House of Commons photo

Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was seniors.

Last in Parliament September 2021, as NDP MP for Hamilton Mountain (Ontario)

Won his last election, in 2019, with 36% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Pensions June 1st, 2016

Mr. Speaker, unfortunately, millions of Canadians do not have enough savings to retire in dignity. This is a national crisis requiring national leadership. However, after making big promises to boost the CPP, Liberals are now playing down expectations. They are refusing even to say what they are proposing to the provinces.

New Democrats believe all Canadians deserve to retire in dignity and security. Do Liberals believe in the goal of doubling CPP benefits, and what exactly is the minister planning to propose to the provinces?

Tamil Heritage Month May 20th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, it is my privilege to rise today to speak to the motion sponsored by the member for Scarborough—Rouge Park, which asks that the government recognize the month of January as Tamil heritage month.

The motion also calls for recognition of the contributions that Tamil-Canadians have made to Canadian society, the richness of the Tamil language and culture, and the importance of educating and reflecting upon Tamil heritage for future generations.

This is something the NDP can and will support. It is something the NDP has supported consistently over the years. In fact, the wording in this motion is almost identical to the wording of a private member's bill that was introduced by then-NDP member for Scarborough—Rouge Park and Canada's first Tamil member of Parliament in 2013. That bill unfortunately died on the Order Paper.

Passing this motion does not necessarily mean the government will take action, as we know. Motions are non-binding, and the government has no obligation to act. However, I hope the government sees fit to recognize January, every year, as Tamil heritage month.

For the past few years, a member of the NDP has risen in this chamber to recognize Tamil heritage month and to ask the government to instill that recognition in a permanent and ongoing manner. In fact, in each of 2014 and 2015, the former NDP member for Davenport rose in the House and made the following statement:

On behalf of the New Democratic Party, I am pleased to recognize today as the beginning of Tamil Heritage Month. For the entire month of January, Canada’s Tamil community will be celebrating its history and culture with a variety of events, including the Thai Pongal – the Tamil monsoon celebration. For more than 75 years, Tamils have enriched our country, both on the economic and socio-cultural levels. We acknowledge their contributions and are proud to recognize them. The NDP is urging the government to support our bill to officially designate the month of January Tamil Heritage Month.

I would be remiss if I did not mention that, after a number of attempts and motions were presented over the years in the Ontario legislature, and one of those by the leader of the Ontario NDP, Bill 156, which recognizes January as Tamil Heritage Month in Ontario, was finally passed on March 25, 2014.

I find the preamble to that bill very interesting. It reads:

Tamils began migrating to Ontario as early as the 1940s. Since that time, Tamil Canadians have overcome tremendous obstacles and have made significant contributions to the growth and prosperity of Ontario. January is an important month for Tamil Canadians. The Tamil Harvest Festival, Thai Pongal, as well as other Tamil artistic and cultural events, take place in January. By proclaiming the month of January as Tamil Heritage Month, the Province of Ontario recognizes the valuable contributions that Tamil Canadians have made to Ontario’s social, economic, political and cultural fabric. Tamil Heritage Month is an opportunity to remember, celebrate and educate future generations about the inspirational role that Tamil Canadians have played and continue to play in communities across Ontario.

It goes on to proclaim that “The month of January in each year is proclaimed as Tamil Heritage Month.” Why is this important? Well, 150,000 people in Canada identify Tamil as their mother tongue. That means that the actual community, which would include those second and third generation members, is actually significantly larger.

I recently did a Google search regarding the Tamil community and was amazed at the sheer number of activities and events celebrating not only Tamil Heritage Month but other activities throughout the year. I was also impressed by the number of articles discussing the contributions of Tamils in our community.

Mr. Neethan Shan is presently a Toronto School Board Trustee, and the founder and chair of the Tamil Heritage Month initiative. I do not think I could ever truly explain the importance of the initiative, but I think Mr. Shan can and I quote from his message from the chair:

In became more important than ever for the Tamils in the diaspora to identity ways to safeguard and promote our histories, heritage, language and unity. Consequently, I wanted to initiate a long term project that can help us, Tamils in diaspora, to remember, promote and celebrate the histories and heritage of Tamils around the world. Having participated and learnt from both our own Tamil Language Week initiatives of the past as well as from the various Heritage Months celebrated by other communities in Canada (such as Black History Month, Asian Heritage Month, South Asian Heritage Month etc),

I thought it would be appropriate to have a month for the Tamils in Canada, not just to celebrate our arts and culture but, more importantly, to educate ourselves, our youth and non-Tamils about the contributions Tamils have made in social, economic, political, cultural, scientific and other spheres of life for centuries around the world. The idea became a reality in January 2010 with the incredible support of the two founding partner organizations, Arivakam Canada and Canada Tamil Academy; both of whom help many thousands of our students in their learning of the Tamil language and heritage [across Canada]. My sincere appreciation and thanks to these two organizations as well as to the other twenty plus prominent Tamil Canadian organizations for adding strength to the initiative. I am...proud to say that this initiative has been very successful in getting all of our major...organizations to work together for a common cause with mutual respect and understanding....

This year, as in the past, we...[have an] opening ceremony, over and activities across the country, closing cultural...event titled Thamizh Vizha, launch of, publication of our official Tamil Heritage Month poster and the Tamil Heritage Guide and...many other media and [social media] awareness campaigns. More details of these activities will be published...through our..over twenty Tamil Canadian media partners ( stations, radio stations, print media and online media)....

It is important for us to celebrate our...arts and...language, but it is also important for us to celebrate and recognize the contributions of Tamils, philosophy, literature, mathematics, architecture, civil administration, trade and commerce, political systems, sports and recreation, environmental protection, struggles against various oppressions etc. I am hopeful that as this initiative evolves..., [our] activities and events will start to reflect the multi-dimensional contributions of Tamils to the world in the past, present and future.

We live in a multicultural society, a country that has been built by those coming here from other countries and building new lives, new communities. We are all, as Canadians, very proud of those roots and we continue to welcome the contributions of those coming from other countries to this day.

Mr. Shan is just one of the many members of the Tamil community who have made significant contributions to this country. There are incredible stories of other Tamil individuals that show how much they have given to Canada.

It is time the government gave the Tamil community the recognition it deserves. We need to join with those jurisdictions that have already recognized January, officially, as Tamil heritage month. We need to pass the motion and we need to make it binding for each and every January from here forward.

International Trade May 20th, 2016

Madam Speaker, steelworkers in Hamilton and other communities across Canada have suffered from the economic downturn and foreign takeovers, and also from the unfair competition with subsidized foreign steel.

This week the U.S. imposed a fivefold increase in tariffs on Chinese cold-rolled flat steel, due to unfair subsidies and dumping.

However, in Canada all we get are consultations. When will we see real action from the Liberals to stop steel dumping and protect good Canadian jobs?

Canada Post May 12th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, residents of Hamilton Mountain do not need a special panel to tell them their postal service has rapidly declined. The majority of complaints I receive from constituents is about problems with their mail delivery. Many of those complaints are about broken or frozen community mailboxes, stolen letters, and many times mail just not being delivered in a timely fashion.

Hamilton Mountain residents also do not need a special panel to tell them the Prime Minister promised to restore home mail delivery during the election campaign. That promise can be seen on video. After the election, the Prime Minister said he only promised a moratorium on the previous government's plan. Now his minister says maybe two days, maybe three days, maybe nothing at all. Clearly, the Liberals are very confused.

The residents of Hamilton Mountain are not confused. They want their home door-to-door delivery back and they want the quality of their service restored. The Liberals should do the right thing, keep their promises to Canadians, and restore door-to-door mail delivery at once.

Workplace Safety April 21st, 2016

Mr. Speaker, next Thursday, April 28, Canadians will be marking the National Day of Mourning for workers killed and injured on the job and those who have become ill because of their workplace.

The National Day of Mourning is not only a time of reflection and remembrance; it also is a day to rededicate ourselves to the goal of keeping workers safe at their jobs.

Canadian workers die at a rate of 1,000 per year because workplace safety is sacrificed to serve the interests of the bottom line. Often workers are killed because they have been pressured into doing unsafe work. This has to stop.

Workers in Canada are actively campaigning to have the Westray law, which was passed unanimously by the House over a decade ago, properly enforced so that corporations that kill and injure workers are held criminally accountable.

An injury to one is an injury to all. Let us protect workers and enforce the law.

The Budget April 11th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for her passionate speech. It was very well done.

I would like to ask my colleague from Davenport about the Liberal promises made to seniors at election time.

We in the NDP welcome the commitment to return the age of eligibility to 65 for old age security and for the guaranteed income supplement. We also welcome the Liberals' commitment to increase the guaranteed income supplement for all seniors.

The Liberals campaigned on promises to boost the guaranteed income supplement for low-income seniors immediately. That was the promise: immediately. They would also index the OAS and the GIS benefits to a new seniors price index.

Can I ask why seniors are now waiting until July, nine months after the election, for an increase to the GIS, and why the budget fails to mention the indexing of the benefits?

Jack McFarland February 25th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, it is with a great deal of sadness and respect that I rise today to mark the passing of Hamilton icon and World War II vet Jack McFarland. He was a hero. Mr. McFarland, who celebrated his 95th birthday in January, was one of the three remaining veterans from the 582 Rileys who stormed the beach of Dieppe on August 19, 1942.

Alongside his fallen comrades, Jack was wounded and captured and spent over two years as a prisoner of war. After his release, Jack returned to Hamilton, where he enjoyed a distinguished career with the Hamilton Police, retiring with the rank of staff sergeant in 1981. As president of the Hamilton United Council of Veterans, he worked tirelessly to have a Dieppe Veterans' Memorial Park built in Hamilton and was able to see that dream fulfilled in August 2003.

My colleague from Hamilton Centre and I have had the privilege of many interactions with Jack over the years. Jack spent his entire life serving his country and his beloved hometown, Hamilton, and for that, I and all Canadians sincerely thank him and salute him.

Employment Insurance February 25th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, I am very happy that the hon. member for Don Valley East is for making some changes to what the Conservatives did in their reforms.

The Liberals have always supported the NDP motions in the House, including for a 360-hour threshold and the call for a repeal of the Conservative reforms. In 2009, the Liberal Party called on the government of the day to institute a national 360-hour threshold for access to benefits.

Is the Liberal government in favour of the 360-hour threshold today? If not, why not?

Finance February 16th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, a new report shows that half of all Canadians aged 55 to 64 have no company pension plan and that their average savings are a shocking $3,000.

This is further evidence of a retirement security crisis that the Liberals continue to ignore. They promised an immediate boost to the guaranteed income supplement, but left the poor seniors waiting. They promised federal leadership to increase Canada pension plan benefits, but have shown no sign that they even remember making that promise.

Will the Minister of Finance confirm that this year's budget includes a clear commitment to expand the CPP?

Business of Supply February 2nd, 2016

Madam Speaker, I am sorry, but I did not hear the full question. I am sorry.