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- His favourite word is suicide.
Conservative MP for Kitchener—Conestoga (Ontario)
Won his last election, in 2011, with 54.10% of the vote.
Statements in the House
Mental Health April 10th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, today marks my 3,000th day serving as the member of Parliament for Kitchener—Conestoga.
I can no longer count the number of times I have risen in this House to speak to issues regarding mental health, mental illness, and suicide prevention. In Canada, we suffer about 4,000 deaths by suicide each year. About 90% of those victims suffered from a diagnosable mental illness.
Today, members of the Canadian Psychiatric Association are on the Hill, raising awareness of the policies, programs, and investments to prevent and treat mental illness. The CPA asked our government to continue to strengthen the mental health services we deliver, and it expressed its willingness to partner in this effort. At the CPA's breakfast this morning, I heard the stories of Matt and Rachel, two ordinary Canadians, and how they are successfully managing their illness and leading productive lives.
To break the stigma surrounding mental illness, we need to talk about it.
Congratulations to Matt and Rachel for their courage, and our thanks go to the CPA for ensuring that their story is heard.
Business of Supply April 10th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, I am sure that, when Canadians became aware that my colleague from Malpeque was speaking today, they were suddenly glued to their TVs, hoping he might repeat the little pigeon dance that he did yesterday. He disappointed a lot of Canadians, I am sure.
His leader believes that our budgets will actually balance themselves, that we do not need to balance the books, and that they will all look after themselves, but I am wondering if that is what maybe the hon. member thinks as well in regard to debate in Parliament. We could just debate and debate, never call for an actual decision, and just waste time.
All of us have to plan our lives in a way that we can actually accomplish something. Does my colleague not agree that there comes a time when we need to stand up and vote and make a decision?
Petitions April 9th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present petitions signed by over 6,000 Canadians who point out that Canadians continue to travel overseas to perform sex acts with children with impunity, in spite of the introduction of the sex tourism legislation. The petitioners are calling on the government and Parliament to enforce Canada's extraterritorial laws for sex tourism and human trafficking and to make it a priority.
About a month ago, I asked for unanimous consent to table a representative copy of these petitions. I was granted that request. However, I did not have the entire quantity of petitions with me at that time, so I am asking for unanimous consent, because of the severity of this issue, to table these petitions.
Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 1 April 3rd, 2014
Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for drawing attention to the parks. Under this government, we have increased the area of our national parks by 58%. The square-mileage of our parks has increased.
Regarding the donation of ecologically sensitive land, this is an important aspect. When people do have these prized possessions, many of which are like the lands Ducks Unlimited Canada is currently administering and creating, it is important that they be allowed to donate these without a huge tax burden.
Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 1 April 3rd, 2014
Mr. Speaker, I am thankful that my colleague drew attention to the fact that I did target the Liberal government. In fact, it was the previous Liberal government that actually nudged me out of my complacency and to get involved in politics in the first place, because of some of the mismanagement I saw there.
Specifically, we have invested, since 2006, more than $17 billion in support of the environment.
The member references the ecoENERGY program. Well, all of us in the House knew it was a time-limited plan. When we established it, it was a time-limited plan. It was a Conservative plan. However, the funny thing is that these people voted against it when we implemented it and now are asking us why we are not continuing it.
Greenhouse gases in this country have decreased by 8% since 2005 during a time when the economy grew by over 8%. Under the so-called Kyoto accord, greenhouse gases did not go down like they were supposed to, but actually increased by 30%. So, on the environment, I am proud of the record of our government.
Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 1 April 3rd, 2014
Mr. Speaker, this gives me a chance to add some material that I did not have time to do earlier. It is important for all members of the House and all Canadians to realize that it is on this side of the House, in this government, that we are working to reduce the tax burden on Canadian families. In fact, the average Canadian family currently pays $3,400 less in taxes than it did in 2006 when we took office.
There are a number of other facts I would like to clear up because they were misinterpreted earlier. Over one million net new jobs have been created in Canada, and over 85% of those are full time and 80% are in the private sector.
I could go on, but I have to give someone else a chance.
Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 1 April 3rd, 2014
Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak in support of Bill C-31, economic action plan 2014, no. 1.
I will be splitting my time with the hon. member for Niagara West—Glanbrook.
As the bill's short title would indicate, this piece of legislation would implement some of the measures passed in economic action plan 2014.
I have noted through the years that my opposition colleagues take exception to the term “economic action plan”. They are welcome to. While they are concerned with titles and labels, we on this side of the House are concerned with action on jobs, long-term growth, and continued prosperity for all Canadians. We have focused on reducing taxes for all Canadians; lowering government debt; increasing competition in the Canadian marketplace; creating the best educated, most highly skilled, and flexible workforce in the world; and building the modern infrastructure that we need to compete abroad and enjoy living in livable communities at home.
These priorities were outlined in our first mandate in a document I would encourage all MPs to read. All Canadians would benefit from doing so. It is called “Advantage Canada”. It is available on the Department of Finance website. That document was written in better times, before the global recession. While times have changed, our priorities have not.
In the intervening years we have weathered the worst global economic downturn since the Great Depression, but we stuck to our priorities, the priorities that Canadians elected us to address. Our commitment to that course has paid dividends for Canada. In every way that Canadians pay taxes, whether sales tax, income tax, or customs and tariffs, this government has lowered them.
We are now poised to return to a surplus fiscal position. I cannot over-emphasize how important it is that we return to this balanced budget and reduce our long-term debt charges.
We have reduced unnecessary regulations. We have made progress in cutting red tape. We have concluded major free trade agreements. We have invested an unprecedented amount in our post-secondary institutions and the skilled trades. Right across this great country, Canadians have seen their local infrastructure renewed, from wastewater facilities to community centres. Locally, this has meant unprecedented investments in Wilfrid Laurier University, my alma mater, as well as the world-renowned University of Waterloo and Canada's top polytechnic institute, Conestoga College.
New computer science and engineering facilities provide students the best environment to learn. Many of these students will become graduates who want to start one of the high-tech businesses for which Waterloo region is so well known. When they do, they can take advantage of the federally supported new Communitech Hub, which offers the latest technologies for their use as experts in building high-tech businesses.
When we talk about high-tech businesses, what we will build is beyond our imagination. Quantum computing and nanotechnology are just two of the bleeding-edge fields now being pursued thanks to significant support from this government. When I say it is beyond our ability to imagine, I clearly remember, when I was a school board trustee back in 1978, that the computer housed in the school board offices was huge. It occupied almost a full room. Today we can compute far more than that on these little devices we hold in our hands, which each one of us in the House is privileged to use. Not only will those kinds of technology advancements from 1978 increase again, but they may also possibly double or triple in quantity.
Community centres from St. Clements to Kitchener have been built or renovated. Highway 8, our connection to Highway 401, has had its capacity increased to handle the increased volume that comes with our region's explosive growth.
We have done all of this during the worst times the world has seen since World War II, while reducing taxes for Canadians, and without cutting support for health care or education like the previous government did.
Canada has outperformed every other G7 country in job creation thanks to this government's commitment to long-term prosperity, as identified in the five priorities I listed earlier. Canadians have also experienced the strongest real per capita growth in the G7.
As chair of the Standing Committee on the Environment and Sustainable Development, I am especially proud of the key investments our government has made to protect and preserve our natural habitats. This government has invested over $17 billion in clean transportation initiatives, renewable fuels, clean air, clean energy, energy efficiency, and green infrastructure. This bill would build on that legacy, making it easier and more affordable for Canadians to donate ecologically sensitive lands for preservation.
As I mentioned earlier, this budget would put us within a hair's breadth of a return to surplus. In our party, this is important. The leader of the third party claimed that budgets will simply balance themselves. While Canadians of a certain generation will remember that Pierre Trudeau had a similarly cavalier attitude toward budgets, many more Canadians will remember the painful actions it took to clean up the mess that Trudeau left. The truth is that it took decades for Canada to dig itself out of the hole that Trudeau left. If budgets balance themselves, why is the United States unable to do so; why is the Wynne government in my home province of Ontario unable to balance its books? Deficits and debts out of control, that is Pierre Trudeau's fiscal legacy.
Now, the leader of the third party wants to bring us back to that. We on this side of the House are preparing for a brighter future, not a return to the dark days of deficits and debts spiralling out of control. Not only were they spiralling out of control, but they were also followed by very drastic cuts to health care and education, which many people in this room and many, especially in Ontario, will still remember with a great deal of pain.
On this side of the House, and among a few members on that side—not today but usually—we believe in fiscal discipline. A balanced budget allows us to spend more of the tax dollars that we collect to serve Canadians, and means less for the bankers and bondholders who fund that debt. When the government borrows less, interest rates drop for Canadians who are seeking to borrow for a home or a car, and for provincial governments like my own that seem addicted to spending the money they do not have. That is our vision. Unlike the third party, we will not mortgage our children's and grandchildren's future in a vote-buying exercise.
We focus instead on the fundamentals. This act would make it easier for small businesses to grow and hire by reducing the amount of time and resources they must devote to administrivia, allowing them instead to focus on their business.
This act would make life a little easier for Canadians struggling with health issues, by making the Canada Labour Code and the Employment Insurance Act more flexible for employees, and allowing compassionate care leave for employees with critically ill children.
As well, this act addresses an issue that has so infuriated Canadians of late. We have seen senators accused of serious irregularities being suspended by their peers. They have no staff, no offices, no responsibility, but they are still accumulating pensionable service. To average Canadians, the middle-class Canadians the third party struggles so hard to define, this does not reflect any reality they have ever experienced.
In my home of Waterloo Region, business people tell me that they cannot access the talent they need. This act would make it easier for Canadians to pursue a skilled trade by offering financial assistance to apprentices. These business people also tell me that the current system of training is broken, focused on filling seats and not on producing results. I was especially pleased when members of the Ontario government finally agreed to participate in the Canada jobs grant program.
We are focused on jobs, growth, and long-term prosperity. The budget this act would implement will move us further toward those goals. By every measure, under this government Canada's economy has outperformed the world.
I know that the members opposite are screaming from the rooftops that this budget is the end of the world. They have been sticking to that Chicken Little routine every budget since Canadians first gave us the responsibility of governing, but they have been wrong every year and are wrong again. They are again wrong this time, and the evidence is that our approach is working. I ask the members opposite, especially those who have served more than one term, to listen to themselves, review what they predicted about previous budgets, and then review what happened, to see how wrong they have been year after year. I do not have time to go into all of the evidence, but maybe during the questions I will.
Under this government, Canada has led the world. That may be an uncomfortable fact for the opposition members, but it is a fact they cannot deny.
Elmira Maple Syrup Festival April 2nd, 2014
Mr. Speaker, this weekend, tens of thousands of visitors will fill the town of Elmira for the annual Elmira Maple Syrup Festival, the largest festival of its kind in the world. Last year, 75,000 people descended on this town of less than 10,000 to enjoy sweets, games, and fun in all forms, raising much-needed funds for not-for-profits and charities that support our community.
From the Waterloo Region Suicide Prevention Council to the Women's Crisis Services of Waterloo Region, the local library branch, and the local swim team, the Elmira Aquaducks, the Elmira Maple Syrup Festival supports almost 30 groups that strengthen our quality of life.
This year we expect a great turnout for the festival's 50th anniversary. Fifty years ago, organizers hoped that 2,500 would attend their first effort. They were nearly overwhelmed when 10,000 people showed up. Fifty years ago, they hoped for 2,500 people to attend; today they depend on 2,000 volunteers to run the festival.
This Saturday, come to Elmira, enjoy the fun, and enjoy the games. Since April is Dental Health Month, anyone enjoying the sweets should remember to brush.
Business of Supply April 1st, 2014
Mr. Speaker, I want to assure my friend across the way that I was not reading my iPad or my newspaper when he was speaking. I was really trying to follow him, but he took such a pretzel-like turn in his speech that it was really hard to follow everything he said.
Overall, what we are trying to get at here is the use of the Challenger jet for travel by the Prime Minister and ministers. All members in the House are aware that this government has reduced ministerial travel by over 75% since we took office, and that is a good news story for taxpayers.
How can my friend across the way justify his party's use of taxpayer dollars to fund satellite offices in areas of this country where that party does not even have members of Parliament? Could he address that question?
Offshore Health and Safety Act March 27th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the minister for carefully outlining the aspect of Bill C-5 dealing primarily with the occupational health and safety issue. She also responded earlier to a question regarding the number of workers who benefit from oil and gas production on offshore rigs.
I think that Canadians probably often think of the oil sands as the place from where all the oil is coming. I wonder if the minister would tell us what percentage of oil from offshore oil and gas development Canadians rely on.
I think it is important to realize not only the impact of oil on jobs and opportunities for Canadians, but also the energy needs of Canadians. It is important, first of all, that we have good, safe regulations to protect our workers. It is also important that we have access to good quality oil products.