMP. To that end, the government has given thorough consideration to the Senate's amendments and is now ready to move forward.

The government's response significantly addresses the main concerns that we heard at the House of Commons standing committee as well as in the Senate, and I am very proud to support the government's response to the Senate amendments.

In the spirit of compromise that is so important in an institution like ours, the government is willing to accept the removal of all restrictions on what may be included in collective agreements and arbitral awards that are specific to the RCMP. These restrictions on what could be collectively bargained for were the focal points of the criticism that we heard at committee and that we are now acting on.

Sometimes this kind of conversation takes time. However, that conversation has been had. I stress to members of this chamber that the reality is we need to act quickly and effectively. We have considered, and now is the time to act.

That is why I am pleased to report that the government's response would allow the employer and any future RCMP member bargaining agent to engage in meaningful discussions in good faith on topics of importance to the RCMP members and reservists who were excluded from collective bargaining rights under the original version of Bill C-7.

As a result, matters associated with transfers, appraisals, harassment, and general aspects of workplace wellness, including the promotion of a respectful workplace and early conflict resolution, could be discussed at the bargaining table and included in a collective agreement or arbitration award. Of course, conditions of work, such as hours of work, scheduling, call-back, and reporting conditions could also be collectively bargained, as could leave provisions, such as designated paid holidays, vacation leave, sick leave, and parental leave. Labour relations matters, such as terms and conditions for grievance procedures and procedures around classification and workplace adjustment, are also part of that process.

The proposal before us today also accepts the idea of a management rights clause, but proposes implementing a more targeted clause that focuses on protecting the authorities that the RCMP commissioner needs in order to ensure effective police operations. This is a balanced approach. The reality is that the bargaining unit would have the right to engage in conversations at the bargaining table about issues important to RCMP members, and management would reserve the right to ensure that Canadians are safe and protected and that we have operational institutional effectiveness at the RCMP, not by excluding anything in collective bargaining but by ensuring we have a targeted approach to make sure the RCMP functions properly, as Canadians would want.

As I am sure all my hon. colleagues on these benches do, the Government of Canada takes seriously the responsibility to protect the safety and security of Canadians. This amended management rights clause supports that responsibility.

Now let us consider why the motion disagrees with the removal of restrictions that replicate those applying to other areas of the federal public service.

As our national police service, the RCMP must have a labour regime that is aligned with and consistent with the fundamental framework for labour relations and collective bargaining that exists within the whole of the federal public service. As such, Bill C-7 extends to RCMP members many general exclusions that already apply in the rest of the public service, such as staffing, pensions, organization of work, and the assignment of duties.

With respect to pensions, while the public service pension plan has never been the subject of collective bargaining under the Public Service Labour Relations Act, or its predecessor, the Public Service Staff Relations Act, the federal government has traditionally consulted with employee representatives on pension issues and is committed to continuing that conversation, negotiation, and consultation.

Public sector pensions have established statutory pension advisory committees whose membership is composed of employer, employee, and pensioner representatives. These committees review matters respecting the administration, design, and funding of the benefits provided under the superannuation acts and make recommendations to the responsible minister about those matters. This is an activity we would continue.

When it comes to the certification process, I do not believe that the certification of a bargaining agent to represent RCMP members and reservists should require a secret ballot. We need to be consistent with the government's proposed law, Bill C-4, and it would be reasonable that an organization wanting to represent RCMP members should not be subject to certification processes different from those of other organizations under federal labour relations legislation.

Finally, the government proposes to not proceed with expanding the mandate of the Public Service Labour Relations and Employment Board to hear grievances on a wider range of matters relating to terms and conditions of employment. That would be inconsistent with its work with the rest of the federal public service.

Now is the time to act on Bill C-7. The House of Commons standing committee deliberated it thoroughly and thoughtfully, and heard concerns. The Senate has deservedly done its work and has appropriately amended it. The government has considered those amendments and has determined that some of them fall in line with the government's proposed agenda with respect to the RCMP certification process.

I am pleased to support Bill C-7 and welcome all other members to support the bill and our amendments as we go forward.

World Asthma Day May 2nd, 2017

Mr. Speaker, today is World Asthma Day, and spring allergy season is upon us. For those of us with allergic asthma, this is a tough time of year. For some, it is a minor inconvenience. For others, however, it is a life-threatening disease. More than three million Canadians live with asthma. Every year, asthma attacks result in 70,000 emergency room visits and 250 deaths, and they account for $2.1 billion in both direct and indirect health care costs.

As the former president and CEO of the Asthma Society of Canada, I am glad to have this opportunity to raise awareness about this disease, to call for further research and clean air to breathe, and to close gaps in our health care system, including for pharmaceuticals. No matter where we live in this country, we should have access to the best possible health care and medications to lead productive and healthy lives.

Working with groups like the Asthma Society of Canada, we can ensure all Canadians living with asthma have the highest quality of life.

Committees of the House May 2nd, 2017

Mr. Speaker, I have the great honour to present, in both official languages, the ninth report of the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security, entitled “Protecting Canadians and their Rights: A New Road Map for Canada’s National Security”.

Pursuant to Standing Order 109, the committee requests that the government table a comprehensive response to this report.