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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was chair.

Last in Parliament May 2022, as Liberal MP for Mississauga—Lakeshore (Ontario)

Won his last election, in 2021, with 45% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Canada's Contribution to the Effort to Combat ISIL February 22nd, 2016

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. minister for her excellent speech. I am proud to have served in Iraq for nearly seven years as a United Nations official.

I think there is a fundamental misunderstanding on the part of the Conservative Party of this conflict. In fact, the member for Parry Sound—Muskoka undermined his own case for continued air strikes when he referred to the city of Mosul. Mosul has a population of 1.7 million, as he correctly pointed out, but ISIL is now enmeshed in that population. It is in charge of hospitals, schools, and civilian infrastructure.

In that setting, could the hon. minister inform the House how much more important humanitarian intervention is and local training, and how inappropriate continued air strikes may be in that setting?

Business of the House February 4th, 2016

Madam Speaker, there seems to be a disconnect within the Conservative caucus. At worst, it could be seen as audacious doublespeak; at a minimum, it could be a factual misunderstanding among its own members.

Over the past two weeks, we have heard member after member from the Conservative caucus stand and tell us how much their ridings, which they characterize as middle class, are hurting. The member and his colleague from Edmonton—Wetaskiwin seem to be suggesting that the middle class is strong. Which is it?

Business of the House February 4th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, of course, it is about science, it is about evidence, and it is about the public service. I am proud to say that I have been a member of the public service of Canada, and nothing makes me prouder than the women and men in our public service who are working day in and day out crunching statistics and making sure that we have the best available information in front of us. This underpins not only our finances and our budgetary system but our entire approach to government. It is evidence-based, it is forward-looking, and it is aimed at creating a better future for all Canadians.

Business of the House February 4th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for this excellent question.

It is not just about numbers. We could discuss and debate numbers all week, if we wanted to.

It is principally a question of looking forward and growing our economy.

One cannot take a snapshot and say that there is a surplus. No one in business does that. They look at long-term projections. Over the period that the previous government was in power, we clearly saw not only a deficit but also the worst economic record since the Great Depression.

Once again, in October Canadians resoundingly told us that the globally integrated Canadian economy needs investment, needs nurturing, and needs active attention on the part of its government.

Business of the House February 4th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, the member raised questions with respect to the government's understanding in the area of the management of the economy.

First and foremost, I would put to the member that it is the Liberal government that understands that an economy needs to be nurtured. If an economy were left to its own devices in this global setting, it would produce the economic record the Conservative government put forward over the last 10 years, which was the worst economic record since the Great Depression. Therefore, in terms of managing the economy and managing money, I do not think the Conservatives should carry too loud a voice.

Second, we went back to the people in October. They gave us a resounding mandate to invest in and grow the economy, to use those levers that are in the hands of government to make Canada better, to reach out to and strengthen the middle class, and to have a strategy for the future.

Business of the House February 4th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to underline the decisive steps that our government has taken to address challenges facing our economy, steps we took immediately after the Canadian people handed us a majority mandate for a new approach that prioritizes long-term economic growth.

Since last fall, we continue to see headlines about the weakness in the global economy. Despite volatility in this economy, what Canadians can always count on is the tireless professionalism of the many public servants working on their behalf. This is why I am so taken by the opposition's efforts to drag civil servants of the Department of Finance into an effort to score passive aggressive partisan points. It is simply unacceptable.

The numbers up to November 2015 are clear. They are in line with a projected small deficit for 2015-2016. Let us take a closer look at the numbers. Revenues for the April to November 2015 period increased by $14.2 billion, or 8.2%, from the same period last year. These numbers are the result of unique circumstances, circumstances that are no longer congruent with the current fiscal realities, circumstances that do not reflect the previous government's stewardship of the economy. These circumstances were in part due to a $2.1 billion gain realized on the sale of General Motors common shares in April and higher corporate income tax revenues.

The opposition cannot bank on one-off situations and then claim sound economic management. The reality is that revenue growth is expected to slow over the remainder of the fiscal year, reflecting economic trends of collapsing commodity prices, prices that have not yet recovered and look to remain low over the medium term. The only people who believe that the previous Conservative government left behind a surplus are the Conservatives themselves. Canadians know better.

Make no mistake, the Government of Canada will post a deficit for the 2015-2016 fiscal year, and that deficit rests squarely on the shoulders of the actions taken and inaction of the previous government. This is a fact.

The previous Liberal government left behind a $13 billion surplus in 2006. The Conservative government squandered that surplus and accumulated an additional $150 billion in new debt, while still managing to deliver the worst growth record since the Great Depression. We have been, and will continue to be, proactive managers of the economy.

Since our earliest days in office, we have had a plan to grow the economy, create jobs, and invest in communities. It began with the government, as its first order of business on December 7, tabling a notice of ways and means motion to provide a much-needed tax cut for Canada's middle class. This is the first of three major economic planks on which we are moving forward. They reflect on what we feel is the lifeblood of Canadian society, the middle class.

I want to remind the opposition that it is our government that has brought tax relief to the middle class during these troubled times, a tax cut that puts money into the pockets of about nine million Canadians each year. This was the right thing to do and the smart thing to do for our economy. The proposed middle-class tax cut and accompanying proposals will help make the tax system fairer, so that all Canadians have the opportunity to succeed and prosper.

Canada is in a strong position to face the future. Our debt-to-GDP ratio is well below the G7 average, and keeping our debt-to-GDP ratio on a downward trajectory throughout our mandate remains a central plank of our economic agenda. We have a well-educated population. We have abundant natural resources. We are fortunate to have the world's largest economy as a neighbour. Also, diplomatically, Canada is back on the world stage in a big way. We are actively pursuing a long-term vision.

Many leading economists agree that strategic planning and investment in bridges, roads, and other building projects are essential ingredients for creating long-term economic growth. This type of investment requires forethought, planning, and most importantly, working with others. Our government is committed to working with provinces, municipalities, and indigenous communities to ensure that our funding decisions make sense for the present and future needs of those communities.

Going forward, the government will introduce proposals in the budget to create a new Canada child benefit. Payments under the new Canada child benefit would begin in July 2016. In addition to replacing the universal child care benefit, which is not tied to income, the proposed Canada child benefit would simplify and consolidate existing child benefits, while ensuring that help is better targeted to those who need it most.

All of these initiatives demonstrate that our sights are clearly set on the future. These actions would help strengthen the middle class and those who are working hard to join it by putting more money in the pockets of Canadians to save, invest, and grow the economy. More broadly, they would help grow our economy in the context of a difficult global economic climate, so that all Canadians can benefit.

We have also brought an open and collaborative approach to how we are going to solve the problems that are facing us. To ensure that our plan is aligned with Canadians' needs, the government is continuing its pre-budget consultations online, as well as through submissions. We are open to hearing what Canadians have to say, and we have been encouraged by the record number of people engaged in sharing their ideas.

So far, Canadians have identified economic growth as their top priority. Canadians know that economic growth means bettering their own circumstances, but also bettering their communities. Canadians identify economic growth with opportunities not only for themselves but for the people in their communities and, indeed, across our great country.

The government will continue to develop measures and pursue a fiscal plan that is responsible, transparent, and suited to these challenging economic times. These plans will be most effective when all of us seize the opportunities to grow our economy together and for the benefit of all. Now is the time to overcome the challenges we face in our economy, in the House, and in Canadian homes. Given the headwinds that the Canadian economy is facing, it makes sense to follow through on our commitment to a strong and growing middle class, because it is central to a healthy economy and helps to ensure that all Canadians have a fair and real chance to succeed.

The economic and fiscal update presented in November gave Canadians a transparent picture of our economic and fiscal situation. It makes clear that the previous government put the country on track for a $3 billion deficit. It takes into account such factors as low and volatile crude oil prices and a weak global economic environment, risk factors that have become more pronounced in recent months.

After 10 years of weak growth, this government has a plan to grow the economy, to create jobs by focusing on the middle class, by investing in infrastructure, and by helping those who need it most. My colleagues have spoken about the support that our plan has already received and, indeed, that our plan has received in my riding of Mississauga—Lakeshore. We will continue our focus, and we will aim to grow the economy in a responsible way, with a long-term vision.

Business of Supply December 10th, 2015

Madam Speaker, most important would be the resumption of diplomatic relationships. We are providing humanitarian aid and assisting with military training of the Kurdish forces. We have let go of our diplomatic engagement in the Middle East. If we are not trusted as political interlocutors, we have no future in working toward a comprehensive solution.

Business of Supply December 10th, 2015

Madam Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for her very pertinent question.

It really is about what Canada does best. What is our expertise, what is our record when it comes to international engagement?

What can we do best? With the problem of the complexity of ISIS, it is a question of figuring out what is not only in our national interest, but through which avenues we can help the Iraqi people, the people of the Middle East the best. It is not simply by dropping bombs on Syria; that is not the Canadian way. It has never been the Canadian way to reflexively engage in air strikes without further thought.

Maybe I can take this opportunity to question fundamentally a perspective on the side of the Conservative caucus that somehow suggests that we dishonour our women and men in uniform, or dishonour their service, by pulling them back or redeploying them. That calls into question the civilian control of our armed forces that is fundamental to our democracy and that this caucus seems to be throwing into question.

Business of Supply December 10th, 2015

Madam Speaker, again, the problem of ISIS is multi-faceted. There are many tasks that need to be accomplished. Canada can play a better role in this conflict than simply dropping bombs. Canada has demonstrated its engagement at political, diplomatic, humanitarian, economic, and governance levels in the past. There are roles for us to play that others are not playing effectively that we could and should play. Again, most emphatically at this point, training the brave men and women of the Kurdish forces who are standing firm in their fight against ISIS. It is a local solution that is required; it is local embrace of their own collective future. We are here to help the Iraqi people, the Kurdish people, the people of the region who stand against ISIS to achieve exactly that.

Business of Supply December 10th, 2015

Madam Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Etobicoke Centre.

This afternoon, it is with a great sense of responsibility, humility and pride that I rise before my colleagues in this honourable House for the first time.

I would like to thank the people of Mississauga—Lakeshore for putting their trust in me. I would also like to thank my family and my extraordinary team in Mississauga—Lakeshore. I also want to congratulate all of my colleagues in the House on getting elected or re-elected and you, Madam Speaker, on your re-election.

I am rising on a very important topic, namely ISIS, a terrorist group otherwise known as Daesh.

I would like to begin by thanking my colleague opposite, the hon. member for Parry Sound—Muskoka, for introducing this motion so that we can have this important discussion here in the House of Commons today on developments in the Middle East.

I was in the Middle East for nearly seven years, from 2005 to 2012, serving as a senior United Nations official in Baghdad, Iraq. The majority of my time was devoted to supporting the Iraqi parliament, the Iraqi executive, and elected officials of the Iraqi Kurdistan region. My team and I supported our Iraqi counterparts in building an all-party dialogue on important questions of political and constitutional reform, including their struggle with early incarnations of the Islamic State of Iraq.

As a Canadian who has served proudly under the blue flag, one of my proudest moments was was when former prime minister Jean Chretien decided not to join the coalition that intervened in Iraq in 2003, a decision that was supported by members of the Conservative caucus but opposed by President Obama.

It is difficult for me to fully capture just how much goodwill this Canadian decision generated among the people of Iraq during the subsequent decades and how profound a role it played in allowing my U.N. team and me to build trust and effective working relationships with our Iraqi counterparts and Iraqi-Kurdish counterparts.

Let me be clear. Today the question of how to deal with the Islamic State is of the utmost importance for people of the Middle East, for us in the west, and in all other parts of the world and, ultimately, for human civilization. By all indications, fear, division, and widening global conflict is what this murderous group wants to achieve. We must not indulge it. We need to defeat it in other ways.

Canada's most effective contribution to the fight against ISIS will focus on empowering those voices and forces in the region that are prepared to stand up and take on the fight to reclaim their territory and their collective future from this terrorist group, like our friends in the Iraqi Kurdistan region.

One of the greatest obstacles to the fight against ISIS is that at the moment there is no alternative vision in the Middle East. Young men or women in Iraq or Syria who contemplate standing up in the struggle against ISIS will first ask themselves what exactly they are fighting for. The formulation of an alternative, the vision of a better tomorrow for an economic and social future, is not something that can be created by dropping more bombs on Syria.

The Islamic State is a complex, multifaceted humanitarian, economic, religious, cultural, political, and military problem. It has those components. Most important, the vision for a better tomorrow has to be created by the people of the Middle East; it cannot be imposed from the outside.

I am proud of the government's decision to withdraw our fighter jets from the Syrian air campaign, all the while remaining engaged in the effort to defeat ISIS on other fronts, including military training and advisory capacities to support the brave miliary forces in the region that are taking up the armed struggle and who have developed their vision for a better tomorrow.

Just to be clear, the Canadian Armed Forces has a strong record of projecting leadership abroad through its participation in international operations. Foremost in our memory of course is the mission in Afghanistan. Over the 12-year mission, Canada sent more than 40,000 personnel to the region. Many of our members served more than one tour, including our hon. Minister of National Defence.

Our achievements in Afghanistan were hard won. Our forces had to overcome many challenges. Canada undertook ambitious projects that aimed to improve the lives of Afghans, including helping to build critical infrastructure such as roads and schools and supporting partners with important initiatives like education on polio.

We are proud of Canada's legacy in places like Afghanistan and in many other places around the world, and of the tremendous effort of our brave women and men in uniform. Our legacy continues as the people of Afghanistan now continue to progress toward a democratic and secure country.

Our government has never been opposed to deploying our armed forces in combat when it clearly serves our national interests. The Government of Canada will shift our mission to a non-combat role that will be focused on training and humanitarian aid.

I am particularly proud of the fact that Canada participates actively in the humanitarian aid effort, which includes, most importantly and most recently, the fact that we will be welcoming 25,000 Syrian refugees to Canada by March of next year.

The problem of Daesh is multifaceted. There are many roles to play. Canada is not advocating for an end to the air campaign. There are countries that are going to conduct an air campaign. We are not telling them to stop. All we are saying is that there is a better way for Canada, a more effective way that better fits Canada's historical missions. It is sophistication. It is an understanding of the region and it is a history of diplomatic engagement. For that reason, I am proud to speak against the motion today.