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Track Joe

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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word is tax.

Conservative MP for Don Valley East (Ontario)

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

Statements in the House

International Trade March 28th, 2013

Mr. Speaker, one in five Canadian jobs is generated through exports. That is why our government is engaged in the most ambitious pro-trade plan in Canadian history, a plan that includes a trade agreement with the world's largest integrated market, the European Union.

It is unfortunate that the NDP uses every opportunity to scoff at the potential this deal would have for Canadians. I would remind those members that the benefits of such a Canada-EU agreement are expected to be enormous, including a boost of 20% in bilateral trade. Let us put that in perspective. That is the equivalent of creating 80,000 new jobs for hard-working Canadians or adding $1,000 to the pockets of Canadian families.

Try as it might, the NDP cannot hide its anti-trade agenda. While the leader of the NDP travels abroad to attack Canadian interests on the world stage, it is only our government that has a pro-trade plan to create jobs, growth and long-term prosperity.

Air Passengers’ Bill of Rights March 22nd, 2013

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to address the House of Commons on private member's Bill C-459, an act respecting the rights of air passengers, which was introduced in this chamber in November of last year. Our government strongly supports consumer protection measures, however, the bill is fundamentally flawed and would likely have impacts contrary to what it seeks to achieve. Furthermore, it is redundant given the passenger protection approach that already exists in Canada and this government's effort to strengthen it in recent years.

Let me start by noting that the bill calls for all-in advertising. I am pleased to remind the House that our Conservative government has already put in place these measures by way of regulations that were brought into force in December 2012, following extensive consultation with industry, consumers and other stakeholders.

Beyond that, Bill C-459 proposes a prescriptive regime that would increase the regulatory burden on air carriers and on travellers. It would introduce additional costs into our air transport system and it would not improve the passenger protection approach that already exists in this country. In Canada today, airline passengers are protected through provisions in the Canada Transportation Act. All carriers operating in Canada, or arriving or departing from Canada, are required to develop terms and conditions of carriage that they must respect. They must make those terms and conditions readily accessible to passengers.

The Air Transportation Regulations under the act specify the items that must be included in the terms and conditions of carriage, such as the carrier's policies regarding cancelled or delayed flights, lost or damaged luggage, and denied boarding due to overbooking. This establishes a clear basis on which passengers can raise concerns if they feel they have not been treated appropriately.

The Canadian Transportation Agency is mandated to resolve travellers' complaints by examining whether the carriers are acting in compliance with their terms and conditions of carriage and by assessing the reasonableness of the terms and conditions. The act also includes significant provisions to ensure accessibility for persons with disabilities.

If a traveller is not able to resolve his or her issues directly with the carrier and submits a formal complaint to the agency, the agency would begin by seeking a mutually satisfactory solution to the problem by way of alternative dispute resolution. If this is not successful, arbitration is an option. We know that in fact most complaints are resolved by way of mediation. In some instances, the agency has found that a carrier's terms and conditions of carriage are not reasonable, resulting in significant changes to the benefit of passengers. Recent such decisions have addressed questions such as lost baggage and denied boarding.

In short, our current system works. Furthermore, it does so because of the proactive stance that our Conservative government has taken on passenger rights.

In 2007, we took action to strengthen the consumer protection regime for air travellers by introducing measures as part of Bill C-11, An Act to amend the Canada Transportation Act and the Railway Safety Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts. These amendments improved the transparency of carriers' terms and conditions of carriage and made the complaint process under the Canadian Transportation Agency permanent.

In 2008, we introduced Flight Rights Canada, an initiative to inform Canadians of their rights under the act. This also resulted in the creation of a plain language voluntary code of practice, which our major carriers adopted into their terms and conditions of carriage. I have already mentioned the airfare advertising regulations brought into force last year.

The prescriptive regulatory regime proposed in C-459 is not consistent with Canada's approach to consumer protection in transport. As written, the bill raises a number of questions and creates systems that would ultimately increase the burden on all parties.

To begin with, the proposed bill would only empower the agency to enforce provisions relating to duty to disclose pricing, announcements at airports and obligations to inform passengers of their rights at check-in. With respect to other matters such as cancellations, delays and denied boarding, consumers would seemingly have to seek redress through the courts if they are not satisfied with a carrier's response. This would be costly, time-consuming and a burden on the passengers as well as on the Canadian court system.

Bill C-459 seeks to address concerns that were identified with previous private members' bills on this subject, which made air carriers responsible for problems that are the fault of other parties, such as airports or navigation providers.

However, the current bill would introduce a new regulatory burden, namely that carriers would need to make a submission to the Canadian Transportation Agency proving the third party's responsibility. This would result in more red tape for the carriers and more work for the agency. The additional costs, obviously, would likely be borne by travellers and taxpayers.

Furthermore, the bill would recognize that carriers would not be made responsible for cancellations arising as a result of force majeure, particularly weather. The carriers would remain responsible for the situation resulting from force majeure, such as airport or tarmac delays, and we all know that weather is a major factor in this country.

The bill would create confusion between its provisions and the current provisions of the Canada Transportation Act. There is also potential conflict between Bill C-459 and the Carriage by Air Act, which brings into force passengers' rights provisions enshrined in the Montreal convention, an international treaty to which Canada is a party.

In conclusion, we are committed to promoting passengers' rights by way of an approach that minimizes costs and regulatory burden on all travellers in the air industry.

Bill C-459 would add nothing to this, but it does have the potential to significantly increase the regulatory burden and cost to Canada's air transportation sector and to create confusion within the regulatory regime without further addressing passenger needs.

For this reason, we cannot support Bill C-459.

Tuberculosis March 22nd, 2013

Mr. Speaker, March 24 is World Tuberculosis Day. Last week I travelled with Results Canada to Malawi to view the impact of TB on people in the developing world and to view the incredible progress being made to combat this deadly disease.

TB kills over one million people every year and is spreading at alarming rates across Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. TB is also a leading killer of people living with HIV, yet TB is preventable and curable with treatments costing as little as $20. I witnessed how Canadian investments in the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria are tackling TB and HIV co-infection and making incredible headway treating these two diseases.

Canadian leadership by TB REACH has made it the number one procurer and distributor of the GeneXpert machine, a revolutionary DNA-based TB diagnostic tool.

As the member for Don Valley East, I can say that many of my constituents care about this issue, and I am proud that this Conservative government is recognized as a world leader in global TB control.

New Democratic Party of Canada February 27th, 2013

Mr. Speaker, week after week we see NDP members proposing risky spending schemes. They continue to propose very expensive and poorly thought out plans that would cost Canadian families billions. As an example, today we are voting on their $5.5 billion housing bill. One wonders how they plan to support these dangerous and risky spending schemes. Perhaps it is through their $20 billion carbon tax that would raise the price on everything, including gas, groceries and electricity.

Canadians do not want risky spending and more higher taxes. We will continue with our low-tax plan for jobs and growth. We will not support a new spending program that would justify the Leader of the Opposition imposing a $20 billion carbon tax on hard-working Canadians.

Business of Supply February 26th, 2013

Mr. Speaker, we have continued to invest in Canada regardless of what happened prior.

Business of Supply February 26th, 2013

I repeat myself, Mr. Speaker: the answer is no, we will not, because we have done so many projects right across this country. We have invested heavily on this, and the opposition members themselves have not voted once over the last seven years for any infrastructure development. I do not think we need to take any lessons from them.

Business of Supply February 26th, 2013

Mr. Speaker, we have invested in major projects all over the country. Some of that money goes to all those projects. They are projects such as the St. John's harbour cleanup; there is $26 million for that. As I have said, in Durham, $46 million has gone for the Duffin Creek Water Pollution Control Plant. We have continued to invest in many projects like that right across this country. The gas tax has provided $2 billion to the municipalities for infrastructure. It is a significant amount of money that they can work with.

Business of Supply February 26th, 2013

Mr. Speaker, let me give you a list of some of the projects that we are already doing in Toronto as part of this infrastructure program: Toronto, Spadina subway, $622 million; Toronto Union Station revitalization, $133 million. It goes on and on. We have some dozens of projects that are being completed by this infrastructure project.

Business of Supply February 26th, 2013

Mr. Speaker, I am sure if the members had voted in support of some of these infrastructure developments we put forward over the last seven years, they may well have got that earlier.

I am sure that given the circumstances, local facilities could be put together for it and will come eventually.

Business of Supply February 26th, 2013

Mr. Speaker, the simple answer is no. I will not change my mind on this resolution.

It would be interesting to find out why my colleague over the way actually has voted against the green proposals that have been out there and why she has not supported some of these infrastructures issues as well.