RAFFERTY, John, B.A., B.E.

Personal Data

New Democratic Party
Thunder Bay--Rainy River (Ontario)
Birth Date
July 3, 1953
businessman, educator, musician, radio & tv host, school principal, teacher, volunteer worker

Parliamentary Career

October 14, 2008 - March 26, 2011
  Thunder Bay--Rainy River (Ontario)
May 2, 2011 - August 2, 2015
  Thunder Bay--Rainy River (Ontario)
May 2, 2011 -
  Thunder Bay--Rainy River (Ontario)

Most Recent Speeches (Page 1 of 99)

June 19, 2015

Mr. John Rafferty (Thunder Bay—Rainy River, NDP)

Mr. Speaker, after nearly a decade of Conservative government, Canadians still have no protection from unfair gas prices.

Prices have jumped 40% since mid-January, rising way faster than oil prices, and leaving consumers in Thunder Bay—Rainy River and across the country gouged at the pumps.

Canadians are ready for change. The New Democrats have long called for the creation of a gas ombudsman to ensure competition and protect consumers. Will the Conservatives finally support the creation of a gas ombudsman, or are they okay with Canadian consumers paying these unfair prices?

Topic:   Oral Questions
Subtopic:   Consumer Protection
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June 19, 2015

Mr. John Rafferty (Thunder Bay—Rainy River, NDP)

Mr. Speaker, this Sunday is National Aboriginal Day, and by happy coincidence I will not be in Ottawa this year but will have the privilege of joining my brothers and sisters of Fort William First Nation at Mount McKay in their celebrations.

In addition to the traditional celebrations, this year we will also reflect upon the findings and recommendations of Justice Sinclair and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. I would also like to personally wish Ontario Regional Chief Stan Beardy a happy and well-deserved retirement and thank him for his strong leadership over his many years of service in his many important roles.

With the election of a New Democratic government this October, Canadians will finally have a federal government that accepts responsibility for the immense injustices perpetrated upon our founding people by those who came later, a federal government that will make a solemn promise to ensure that these injustices are never repeated, a federal government that will finally work on a nation-to-nation basis with Canada's first peoples so that we can walk together, hand in hand, towards a better future.

Mino-giizhigad. Happy Aboriginal Day. Meegwetch.

Topic:   Statements By Members
Subtopic:   National Aboriginal Day
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June 19, 2015

Mr. John Rafferty (Thunder Bay—Rainy River, NDP)

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to speak on Bill C-597, on the last day of the 41st Parliament. This bill would amend the Holidays Act to make Remembrance Day a legal holiday. That is an important distinction. People watching and listening to this debate might be a little confused with the words “legal” and “statutory”. It is not calling for a statutory holiday. A statutory holiday would be a holiday like Canada Day, a day off that celebrates Canada right across the country. That is not what this bill is asking for.

It is simply asking for a one-word change to section 3 of the Holidays Act. I will read that section with the change in it. After this bill passes, section 3 would read as follows:

November 11, being the day in the year 1918 on which the Great War was triumphantly concluded by an armistice, is a [legal] holiday and shall be kept and observed as such throughout Canada under the name of “Remembrance Day”.

It would simply add one word, “legal”. Again, I have to emphasize that we are not talking about a statutory holiday; we are talking about a legal holiday. I will say a few more words about that in a moment.

Remembrance Day is important, and this change is important. There are four reasons why I think this change is important and I will go through each of them. The first is to commemorate and honour our fallen soldiers and veterans on a national level. Remembrance Day is celebrated and talked about in many different ways across the country, and there is no real unanimity. As we know, every year the number of veterans from past wars diminishes, and I think it is time that we show our support on a national level. Modern and wartime veterans are to be thanked for preserving the democracy that we live in and thrive in today.

I can only go by the experience in my own riding of Thunder Bay—Rainy River of what happens on Remembrance Day now. It is interesting to note that with the one-word change, things would likely not change in my riding.

In 1970, Thunder Bay became the city it is today from two separate cities. My riding encompasses the south side of Thunder Bay, which is the old Fort William. In Fort William Gardens every Remembrance Day, without any exaggeration, there are 3,000 to 4,000 people. The complete ice surface, which then is a cement surface, is covered with veterans, presenters, wreath layers, honoured guests, and so on. It is a wonderful celebration of what Remembrance Day means to so many people in Thunder Bay.

On the other side of town, in Port Arthur, there is also a celebration on Remembrance Day, which happens at exactly the same time. However, what is interesting is what happens in the rest of my riding on that day. I attended the Atikokan ceremony last year. I have to pick and choose each year and rotate where I am at 11 o'clock on Remembrance Day. I was in Atikokan last year, where there was a wonderful event put on by the legion. I should also mention that in Thunder Bay the legions are terrific, both on the day before Remembrance Day and the day of, in terms of how they treat everyone who attends to be part of Remembrance Day with them.

In the far west of my riding, at 11 o'clock, Fort Frances has its Remembrance Day ceremony. That is supported and organized by the legion. As one goes down Highway 11 to the end of my riding in Rainy River, the Remembrance Day ceremonies are staggered so that when I am in the west end for a ceremony, I can actually get to Fort Frances, Emo, Stratton, all the way to Rainy River without any problem to be part of the Remembrance Day ceremonies.

When I am in Thunder Bay, I attend the 11 o'clock ceremony. That is eastern time, do not forget. We gain an hour going to the west end of my riding because it is central time. I then hop in my car and drive all the way to the other end of my riding, 500 kilometres, to be at the legion supper in Rainy River. I know that many other MPs do the same sort of thing when they have large ridings.

The point of my talking about that is to emphasize that under this bill what happens now for schoolchildren attending and everybody else making time to be part of the various ceremonies right cross my riding. It would not really change under the bill because we are not talking about a statutory holiday; we are talking about a legal holiday.

A legal holiday would help to provide an equal opportunity for everyone in Canada to observe November 11. It is really a symbolic change and hopefully it would entice provinces that currently do not observe November 11 as a holiday to change their practice. Six provinces and all three territories already observe November 11 as a holiday. Again, the bill would not force the rest of Canada to have a holiday, but it would give it a slightly different status by using the word “legal”, which is an important distinction.

Many people in constituents in my riding, young and old, all attend Remembrance Day ceremonies. It is a solemn time in my riding. Members may or may not know that thousands of young men and women have been involved in war efforts over the years, including, most recently, in Afghanistan. There is a real understanding in Thunder Bay in particular of the importance of Remembrance Day.

While a lot of people already do attend, the bill would go further to encourage all the provinces to give an opportunity for everyone to attend Remembrance Day ceremonies.

My last point is that it important to have an additional opportunity to educate the next generation. I want to say just something very briefly about that. The school boards right across my riding make a terrific effort to have veterans come into the schools. The children enter the poster contests with the legions and so on. There is not one schoolchild in my riding who does not have an understanding and appreciation of Remembrance Day and what that means. The education of the next generation is already happening, and the next generation after that. I suspect it is much the same right across the country in just about everybody's riding. A lot of things would not change with the bill, but it would increase its status somewhat, and I that is important.

I am going to finish off with just a brief recap of the bill and bills like it, and what the history has been in the House. I hope people will get the idea that it is high time to give support a bill like this.

I will talk about the NDP first. The NDP has put forward similar bills in the past. In 2006, our MP for Hamilton Mountain brought forward Bill C-363. She did the same in 2009 with Bill C-287. There have also been two motions in the past: Motion No. 424, in the year 2000 by Nelson Riis; and Motion No. 27, in 2006 by our member for Sackville—Eastern Shore.

It is also interesting that in the past the Conservatives have brought forward similar bills. Inky Mark brought forward two bills: one in 2004, Bill C-295; and one in 2006, Bill C-354.

The Liberals have also brought forward bills that are much the same in the past. They brought in two bills and a motion. Ronald MacDonald from Dartmouth brought forward Motion No.699 in 1990, another one in 1991, and another in 1994. Roger Gallaway from Sarnia—Lambton brought forward Motion No. 298 in 2002.

Given the history I have ended my speech on, I can see no reason why we cannot get unanimous support right through the House for this.

Topic:   Private Members' Business
Subtopic:   Holidays Act
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June 11, 2015

Mr. John Rafferty (Thunder Bay—Rainy River, NDP)

Mr. Speaker, Canadians have had a good look at the depths of Conservative and Liberal entitlement thanks to the Auditor General, and they are not impressed with what they see.

In the wake of the report on senators' expenses, instead of calling for the transformational change that is needed in the Senate, the old-school parties are defending the status quo. Just like the Liberals and Conservatives joined together to pass Bill C-51 in the House, they have teamed up in the Senate to block independent oversight and to rig the expense arbitration process. Why? It is so senators can keep policing themselves.

It is unacceptable. Canadians want real change. New Democrats know that change is not only possible, it is necessary. Canadians can trust the NDP to fix the damage done by the Conservatives, to end the culture of entitlement of the old-school parties, and to bring real change to Ottawa. On October 19, that is exactly what we will do.

Topic:   Statements By Members
Subtopic:   The Senate
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June 5, 2015

Mr. John Rafferty (Thunder Bay—Rainy River, NDP)

Mr. Speaker, Canadians are finally starting to get a better picture of the Conservative and Liberal corruption that has taken hold in the Senate. It is not pretty.

Thirty current and former senators have been caught misusing taxpayer funds. Some cases are serious enough to warrant police investigations. Top-ranking Liberals and Conservatives have been implicated, including the Senate speaker, the leader of the government, and the leader of the Liberal opposition. The Speaker was appointed by the Prime Minister less than a month ago.

It also seems that once they were informed the Auditor General had them in his sights, they actually decided to concoct a whole new appeals process so they could disagree with the auditor's findings. To be clear, senators named in the Auditor General's report have put themselves in charge of creating an appeals process to use on themselves. It is outrageous and it is sad.

For too long Canadians have been asked to look the other way and ignore the rot in the undemocratic and unelected Senate. In October, Canadians can vote for the change they want, and actually get it.

Topic:   Statements By Members
Subtopic:   Ethics
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