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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word is tax.

Conservative MP for York Centre (Ontario)

Won his last election, in 2011, with 48.50% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Supporting Non-Partisan Agents of Parliament Act October 9th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. While I was listening with great interest, the member mentioned the Prime Minister by name.

Youth Mental Health September 30th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, tomorrow parliamentarians will join with the Canadian Mental Health Commission of Canada, the Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada, and the National Initiative for Eating Disorders here on Parliament Hill to discuss youth mental health.

Today, an estimated 1.2 million Canadian youth are affected by mental illness. Two-thirds of adults living with a mental health problem report that symptoms first appeared during their youth. Therefore, establishing the foundation for healthy emotional development early on is vital to ensuring the mental well-being of all Canadians.

Youth with mental illness can experience an array of challenges, from family difficulties, academic issues, and financial problems, to an eating disorder, to increased risk for physical illness and shorter life expectancy. The key to prevention in many of these cases is early intervention.

Empowering youth, educators, and health professionals with a better understanding of mental health can help alleviate the impact of some of these disorders. Programs that provide youth and their families with the much-needed opportunity to discuss and address issues before they become a problem can go a long way to ensure healthy development.

Tomorrow's meeting will be a key step in this direction.

Rosh Hashanah September 23rd, 2014

Mr. Speaker, tomorrow evening at sundown, Jews here in Canada and around the world will mark the start of the high holidays, beginning with Rosh Hashanah and concluding 10 days later with the Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur. This Rosh Hashanah will mark the beginning of the year 5775. It is a time to reflect through prayer and self-examination, and to perform teshuvah, or repentance, which is when we take the time to apologize to those we have wronged and commit to bettering ourselves.

During the 10 days, the Jewish community will come together to pray and fulfill the mitzvah of hearing the blowing of the shofar, the ram's horn, as a reminder to repent, to look within ourselves, to recommit ourselves to prayer, remember the blessings that come from helping those in need, and most importantly, to believe in the power of humility and compassion to deepen our faith and to repair our world. During this time of repentance and renewal, let us recommit ourselves to a more hopeful future, a future filled with sweetness, health and prosperity for all.

L'Shanah Tovah Tikatevu. May we all be inscribed in the Book of Eternal Life for a good year.

Speaker's Ruling September 15th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I would first like to welcome all of the members back from a long summer in their constituencies, and who serve the people who place their trust in us. Welcome back, to all of my colleagues.

I am pleased to have this opportunity to provide the government's response to Bill C-520, an act supporting non-partisan agents of Parliament. I am certain most would agree that non-partisanship is an essential element of both the professional public administration and responsible democratic government. A non-partisan public service is one where appointments are based on merit and are free of political influence, and where public servants perform their duties and are seen to perform their duties in a politically impartial manner. The government values this vital feature of our Westminster system of government and is committed to safeguarding the principle of political impartiality, which is why it is pleased to support the bill before us.

We are privileged in this country. We have one of the best public services in the world. Public servants are vital to the success of our country. No government, of any partisan stripe, can maintain and build a strong, united, and secure Canada without the assistance of a professional, capable public service that is committed to the public interest.

One has to only look at the public service awards of excellence to see how public servants make a difference in the lives of Canadians. From investigating and reporting on disasters, to improving access to data, to engaging Canadians across the country from space, public servants rise to the challenges presented to them daily and make us all proud. Public servants are dedicated people, who care about our country and want to contribute to making it a better place to live. It is public servants who welcome immigrants to start new lives here by deciding on cases of individual applicants. It is public servants who administer income support programs, such as the Canada pension plan and old age security, and provide approximately 200,000 Canadian seniors with their only source of income. An effective public service is key to getting things done for ordinary working Canadians and their families.

This is important. One of the keys to an effective public service is the principle of non-partisanship. In fact, one of the drivers behind the creation of a non-partisan public service some 100 years ago was the view that the public service had become inefficient and ineffective because it was largely staffed on a partisan basis. As a result, public servants often lacked the necessary qualifications for their positions. Furthermore, a century ago the appointment of public servants for partisan reasons was blamed for swelling the ranks of the public service. It is therefore essential to the success of the public service that its reputation and tradition of impartiality be maintained and protected, which is why this bill is so welcomed.

In budget 2013, the government committed to review and update public service processes and systems to ensure that the public service continues to serve all Canadians well. This bill is consistent with that commitment. It recognizes that while non-partisanship is expected of all public servants, agents of Parliament play a particularly important role in government oversight. Agents of Parliament carry out duties assigned by statute and report directly to Parliament. The individuals appointed to these offices perform work on behalf of Parliament and report to both chambers, usually through the Speakers.

Given the close relationship between parliamentarians, agents of Parliament, and their employees, it is vital that they carry out their duties free from political interference, and that they remain independent of all political affiliations.

Furthermore, given the high level of visibility of these offices, it is vital that their work be approached in a non-partisan way to maintain the confidence of parliamentarians and Canadians. To that end, this bill would require every person who applies for a position in an office of an agent of Parliament to make a declaration about their past engagements in politically partisan positions. This declaration would state whether in the last 10 years before applying for that position the person occupied certain specified politically partisan positions. The declarations would be posted on the website of the office of the relevant agent of Parliament. As well, the bill would require persons who work in these offices to provide a written undertaking that they will conduct themselves in a non-partisan manner in fulfilling the official duties and responsibilities of their positions.

I am pleased to report that the bill was subject to a thorough examination by the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics. The committee heard from a number of witnesses and has recommended a number of amendments. In particular, I would like to highlight the following amendment, which is that agents of Parliament would no longer be required to conduct an examination of alleged partisan conduct and that they would therefore no longer be required to report to Parliament on such examinations.

In sum, the bill as it now stands provides enhanced accountability and transparency. It gives parliamentarians the confidence they need that the conduct of those who work in the offices of agents of Parliament is impartial. As stated in the bill itself, it would help to avoid potential conflicts that are likely to arise or be perceived to arise between partisan activities and the official duties and responsibilities of an agent of Parliament or any person who works in the office of an agent of Parliament.

I therefore call on all members to join me in supporting Bill C-520.

Speaker's Ruling September 15th, 2014

moved:

Motion No. 8

That Bill C-520, in Clause 8, be amended by replacing, in the English version, lines 39 to 41 on page 4 with the following:

“responsibilities of the position in the office of the agent of Parliament, conduct”

Foreign Affairs June 19th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, yesterday my wife and 10-year-old twins tied a blue-and-white ribbon to our maple tree on the front yard of our home. They did this as a symbol of solidarity with the three Israeli boys, Eyal Yifrah, 19, Gil-Ad Shaer, 16, and Naftali Fraenkel, 16, who were kidnapped by the terrorist group Hamas. This ribbon will remain until the terrorists release the boys and they are returned safely to their homes. The young boys were abducted last Thursday as they were trying to get rides home from their religious seminary for the Sabbath.

Although not claiming responsibility, the terrorist group Hamas has praised the kidnapping. In fact, it and its supporters have been calling for the kidnapping of Israelis for some time now. Meanwhile, those who call for the boys' safe return are holding prayer vigils.

I call on all people of good conscience who support freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law to condemn this reprehensible and deplorable act in the strongest possible terms. The Palestinian authorities must find and apprehend the perpetrators and bring them to justice.

Until the three young boys are returned safely to their homes, I urge all people, wherever they may live, to tie a blue-and-white ribbon to their home, office or car in solidarity, just like my family has done.

Menachem Mendel Schneerson June 13th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, July 1 marks the 20th anniversary of the death of Rabbi Menachem Schneerson, known by the Chabad Lubavitch movement as the “Rebbe”.

Chabad Lubavitch is a Chasidic movement founded in a shtetl in Russia in 1775. Today the Chabad movement has over 4,000 centres in over 50 countries around the world running community centres, day schools, summer camps, synagogues, drug rehabilitation centres, soup kitchens, and halfway homes. The activities of Chabad are open to all, regardless of race, colour, or religion.

During his time as the Rebbe, Rabbi Schneerson's love, wisdom, and tireless leadership motivated millions around the world to positively contribute toward a better and gentler world. As we mark 20 years since his passing, let us all pledge to carry on his legacy and reflect on his message of kindness and goodness, thereby bringing more light and warmth to the world around us.

May his legacy carry on for many years to come. Alev ha shalom, Rebbe.

The Philippines June 12th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, today I am pleased to welcome a delegation of Filipinos from across Ontario to Parliament Hill to celebrate the 116th anniversary of the Philippines' independence. The visit was marked by the flag of the Philippines being raised on Parliament Hill as songs were sung and children danced.

We are so fortunate in Canada to have so many Canadians of Filipino descent. In fact, my riding of York Centre has one of the largest Filipino communities in Canada. It is a community of great warmth, strong family values, and hard work. We welcome them all to our Canadian family.

This was demonstrated no better than when Typhoon Yolanda struck the Philippines, devastating the country with substantial loss of life. Families were uprooted from their homes. Canadians and our government immediately rallied behind our Canadian Filipino family, with financial assistance to the tune of $170 million. It is a testament to the Filipino community that so many Canadians of all ethnic backgrounds donated to help their Filipino friends and neighbours.

On behalf of the residents of York Centre, Araw ng Kasarainlan.

Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 1 June 12th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I also admire my hon. colleague's work in this place and on committee.

I would like to say that when our government took power in 2006, the first thing we did under the leadership of the late minister of finance, Jim Flaherty, was pay down $35 billion in debt.

This gave us the flexibility, when the recession hit in 2008-09, to be able to respond quickly. We did respond quickly with an economic action plan. We had a plan to stimulate the economy for that period of time to create jobs, growth, and prosperity.

What we did after the recession was over in mid-2009 was create 1.1 million net new jobs. These are people who have jobs and who pay taxes. We have lowered the corporate tax rate down to 15%. This has created an environment whereby companies from around the world now want to invest in Canada, in a very low-tax environment that is conducive to business and business-friendly.

Bloomberg has said that we are the second-best country in the world to be doing business in right now. All the major economic institutions around the world have said Canada has the soundest economy. The OECD and the IMF have said that we have the strongest fundamentals in place for the next 50 years to be leading the world in terms of economic performance.

The member could not have been more right. Our debt-to-GDP ratio is now 32% and going down to 25%, the lowest in the G7, and it is because have a plan of low taxes and job creation. That is going to lead to long-term prosperity in this country of ours.

Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 1 June 12th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, as I was saying last night, while the opposition parties may claim to be standing up for consumers, it is our government that has consistently acted on behalf of consumers since we first assumed office in 2006. For example, we moved to ensure fairness at the pump, implement anti-spam legislation, and require stronger drug-labelling regulations.

I would like to focus my remarks today on what we have done to increase competition in the telecommunications market, improve access to broadband, and ensure consumer protection for the people of Canada, all while creating new job opportunities in the wireless sector. I am confident that upon hearing my comments, all members of the House will agree that provisions such as this make this budget one of the strongest pieces of legislation in our government's tenure.

Through the 2014 economic action plan and other measures, the Government of Canada has put consumer protection at the forefront of our legislative agenda. Every Canadian family could tell us that cellphone, television, and Internet bills add up quickly and that every dollar counts when it comes to the household budget. We understand that Canadian families are tired of seeing inflated wireless bills, and that is why our government has taken action on this issue in economic action plan 2014.

We have a proven track record of delivering results for Canadians. In fact, since 2008 wireless rates have fallen by nearly 20%, and jobs within the wireless industry have increased by 25%. Prior to 2008, Canada's largest wireless companies held 99% of the market share. We have brought that number down by 10%. For Canadians living in rural areas, our government is investing $305 million to extend and enhance broadband service to an additional 208,000 households. Furthermore, in January 2014 Canada held the 700 megahertz spectrum auction, which resulted in unprecedented success.

The 700 megahertz spectrum is the highest-quality wireless frequency option in Canada. It allows wireless signals to travel longer distances and penetrate thicker walls, and it requires fewer cellphone towers. The auction generated $5.27 billion in revenue and paved the way for Canadians to benefit from a fourth wireless competitor in every region of the country. Key smaller players such as SaskTel, MTS, Videotron, and Eastlink secured their opportunity to maintain and expand their regional footprints. This means that Canadians will now have access to more choice, lower prices, and better service in our wireless industry.

The telecommunications provisions in economic action plan 2014 are consistent with our government's commitment to protecting Canadian consumers and increasing competition in the wireless market. Our government's wireless policies are aimed at lowering prices through competition, and the provisions in this budget are the next step in a long line of concrete actions our government has taken to put consumers first. Policies such as these are not created overnight; they are a result of careful consultation and deliberation with the industry, consumer groups, and Canadians at large.

Our government believes that nobody is better suited to tell hard-working Canadians how to spend their money than Canadians themselves. Our government is committed to empowering individual Canadians, which is why we have proposed amendments to the Telecommunications Act and the Radiocommunication Act to provide the CRTC and Industry Canada with the authority to penalize companies who violate the rules of the Wireless Code. This increased oversight would ensure that companies employ fair business practices.

The 2013 Speech from the Throne reminded us that healthy market competition is essential to keep prices low and keep businesses from becoming complacent. In economic action plan 2014, our government has proposed amendments to the Telecommunications Act that would cap wholesale domestic wireless roaming charges to keep wireless bills low for Canadians and to prevent wireless providers from charging other companies more than they charge their own customers. This would lead to a greater number of new entrants into the telecom industry, which would in turn create more jobs and stimulate market competition and growth in the wireless sector.

As Canadians are thoroughly aware, a lower price means greater competition, and greater competition means further lowering of prices. This change to the Telecommunications Act would be good for business, good for consumers, and good for Canada.

I hope my comments today will shed some light on this key feature of the 2014 economic action plan. I am sure every member in this House will agree that our government's economic action plan 2014 is one of the finest budgets ever to be introduced into this place.

Despite ongoing economic challenges, Canadians know that they can count on this government to protect their interests. By maintaining fiscally responsible policies to continue on our path to a balanced budget, as well as increasing investment in Canadian families, seniors, and the environment, our government is delivering on our promise to keep more money in the pockets of Canadians and put Canada on a sure economic footing, leading to jobs, growth, and long-term prosperity.