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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word is citizenship.

Conservative MP for Don Valley East (Ontario)

Won his last election, in 2011, with 36.80% of the vote.

Statements in the House

African Institute for Mathematical Sciences June 16th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I rise to highlight the works of AIMS, the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences, also known as the Next Einstein Initiative.

AIMS has already set up education centres in South Africa, Senegal, Cameroon, Ghana, and the next centre will be in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

I had the privilege of meeting with the AIMS team made up of Professor Neil Turok, founder and chairman of AIMS, Mr. Thierry Zomahoun, Dr. Habiba Chakir, Mr. Sam Awuku and His Excellency Jakaya Kikwete, the president of Tanzania, to discuss the Tanzanian centre due to open in September 2014. The Government of Tanzania has committed a historic building for this purpose.

AIMS is a recipient of funds that our government has provided for the purpose of higher education in Africa. These centres are providing masters and doctorate degrees in mathematics and science. I hope that the funding for this outstanding program will be renewed.

Service Canada Mandate Expansion Act June 12th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to address Bill C-247 as proposed by the hon. member for Guelph.

If the bill is adopted, Service Canada would be responsible for notifying all interested departments and programs of the death of an individual once the estate had informed Service Canada. The sensible purpose of this legislation is to increase efficiency and improve service to Canadians, and that intention is laudable.

Let me explain how the current system works.

When a Canadian or a Canadian resident dies, a death certificate is created and issued by these agencies. Service Canada receives this information through agreements with vital statistics agencies in nine provinces. These agreements are called vital events linkages. This ensures that further payments to the deceased from federal programs are stopped. It is estimated that 96% of the deaths occurring in Canada are currently covered by these agreements.

This system has been operating for eight years. It has a track record of integrity, security, and respect for privacy. Service Canada is constantly working with the provinces and with programs that use the social insurance number, or SIN, as we often call it, to improve the disclosure of vital events information.

I want to assure the hon. member that even when deaths occur in jurisdictions that do not have a vital events linkage with Service Canada, they do not go unrecorded. Service Canada receives information on deaths through the administration of the Canada pension plan, the old age security program, the Canada Revenue Agency, Régie de l'assurance maladie du Quebec, and from survivors of the deceased.

We also have agreements with a number of departments that are authorized by the Government of Canada to use a social insurance number for identification purposes. Other departments and agencies, such as the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, also have legal authority to validate identity information with the social insurance register.

We have all heard about the plague of identity theft. The SIN may only be collected or used for the purpose expressly permitted by legislation or approved by Treasury Board or the Employment Insurance Commission. The current policy is to limit authorized users of the SIN to key programs only. To protect the privacy of Canadians, not every department or government agency is allowed to have access to the SINs of Canadians.

There is also the issue of reliability of information. The process in place does not require a survivor to physically go to Service Canada. It is a good thing not to force somebody to physically visit a Service Canada centre to tell it about the death of a loved one.

Service Canada is also working with Citizenship and Immigration Canada to determine how Passport Canada could benefit from receiving death notifications from the provinces.

The processes that are already up and running are not only reliable but are also efficient.

I look forward to listening to the second hour of this debate.

Canada from Space Maps June 9th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, thanks to the extraordinary success of Commander Chris Hadfield's mission aboard the International Space Station last year and to Canadian inventions like the Canadarm and Dextre, students across this country have come to understand that Canada has an extremely proud history of accomplishment in space.

A key pillar of the space policy framework is “inspiring Canadians”, which is why, today, our government unveiled the Canada from space giant floor map. This map was created from 121 images of Canada shot by our country's own RADARSAT-2 satellite.

The Canada from space maps and teaching tools will be available to schools across the country, and will give students the chance to be inspired about Canada's role in space and to understand the role space plays in their everyday lives. These maps will help to inspire young Canadians to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, and math, so that we can continue to learn, explore, and push the boundaries of human ingenuity.

Canada-Africa Leadership Intern Program June 6th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, on behalf of my constituents of Don Valley East, I rise to congratulate the trainees of the first Canada-Africa leadership intern program that was recently completed in Ottawa.

The participants represented the Kingdom of Lesotho, the United Republic of Tanzania, Uganda and the Republic of Zambia. This leadership program was a resounding success and the participants enjoyed their experience, including the snow that they had never seen before.

I thank all those who helped make this program a success, including the Library of Parliament; ITTS, Parliament clerks, table officers and committee clerks, Senate and Senate staff, Office of the Black Rod, human resources; commissioners, Sergeant-at-Arms, and all the staff and assistants. I thank them all for their help on this program.

I also thank High Commissioner Tsepa from Lesotho, First Secretary Joseph Sokoine from Tanzania, former High Commissioner Margaret Kyogire from Uganda and High Commissioner Bobby Samakai from Zambia for their support and help in facilitating this program.

I look forward to initiating further programs and the inclusion of more African countries.

Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act June 6th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, the way it is going to change is by the following: increasing the efficiency of the citizenship program to improve application processing; reinforcing the value of citizenship by strengthening the requirements and deterring citizenships of convenience; improving the tools we have to maintain program integrity and combat fraud; and protecting and promoting Canada's interests and values by honouring those who serve Canada, by revoking citizenships of dual citizens who are members of armed forces or recognized armed groups engaged in conflict with Canada.

Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act June 6th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, clearly the number of citizenship applications and the volume we have taken on since we have come into power has significantly increased from what it was prior to that.

There are some 260,000 people who are immigrating, and 85% of them are applying for citizenship. This has created a backlog that was much bigger than was expected.

Hopefully this bill will have some reforms that will reduce that time to approximately a year.

Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act June 6th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, before these decisions are made by the minister or any of his staff, they do have to go through a court process, so there is a process in place ahead of time for that to happen.

Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act June 6th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I am grateful to have this opportunity to highlight our government's commitments to protecting the integrity of Canada's citizenship system and add my voice in support of Bill C-24. This important piece of legislation would deliver on our Conservative government's promise in the recent Speech from the Throne to strengthen and protect the value of Canadian citizenship.

On this side of the House we recognize the important role immigration has played in building our country. Since 2006, our Conservative government has welcomed the highest sustained level of immigration in Canada's history. Each year we have welcomed an average of almost 260,000 newcomers who contribute to the economic, political, and social fabric of our country as permanent residents. Moreover, Canada remains a world leader in naturalization, with more than 85% of eligible permanent residents going on to become Canadian citizens.

We are proud of this enviable high rate of uptake in citizenship. Our important bill, the strengthening the Canadian Citizenship Act, would not only reduce citizenship backlogs and improve processing times for applicants, but it would strengthen the value of Canadian citizenship.

Canadians have no tolerance for the cheats and fraudsters who do not play by the rules and who de-value the integrity of Canadian citizenship. Most of us have heard anecdotal stories or read newspaper reports about police investigations into individuals who lie to become citizens of our great country. They concoct schemes to make it appear as if they are living in Canada when in fact they are not and nor do they have any intentions of planting roots here. Rather, they consider Canadian citizenship as nothing more than a passport of convenience, a revolving door or gateway to generous taxpayer-funded economic and social benefits available at their disposal as needed.

Canadians rightfully expect our Conservative government to put a stop to this selfish niche to protect Canadian citizenship, which truly is a privilege. It is shameful that the opposition does not understand why it is so important to protect the value of Canadian citizenship and why it should support this important legislation. Our Conservative government has listened to Canadians across the country and has committed to put an end to this abuse most recently in our last throne speech. Our government not only listened but acted to deliver on this key promise by introducing Bill C-24. We are committed to protecting the value of our citizenship and taking action against those who seek to cheapen it.

Our proposed reforms would strengthen the value of citizenship by helping to prevent citizenship fraud and by increasing the penalties for those who gain citizenship fraudulently. First, our reforms would bring the penalty of committing citizenship fraud in line with that of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act by increasing the penalty to a maximum fine of $100,000 or up to five years in prison, or both. The proposed legislation would also add a provision to refuse an applicant of material facts and bar applicants who misrepresent such facts from reapplying for citizenship for five years. That is a serious way to deter citizenship fraud.

In contrast, existing penalties in the Citizenship Act have not increased since 1977 and are ineffective in deterring fraudsters. Our proposed increase in fines and significant jail terms would deter both applicants and crooked citizenship consultants from trying to undermine Canadian citizenship.

With respect to crooked consultants, our government successfully passed the Cracking Down on Crooked Consultants Act in an effort to protect those in need of assistance from an immigration representative. That bill created a regulatory body to oversee immigration consultants and ensure compliance with the law. Bill C-24 would give the government similar legal authority to designate a body to regulate citizenship consultants. Proposed amendments would increase penalties for citizenship fraud to a maximum fine of $100,000 or up to two years in prison, or both.

I am proud to stand before the House today to address these important reforms that our government has introduced as a means to crack down on fraud and to preserve the integrity of Canadian citizenship and citizenship programs.

This leads to my last point, which focuses on our government's promised amendment to streamline the process to revoke citizenship from those who have lied or cheated on their citizenship application. As members are likely aware, our Conservative government has taken action to revoke citizenship from those who obtained it through fraudulent means. More than 11,000 cases of fraud have been discovered and we are investigating each and every one. However, the current revocation process is extremely lengthy and cumbersome. Shamefully, it has taken Canada years, often decades, to revoke the citizenship of fraudsters, including despicable war criminals who never should have obtained it in the first place.

One this side of the House, we are serious about cracking down on those who undermine the value of our citizenship. It is important, to achieve such an important objective, that we put our government in a position to be able to revoke the citizenship in a timely manner.

Under proposed changes to the new revocation process, it should facilitate the government's ability to revoke citizenships in a timely manner for those convicted of residency fraud. In these cases, the minister of citizenship and immigration, or his or her delegate, would oversee the revocation, but the decision would still be subject to review by court, as is the case for all immigration decisions. This streamlined revocation process would result in faster decision-making and faster removal, while still ensuring fairness.

Individuals who have had their citizenship revoked would also be barred from reapplying for 10 years, up from the current bar of 5 years. Our government believes that this is entirely reasonable.

Canadian citizenship is a unique privilege and is highly coveted around the globe. However, citizenship is a privilege that comes with responsibilities. It means that we share the commitment to uphold our common values that our brave men and women in uniform have fought to preserve and champion. These are values that include freedom, democracy, human rights, and the rule of law.

Those of us who are fortunate enough to have Canadian citizenship share in all of the great advantages it confers. However, it is important to remember that citizenship is far more than just the right to carry a passport or to vote. It defines us as a people. As such, it is essential that we work to maintain the value of Canadian citizenship.

I have heard from many of my constituents on this issue. All of them agree that we must crack down on criminals and fraudsters who cheapen the value of one of our most precious commodities. It is shameful, however, that opposition members do not listen to Canadians and do not support this important bill.

Indeed, the measures in Bill C-24 represent the first comprehensive reforms to the Citizenship Act in more than a generation. They are necessary to strengthen the value and protect the integrity of Canadian citizenship for today and for the future. With this bill, our Conservative government is sending a crystal clear message: we will not turn a blind eye from those who commit fraud or help others to obtain Canadian citizenship by fraud.

If opposition members prefer to continue with their shameful tactics to oppose and delay passage of the bill, they will have to answer to the Canadian public, a public who is, thankfully, recognizing the necessary and common sense changes we are making.

Air Transportation May 26th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, we have all been in situations when we have been told to shut off our electronic devices while travelling. We all know that the use of these devices has not been allowed during critical phases of flight. This has caused a major inconvenience to travellers.

Our government has listened to Canadians, and today our government announced the exciting change to air travel that is coming.

Can the Minister of Transport please update this House on the announcement she made today with respect to the use of portable electronic devices on aircraft?

Public Safety May 15th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, my constituents of Don Valley East were very troubled when the RCMP Canadian firearms program unilaterally banned several rifles. These rifles have been sold in Canada for many years, and there is no evidence of widespread criminal use.

Recently, Sun News Network learned that the Minister of Public Safety not only was not consulted on this unacceptable decision to turn thousands of Canadians into criminals overnight, but was only given a few short hours' notice that it was even happening.

A fundamental principle of the rule of law is civilian oversight of police. As a free and democratic society, we cannot tolerate police ignoring those who were elected by law-abiding citizens.

That is why I am pleased to learn that the Minister of Public Safety will be bringing forward measures to ensure that this never happens again. Our Conservative government believes that owning a gun is a right that comes with responsibilities. We will always stand up for law-abiding hunters, farmers, and sport shooters.