Joe COMARTIN

COMARTIN, Joe, B.A., LL.B.

Personal Data

Party
New Democratic Party
Constituency
Windsor--Tecumseh (Ontario)
Birth Date
December 26, 1947
Website
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joe_Comartin
PARLINFO
http://www.parl.gc.ca/parlinfo/Files/Parliamentarian.aspx?Item=1b175d0f-9278-4e04-9fa8-0368e591c5a5&Language=E&Section=ALL
Profession
lawyer, managing director

Parliamentary Career

November 27, 2000 - May 23, 2004
NDP
  Windsor--St. Clair (Ontario)
June 28, 2004 - November 29, 2005
NDP
  Windsor--Tecumseh (Ontario)
January 23, 2006 - September 7, 2008
NDP
  Windsor--Tecumseh (Ontario)
  • N.D.P. Deputy House Leader (February 27, 2006 - October 12, 2011)
October 14, 2008 - March 26, 2011
NDP
  Windsor--Tecumseh (Ontario)
  • N.D.P. Deputy House Leader (February 27, 2006 - October 12, 2011)
May 2, 2011 - August 2, 2015
NDP
  Windsor--Tecumseh (Ontario)
  • N.D.P. Deputy House Leader (February 27, 2006 - October 12, 2011)
  • Deputy House Leader of the Official Opposition (May 2, 2011 - October 12, 2011)
  • N.D.P. House Leader (October 13, 2011 - April 18, 2012)
  • Official Opposition House Leader (October 13, 2011 - April 18, 2012)
  • Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons (September 17, 2012 - December 3, 2015)
May 2, 2011 -
NDP
  Windsor--Tecumseh (Ontario)
  • N.D.P. Deputy House Leader (February 27, 2006 - October 12, 2011)
  • Deputy House Leader of the Official Opposition (May 2, 2011 - October 12, 2011)
  • N.D.P. House Leader (October 13, 2011 - April 18, 2012)
  • Official Opposition House Leader (October 13, 2011 - April 18, 2012)
  • Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons (September 17, 2012 - December 3, 2015)

Most Recent Speeches (Page 860 of 861)


February 27, 2001

Mr. Joe Comartin (Windsor—St. Clair, NDP)

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the minister of natural resources was in Washington discussing a confidential energy policy with the U.S. and eagerly promoting the massive expansion of oil and gas production in Canada to help the U.S. meet its energy needs.

Instead of encouraging policies that promote renewable energy resources and energy efficiency, the government is on a course to greatly increase the burning of fossil fuels and production of harmful emissions.

Why is the government putting the energy demands of the U.S. ahead of our environmental and our international commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Energy
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February 23, 2001

Mr. Joe Comartin (Windsor—St. Clair, NDP)

Madam Speaker, I rise to address this bill. By way of background, I am bringing to this the perspective of having practised family law almost exclusively for some 15 years and then significantly for another 12 or 13 years in the province of Ontario. I have also instructed in family law at the local law school as a sessional instructor and I have been a sessional leader at the bar admission course in Ontario as well.

There is a point I particularly want to address. If I understood the comments of the author of the bill, he is interested in avoiding what at times is the inevitable conflict between parents in the course of a marriage breakdown. I have to say to the member that my experience tells me the presumption he wishes to build into the legislation would inevitably have the effect of heightening both the amount of litigation that would go on and the level of hostilities between the parents.

In that regard, I draw to the House's attention some of the statistics he gave on the breakdown that exists in the country in terms of how custody arrangements are finalized. Members may recall that he made the point that in approximately 85% of all custodial arrangements custody resides with the mother of the children and some 6% or 7% with the father of the children, the remainder being joint custody arrangements.

As a bit of an aside, that 6% is a substantial increase from the time I first started practising law. I think it reflects some change in society and society's orientations and particularly in the orientation of women and mothers to be willing to look at a custody arrangement. It also reflects, I think importantly, the amount of additional time that male members of society are taking with the children in wishing to have that type of arrangement.

However, I want to come back to the reality of the process when marriage breaks down. What will occur, I prophesy, is that of the 80% of mothers who attain custody we will have a much greater number of them going to court if this type of bill and presumption are passed into legislation. We will have them going to court to rebut that presumption in order to establish sole custody in their names.

The end result is that instead of having 10% of all cases going to substantial litigation, which is the figure he quoted, we will have a greater number. As an aside, I can point out that does not mean those cases go to trial and are determined by a judge. What that means is simply that they are lengthy and protracted litigation, which oftentimes ultimately end up in settlement in any event.

However, what we will be having is a number greater than 10% in our courts. If we are really sincerely interested in protecting our children from the abuse they suffer from the litigation process, we will want to avoid this. I can speak to that personally from the fairly substantial number of contested custody cases I was involved in. There is emotional abuse of children as they suffer their way through the protracted battles between their parents. This proposed legislation would only heighten that.

From that perspective alone we would have to oppose this proposed legislation. There are a number of other points we could make regarding the validity of the presumption, but recognizing that it is this time of the week, I will leave my comments at that.

Topic:   Private Members' Business
Subtopic:   Divorce Act
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February 23, 2001

Mr. Joe Comartin

Mr. Speaker, at the outset of my comments today I made it clear that I was in support of the number 12. I felt that the legislation as far as it went on that point was appropriate. We need to have some number. I think as a House we have accepted that, and the Ontario Court of Appeal has made it clear that the number 50 was unreasonable. The use of 12 seems to be appropriate. It is in keeping with the acknowledgement of party status in the House if that many members are elected.

Should the number be 10, 14 or 15? I suppose arguments could be made in that regard, but 12 seems to be accepted because of the historical significance of elected members within the House. I thought I had made that clear at the start of my comments but if I did not, I apologize to my friend across the House.

I will go back to the point the member raised about the way the debate has gone and the fact that so many people have raised other issues. I think that is the inadequacy of the legislation. It does not address a number of other very crucial issues, some of which I have spoken to. Enumeration, in particular, should have been addressed. I thought we had some sense of that from the House leader earlier in the session, that something more extensive would be forthcoming.

I reassert all the comments that I made in my original address, but to address his particular question, I made it obvious that we do support the number 12 in order to achieve party status for electoral purposes.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Canada Elections Act
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February 23, 2001

Mr. Joe Comartin (Windsor—St. Clair, NDP)

Mr. Speaker, the Deputy Prime Minister may feel satisfied with the way he has dealt with the legitimate concerns of British pensioners living in Canada by saying the matter is being dealt with in the U.K.

However, perhaps he would explain why his government continues to ignore a problem clearly within the scope of his government: thousands of Canadian citizens facing crippling taxes on their U.S. social security benefits. They have been calling for relief from the government for over four and a half years without success.

Both the finance minister and the Deputy Prime Minister have acknowledged the problem yet have chosen to do nothing about it. When will the government take action to address the gross injustice faced by the Canadians asking for social security fairness?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Social Security
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February 23, 2001

Mr. Joe Comartin (Windsor—St. Clair, NDP)

Mr. Speaker, I made my first address in the House yesterday. You were not in the chair at the time, so I take this opportunity to congratulate you on your election. I wish you well in your position and I wish you the best in terms of dealing with the stress that the job creates.

With regard to the legislation before us I wish to make several points. We are in support of the thrust of the bill to provide party status to those groups that can muster 12 members to run on their behalf.

Our concern is much more with the inadequacy of the bill on a number of other points. Recognizing the time I have, I wish to address the lack of updating the permanent enumeration list from the perspective of the experiences I have had. I have now ran on three occasions, and on each occasion I was confronted with similar problems that resulted in the inability of people in my riding to vote on election day.

I will use one example. As a result of the unfortunate death of Shaughnessy Cohen, there was a byelection in my riding in 1999. There was construction going on at the time in the town of Tecumseh in one of the suburban areas.

When I ran again in the November 2000 election, I happened to be canvassing door to door in that area. I was knocking on doors of some people that I had met in the previous two election campaigns, but then I crossed the street and I began consistently running into residents that had clearly not been put on the voters list. I was with a couple of supporters and we decided to cover the whole area to see who was not on the list. It turned out that it was a new subdivision and well in excess of 100 voters were not on the voters list.

The point I suppose I should emphasize is that at this stage it was only about seven or eight days before the election and all these people had some significant difficulty voting on November 27. If a regular enumeration had been conducted prior to the vote and during the election period, these people would have been easily picked up and they would have had minimal or no difficulty on election day.

I should make a point that the returning officer in our area was not somebody who neglected her responsibilities. In fact I thought she was quite positive in the way she did her job. She did it as effectively as she could but was hampered both by the shortness of the election period and by the other tools that she did not have.

There were other areas where we had trouble. The one of particular concern to me was with immigrants to Canada who had only recently achieved the ability to vote under the Canada Elections Act. We have had a major in-migration in my riding, particularly from the Middle East. There are some difficulties with language. As a result a number of people in two areas of my riding where they tended to settle were not on the voters list. If an enumeration were conducted we would have been able to identify those people, get them on to the voters list and facilitate their ability to vote.

In many cases, when these individuals did go to the polls, they had particular difficulty because of language. Often they spoke English or French but they had difficulty with the language. They needed extra support in order to work their way through the system and had to bring the proper identification in order to vote on election day. Again, a good number of them ended up being disenfranchised.

There are certain areas in my constituency with people who are of low income. We have, as is the case in a number of other major municipalities, a housing problem. These individuals often have difficulty affording housing and are moving on a regular basis. The lack of enumeration of these individuals during the election period again tends to disenfranchise them. They end up being disenfranchised almost on a class basis because they are forced to move often due to the cost of housing. We are caught in a situation where we disenfranchise them.

A number of these people often have difficulty with their identification and are not able, even if they are determined enough to go to the polls on election day, to produce the necessary identification.

In one area of my riding it is a financial issue. If people show up at the poll and do not have their identification with them, they have to actually take a bus, because the poll is so large, go back home, get their identification and then come back. Those few dollars that it cost them is often enough to dissuade them from voting on election day. So we disenfranchise them.

The University of Windsor, although not located in my riding, has a number of students who come in from outside to vote in the riding where they may be residing while they go to school. The lack of enumeration restricts a number of them and they often have difficulty on election day producing identification that would make it possible for them to vote. They end up being disenfranchised.

We all know the figure that has been publicized, the one million plus voters who were not on the voters list on election day on November 27, 2000. That, by any standards, is unacceptable in a democratic country.

We would ask the government to reconsider the legislation and to provide additional amendments that would make it possible to have enumeration conducted during the course of the election.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Canada Elections Act
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