House of Commons photo

Track Rob

Your Say


Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word is amendments.

Liberal MP for Don Valley West (Ontario)

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

Statements in the House

Petitions November 14th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, I have the privilege and honour today to present a petition from citizens of Canada, many from my riding of Don Valley West, who are calling upon the Government of Canada to create within the existing Sunnybrook veterans facility a centre for excellence for veterans care, including specialization in both physical and mental health, the latter including research and treatment for traumatic stress disorder and related issues for Canadian veterans, members of the Canadian Armed Forces and RCMP, and first responders.

This petition is the work of many citizens, and I am proud to be a part of this and to present it today.

St. Monica Catholic School November 3rd, 2016

Mr. Speaker, this year St. Monica Catholic School is celebrating 100 years of providing superb Catholic education in midtown Toronto. Since its founding in 1916, through the arts, sciences, and humanities, through physical education and music, St. Monica has inspired generation after generation of passionate students to make this world a better place.

I was pleased to join principal Vincent Tanzini, current and past students, parents, and teachers as they celebrated and shared memories. It is evidence that St. Monica holds a special place in the hearts of both past and present students and teachers.

I was pleased to meet with some of their students this past April when they visited Parliament Hill. Today, I celebrate the whole St. Monica's community for offering Don Valley West an educational program based on academic achievement, personal responsibility, and the importance of faith.

I congratulate St. Monica on its centennial anniversary. One hundred years old never looked so good.

Business of Supply October 27th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member for Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo for her rather newfound commitment on this issue. I want to ask her very specifically about the last nine years. Why did her government, which she supported, fight this process every step of the way? Why has she now come to a new conclusion?

It also gives me a chance to thank the member who moved this motion for his commitment, which has been transparent and available to us for many years.

The member for Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo was part of a government that fought this process. Could she explain why it fought a process that would have helped vulnerable first nations children get equitable access to everything they need?

Genetic Non-Discrimination Act October 25th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, I want to do two things in these closing minutes, and the first is to thank colleagues from both sides of the House for their comments, their speeches, and their very strong defence of the bill. There are few opportunities we have in the House to actually share common concerns and do something for all Canadians. Some of this is happening on Bill S-201, and I want to commend hon. members.

I also want to thank the members who spoke to me personally about the bill. Men and women have come to me with stories about themselves, their children, and their parents, particularly about illnesses they have or concerns they have faced in their own lives and have not felt free to tell others about because of the fear of genetic discrimination. They know who they are, and their stories will be kept entrusted with me, and I thank them for that privilege. I hope the bill will be dedicated to each of them and every Canadian who fears the possibility of discrimination if they get a genetic test.

I want to also thank Senator Cowan, from the other place, as has been said, and Barb Kagedan, his wonderful assistant, who has shepherded the bill, not just these months but for many years, and has brought passion and intelligence to this House from the other place and has made my work much easier.

Senator Cowan and Bev Heim-Myers, the president of the Huntington Society of Canada, recently received a very prestigious award from the American Society of Human Genetics. Bev is also the chair of the Canadian Coalition for Genetic Fairness. They have worked together as health groups, patient organizations, and charities to ensure that parliamentarians can learn, as one of my hon. colleagues said, things we did not know before we came here.

This tribute today is really in their name. It is something they have done and brought to the attention of this House through the Senate, and I think we owe them all a strong vote of thanks. That is the first thing I want to do.

The second thing I want to do is remind the House of the integrity of the bill. There are three parts to it: the genetic non-discrimination act, changes to labour legislation, and changes to the Canadian Human Rights Act. Each part of it is essential to ensure that the bill will be enacted in a way that Canadians can trust that they can get a genetic test to ensure that their health care is absolutely optimum.

Medicine is changing. Twenty-first century medicine is about genetic medicine. It is called targeted medicine, sometimes personalized medicine. It is the nature of medical practice as we know it today. It is revolutionary.

We were asked why Canada lags behind in this, and I think the reason is that we have messed around with a concern about provincial and federal jurisdiction. This House has the opportunity to act and to act strongly and clearly. We should give the provinces the opportunity to comment on the bill and act with them and on behalf of all Canadians to ensure that this act has the kind of teeth it needs to protect them in the most vulnerable place: their health, their existence.

There are parts of this job that we love and parts that we do not love as much. The part I love the most is that we have the opportunity to actually affect Canadians' lives. We have a moment in this House, with this act, to make a change that can actually change the lives of millions of Canadians, who can, with trust and confidence, go to their physicians and get the tests they need so that their clinicians, the practitioners who help them, can have the very best tools.

One of the great privileges I have had is to meet with Dr. Ronald Cohn, Stephen Scherer, and other researchers across this country from coast to coast to coast. They are aching for a piece of legislation so that they can help their patients in ways they are concerned they are not able to do today.

I thank the House for considering the bill. I look forward to tomorrow. I hope members stand and support it and make Canadians a healthier population.

Committees of the House October 6th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the sixth report of the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security in relation to Bill C-226, an act to amend the Criminal Code (offences in relation to conveyances) and the Criminal Records Act and to make consequential amendments to other acts.

The committee has studied the bill and, pursuant to Standing Order 97.1(1), requests a 30-day extension to consider it.

Rosh Hashanah October 3rd, 2016

Mr. Speaker, Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, began yesterday at sundown. It is a time of celebration and renewal, a time for Jewish families to come together with friends to rejoice in a new year under God's grace.

Rosh Hashanah is also the beginning of the 10 Days of Awe, culminating in Yom Kippur. Next week, I will be joining friends and neighbours at Temple Emanu-El in my riding for their Yom Kippur service.

I am very grateful to the congregation, its President Pekka Sinervo, and Rabbi Debra Lansberg for including me again this year, as they have in past years.

I want to take this opportunity to commend Temple Emanu-El for their great acts of tikkun olam, as they exemplify the best of humanity by raising issues of social justice, child poverty, homelessness, and in their readiness to welcome Syrian refugees.

I wish all members a sweet parliamentary session, and to all my friends and colleagues celebrating Rosh Hashana, L'Shanah Tovah.

Petitions September 22nd, 2016

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present e-petition 220, which received 1,166 signatures.

The petitioners call on the Government of Canada to create a national dementia strategy and to commit to a concerted effort to address the burden dementia places on our economy, on individuals with the disease, on their families, and on our health care system.

Interparliamentary Delegations September 22nd, 2016

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 to the Republic of Namibia and the Republic of South Africa, held in Windhoek, Namibia and Cape Town, South Africa, February 28 to March 5, 2016.

Genetic Non-Discrimination Act September 20th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for the question because I think it raises an important point. I was a member of a human rights commission and then, at one point, chair of the commission. We recognized that it was an important conversation about human rights, and that was the nature of that human rights discussion, where we would use alternative dispute resolution. We would have a caseworker and we would work on those things.

We agree that is possible as part of the bill but, more important, we think we need to have a robust, strong piece of legislation that would have criminal penalties that would be commensurate with the actual life-and-death nature of this discrimination. People have to have knowledge. Knowledge is power. That power can help them actually save their lives and the lives of their children. This disproportionately affects some communities in Canada. That is what I have begun to learn, that there are pockets in Canada that have particular genetic makeups that actually mean they are more at risk for having certain diseases. It could be the Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean area, Cape Breton, the Mennonite community, or the Ashkenazi Jewish community. There are different communities that have particular problems, in a genetic way. The bill would wake people up, cause them to take control of their own health care, and actually move us, as a society, to a more sustainable health care system. It is targeted medicine, so that people would get the right tests, at the right time, the right treatments, and the right options.

Genetic Non-Discrimination Act September 20th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, as the bill stands now, there are three legs that would hold up equally. The reality is that if we take one out, though, the stool would not hold up.

The Canada Labour Code amendments are there principally because we have the responsibility, in the federal legislature, to ensure that federally regulated employees, whether they work in a bank or anywhere, have a means to make sure they are not prevented from having a genetic test for discrimination.

The Canadian Human Rights Act is an important thing; necessary, but not sufficient. To make this a robust piece of legislation, I honestly believe we need a genetic non-discrimination act, which would work in conversation with others but would largely serve as a deterrent.

My hope is that there be no convictions under the bill; that the bill would be robust, would stand, would ensure that Canadians have access, and would ensure Canadians are never discriminated against, because employers and others know the costs of discriminating.