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Conservative MP for Don Valley East (Ontario)
Won his last election, in 2011, with 36.80% of the vote.
Statements in the House
International Co-operation December 6th, 2012
Mr. Speaker, from assisting in the 2010 Haiti earthquake to creating the Sahel matching fund to helping our friends in the Caribbean post-Hurricane Sandy, Canada has stood ready to help.
Can the Minister of International Cooperation please update the House on how Canada is assisting those affected by Typhoon Bopha in the Philippines?
Blue Sky Policy December 5th, 2012
Mr. Speaker, I am here today to express my support for private member's Motion No. 387, which calls upon the government to continue implementing the 2006 blue sky policy, Canada's international air policy.
As the motion indicates, the 2006 blue sky policy has led to great results for Canadian consumers, with more destinations and lower prices available as a result of the strong competition. This success has been made possible through the great collaboration between Transport Canada and its federal partners, as well as industry stakeholders. This good work should continue.
There is a legal framework in place to govern international schedules and air services called the Chicago convention. Canada is a signatory to this convention and has to abide by the rules set forth by this international legal instrument. Within this framework, we have ensured that Canadians enjoy good connectivity to the rest of the world.
In 2012, the vast majority of the Canadian population can travel to the most important cities around the world on either a direct or a one-stop internationally scheduled service. This means that Canadians can conveniently travel to the most important business and leisure centres abroad.
The impressive results of the blue sky policy have already been mentioned. Canada's 20 largest bilateral air travel markets cover about 85% of all our international passenger traffic. These are the most popular places Canadians want to fly. They are also the most important sources for inbound tourists.
Under the blue sky policy, special attention has been paid to address the needs of consumers. We now have open air transport agreements with most of our top 20 partners. In some instances, we have to remember that some of our partners are not prepared to expand their agreements with us to that extent at this point in time.
Let me illustrate the benefits with a concrete example. Some of our most popular destinations are the Caribbean, Mexican and South American regions. In the past six years, we have seen these markets increase in competition. With more airlines competing on the same routes, prices have decreased over time. Consequently, the number of passengers has increased. In 2006, the Caribbean, Mexican and Central American regions have accounted for the largest increases of Canadians travelling overseas.
In absolute numbers, the Caribbean saw the largest increase in passengers. Close to 1.5 million more Canadians travelled to that region in 2010 compared to 2006. Over half a million more Canadians travelled to Mexico in 2010 when compared to 2006.
Incidentally, our efforts to expand air transport agreements in the Caribbean region, Mexico and Central America have also created an increase in inbound tourists from these countries. In the 2006 to 2010 period, the number of tourists arriving in Canada from that region has also increased, thus creating further business opportunities for Canada's tourist industry.
The further expansion of air transport agreements also had an impact on the number of destinations available to Canadians. For example, in the 2006 to 2010 period the number of international destination access routes for Canadians increased by 9%.
Canadian consumers have also benefited from the more direct international flights. In the 2006 to 2010 period, the annual number of direct international flights increased by 43% overall. Here it must be noted that several foreign airlines have either entered or expanded their services to Canada as a result of our liberalization efforts. For their part, Canadian carriers have increased their total number of outbound international flights by 56% and the number of direct international destinations by 11%.
Another example demonstrating that the government has taken to heart the welfare of Canadian travellers is the fact that 72% of international passenger traffic is now covered by an open agreement. Here I am talking about the open agreements that we have covering 43 countries around the globe. With the exception of our open sky agreements with the United States and the United Kingdom, all of these agreements have been negotiated under the blue sky policy.
We might ask ourselves whether or not all of the non-open sky agreements are automatically restrictive. The answer is no.
It has been mentioned that many of our most important partners are not prepared to negotiate an open skies agreement with Canada at this time. This does not mean that we cannot expand our existing agreements with them for the benefit of consumers. We have, in fact, done exactly that. What matters is that sufficient traffic rights be available for carriers to implement their business strategies with respect to certain markets.
Many of our agreements provide more rights than Canadians or foreign carriers actually use. It was not surprising that the “Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Report 2011”, from the World Economic Forum, ranked Canada number 10 out of 139 countries for the openness of its air access. This is perhaps the best kept secret in the world of aviation and tourism.
The point to remember is that considerable effort has been spent under the blue sky policy to create business opportunities for carriers and airports for the benefit of Canadians. It is important to understand the nature of what the government can do to foster the welfare of consumers in this sector of our economy. The government can only negotiate a framework under the Chicago Convention, within which first, Canadian and foreign airlines can make decisions, based on commercial considerations, as to how to serve the bilateral market, and second, Canadian airports can market their services to air carriers.
The blue sky policy objective is to promote long-term, sustainable competition. The government would like to see more and more international scheduled air services added over time. As long as we pursue this objective, Canadians benefit, not only through the choice of flights and cheaper fares but also through the broad economic impact the Canadian aviation sector generates in our economy.
The blue sky policy is not a cookie-cutter approach to expansion of the air transport agreements, and it calls for prudence in some cases. Its track record is clear. It has created benefit for average Canadians, and it is pro-consumer in its outlook. It is the right policy for Canada.
For these reasons, I support Motion No. 387, because it is consistent with the federal government's current approach to the implementation of the blue sky policy.
National Research Council Canada November 30th, 2012
Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House today to announce that Canada leads the world with another first.
A few weeks ago the National Research Council of Canada successfully flew the first civilian jet using 100% biofuel derived from Canadian feedstock. Tim Leslie, the NRC pilot who flew the Falcon 20 said, “It is truly inspiring to take this step towards an eco-friendly future!”.
The NRC has been partnering with the Canadian ag-biotechnology firm, Agrisoma Biosciences, and the American research and engineering company, Applied Research Associates, to develop and validate biofuel derived from the carinata plant. This biofuel meets all the specifications of conventional petroleum-based fuel. Even more important, this plant used as the feedstock for biofuel is grown in Canada by Canadian farmers in the arid regions of the southern prairies.
This aviation biofuel initiative was also made possible with the support of the Government of Canada's clean transportation initiatives, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and the Green Aviation Research—
Liberal Party of Canada November 23rd, 2012
Mr. Speaker, the Liberal Party's arrogant anti-Albertan attitude showed itself clearly again this week. From its senior MP from Ottawa telling Alberta MPs who defend their constituents to go back to Alberta, to the soon-to-be acclaimed leader who said that Canada is his country but he does not like it when Albertans have a say in how the country is run, the Liberals have shown that their arrogant anti-Albertan attitude runs deep in their party.
The leader gave in to public outcry and fired the energy critic, but so far he has allowed the amateur sport critic to keep his position in the Liberal Party. This anti-Alberta arrogance is offensive to people in Viking, to people in Wetaskiwin, and to people in Medicine Hat and Red Deer.
I call on the leader of the Liberal Party to be the first Liberal to listen to Albertans and fire his amateur sport critic today.
Coptic Community November 7th, 2012
Mr. Speaker, I rise today to extend my heartfelt congratulations to Bishop Tawadros on being chosen last week as the new Coptic Orthodox Patriarch of Alexandria and the successor to St. Mark the Apostle.
The Copts of Egypt, an ancient people still resident in their original homeland, are the largest Christian minority in the Middle East but are subjected to escalating violence and persecution. As patriarch, it will fall on Pope-elect Tawadros to provide global leadership at this difficult time and to continue Pope Shenouda's ecumenical work with other apostolic churches and Christian communities.
Such increasing bonds of unity and charity in the face of hostility strengthen their witness to peace and are a source of hope to communities throughout the Middle East facing anti-religious persecution.
I ask that my hon. colleagues join with me today in extending congratulations to the Coptic community in Canada and throughout the world and in wishing the new patriarch well as he prepares for his heavy responsibilities.
Radiocommunication Act November 2nd, 2012
Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to contribute to this debate on Bill C-429, An Act to amend the Radiocommunication Act and the Telecommunications Act (antenna systems).
Our government embraces the interests of Canadians in the growth and advancement of wireless technology. We know that to provide the reliable high-speed services that are our customers want and need, radio telecommunications antennas are essential and they are to be placed in locations near where the wireless devices are used, not only for personal and business use but also by law enforcement and first responders.
The need to expand wireless networks to accommodate the growth in demand must be balanced with the community's needs and interests: the availability of reasonable locations to place the antennas technical limitations and the rigorous safety requirements that apply to antennas of every height and description. Bill C-429 seeks to amend the Radiocommunication Act and the Telecommunications Act. Most of the amendments duplicate existing requirements, but the amendments are much less clear and would increase the regulatory burden for Canadians without creating any additional benefits.
First, the bill would require that proponents consider sharing or using existing towers before installing a new one. Proponents are already required to take this step under the current rules. Under the bill, proponents would be required to consult local land use authorities to determine their requirements with respect to antenna systems. Once again, this requirement already exists and the roles and responsibilities of those involved are clearly explained, which the bill fails to do.
Next, the bill would create offences for failing to respect these general obligations. The government already has mechanisms in place to ensure compliance with the requirements related to antenna towers. Finally, the bill would provide the authority to the CRTC to mandate a given holder of a radio authorization to share given towers upon application to the telecommunications carrier.
The bill would represent a step backward, not forward, in the regulation for antenna towers. It would introduce general obligations with little guidance as to the details, while at the same time duplicating the existing procedures that guide relationships between proponents and the local communities. This would serve only to increase uncertainty among all Canadians as to what is required of them and how they ought to go about meeting these obligations. Property owners, businesses and local communities alike would be diverted from working meaningfully toward common ground. At a time when Canadians are interested as ever in clear rules to address this important issue, Bill C-429 provides less clarity than the existing procedures.
The Client Procedures Circular on Radiocommunication and Broadcasting Antenna Systems provides specific guidance to proponents of new antenna infrastructure that must be followed in order to meet the government's objectives of striking a balance between enabling the development of needed wireless infrastructure and taking into consideration local concerns. Additionally, current procedures provide dispute resolution mechanisms that allow impasses between local communities, land use authorities, such as municipalities, and the proponents to be resolved.
In place of meaningful guidelines that ensure that local concerns are taken into account in an antenna-siting decisions, the obligations outlined in the bill emphasize paperwork over meaningful consultation. This sort of approach does not provide meaningful benefit to the public.
For instance, under the bill, even a property owner who wishes to install a low impact antenna system would have to engage in an extensive documentation procedure, including direct government involvement. These requirements, according to the bill, would apply to any person who plans the installation or modification of an antenna system, regardless of the type of installation or service offered. It would apply regardless of whether community stakeholders have voiced any concerns.
I would also direct particular attention to the redundant provisions proposed by the bill that would provide additional unnecessary power to the Canadian Radio-television Telecommunications Commission. This power would allow the CRTC to issue orders to holders of radio authorizations issued by the Minister of Industry to require that they share towers with telecommunications carriers.
This proposed power is so broad that it would allow the CRTC to issue orders to any holder of a radio authorization, including public safety agencies and other non-commercial carriers. It would also introduce overlapping authorities with the existing powers of the Minister of Industry, who is responsible for regulating the behaviour of those holding the radio authorizations.
There is little reason to introduce these additional regulations and authorities. Doing so would only add to the regulatory uncertainty and increase the administrative burden on government.
Let me be absolutely clear. The bill would do nothing for the health or safety of Canadians, given that it would not change the requirements that are imposed on every tower or antenna, regardless of height or location. It would harm consumers and those in need of emergency services by tying up the growth of essential services, wireless infrastructure and paperwork. It would intrude upon property owners who wished to install basic antenna systems. It would increase the costs to taxpayers by requiring direct government involvement in every antenna installation. At best is it would duplicate some of the existing requirements, while adding ineffectual red tape.
In the meantime, our government continues to take action, consulting those who are interested in this important issue of tower sharing to find solutions that could reduce the need for new towers, at the same time enforcing existing requirements with rigour. It is this kind of proactive approach that should be favoured by the House, rather than unnecessary red tape.
I urge all hon. members to oppose the bill.
Public Safety November 2nd, 2012
Mr. Speaker, Canadians will not tolerate being held hostage in their own communities by thugs and criminals who are members of street gangs. Our government has been clear that this sort of illegal activity is unacceptable. That is why we have passed legislation to get tough on organized crime, including harsh mandatory minimum sentences for those involved in drive-by shootings and murders related to organized crime.
Could the parliamentary secretary please update the House on any major enforcement operations to crack down on organized crime?
Lincoln Alexander October 19th, 2012
Mr. Speaker, it is with great sadness that I rise in the House today to pay tribute to the hon. Lincoln Alexander, who passed away. Born in Ontario to West Indian immigrants, Lincoln Alexander proudly served in the Royal Canadian Air Force during the second world war.
In 1968, he became the first black Canadian to win a seat in the House of commons as a Progressive Conservative. He represented the riding of Hamilton West, where he served for 12 years. After leaving Parliament, Lincoln Alexander became Lieutenant Governor of Ontario in 1985, becoming the first black Canadian to serve in a vice-regal position in Canada.
He was also awarded the Order of Ontario and became a Companion of the Order of Canada. He truly believed in public service and giving back to his country, and in this role he was a model for all Canadians.
On this sad day, I offer my sincerest condolences to the family and friends of Lincoln Alexander, one of Canada's greatest citizens. Our thoughts and prayers are with them today.
Hate Crime October 2nd, 2012
Mr. Speaker, we woke up this morning to disturbing reports about criminal acts targeting a mosque in Charlottetown. First, during the construction of the mosque in June, a pig's head was nailed to a post at the construction site. Then, a truck parked in front of the mosque was torched. Last week, a wine bottle containing gasoline and a poster that read “Defeat Jihad” was left on the doorsteps of the Masjid Dar As-Salam mosque.
Our government strongly condemns these attacks that have been terrorizing the whole community. We are deeply disturbed by the acts of individuals who promote this type of hatred. Canada is recognized as a peaceful and tolerant country where people from around the world aspire to live. This peaceful society we have built is a source of pride for all Canadians. The individuals who are threatening the Muslim community in P.E.I. have betrayed our national pride. Shame on them.
Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada September 27th, 2012
Mr. Speaker, the Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada has been a leading provider of after school and critical hours programs since its inception in 1900. This organization is recognized for significantly contributing to the healthy development of young people, an effort I fully support.
In 2008, the Boys and Girls Club introduced a new program promoting physical activity and healthy eating, an initiative supported by the Public Health Agency of Canada. This initiative known as “get busy” has grown from 10 participating club communities to a current 22 communities across Canada.
Today the Public Health Agency is partnering with the private sector to provide even more funding opportunities for the get busy program. Sun Life Financial is one such company and will be matching the Public Health Agency of Canada's funding.
As the member of Parliament for Don Valley East, home to the Boys and Girls Clubs headquarters, I congratulate the Boys and Girls Clubs for the great work they have been doing and the funding opportunity being presented to them today.