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Track John

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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word is citizenship.

Conservative MP for West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country (B.C.)

Won his last election, in 2011, with 45.50% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Taiwan October 6th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, Canadians and the people of Taiwan share many things in common, including democracy, freedom and the rule of law.

As head of the Canada-Taiwan Parliamentary Friendship Group, and on behalf of Canadians everywhere, I take great pleasure in wishing Taiwan a very prosperous and successful 103rd birthday on October 10.

There is a great personal friendship that has arisen between the peoples of Taiwan and Canada. I know this well, having lived in Taiwan for 10 years. Taiwan is where I met my wife Donna, and where our children spent three months in elementary school learning Mandarin, a language that I love.

I know all members will join me in welcoming Taiwan's new senior representatives of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Canada, representative Bruce Linghu in Ottawa and director-general William Heng-sheng Chuang in Vancouver.

I look forward to the resumption of the Terry Fox Run in Taiwan next month, thanks to the support of Taiwan's President Ma Ying-jeou and our parliamentary friendship group.

I wish happy birthday to Taiwan.

Petitions October 1st, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I am very proud to present a petition on behalf of grade 7 students from Pender Harbour Elementary/Secondary School in the riding I represent. They are concerned about salmon, particularly the Saginaw salmon, and the efforts that Canadians can make to ensure this salmon survives into future generations.

Citizenship and Immigration September 29th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, the Komagata Maru arrived in Vancouver harbour in 1914 carrying 376 passengers of Indian descent, most of whom were not allowed to land. After two months under difficult conditions, the ship and most of its passengers were forced to return to India, where in a subsequent clash with British soldiers, 19 passengers died.

Would the Minister of State for Multiculturalism please inform the House about what our government is doing to commemorate and educate Canadians about this tragic event?

National Health and Fitness Day Act September 29th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I would like to highlight the major contribution of Pierre Lafontaine, whom I met in 2009 on a flight to Vancouver. He was the national swim team's coach.

We talked about the lamentable state of Canadians' level of physical activity in general, and we decided that something had to be done. We also talked about how MPs and senators should be role models for everyone.

That is how we came up with physical activity initiatives for all parliamentarians. Ever since, people on the Hill have been inspired. Phil Marsh, the manager of the Ottawa Running Room, got on board with the project and added running to our roster of activities. We now have two permanent, national-calibre volunteer coaches.

Every week, a group of parliamentarians energetically takes on the challenge of swimming and running. The snowball effect is taking over. This month, the Union des munipalités du Québec announced its support for national health and fitness day, and things are rolling along.

National Health and Fitness Day Act September 29th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I have to applaud the premier for demonstrating her devotion to health and fitness, and would certainly invite her to have national health and fitness day proclaimed in Ontario, as it has been done in British Columbia and the Yukon.

Furthermore, we need all Canadians to pull together. Although education is a provincial jurisdiction in our country, we as legislators in the House have a role to play, both as role models and in encouraging our provincial counterparts to introduce what was once a national expectation that there be physical education in the classrooms.

We know what pressure our teachers are under. We have certainly seen that profiled in British Columbia in recent weeks with the strike that has just been resolved there. There needs to be more physical activity for students, one way or another.

National Health and Fitness Day Act September 29th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for his question. I appreciate the support this bill is getting from the opposition benches.

This bill does not set any limits. It is an effort to spark discussions across the country and encourage the municipalities, the provinces and all Canadians to shoulder their collective responsibility to improve health levels in our country.

It is clear from the support for this bill that everyone understands this. We need to take immediate action to make Canada the healthiest country in the world.

National Health and Fitness Day Act September 29th, 2014

moved that Bill S-211, An Act to establish a national day to promote health and fitness for all Canadians, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Speaker, rarely in the House one discovers unity around an issue that brings together the people of Canada and their representatives rallied in a common cause. Occasionally, a bill to which we speak already has such broad support that it has gained sweeping support from coast to coast to coast, and sometimes in this chamber we witness a powerful unstoppable energy unleashed when Canadians unite in common cause to defeat a national adversary. It is a great honour to rise on one of those occasions today as I sponsor Bill S-211, an act to establish a national day to promote health and fitness for all Canadians, also known as the national health and fitness day act.

In the remarks that follow, I will outline the health and health care crises that led to this bill and explain how the bill responds to those needs. I will also pay tribute to some champions of health and fitness, and for those who decide to get involved, suggest some practical ways to do so.

We are facing a battle. An implacable adversary is slowly and insidiously killing Canadians and dragging us down as a nation. I say implacable because unlike a human adversary, there is no person or group to target in making the situation better. The adversary is a pattern of behaviour that has progressively undermined Canadians' level of physical fitness. What is it that I am calling our national adversary? Our national adversary is inactivity. It is costing us and it is killing us.

Canada's inactivity problem drives deep. It is rooted in our culture and wedded to the routines we have developed in our schools, our work and our play. The problem relates to the progress we have made in technology which enables us to communicate by computer seated in the comfort of our homes, of our classrooms and our workplaces. Similarly, screen time, whether in front of a TV, computer or smart phone, has taken our kids off playing fields and put them on chairs instead.

Statistics Canada has reported a continuous decline in sports participation which, from 1992 to 2005, went from 45% to 28% among Canadians age 15 and older. That is less than one out of every three Canadian adults who is as active as they should be. Less than 7% of Canadian children and youth meet the guideline of 60 minutes of activity daily six days per week. Among Canadians age 20 and older, two-thirds do not meet the recommended physical activity levels, that is, to be active at least two and a half hours per week to achieve a health benefit. That is only 20 minutes per day to meet the minimum standards for adults and we are not even doing that.

Statistics Canada has delivered more disturbing news. In the period between 1981 and 2009, measured obesity roughly doubled in most age groups for both sexes. Data from 2009 suggests that approximately one in four Canadian adults age 18 years and over is obese. In 2008 the combined overweight and obese proportion was 62.1%. Nearly two out of three adult Canadians is either overweight or obese.

This trend has dramatic implications since children who are overweight are more likely to be overweight as adults. Among other things, studies have shown that adolescents who are overweight have a fourteen-fold increased risk of a heart attack before they turn 50. Excess weight in childhood is increasingly linked to illnesses once seen only in adults, including type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, abnormal blood fats, abnormal blood clotting, and thickening of the arteries.

Psychologically, evidence suggests a positive relationship between physical activity and psychosocial health in employees, including emotional well-being, improved mental health, and reduced depression, anxiety and stress. They have all been associated with regular physical activity as well as reduced symptoms of fatigue, enhanced mood, increased quality of life and life satisfaction.

The support for the bill before us is not related to high-performance athletes, but instead to Canadians who are not necessarily involved in athletics. This is not a sports bill; it is a health and fitness bill.

As I biked to work this morning, I was thinking in fact of those Canadian heroes like Terry Fox and my friend Rick Hansen who have shown the world that participation in physical activity is not just for able-bodied people.

More and more persons with disabilities—I prefer the term “adaptive athletes”—have made the point really clear. Look at Jody Mitic, the Canadian veteran who lost his legs in Afghanistan, who runs marathons anyway and is now campaigning to be an Ottawa city councillor along with Matt Fleury, another great champion of health and fitness.

Initiatives such as Soldier On and Ottawa's Army Run bring out many of our wounded warriors and others, inspiring with the realization that one does not have to be Wayne Gretzky or Nancy Greene Raine to participate and improve one's health through physical activity.

Our declining health and fitness rates are clearly an economic problem, not just a matter of life quality. The Public Health Agency of Canada has concluded that costs of obesity are estimated to be $7 billion. That is the total cost of the obesity-related diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.

Members may have heard the quote from Roman times that a healthy mind relates to a healthy body.

In addition to direct and indirect health care costs, the quality and productivity of our work in Canada will improve if our people become healthier, if only by decreasing the number of sick days. Indirect costs of poor health include the value of economic output lost due to illness, injury-related work disability, and premature death.

It has been estimated that, on average, compared to an active person an inactive person spends 38% more days in hospital and uses 5.5% more family physician visits, 13% more specialist services, and 12% more nurse visits.

The bill that I sponsor today, Bill S-211, tackles problems that touch every Canadian in terms of our health, our quality of life, and our economy. The bill aims to increase the health of Canadians by increasing our physical participation rates.

Specifically, supporters wish to encourage local governments, non-government organizations, the private sector, and all Canadians to recognize the first Saturday in June as national health and fitness day, or NHFD, a day marked by local, provincial and national events to promote health and fitness.

The bill makes particular mention of local governments as they own and operate many of our nation's health and fitness facilities. NHFD supporters want to encourage local governments more aggressively to promote the use of such facilities. Furthermore, we encourage cities and towns to mark the day with local events and initiatives celebrating and promoting the importance of using local health, recreational, sports and fitness facilities.

People around the world know that Canada's mountains, oceans, lakes, forests, parks, and wilderness also offer recreation and fitness opportunities, and we ought to benefit from what we share collectively.

The month in which NHFD falls, June, is not only a time of great weather, but is also parks and recreation month, a time in the calendar already set aside to foster heightened appreciation of our outdoor assets.

The bill is an amended version of a private member's bill I introduced in this House previously which had widespread support, but for procedural reasons did not progress. To be clear, NHFD is not a legal holiday; it will not incur costs of lost productivity. In fact, it is not just a day at all. It is about a dramatic change in lifestyle.

On a personal level, my wife Donna and my children Shane, Jake, and Meimei have inspired me to promote the bill. Donna is a personal trainer. My children all earned black belts in tae kwon do at an early age and are dedicated athletes. I am a pretty active person myself, finding that physical activity keeps me healthy, energized, and effective in my public service.

With the privilege of representing West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country in B.C., I can say that constituents in the riding I represent are among the most active in the country. Where I live, people love the outdoors and are concerned about the physical inactivity problem Canada is facing. I personally learned much from the people in my community, who have inspired me to promote health and fitness as a gift they give to the rest of our great country. I bring Bill S-211 forward today in paying special tribute to the wonderful role models for health and fitness who live in the riding I represent.

The bill was tabled appropriately by my friend and everyone's athletic icon, Canada's female athlete of the 20th century, Senator Nancy Greene Raine. Senator Greene Raine, who is here today, Nancy to her millions of fans, is a proud British Columbian and an articulate spokeswoman for all Canadians in many areas of public policy, but in promoting health and fitness no one can surpass her. Demonstrating great leadership, Nancy won unanimous support for Bill S-211 in the Senate.

I also thank the Minister of Health and the Minister of State for Sport, who have gone out of their way to support NHFD at every turn.

I also want to thank my colleagues across the floor. This bill already enjoys a rare element of enthusiastic cross-party support.

Another distinctive aspect of the bill is the fact that it has already been implemented on a broad scale well before it has become law. Over 155 cities and towns across Canada have proclaimed the day, including Vancouver, Calgary, Ottawa, Halifax, Yellowknife and Pond Inlet. I am especially proud that the earliest adopters included the towns and the cities in the riding I represent: West Vancouver, Whistler, Squamish, Sechelt, Gibsons, Lions Bay, Bowen Island, North Van district and Powell River.

Led by Premier Christy Clark and the energetic MLA, Michelle Stilwell, last spring B.C. became the first province to endorse NHFD, followed quickly by Yukon as the first territory.

On May 30, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities passed a resolution at its annual conference encouraging all member municipalities to proclaim the day, and just two weeks ago, the Union of Quebec Municipalities followed suit.

Members would be amazed at the number and influence of non-government organizations that have endorsed the bill and begun to promote its objectives even before it passes. These include: the Canadian Medical Association; Lisa Ashley and the Canadian Nurses Association; Chris Gray and the Heart and Stroke Foundation; Chris Jones and Physical and Health Education Canada; Bob Elliott and Sport Matters Group; Participaction; Debra Gassewitz and the Sports Information Resource Centre; C. J. Noble and Canadian Parks and Recreation; Richard Way and Canadian Sport for Life; Trisha Sarker and the Fitness Industry Council of Canada; Arne Elias of Canada Bikes; Canadian Interuniversity Sport; Rob McClure and the Ottawa Bicycle Club; Trans Canada Trail, championed by Laureen Harper, Paul LaBarge and Deborah Apps; and one of our recent supporters, Movember.

Additionally, I am grateful to private sector organizations for their support: The Running Room, Canadian Tire and Jumpstart, Kunstadt Sports, Glacier Media, Capital Hill Hotel and Suites, Tractivity, and GoodLife Fitness.

Like most good things in life, the bill comes about due to the efforts of a large team of people over many years. The broad public support for NHFD reflects a unity in this House that began in 2008 during the lead-up to the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Games. As a large part of the games was to take part in the riding I represent, I spent much time with people asking what we could do to ensure a lasting positive legacy from the games. While gold medals were a crowning glory, we wanted something that all Canadians could claim as their own on an ongoing basis.

The key tragic event that spurred us on was the untimely death of Tom Hanson, a renowned Canadian Press journalist who died in 2009 while playing pick-up hockey. Tom was a young man, only 41. The Prime Minister took the occasion to remind us that we needed to take care of our health.

I had Mr. Hanson's sad experience in mind along with the Prime Minister's words when I met two great heroes of mine, Pierre Lafontaine and Phil Marsh, who have left an indelible imprint on Canada for their advocacy of health and fitness. Pierre and Phil are the energetic coaches of our parliamentary fitness initiative, which I began in 2009 with the support of the members for Sackville—Eastern Shore and Etobicoke North, each of them from different parties in this House.

When I met Pierre in 2009, he was coach of Canada's national swim team. He continues in his role of promoting national health and fitness now as president of Canadian Interuniversity Sport. Phil Marsh is regional manager of the Running Room in Ottawa, who with his boss, John Stanton, is a major force in promoting fitness for all Canadians. Both Pierre and Phil are great men, generous with their time, who volunteer to coach our MPs and senators in running and swimming, each once a week whenever Parliament is in session.

I have also worked with others to create companion events that have supported NHFD, including Bike Day on the Hill, Bike Day in Canada and National Life Jacket and Swim Day on the Hill.

With all that support and all this national enthusiasm, I have to ask the most important question: will a bill like this make any difference to Canada's battle against inactivity? National health and fitness has far-reaching implications, including physical health, mental illness, life expectancy, school performance, national productivity, economic performance, and health care costs. If we do not change our current patterns, this is the first generation of Canadians who will die at an age younger than our parents. We must change our direction.

Bill S-211 will be Parliament's statement that MPs and senators wish to instill in Canadians an awareness of the significant benefits of physical activity, and to encourage our people to get more active. Supporting NHFD is not the whole solution, but it is part of the solution. I encourage all Canadians to take the field in the battle against inactivity, and to be sure to approach their mayors and councillors if they have not already proclaimed national health and fitness day.

I thank colleagues in this House for their support. I welcome them to join me in the parliamentary fitness initiative, for their own health and to demonstrate their commitment to their constituents. I ask that they support Bill S-211. Canada's health and fitness depends on them.

Justice September 26th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, Quebeckers were outraged to discover that Guy Turcotte was released pending his second trial.

In 2011, he was found not criminally responsible for stabbing his two children in cold blood. In response to that verdict, our government passed the Not Criminally Responsible Reform Act to protect law-abiding citizens and our communities.

Can the parliamentary secretary tell the House what the government is doing to make sure that criminals get the punishment they deserve?

Health and Fitness Advocate September 24th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, when we members rise to pay tribute to a person from our ridings, we identify those who inspire not only our communities, but also our country. Today I pay tribute to just such a hero, Frank Kurucz, who has literally saved people's lives through his coaching.

Among other things, Frank created the Nomads running group 50 years ago, which is an informal club of men who run together on weekends. As recently as last Saturday, 84-year-old Frank was running, inspiring those of us who ran with him.

Frank also initiated Fit Fellas, a well-attended fitness class, now led by Barrie Chapman at the very busy West Vancouver recreation centre.

Frank also initiated the West Van Masters Mile race, and coached at the YMCA, UBC volleyball and soccer, and at women's and other groups.

Frank was also West Van's first director of parks and recreation, and the hero who lit the Olympic cauldron there in 2010.

The single theme in all of these activities is the importance of integrating health and fitness to maintain a successful, well-balanced life and a strong community.

Mr. Speaker, through you, I say, thank you, Frank, on behalf of the many you have inspired.

International Trade September 22nd, 2014

Mr. Speaker, our government remains focused on creating jobs and opportunities for hard-working Canadians through trade. However, the NDP has voted against practically every free trade or investment protection agreement our Conservative government has introduced.

As for the Liberals, in their 13 years in office, they created free trade agreements with only three countries, whereas our government has created such agreements with over 40 countries in only eight years.

Having worked in Asia for over a decade, I personally observed the importance of opening trade with that continent. Can the parliamentary secretary provide insight into our Conservative government's latest accomplishment on trade?