Bill SIKSAY

SIKSAY, Bill, B.A.

Personal Data

Party
New Democratic Party
Constituency
Burnaby--Douglas (British Columbia)
Birth Date
March 11, 1955
Website
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bill_Siksay
PARLINFO
http://www.parl.gc.ca/parlinfo/Files/Parliamentarian.aspx?Item=6c68da58-bafc-4a4f-b39e-8cd226e21c57&Language=E&Section=ALL
Profession
political assistant

Parliamentary Career

June 28, 2004 - November 29, 2005
NDP
  Burnaby--Douglas (British Columbia)
January 23, 2006 - September 7, 2008
NDP
  Burnaby--Douglas (British Columbia)
October 14, 2008 - March 26, 2011
NDP
  Burnaby--Douglas (British Columbia)

Most Recent Speeches (Page 181 of 182)


October 19, 2004

Mr. Bill Siksay (Burnaby—Douglas, NDP)

Mr. Speaker, I want to congratulate my colleague, another new member, on his first speech in the House. I know the anticipation involved in that as I look forward to that later this morning myself.

My question for the member is with regard to his comments around the Canada learning bond and his pride in that new program. I recognize that it does offer some assistance to families and encouraging families to save for the education of their children is a good thing. However, it does not seem that it does very much for the current crisis in post-secondary education, particularly the student debt load and the ever increasing cost of tuition.

Could he recommend a program that would get to those issues immediately, as the government seems intent to do, and not put off the whole question of post-secondary education and student debt for many years down the road?

Topic:   Speech from the Throne
Subtopic:   Resumption of Debate on Address in Reply
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October 19, 2004

Mr. Bill Siksay

Mr. Speaker, I also want to congratulate the member for Hamilton Centre on his speech and the very passionate way he brought the concerns of his constituents to the House this morning.

On the question of foreign credentials, I have met with a number of people in my constituency who are in exactly that situation. I met with a doctor who was a refugee from Iran. She went to India where she trained as a doctor and eventually made her way to Canada. However in the 20 years she has been here she has never worked as a doctor, which is her chosen field. She is working in nursing administration but even that job is disappearing from underneath her. Her suggestion was to ensure that there were residency placements for people from other countries who did their training overseas. The competition for residency placements for doctors in Canada is very vigorous and she felt that one way we could go was to ensure that those people who needed those kinds of residencies had particular places designated for them in the process.

I also met with an engineer who also has not worked in his field as a professional engineer. He has worked as a consultant but not in his exact field over the years. He too believes that we need to work more closely with the professional associations to make sure that there are real opportunities developed for these people when they come to Canada.

Topic:   Speech from the Throne
Subtopic:   Resumption of Debate on Address in Reply
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October 19, 2004

Mr. Bill Siksay (Burnaby—Douglas, NDP)

Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to make my first speech in the House in this debate on the Speech from the Throne.

I would like to thank my supporters in Burnaby—Douglas for expressing their confidence in me. I would also like to assure those folks who supported other candidates that I am always willing to listen to their concerns and that they will always have access to the services of my office.

I would also like to pay tribute to the candidates who stood in Burnaby—Douglas in the last election: Bill Cunningham, George Drazenovic, Shawn Hunsdale, Adam Desaulniers, Frank Cerminara and Hanne Gidora. It is an honour for me to represent a riding that has such a strong NDP tradition. The first leader of the NDP, Tommy Douglas, represented the area through the 1960s as the MP for Burnaby--Coquitlam. To say that Tommy Douglas was a hero of mine would be an incredible understatement.

I also want to pay tribute to my predecessor, Svend Robinson. I worked with Svend for 18 years, briefly here in Ottawa but mostly in his constituency office. Everyone here knows of the difficulties that Svend faced last spring which led to his decision not to seek re-election.

Svend Robinson has a proud record of service to Burnaby, British Columbia and Canada through his more than 25 years as a member of Parliament. Svend was known for his service to his constituents and as an outspoken member who was not afraid to take on controversial issues. He was Canada's first openly gay member of Parliament. He was a tireless defender of human rights here in Canada and around the world and a prominent advocate for the environment.

Svend Robinson's voice will be missed here in the chamber. Like Svend's many friends from coast to coast to coast and, indeed, around the world, I know that he will continue his justice seeking work in new and exciting ways in the coming months.

I want to focus on the Speech from the Throne. I know that child care is an important issue for many families in my riding. Child care is not a luxury issue for the people of my riding. It is an issue of daily importance that has an impact on the development of the children of our community and on the pocketbooks of families.

The people of Burnaby—Douglas have anticipated a national child care program for many years, and rightly so since Liberal governments have promised it for at least 11 years. The throne speech mentions child care but does not give any details. I know that a throne speech is intended to paint broad strokes of the government's plan but I remain disappointed that specifics were avoided when it came to a national child care program.

The time for a high quality, universal, accessible, affordable and inclusive national child care program is now. In fact the time was yesterday but because the government has refused to budget we still have to press for what is urgently required.

Burnaby—Douglas is home to two fine institutions of post-secondary education: Simon Fraser University and the British Columbia Institute of Technology. Many people in my riding see post-secondary education as a key priority. We are still reeling from the huge cuts made in transfer payments for education. Students and their families are reeling from ever increasing tuition fees and students face a huge debt load as they graduate. When I look to the Speech from the Throne for measures to address that situation, I find nothing. This is a terrible oversight.

Like most cities, Burnaby has a significant infrastructure and public transit needs. The Speech from the Throne mentions the federal gas tax but promises only a “portion” for our cities. This backs away from the far more specific promise made by the Prime Minister during the election campaign.

On the environment, the government's program is also disappointing. Canada's record on the environment is terrible. We are now one of the worst of the OECD countries when it comes to pollution and greenhouse gases. We need a plan and a timetable to meet our Kyoto accord obligations. Climate change is an urgent reality on our planet, not some far off theoretical notion.

Poverty is an issue across the country. In Burnaby almost 27% of people live below the low income cut-off lines. Child poverty has increased in Canada despite Parliament's commitment in 1989 to end it by the year 2000. We need significant measures, such as an affordable housing program, to address the distribution of wealth in Canada.

I am glad the Speech from the Throne recognized the need for electoral reform. New Democrats will be pursuing proportional representation as a high priority. We want to ensure that the House reflects the human diversity of Canada and the full spectrum of political ideas found in Canadian society. We will be pressing for public hearings on national missile defence and star wars to give Canadians a chance to fully participate in this crucial decision.

I was pleased to be asked by the leader of the NDP to take on critic responsibilities in the areas of citizenship and immigration, Canadian human rights and western economic diversification.

Wearing that hat, I note that the Speech from the Throne contains yet another promise to address the issue of foreign credentials. This has been an issue for decades, if not longer. Why does Canada continue to deny the calling and waste of talent and dedication of those who were trained overseas? I hope the government will proceed on this issue with some urgency.

As I speak this week, Canadian churches and other organizations are calling on the government to address its refugee policies. This summer the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration criticized churches for allowing people, on the verge of deportation after failed refugee claims, to take sanctuary.

However there is a far more pressing issue than the small number of people in sanctuary in Canada, although each of their cases deserves careful review by the minister. The fact remains that there is no significant fact based appeal on the merits of a case available for refugee claimants in Canada. This is despite the fact that such an appeal was mandated by the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act passed by Parliament in 2002. The government must implement the refugee appeal division for this injustice to be undone.

We need to attend to the private refugee sponsorship program, a program that was largely responsible for Canada being recognized by the United Nations for its assistance to refugees. Delays in processing applications for this program are leaving refugees in danger and potential sponsors frustrated.

We need to address the huge number of undocumented people resident in Canada. These people form an easily exploited underclass and we must find ways to regularize their status. Canadian workers are increasingly worried that the government is willing to allow foreign workers into this country to do work that they are ready, able and available to do. This practice must be stopped.

On the human rights front, the government must answer for its use of the special security certificate procedure, which has denied a fair hearing to at least five people in Canada and which threatens to remove them from this country and potentially return them to torture and persecution. Many Canadians face racial profiling at borders or when they travel; blatant discrimination based only on the colour of their skin or their ethnic, national or religious origins. This practice is unacceptable.

Transgendered and transsexual Canadians face huge challenges in our society. We need human rights legislation that offers protection from discrimination on the basis of gender identity and expression. As a gay man, I would urge the government to end its appeal of survivor benefits for same sex partners. The House must finally deal with the question of gay and lesbian marriage. The government must have the courage of its new-found convictions in support of equal marriage and introduce legislation immediately.

Those are only some of the issues I hope to pursue. They were part of the NDP platform in the recent election. They remain part of our commitment to Canadians and are key to my commitment to the people of Burnaby--Douglas.

I often quote J.S. Woodsworth, the first leader of the CCF, when he said:

We are thankful for these and all the good things of life.

We recognize that they come to us through the efforts of our brothers and sisters the world over.

What we desire for ourselves we wish for all.

To this end may we take our share in the world's work and the world's struggles.

We do indeed have much to be thankful for as citizens and residents of Canada. In our increasingly interconnected world, much of what we do here directly affects people around the world. Their actions similarly affect us. It becomes harder and harder to justify selfish concerns as it becomes clearer that our greed is directly related to others' poverty, that our indifference can sentence brothers and sisters to lives of incredible difficulty and sometimes even death.

I also have always been moved by Svend Robinson's assertion, when he was asked at the time of the death of Sue Rodriguez, what the highest duty of a member of Parliament should be. Svend responded that “the highest duty of a member of Parliament is to love”. I know Svend did not have in mind a romanticized notion of love but a love that drives us to act justly to better the lives of those around us, honour their full humanity and live with care on this planet.

I feel those challenges and those words very acutely. I look forward to the day when we in this place hear a Speech from the Throne that is written from a perspective of love that seeks justice and that truly seeks to accord to others that which we desire for ourselves. I do not think we are there yet but I live in that hope.

Topic:   Speech from the Throne
Subtopic:   Resumption of Debate on Address in Reply
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October 19, 2004

Mr. Bill Siksay

Mr. Speaker, I think we were all shocked and surprised by the comments made by the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration this past summer when she criticized Canadian churches for offering sanctuary to individuals who faced immediate deportation because of failed refugee claims.

Canadians who enter into a sanctuary arrangement with a failed claimant do so after very careful consideration. It is not something that is undertaken lightly or cavalierly. People understand the kind of statement they are making when they take that kind of action.

It was rather a surprise to all of us that the minister should choose to focus on that particular issue, especially when the numbers are so small. There are probably six congregations across the country that are offering sanctuary to people.

The minister said at that time that there were probably 20 routes of appeal. Actually I think the number has gone up. I think she now claims that there are 42 different kinds of appeal. That comes as a surprise to almost everyone working in the field of refugee claims and working with refugee claimants.

The fact is there is no appeal based on the merits of a case. People cannot raise the facts of their refugee claim in any appeal process here in Canada. This fact has caused criticism from international organizations and almost every refugee serving organization in Canada.

The law that was passed here in 2002 addresses that, which is why the minister needs to implement that law without further delay.

Topic:   Speech from the Throne
Subtopic:   Resumption of Debate on Address in Reply
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October 19, 2004

Mr. Bill Siksay (Burnaby—Douglas, NDP)

Mr. Speaker, I want to congratulate the member for Dufferin—Caledon on his first speech in the House.

I noticed in his speech there was a passing reference to the environment and his concerns about environmental protection. I want to ask him what his commitment to the Kyoto accord is. I think most experts agree that we need to address Kyoto and the issue of greenhouse gases. Certainly in a recent report the OECD has condemned Canada's record on dealing with those issues.

I am not sure that his party is committed in that respect and I would like his response to that.

Topic:   Speech from the Throne
Subtopic:   Resumption of Debate on Address in Reply
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