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

Budget Implementation Act, 2006 May 19th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to rise today to speak Bill C-13, the budget implementation act. The bill intends to provide the legislative framework for the budget that was introduced on May 10 to many cheers from this side of the House, but far fewer down at this end.

Ultimately, it cannot be said enough that this is a budget of missed opportunity. After more than 12 years of broken promises from the Liberal government, this was an opportunity to reinvest in the priorities of Canadians. The only real multi-year plan in the budget is for corporate tax cuts. There is no multi-year commitment to child care, education, training or the environment.

The Liberals hid their broken promises behind claims of huge deficits long after the deficit was under control. The Conservatives are now ignoring the $8 billion surplus expected this year, not to mention the $83 billion surplus expected over the next five years.

These surpluses represent a massive fiscal capacity, a capacity to invest, an opportunity to invest. Instead the Prime Minister and the other members of the House chose to squander over $7 billion in corporate tax cuts.

While we pay record prices at gas pumps as prices continually spike, the Conservatives chose to keep the subsidies to oil and gas companies. The people of my riding know that this is a budget of missed opportunity. My constituents see the loss of federal funding for the best start program, which raised hope and expectation for the people of my community that affordable, accessible, child care would soon be available.

At the same time, as less affordable accessible child care spaces are available, working families will see the elimination of the young child supplement and will see the promised $100 per month taxed down to very few real dollars. They see no real money to fight for the environment such as the Hamilton harbour after decades of industrial pollution.

For Stelco and Dofasco workers, who have been through months and years of uncertainty, there are no changes to EI and no new retraining efforts that will help them as the industry continues restructuring and changing to meet the new challenges.

For students at McMaster University and the parents and families who support our youth getting a post-secondary education, the budget does not propose affordability. The Conservative's solution for the post-secondary crisis is an increased opportunity to acquire debt for education, but no investment to lower tuition fees or introduce grants.

Instead of the steps outlined in Bill C-13, we should be seeing a plan for child care that invests in children and their families. Seventy per cent of children under the age of six have a mother who is in the workplace. There are only enough regulated child care spaces for 15.5% of these children.

In my riding of Hamilton East—Stoney Creek, the best start demo project area would have reached out to over 3,000 children and their families. Cancelling the child care agreements with the provinces amounts to a grab back of $3.6 billion in investment in our communities. Between 2005 and 2008, this was to represent an investment of over $93 million in our province alone.

What does the Conservative government budget cost the families of Ontario? It costs $30 million every year, $30 million that could have created spaces that are desperately needed, $30 million that would have been well spent on a partnership with the parents of Ontario's children.

Health care is the number one priority of Canadians, including the people of my community. It has been completely ignored. In the bill there is no investment to start a national pharmacare program, even though in a few short months our first ministers on health are expected to report back on the issue. In a recent series of mailings to my community, a large number of constituents wrote back to me asking for a national pharmacare program.

Budget Implementation Act, 2006 May 19th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, when I hear the government speak of EnerGuide and its high administration cost, I would say it is incredible, if not dubious, that it is including the assessment costs in that calculation. In fact, it would strike me that it seems to be doing this to meet a political goal. Would the member agree with that?

Human Rights May 19th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased with the member's words, but we heard the same thing from the Liberals before and did not get any action then.

On a related matter, four years ago, after many years of debate, the UN General Assembly adopted a new treaty to prevent and eradicate torture and ill-treatment worldwide. Sixteen countries have signed on to that protocol. Sadly, Canada is not one of them.

The protocol needs 20 signatories before it comes into force. Will the minister stand today and make a commitment to Canadians that we will sign the optional protocol on torture? Will the government take the step from words to action and take a leading role in preventing torture--

Human Rights May 19th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, on Monday the United Nations will release a report on Canada's human rights record. In recent years Canada has done more to ignore its human rights commitments than it has done to honour them. It is time to end the Liberal legacy of inaction and start complying.

What has the government done to conform with the recommendations that will be made on Monday and what measures has it put in place to ensure an open, transparent and publicly accountable process for coordinating the implementation and compliance of human rights in Canada?

Human Rights May 19th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, on Monday the United Nations Human Rights Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights is set to release a report, an assessment of Canada's progress on implementing our human rights commitments. The report is widely expected to raise serious concerns about our own record and make recommendations for improvement.

Many of those recommendations we will have heard before, recommendations like implementing transparent and accountable procedures for reporting to the Canadian people on our own human rights record; recommendations like the need to address the concerns of aboriginal communities, concerns like the alarming rate of violence and discrimination against aboriginal women and how we must, after 15 years, settle the Lubicon Cree land dispute; recommendations to find ways to address security concerns in a way that do not cause further injustice and increased insecurity through human rights violations, no more security certificates, no more deporting Canadians to countries where there is a serious risk of torture.

It is time for the Canadian government to take its commitments on the international stage seriously. It is time to comply.

Business of Supply May 4th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, it comes as no surprise to this member to hear the government member speak about parents who would like to stay at home with their young children. I agree. That may surprise the member.

However, in the real world of work today, in most cases both parents have to work. They need affordable, licensed, not for profit child care. I think the member would agree that the government is totally out of touch with the needs of the working people of Canada.

Business of Supply May 4th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, this plan is out of touch with Canadians. I am a grandfather. Members have spoken about being grandparents. A number of members have children and grandchildren. I have four children and seven grandchildren, five of whom would meet the criteria of this program.

Their parents would tell us that this plan is so far out of touch with reality that it is just like an episode of Leave It To Beaver. It is that old. Even if the government creates the spaces it is talking about, how does it believe that ordinary hard-working Canadians can possibly afford them?

Business of Supply May 4th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, it appears to me at least that the members of the government just do not seem to understand life in the urban cities. Some 60% of the citizens of this country voted against the party of this particular government. It seems to me that they were the people from the urban areas. That probably accounts for the lack of connection they feel.

VIA Rail May 4th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, currently about eight VIA trains pass through the city of Hamilton every day, but since 1992, none have stopped there to take on passengers.

In 2001, the people of Hamilton were promised by then transport minister David Collenette that VIA service would return to Hamilton.

As the federal representative for a growth region in the Hamilton area, it seems obvious to me that there is a need for a station there. Naturally, any site, regardless of its location, will need local public transit that adequately connects the station to other services within the wider community.

Nearly five years have passed since the federal government promised to return rail service to my community of Hamilton. It is time for a solution to be found and for the government to fulfill the promises made to the people of Hamilton.

Business of Supply May 4th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, I listened to that fine, well researched, prepared speech and I am having one heck of a time choking it down when I consider, since 1993, the former Liberal government traded on child care to achieve three majority governments. The hon. member opposite gave billions of dollars in tax breaks to corporations. Other members of the former government played fast and loose with public money to the point where they lost the confidence in the House. Now we hear them trying to blame the NDP, which is really a stretch.

The Liberals lost the confidence. We did not. Now like spoiled children, they continue to try to gain crass political points, and it is sad to see. It is hard to understand. To this point in time they are in denial and they do not seem to realize the Canadian public gave them the boot.