House of Commons photo


Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was place.

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

Protection of Canada from Terrorists Act November 4th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, we have had two serious cases, Abdullah Almalki and Maher Arar. Justice Iacobucci and Justice O'Connor made significant recommendations around the protection of Canadians' rights vis-à-vis CSIS and the RCMP. We do not see those recommendations in the bill. In committee, were there discussions around that and did New Democrats push to have that included in this legislation?

1984 Anti-Sikh Attacks October 31st, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I rise today in the House to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the tragic massacres of 1984 that targeted Sikh men, women and children in New Delhi and many other parts of India.

The NDP stands in solidarity with Sikh communities across our country in seeking justice. At times when innocent lives are lost with no accountability nor explanation, we have an obligation to ask why and to seek honest answers for our friends and fellow citizens.

The victims and the survivors of 1984, in particular, the many widows, require support and recognition. The actions of the police and allegations regarding the role of congress members must be examined. The truth must be brought to light and most importantly, the guilty must be brought to justice.

Today, as we mark the events of 1984, beyond seeking justice, remembrance is the tie that not only binds us to our past; it also guides us through the challenges of our future.

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns October 29th, 2014

With regard to government spending in the Hamilton East—Stoney Creek riding, what was the total amount spent, from fiscal year 2010-11 up to and including the current fiscal year, broken down by (i) the date the funds were received in the riding, (ii) the dollar amount, (iii) the program through which the funding was allocated, (iv) the department responsible, (v) the designated recipient?

Nathan Cirillo October 29th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, yesterday our nation came together, standing to honour Corporal Nathan Cirillo.

As the member of Parliament for Hamilton East—Stoney Creek, I was the corporal's MP. Yesterday, above all else, I was honoured to have been part of a contingent of Canadian government officials there to express our deepest condolences to Corporal Cirillo's family.

During such times of tremendous loss, words often fail us.

Together in Hamilton, along with Canadians from coast to coast to coast, we expressed our collective and profound appreciation for the sacrifice made by this young man.

Our grief as a nation is nothing compared to that of Corporal Cirillo's loved ones, his parents, siblings, and most important, his five-year old son. It is our hope that they understand how closely Canadians continue to hold them in our thoughts, that they know that we as a country pray they somehow find the strength and courage to face the difficult days ahead.

Corporal Nathan Cirillo October 23rd, 2014

Mr. Speaker, it is with a heavy heart that I rise today to salute Corporal Nathan Cirillo, a constituent in my riding and a member of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, a storied regiment of the reserve forces based in Hamilton. This soldier was an example of the finest of men and women who stand between Canadians and those who would seek to destroy our way of life.

A single father of a young son, Corporal Cirillo earned the honour of standing on ceremonial guard at our National War Memorial. On such duty, soldiers are not issued live ammunition. Our service personnel are prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice, but who would have believed that on what probably was the proudest day of this man's life, he would lose it. Corporal Cirillo was murdered in the most cowardly fashion.

Today, as members of the House resume our duties on behalf of Canadians, I know all in this esteemed House will join me in offering our sincerest condolences to this family.

Business of Supply October 9th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, my friend talked about how some of these deals get put together and questioned the validity of some of the deals.

My understanding from people I have heard is that part of the reason for it being Gros-Cacouna was the fact that the company involved with moving the oil was concerned about dealing with the Irving family in New Brunswick.

That port is open all year round. It does not freeze over. There is not the risk of the tides that come into the Saint Lawrence.

Do you see that this played any part?

Military Contribution Against ISIL October 7th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, the member will probably be surprised to know that, prior to speaking, I came here in a rush because I had just left a press conference where we were talking about dissidents in Iranian prisons who were about to be executed, so I share his concern.

We have heard the comments about Syria, that if Assad asks, we will bomb. This is a man who just a year and a half or so ago the United States drew a red line and said that if he crossed it they would stop him, but they failed to do that. However, all of a sudden, this man is a potential ally. We certainly all should feel conflicted in this place, and I do not care from what party. The good souls who sit here who are going to make the best judgment they can with the information they have at hand.

We have lost an opportunity in the House. I do not often agree with some of my friends, but the fact is that we could have had our leader and the leader of the third party sworn into the Privy Council and taken into the discussions. Maybe, it is possible that it might have looked different. However, we can only make our decisions based on the information placed before us and placed before our leaders. The Conservatives have failed on that count.

Military Contribution Against ISIL October 7th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I was proud to stand in the House and vote against the Afghanistan mission because I thought it was ill conceived and ill prepared for.

Looking upon the circumstances we have today, the member says that if we do not go to war those people will die. However, there happens to be a huge military force from France, the United States and Australia with the weapons that can do exactly the job that the Conservatives are asking the Canadian military to do.

We are saying that it is not necessary for us to take part in that level of that conflict, but for Canada to have a role supplying humanitarian aid, supplying the workers that will build shelters. That is where Canada and a huge number of Canadians believe we should be in this particular event.

Military Contribution Against ISIL October 7th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to speak to this motion. As members of Parliament, the single most important duty we have is to give consideration to actions by the government, as those actions would lead our military men and women into harm's way.

One thing I want to be clear on is that at this point in time there is already an action under way to go after ISIL, the people committing the atrocities about which the members on the other side just spoke. Nobody on this side of the House is any less offended or troubled by those actions.

Right now militarily, about 60 countries are involved in a coalition and not all of them have made the decision to put their military into action. The United States, France and Australia are leading the way with a massive force. In point of fact, if we consider the six aircraft being proposed by the government and the 600 people who will accompany them, that is a very small portion of what will be utilized in the bombings.

Based on some testimony that the Subcommittee on International Human Rights heard this week from Reverend Majed El Shafie of One Free World International, which is a group that took Conservatives and other members of Parliament to Iraq, right to the edge of where the combat is taking place, the president of Iraq and Kurdish leaders begged for humanitarian aid for the hundreds of thousands of displaced persons in that country, not bombs.

I want to take members back for a moment and ask if they remember the use of the words “collateral damage”. In and around Parliament and places of government, there are often what are called buzzwords. An example of buzzwords that I am very familiar with were “free trade”. In the 1980s, there was a great debate on free trade and it sounded good. In both Gulf Wars, when the American missiles and bombs were dropping, collateral damage was referred to. The collateral damage consisted of men, women and children. Nobody can direct a surgical strike that does not put at risk having collateral damage.

One of the offshoots of the Gulf War was the instability when the Americans left. Prior to that time, Saddam Hussein, who was a Sunni, whose tribe was about one-quarter the size of the Shia in that area of the world, installed his Sunni supporters into the army. When the Americans and their allies removed Saddam Hussein and destabilized that area, he was ultimately replaced by a prime minister who was Shia, who sought revenge for the many atrocities committed by the troops of Saddam Hussein. It is said that he did not pay the army on time and humiliated it.

When a couple of thousand ISIL fighters came across the border, five divisions of Iraqi soldiers laid down their arms. Many of them joined ISIL because of the instability. Not understanding the horrific consequences, they believed that by joining ISIL, they would get a fairer deal from the government. Since that time, that prime minister has been removed.

I would like to inform the House, Mr. Speaker, that I am splitting my time with the member for Louis-Hébert.

The instability that was created by that vacuum and the years and years of Shia and Sunni tribal warfare is being taken advantage of by the ISIL group.

We have heard testimony from people here today and on other days that ISIL is far more sophisticated than any terrorist group that we have come across. It is an offshoot of al Qaeda. Our leader was indicating in the House the other day that North Americans have been fighting ISIL in one form or another for well over 10 years. It took advantage of that vacuum and has also taken advantage of some people who, had they really considered their actions, would not have joined it.

It is horrific. We have heard very little like it. The only place I can think of that might be comparable is the Democratic Republic of Congo where there have been atrocities.

Reverend El Shafie spoke to us in committee and raised the fact that they are four to five weeks away from winter and there is not even shelter for people. The few hundreds of millions of dollars, if not billions of dollars, that are going to be spent by Canada on these bombing missions would be better used serving the people on the ground in that country who are suffering. If we were to go there and build shelters and bring medicines, winter clothes and the things they need, they would be better served.

They were forced out of their homes. They were given a choice but they were not believers in this particular brand, this abhorrent brand of Islam. I am pleased to hear the government say that it is not Islam as the world knows it. This is a group of people, much like Osama bin Laden, who use the word “jihad” to justify horrific things. Those who know a little about Islam know that “jihad” simply means to defend one's religion when it comes under attack. It is not to go out and do the things that are happening here.

It is very important to remind Canadians who may be watching that in Canada there are 1.2 million Muslims. Every once in a while I will find someone who is ill informed, who says Muslims are trying to take over, or this and that. I remind him that there are 32 million of the rest of us. When do we see a newspaper story of a Muslim attacking someone in Canada, or stealing, robbing a bank, or committing murder? It is extremely rare because these are good people who believe very fundamentally and are committed to Islam.

Again, this is not Islam. This is a terrible group. I cannot think of ISIL members in any other terms than monsters because the things they have been doing are monstrous. I can understand that members on the other side who have the lever of power and the ability to say we should put our aircraft in the air, or put troops on the ground—in fairness, they have not said that as yet, but we are worried it might happen—would want to do something when we are facing those kinds of horrific crimes.

However, we have a coalition of 60 nations. We have among them the top three or four militaries on the face of the earth prepared to undertake this mission. They do not need Canada to go there bombing, but they do need Canada's help in this effort. I agree with Canada taking part in this effort. I agree that Canada must do something on a huge humanitarian scale because this is going to be proven to be one of the most horrific times in our history with what is going to happen to the displaced people. They have already been terrorized to the point of having to leave their homes. Many have had brothers, fathers, uncles and cousins murdered and there are other atrocities we have heard about.

No one is arguing those have not happened. What we are arguing is that perhaps Canada can take that step back from going into military action and say Canada is prepared to stand up with our allies, supply the humanitarian aid, offer support and the delivery of arms. We are already delivering arms to those fighters trying to protect their homeland, which we are in agreement with. However, it is most important to take that pause before we choose to send our men and women into a war zone that is going to become a quagmire. We saw it happen in the last war in Iraq. We saw it happen in Afghanistan where 40,000 Canadians went through that war zone. We are still paying the price for that today with PTSD and the loss of over 150 Canadian soldiers and a person from our diplomatic service.

I will close by appealing to the government side. Take a moment, step back and give some thought to the fact that this is a broader concern than just war and bombing. It is a place where we can do some real humanitarian work.

Pensions October 6th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, after paying into CPP for 25 years, Bruce Thompson, a veteran from my riding, was diagnosed with aggressive terminal cancer. His doctors say he has a few months to live.

Bruce applied for CPP disability, but because he took some time off when his father was dying to help him, he is a few hundred dollars short of the threshold. His claim was denied. His expedited appeal has been denied. Bruce will not live through the rest of the appeal process.

Will the minister and the Conservative government show some compassion and make an accommodation in this tragic situation?