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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word is riding.

Conservative MP for Haliburton—Kawartha Lakes—Brock (Ontario)

Won his last election, in 2011, with 60.00% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Azerbaijan Black January Tragedy January 27th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, a couple of months ago we marked the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, a great day that opened the door to democracy and human rights across Europe and beyond.

Today we mark a monumental anniversary of a different kind, the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, a word synonymous with the absolute worst of human behaviour.

Last week, the people of Azerbaijan marked a 25th anniversary of their own. Unfortunately, this was also for a terrible tragedy, one that came at the end of the Cold War. On January 19, 1990, in response to peaceful demonstrations in Baku calling for Azerbaijani independence, Soviet leaders sent in tanks and troops to viciously quell those gatherings. When the smoke cleared, 130 civilians had been killed and more than 700 more had been wounded. At the time, Human Rights Watch reported that “the violence used by the Soviet Army...was so out of proportion to the resistance offered by Azerbaijanis as to constitute an exercise in collective punishment.”

As chair of the Canada-Azerbaijan Inter-Parliamentary Friendship Group, I have twice laid flowers for victims at the Martyrs' Alley memorial in Baku and heard first-hand accounts from Azari friends who were there that night.

This month, Canadians join with Azerbaijanis to remember those who died and recognize that, in the end, their sacrifices ultimately hastened the end of the Soviet Union and the Cold War.

May they rest in peace.

Capital Experience November 4th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, there is a special group of students in Ottawa. They are participating in a program I call a “Capital Experience”, where student leaders from each of the seven high schools in my riding come to Ottawa for three days each year to learn about career opportunities in public life.

They have visited Parliament, the Korean embassy, CBC's Power and Politics studio, the National Press Gallery, the University of Ottawa and the Prime Minister's Office. They have also met with representatives from the Department of Foreign Affairs, the Canadian Network for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health, Results Canada and Summa Strategies.

I wish to thank those who shared their time with the students, and to thank the businesses and service clubs back in the riding that sponsored them.

Today, I welcome to Parliament: Mitchell Muscat from Brock; Aaron Haddad and Katherine Pinnegar from Crestwood; Haylie Cordick and Allison Gowanlock from Fenelon Falls; Curran Chambers and Krista Duncan from Haliburton; Emily Forbes, Brigid Goulem and Chardon Kozak from I.E. Weldon; Kayla Farewell and Megan O'Neill from L.C.V.I: Alexandra Kaczmarek and Jack Steinsky from St. Thomas Aquinas; and Justin Jeff from Apsley.

I ask my colleagues to join me in wishing these young people all the best as they make important decisions regarding their future careers.

National Health and Fitness Day Act October 21st, 2014

Mr. Speaker, while I realize that having a Chair occupant rise on debate is a little like witnessing a solar eclipse, this is actually the second time I have had the opportunity to speak to this bill. I am delighted to speak on the subject of health and fitness as addressed in Bill S-211, which has been sponsored in the House by my colleague from West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country and in the Senate by Canada's athlete of the century, Senator Nancy Greene Raine. This bill would establish a national day to promote health and fitness for all Canadians.

Before I begin my remarks, I would like to reference a couple of paragraphs from the bill itself, because they will explain what this is about and why we are doing it. It says:

Whereas the Parliament of Canada wishes to increase awareness among Canadians of the significant benefits of physical activity and to encourage Canadians to increase their level of physical activity and their participation in recreational sports and fitness activities;... Whereas the Government of Canada wishes to encourage the country’s local governments, non-governmental organizations, the private sector, and all Canadians to recognize the first Saturday in June as National Health and Fitness Day and to mark the day with local events and initiatives celebrating and promoting the importance and use of local health, recreational, sports and fitness facilities;

This is an excellent bill, which I am hoping all members in this place will support. It is not a silver bullet, and it is not a panacea that will cure all the physical ailments of Canadians, but it is an important piece of a larger puzzle in terms of encouraging Canadians to be fit and active and to look after their own health and that of their children.

When I spoke for a few minutes about this a few weeks ago, I mentioned that it is a challenge that members of Parliament face. Access to good food and not much time to exercise is a combination that causes many members in this place to struggle with their weight, their health, and their fitness.

I hear some “hear hears” from some of my colleagues.

It is important for all Canadians. We have one body we have to make do with from the time we are children until the end of our lives. There are things we can do. Modern medicine really is filled with miracles in terms of interchangeable parts. However, every time I see something on television from Cuba, and I see one of those old 1950 vintage cars, it always reminds me that those taxi drivers knew that they had a car and were not going to get another one. They had to look after it and learn how to repair it and how to maintain it. The fact was that it was just going to have to do them for a long time. For people, it is the same thing. Whether we are in our 20s, 40s, or 70s, we have one body.

Years ago we thought about health and fitness mostly in the context of living longer. That is still part of it, but most of us have figured out that it is about the quality of the life we enjoy. When we see someone in their golden years who can still ride a bike, go downhill skiing, or do other physical activities, we are reminded that they did not get there by accident. They probably looked after their health over the years. That is why they are still able to be active in those later years.

About a year or so ago, when I turned 50, one of my friends said that I was playing the back nine now. I had not really thought that somehow I was over the hump and that I was teeing off on the 10th hole, but it is probably true. It reminded me that it is important for all of us to mind our health. I have two young children, and I try to remind them of this at the same time.

Obviously, there are all the economic arguments for good health, at a macro level, for our country and society. We all benefit if we all stay in better shape, because it reduces acute health care costs. However, I would suggest that there is a stronger argument than that, and it is the central point I would like to make, which is that it is about quality of life and staying healthy and fit so that we can do the things we all want to do.

This bill today is part of that. It is to encourage other levels of government, such as municipalities, to open facilities, whether they are squash clubs, hockey arenas, or curling clubs, for one day each year so that people who are not familiar with them can go in and try these activities and see if they enjoy them.

It is an opportunity to remind all of us, adults and children, that there is actually an abundance of recreational facilities in many of our communities. Sometimes we go by them many times without ever setting foot inside. Having a day set aside to focus on this would remind Canadians that it is important.

I really want to tip my cap to my colleague, the hon. member for West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country, who is a true leader in this area. He leads a group of parliamentarians on Tuesday mornings on a run. He leads another group on Thursday mornings for a swim. He is leading by example. Even though it does not show up in the name of his riding, the area he represents includes the town of Whistler, which was home to the 2010 Olympic Winter Games. Anyone who has ever visited Whistler will know that recreational activities are pretty much what make that place and are what attract so many people there.

It is not surprising to me that he is the one pushing this. He has been joined by one of our senators, Canada's athlete of the century for the 20th century. They are a perfect set of bookends around this idea. I would really encourage all members not only to support the bill but to actually take to heart the sentiment captured by the bill and get involved themselves and encourage friends, family, and constituents to do the same.

Business of Supply September 29th, 2014

No. I will respond.

The hon. member for Saanich—Gulf Islands has raised a question of relevance. I am sure the irony is not lost on some members of the chamber that there is a discussion today about questions and whether the Speaker ought to be more proactive in terms of ruling on issues of relevance. I am also not certain whether the hon. parliamentary secretary structured his comments in such a way as to test the bounds of relevance today.

There is a specific motion before the House and as is often the case, members take the principle embodied in a specific motion or bill and then speak about the principle and then expound in quite a different direction in terms of another example of another issue that might relate to that same principle, even if it quite obviously does not reflect what is before the House.

Members in this place have raised the question of relevance many times. My colleagues and I in the Chair have risen to respond, pointing out to all members that the responsibility rests with them to keep their comments relevant to the matter that is before the House. The Chair gives significant latitude to members to do so in the understanding that members will not deliberately, or in some cases in almost a provocative way, stray from that to talk about something that is in fact quite unrelated.

With all of that as a preamble, I would remind the hon. parliamentary secretary of the actual motion that is before the House today and ask that he keep his comments related to that. If he takes some small detours that is understandable, but long detours that relate less to the matter start to get close to that line. I am quite certain that the hon. member would not want to put the Chair in that position.

With that, I give the floor back to the hon. parliamentary secretary.

National Health and Fitness Day Act September 29th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I realize I only have about three or four minutes this morning.

Some of my colleagues may be surprised to see me on my feet speaking to this motion today. It has been six years since I stood in my place and participated in a debate. Given that I am not reoffering in the next election, this could be the last time that I participate in a debate in this place.

I am here today to support my colleague, the hon. member for West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country, on this bill. I know it has come from Senator Nancy Greene Raine at the Senate, but the principal mover of it over the last several years has been my hon. colleague from the west coast. We often discuss whether people who talk the talk can walk the walk. In this case, I think my colleague from that riding lives the values that are embodied in this bill.

My colleague from Burlington, and others this morning, talked about some of the challenges of maintaining health and fitness while we are members of Parliament. It is a challenge. We are constantly offered free food that is very tasty, and it is easy to get busy and not take care of ourselves. I have also been on the roller coaster. I am not sure that the highs and lows were quite to the extent that the hon. member for Burlington has experienced, but they were along the same vein. It is something that we all need to work at.

I think a collaborative effort whereby the federal government takes leadership and we identify an aspirational goal for our communities, so that municipalities large and small across Canada can come together and make their facilities available on a particular day where we focus on these values, is very important.

Statistics around childhood obesity and health are common, and I think we all know those numbers. However, it is a delight to rise in this place today to discuss something we all agree on. That is a rare moment. It is something that I am pleased to participate in. Therefore, I would encourage all of my colleagues in this place to not only support this motion and vote in favour of it, but to get back to their communities and make it real, both in their own lives and in the lives of their constituents.

Privacy Commissioner June 5th, 2014

This is the second day that this issue has arisen. Perhaps it is time to review what the Standing Orders actually say and what the expectations of members are.

When the bells for the vote started ringing, there were 30 minutes. It is an obligation of the members to be in the chamber when the 30-minute bell has expired.

I think it is obvious to all members that over the past months, or possibly years, members have slipped into the habit of starting to enter the House or getting ready to enter the House when the clock hits zero. In fact, it is the responsibility of members who want to participate in the vote to actually be in the chamber and to be ready for the vote when the clock hits zero.

As members also know, it is standard practice that the whips for both the government and the official opposition will be out in the lobby and will come down into the chamber together and take their seats. In almost all cases, members know they need to be in their seats at that point, so the vote can proceed.

What we had happen both yesterday and today is that one of the two whips, the government whip yesterday and the opposition whip today, waited until the bells expired and very quickly thereafter entered the chamber by themselves, addressed the Chair, and then took their seat. It is, in fact, not necessary for either of the whips to enter the House. The Speaker can rise and call the vote as soon as the bells have expired. It has become standard practice, in the co-operation that makes this place work better for all of us, that those two whips do that together.

However, it is important to point out to all hon. members on both sides of the House that this is a practice; it is not a rule.

In terms of who is or is not eligible to vote, the issue is that the member needs to be in the chamber in order to hear the question. That is the test for whether they can vote or not. I know that in the past, as I said, it has become common practice that members have been in their seats, sitting, when the two whips take their seats, at which point the Chair occupant rises to put the question.

However, it is important to point out that this is not, in fact, absolutely necessary.

It is impossible for the Speaker to keep track of where all 300 members are as the question is being put. To a certain extent, there is an onus on the members not only to be on time but, if they are not here on time, to own up to that and to either not participate in the vote or, if it is pointed out, to subsequently say that their vote ought not to be counted. As is the practice and as members will know, there are times when members rise on a point of order immediately following a vote and point out that another member arrived late, was not here on time, and in their view, did not hear the question being put.

On that basis, being in one's seat, while always a very good idea, is not an actual requirement for being able to participate in the vote. Hearing the question is the requirement.

I have a suggestion for all hon. members. We can avoid this unfortunate circumstance in the future if members pay closer attention to the clock and actually arrive in the House, ready for the vote to be taken, when the clock hits zero, rather than be standing in the lobby.

The Chair is pleased to hear so many members applauding that, knowing that they will all be doing that in the future.

This month is, for many of us, our 10th anniversary of being elected to this place. We all know that there are rules and that there are Standing Orders. However, to a certain extent, this place only works with the good will and co-operation of all members.

After 10 years, the Chair is also aware that toward the end of session, particularly in June when the days get longer, the weather gets warmer, and thoughts of returning to our constituents grow fonder in our hearts, it gets a little crazy around here. I would say that we have had ample evidence of that in the past two days.

I will close with this. If the Minister of Justice says he was in the chamber and he heard the question being put, the Chair will accept that on the word of the minister. I will point out to all hon. members that in the future, the way to avoid this is to actually be in their seats, where they can hear the question being put clearly.

The chief government whip is rising on a point of order.

Republic of Azerbaijan May 28th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, it was 96 years ago today that the Republic of Azerbaijan was established as the first democratic and secular republic in the Muslim world.

Among the most important accomplishments of that first republic was granting suffrage to women in 1919, making Azerbaijan the first Muslim nation to grant women political rights equal to men. Interestingly, that was the same year Canadian women got the vote, and years before British and American women gained the same.

Alas, this independent Azerbaijani state did not last long. Less than two years later, the Soviet Red Army rolled into Baku and a free and democratic Republic of Azerbaijan was no more.

This story does, however, ultimately have a happy ending. Shortly after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Republic of Azerbaijan was re-established in 1991.

Recently, Azerbaijan took the courageous step of joining Canada in support of UN Resolution 262 that called on all nations, including Russia, to recognize the territorial integrity of Ukraine.

As chair of the Canada-Azerbaijan Interparliamentary Friendship Group, I congratulate the Azeri people on this special day and wish the Republic of Azerbaijan a bright future.

Capital Experience October 29th, 2013

Mr. Speaker, there is an impressive group of students in Ottawa today. They are participating in a program I call a “capital experience”, whereby student leaders from each of the seven high schools in my riding come to Ottawa for three days each year to learn about career opportunities in public life.

This is the tenth year of this program. They have visited Parliament, the Belgium ambassador's residence, Amnesty International, the Department of Foreign Affairs, the press gallery, the University of Ottawa, and Summa Strategies.

I wish to thank those who shared their time with the students and thank the businesses and service clubs who sponsored them.

Today I welcome to Parliament Jillian Ribich and Landon Barnes from Brock, Carly Parks and Caroline Ford from Crestwood, Kory Gavin and Lyla Belsey from Fenelon Falls, Jillian Hawley and Riley Tait from Haliburton, Kate Fiddler and Kaylee Pietroski from I.E. Weldon, Katie Brown and Kyle Pugh from LCVI, Elissa O'Neill and Lindsey Dart from St. Thomas Aquinas, and Joe Tucker from Apsley.

I ask my colleagues to join me in wishing these young people all the best as they make decisions regarding their future careers.

Trent-Severn Water Authority Act June 11th, 2013

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-530, An Act to establish the Trent-Severn Water Authority.

Mr. Speaker, it is with pleasure that I rise this morning to say something of substance for the first time in more than five years.

The Trent-Severn Waterway is a vast network of water management and recreational boating infrastructure in central Ontario that stretches from Lake Ontario to Georgian Bay. The TSW region is home to more than a million people, including more than 120,000 properties, homes and cottages that front directly on the system.

The Trent-Severn Waterway is many things to many people, but, in my view, one thing it is not is a park. That is why I am introducing this private member's bill that would create an independent entity called the Trent-Severn water authority. It would help to realize the unbelievable potential that many of us believe the Trent-Severn has. Over the years the Trent-Severn Waterway has reported to Transport Canada as well as Canadian Heritage, and currently to the minister responsible for Parks Canada. This independent entity ought to report directly to the Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities.

I look forward to ongoing discussions with my colleagues about this idea of realizing the potential of the Trent-Severn Waterway.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Strengthening Military Justice in the Defence of Canada Act March 21st, 2013

Once again the Chair thanks the hon. member for Selkirk—Interlake for rising on this point of order and the member for Abitibi—Témiscamingue for her reference to it as well.

I would like to reiterate a point I made earlier and possibly offer a suggestion on a go-forward basis.

The member for Selkirk—Interlake points out quite correctly that there are rules of relevance in this place, in particular that when we are at report stage and the House is dealing with specific amendments that have been put forward, debate ought to be focused on those amendments rather than on a broad, general discussion of the entire bill or the subject in general.

He has also suggested, if not stated outright, that in this way business before the House is in some ways similar to how a committee would deal with amendments. The points that he has made are all quite relevant.

The question becomes the latitude that the Chair grants to members to discuss business before the House, such as what would be considered allowable context, preamble or reference to other pieces of legislation or other amendments that had been brought forward on the same piece of business, possibly at committee, or other experiences that the hon. member has had.

Therefore, I would remind all hon. members that it is in the collective interest of this place and of all members that time in the House be used efficiently, that members stick to the matter before the House, keep their comments relevant to it and avoid repetition of points that have been made to the same end in terms of the efficiency of this place.

I would suggest to the hon. member for Selkirk—Interlake that the Chair will review the comments he has made today regarding the points of order related to the debate that is taking place in the House today and will return to this matter if it is deemed necessary. However, within that context I would like the House to resume debate on this matter and would state that the Chair will continue to exercise judgment of relevance in a way similar to the way it has been exercised in the past, rather than in the more restrictive way requested by this hon. member. That will remain the practice of the Chair until the Chair has had an opportunity to review the matter. If changes to that practice of relevance are made, they will be announced in the House.

The point that the hon. member for Selkirk—Interlake makes goes beyond this debate today and is a more general point. With all due respect to that point, it will be considered and if deemed reasonable or necessary, the Chair will return to this matter in the future.

The hon. member for Abitibi—Témiscamingue.