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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was question.

Last in Parliament March 2011, as Liberal MP for Vancouver South (B.C.)

Lost his last election, in 2011, with 35% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Business of Supply May 27th, 2010

Mr. Chair, was there any particular reason why there was no public acknowledgement of the halting or the stoppage of the transfers at those times, at least the three times that the minister has mentioned?

Business of Supply May 27th, 2010

Mr. Chair, the minister has been quoted in November 2009 as saying:

When Afghans are not living up to their expectations, we pause transfers. When they started to allow that access again, the transfers then began again.

There were multiple occasions before 2009, when Afghan authorities were not living up to their obligations, for instance. There were at least eight different complaints of abuse mentioned in the Federal Court decision of Anne Mactavish in February 2009. There were complaints between May 3 and November 5, 2007, at least eight complaints, that were before the court in terms of evidence.

Why were transfers only stopped in the three instances?

Business of Supply May 27th, 2010

Mr. Chair, why did the government not accept the proposal of Canadian embassy officials to have all detainees flown to Kabul for transfer to prisons where they could be properly monitored? Was it only because the detainees took up significant space on military aircraft?

Business of Supply May 27th, 2010

Mr. Chair, in cases where the minister is unable to give me the information, I would ask that he look for that information, and if he finds it, forward it to me at his earliest convenience.

Richard Colvin mentions that according to good sources, at least three Canadian-transferred detainees were sent to NDS black sites.

Will the government confirm this? How often did Canada transfer detainees to these sites, where human rights monitors are not permitted?

Business of Supply May 27th, 2010

Mr. Chair, who from DND attended the March 2007 inter-agency meeting attended in person by Richard Colvin, where he says a CEFCOM note taker stopped taking notes with regard to Afghan detainees? Was he or she ordered to do so, and by whom?

Business of Supply May 27th, 2010

Mr. Chair, all of the Liberal members will simply be asking questions and making no speeches. I have very short questions on two or three different issues. I will put them without any prefaces to make things simpler.

Which senior officials from DND, if any, received the 2006 Afghan human rights report, written by embassy officials in Kabul and delivered in either December 2006 or January 2007, which repeatedly used the word “torture” to describe the treatment of Afghan detainees?

Citizenship Act May 26th, 2010

Madam Speaker, I do not understand the parliamentary secretary's point.

I obviously support the amendment I have brought forward. I believe that the amendment is appropriate. I am open to looking at other things. I understand that the government may be moving some amendments to avoid some unintended consequences of this amendment. I would be very open to those.

The member preceding asked whether I would be open to adopted children getting the same rights as children born in Canada. We should be able to take a look at that. An adopted child legally has the same connection to an individual as a naturally born child in all Canadian laws. We should take a look at whether adopted children should be treated the same way naturally born children are in this particular situation. Obviously, it would depend on the committee as to where the committee goes. The amendment I have proposed is the most important amendment, for me, in the first place.

Citizenship Act May 26th, 2010

Madam Speaker, with respect to the adopted children, taking the last question first, that would be an easy thing to do. If there are any other unintended consequences, we should deal with them. I would be very open to that. Obviously, one would have to persuade the whole committee to support that.

With respect to private business people who choose to do business abroad, they are in a different category altogether. They are not in the category of diplomats or Canadian armed personnel or others who are sent for government service by either the provinces or the federal government. It is not that they are not doing work, and it is not that it is not good for Canada. They are in an absolutely separate category. I would have to be convinced to support that. At this moment, I would say no. I do not think we should extend this privilege to people who choose to do business abroad. However, I have an open mind, and I would be happy to be persuaded.

Citizenship Act May 26th, 2010

Madam Speaker, this bill would amend the Citizenship Act to provide that a child born abroad to, or adopted abroad by, a citizen employed outside Canada in or with the Canadian armed forces, the federal public administration or the public service of a province be considered like a child born in Canada.

Currently, children born abroad to Canadian government workers are considered under the Citizenship Act as first-generation Canadians born abroad. This, in turn, impacts their children, in that they are considered a second generation born abroad and are not eligible for Canadian citizenship if born outside Canada.

This bill would ensure that children born to or adopted by Canadians working for the federal or provincial governments of Canada would be treated as if they had been born in Canada, which is the fair thing to do.

I have an example that I want to provide. It is the example of Howard Cummer, a Canadian citizen who was serving as a trade commissioner to Singapore in 1979, when his son was born. His son now lives in Tokyo and is married to a Japanese national, but if Mr. Cummer's son and daughter-in-law have a child in Tokyo where they live, that child will not be entitled to Canadian citizenship under the current system. I believe that would be unfair. Citizenship would be denied despite Mr. Cummer's record as a civil servant and the fact he was working for the Canadian government at that time.

I am actually going to read the letter that he sent me. He is not my constituent, but he simply contacted me. I decided that it was the right thing to do to introduce this bill. I am using excerpts from his original letter to me. He stated:

“I am writing to you to seek your help in amending Bill C37, An Act to Amend the Citizenship Act, which became law on April 17, 2009, to eliminate the unintended consequences of the Bill on the children of Canadians born abroad.

“I know that the Bill was unanimously passed by Parliament to eliminate the transfer of citizenship to the children of 'sojourning' Canadians—who have no long-term or historical ties to Canada and who consider a Canadian passport only to be one of convenience.

“But the Bill cuts far too wide a swath!

“Take my family situation as an example. I was working in Singapore in 1979 as a Canadian Trade Commissioner when my son was born. We had to agree in writing that we would not claim Singapore citizenship for him in order for my wife to have a hospital bed.

“He is now 30 years old, married to a Japanese citizen and starting an internet bank in Tokyo. If he and his wife have a child in Tokyo then under the present rules of C37 that child will not be eligible for Canadian citizenship.

“My family came to Toronto from Pennsylvania in 1797 in the second wave of United Empire loyalists. Their presence is recorded in the place names of Cummer Avenue, Old Cummer Station and Cummer Park and my ancestors are buried in the family graveyard on Yonge Street now tended by the North York Historical Society. The family has fought for Canada in every war since the War of 1812 and was part of the Upper Canada Rebellion with William Lyon Mackenzie in 1837.

“But my family history is short compared to my wife's family—the Dawes claim to have been in Newfoundland since 1508 and can be confirmed as having been there by land titles since 1595.

“Between the two sides of the family there is over 600 years of Canadian history and yet my grandchildren will not be Canadian if born outside of Canada to my children who were born abroad while I was serving Canada.

“This is flat out wrong!

“The bill needs to be amended so that grandchildren of Canadian diplomats, Canadian Armed Forces personnel, the employees of Ministries of finance, Agriculture, Justice, CSIS,—all branches of government within interests abroad—will not be penalized for their citizenship—if their grandparents were working abroad for Canada.

“I am contacting you now to see what can be done to limit the unforeseen impact of this bill and to make the amendments necessary to preserve citizenship where and when it should be preserved.

—Howard Cummer”.

That actually makes the case for this bill more eloquently than I could have in this particular situation.

This is not a partisan issue. It is the right thing to do. Obviously, if and when it does go to committee, we can make the amendments so that there are no unintended consequences.

Citizenship Act May 26th, 2010

moved that Bill C-467, An Act to amend the Citizenship Act (children born abroad), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Madam Speaker, I am honoured to introduce this bill to deal with some exceptions that were in the legislation when it was unanimously passed. The bill would—