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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was seniors.

Last in Parliament October 2015, as NDP MP for Hamilton East—Stoney Creek (Ontario)

Lost his last election, in 2015, with 33% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Justice for Animals in Service Act (Quanto's Law) November 28th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I was reflecting on the fact that I have been in the House nine years and that this is the first time that my speech has been split like this. In considering where I would pick up from in my speaking notes, it came to mind that I should repeat part of my remarks for the people who perhaps did not hear the first five minutes.

I was speaking just before the break about the fact that in 1996 I chaired the largest civil demonstration to that point in Canada, in Hamilton, where there were 105,000 protesters. It is not important for me to go into why the protest took place, but my point was that this protest was well organized. There were 500 marshalls, and 1,267 busloads of protesters who came to town, along with 30,000 to 40,000 Hamiltonians who took part. The really significant part was that there were no arrests or injuries. In fact, the buses even left on time.

There are sometimes situations where crowds may get out of control, such as at the G20 summit in Toronto, where there were a lot of confrontations between police and the public, and a lot of controversy around what happened there. For those of us who have been involved with protests or picket lines—in my case, for some 28 years in the Canadian labour movement—there have been occasions when police services have brought K-9 units to the demonstrations. In the Toronto area, in particular, there are horses. If the public thinks about the equipment that is placed on the horses, it includes eye guards. One of the very distasteful things that has happened in the past is that some people have taken it upon themselves to spike the horses with screwdrivers.

I raise that because there is some justification, in the NDP's opinion, for this particular bill before us, although many aspects of the bill are already contained in law. In particular, we have a situation where this bill is proposing mandatory minimums.

Members will know that the NDP has very grave concerns about the government mandating how our judiciary should respond to any given case. We in the NDP believe that judges have been put in place, who, over the years, are aware of the evolution of the law they have studied and worked with and the jurisprudence that is set from case to case. This has to be taken into account whenever judges are deciding what kind of sentence should be imposed on someone who has been found guilty of an offence. To our way of thinking, that kind of skill level and well-informed opinion is essential to the process.

Yet time and again we hear in this place government members or ministers who believe they are the experts. In other words, the government says there have to be mandatory minimum sentences because it sees the considerations and reasoning that judges make in our courts of law regarding aspects of particular cases, In one instance, a judge may be more forceful in sentencing while in another he or she may taken into account a lot of things that have occurred in a case, believing that an individual might adjust his or her activity with a lesser sentence, who may respond well to the court showing leniency, returning then to the community and becoming a better citizen because of that.

The NDP supports this bill going to committee. It is important because we are prepared to sit down to see if we can make this bill better. We will certainly bring forward our concerns about the mandatory minimum sentencing.

Canada Post November 28th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, every day I am hearing complaints from my constituents in Stoney Creek who are troubled by the heavy-handed tactics of Canada Post when it is deciding where to locate the new super mailboxes. Canada Post representatives show up on their doorstep, not to consult or hear feedback but to tell them that their lot has been chosen for the box. If they have complaints, they are sent to a 1-800 number where they are told that it is a final decision.

The Conservatives have failed to protect mail delivery in this country. Now will they at least intervene and ensure a respectful consultation process, rather than what Canada Post is giving?

Justice for Animals in Service Act (Quanto's Law) November 28th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I want to start off by commending you, because that does not happen very often in this place. Your reminder about relevance in reference to the speech that was just given by the member for Timmins—James Bay is very important.

Oftentimes in this place, Mr. Speaker, each one of us has aspects of our representation about which we are very passionate. In the case of the member for Timmins—James Bay and the first nations people who are in his riding, he is very concerned. The striking comment from the police officer when they found that young aboriginal woman's body and when he compared that to the fact that Canadians would be more concerned about puppies, that was of course a flashpoint for my friend from Timmins—James Bay.

I know you were attentive, Mr. Speaker, because you allowed that debate to go perhaps a little long, straying away and then bringing it back with his comments. I appreciate the fact that you had the understanding of the passion, and I just want to commend you for that. That is not something that is usually done in this place.

I think the other reason for the frustration level for members on this side of the House is not that we are not supportive of bills and legislation to protect animals and service animals like the police or RCMP dogs, horses, or other animals. In fact the NDP has supported bills in this House before. I recall Bill C-232 and Bill C-592.

It is the fact that here we are, having a fulsome debate on this, which is more than reasonable, following times when we have had far more complicated legislation before the House and have had time allocation forced on us, more than 80 times now by my reckoning. Once in a while that level of frustration will percolate to the top in the comments we are making.

I can understand my friend, the member for Timmins—James Bay, expressing those concerns earlier.

I also want to commend the member for La Pointe-de-l'Île, the critic for the NDP, who reviewed Bill C-35, Quanto's law, for us and offered her recommendations and thoughts.

I might be able to bring a kind of unique perspective to this debate. In 1996, I was putting together, at that time, the largest civil demonstration in the history of our country in Hamilton. It was a protest against the Conservative government of Mike Harris at the time. We wound up with 105,000 people on the streets of Hamilton.

The point I wanted to make is that I had 28 years in the labour movement and, from time to time, either on picket lines or in various demonstrations, I have observed people who are taking part who quite often were provocateurs outside of the activists who had put together the particular event. I have seen on occasion where they had plans, for instance, to injure the horses of police officers with screwdrivers and implements like that.

I understand that when we are dealing with the use of service dogs and horses in crowd control in those circumstances, sometimes there are people who are very extreme.

In our case in Hamilton in 1996, we met with police services and the fire service, and I had individuals in charge of our security. We had 500 of our own marshals. At that particular event, we had about 40 troublemakers—I will not call them activists—who came with the intent of disrupting the event. We were able to discuss the matter with them and with our own marshals and limit their activities to the point where they peacefully demonstrated.

In the end, we can see the importance of having some kind of reaction to the abuse or killing of police service animals. We are in support of this bill going to committee. We do have some problems with the assignment of actual penalties, where the judge does not get to make the decisions. We believe we put our judges in courts to guide us and lead us in the law and to make those appropriate decisions.

Agricultural Growth Act November 24th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, considering the licensing and registration systems and the fact that it will add the need for additional resources at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, and considering the government's record in the last couple of years of budgeting for departments but then not delivering the budgeted money, we have a concern that will cause delays in licensing and registrations, as well as in enforcement. I would like the member's comments on that point.

Tougher Penalties for Child Predators Act November 20th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I want to start by saying that I am pleased that our justice critic has brought forward a recommendation to send this bill to committee for study. I also want to thank our member for Manicouagan for his reasoned responses.

In Hamilton a sexual offender was released after he had been assessed as likely to reoffend, which concerned the Chief of Police to the point that the police posted what part of town he was in, his name, and his picture. Ultimately, he could not live within the boundaries of the court order and turned himself in to the police. He is back in custody, and since he has been back in custody, he has caused quite a few problems.

My concern, and the concern of my constituents, is this: how do we deal with a situation like that? This is more of a comment than a question. Hopefully the committee will review that portion of the problem of child sexual abuse and take a good look at how we can manage to ensure that it does not happen and that people will receive proper health care as well.

Protection of Canada from Terrorists Act November 18th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I have repeatedly raised with a number of members in this place today the concern about the fact that I do not see the recommendations that came from Justice O'Connor in the Maher Arar case and the recommendations that came from Justice Iacobucci in the Abdullah Almalki case in Bill C-44. I would like the member to comment, because those were for the protection of the rights of Canadians and will be very critical moving forward. Hopefully the committee will be able to address it. I understand the focus and intent of the bill, but we do not see those protections.

Protection of Canada from Terrorists Act November 18th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate that this is my second time rising. In regard to my question to the government a few minutes ago about Justice O'Connor and the recommendations from the Maher Arar inquiry and the recommendations by Justice Iacobucci relative to the Abdullah Almalki case, I would like to ask my friend if, when he reviewed Bill C-44, he saw in the information we have before us any indication that the government followed any of those recommendations. I do not see it.

Protection of Canada from Terrorists Act November 18th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, for my friend across the way, when the government was considering Bill C-44, did it take into consideration the recommendations of Justice O'Connor from the Maher Arar commission and Justice Iacobucci from the investigation into the torture of Abdullah Almalki?

Both of those reports were very significant and very important to Canadians, especially in the area of oversight of Canadian civil rights.

Hamilton, Ontario November 18th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, all Hamiltonians are tremendously proud of our city. Recently dubbed the "Comeback Kid of Canadian cities" by the Ontario Business Report, Hamilton is well on its way to establishing a future that may well rival its impressive past. Quality, well-paying jobs have begun to return to our city, with more on the way.

Hamilton Health Sciences network, a network of six local hospitals, is now the city's largest employer, accounting for 10,000 jobs. Twelve per cent of Hamilton's workforce is now employed in health care and social services, while information and cultural industries employ about 13%.

From Canada Bread to Canmet, the federal government's material and metals laboratory located in the McMaster Innovation Park, to the hundreds of millions of dollars invested by ArcelorMittal Dofasco to upgrade its facilities across the city, to the revitalized arts communities in more neighbourhoods than I can name here, Hamilton is now seen as one of Canada's inspirational leaders for innovative development. We are so proud.

Citizenship and Immigration November 7th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, the minister is clearly feeling the heat, and so now the Conservatives want to have it both ways. They want to claim credit for restoring health care for pregnant women and children, and at the same time the minister is appealing the court decision in order to take that away again. The minister claims that he is only trying to save taxpayers' dollars, by launching expensive lawsuits on a policy that the court has already ruled unconstitutional.

Why does the minister not end this embarrassing charade?