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Conservative MP for York Centre (Ontario)
Won his last election, in 2011, with 48.50% of the vote.
Statements in the House
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.
Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 1 June 11th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, I always welcome an opportunity to talk about our economy and the great success we have achieved, notwithstanding going through the worst recession since the Great Depression in 2008-09.
Canadians are not known for their bragging or beating of their chests, but if we listen to the opposition we would get the impression that our economy is the video recorder version of the Betamax. The opposition would say that Ted Williams was an awful baseball player because he missed the ball 66% of the time that he was at bat. Those members would also say that Wayne Gretzky, who did not score a goal 85% of the time that he shot the puck, was a horrible hockey player because the guy only scored 15% of the time. They would ask what all the hype was about.
Canada is the envy of the world.
It is my pleasure to rise in the House this evening and speak to Bill C-31.
Our government's fiscal management speaks for itself. We have identified the issues that matter most to Canadians. We have once again addressed these issues in a focused and surgically precise budget. This budget will keep our government on track to balance in 2015 as promised to the Canadian people. Our government keeps our promises.
Business of Supply June 10th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, NDP members seem to be stuck in the past. Their buggy tires are mired in mud and spinning.
The NDP members are mired in the past and stuck in the old economic policies of the past. Rather than bring them into a more modern version of at least their own form of democratic socialism, rather than revise their policies, they want to double-down on the old policies and bring what happened to Bob Rae's government to Canada. We know he cannot run away fast enough from the NDP.
Business of Supply June 10th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, unlike other party caucuses, our caucus has a variety of opinions. We have strong and robust debate on policy matters, which is encouraged within our own party. This is unlike the Liberals. I remind the people of Canada who are watching this debate right now that in 1974 they campaigned on not imposing wage and price controls yet the first thing they did when they got into power was to impose wage and price controls. In 1993, Jean Chrétien promised to axe the tax, to get rid of the GST. Instead of doing that, he kept it. He also promised to get rid of the NAFTA. He ended up keeping that too.
Today, we hear the Liberals criticizing the temporary foreign worker program in public but behind the curtains they speak to the Minister of Employment and Social Development to get more temporary foreign workers into their ridings. That party's hypocrisy is evident.
We cannot really step on the pedal and on the brake at the same time.
Business of Supply June 10th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, our government has taken action in successive budgets to reduce the tax burden on average Canadians so that they have more money in their pockets to spend on what they need the most.
The hon. member is a good friend of mine. Let me remind him about the NDP record in Ontario. Ontario had the highest income taxes in North America, the highest deficit in Ontario's history up until that point, and the most job losses since the Great Depression. Tuition fees were doubled. This turned Ontario into the welfare capital of Canada.
Rather than coming up with something new, the NDP members, rather than changing their proposals, want to double-down and bring what they did to Ontario to the whole of Canada.
Business of Supply June 10th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the very hard-working member for Mississauga—Erindale, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice.
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to respond to the motion proposed by the hon. member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley. Today I would like to reassure the hon. member that our government's top priority is what matters most to Canadians, jobs and economic growth, while ensuring that all Canadians have the opportunity to share in the benefits of a strong economy.
Just a few years after the worldwide economic crisis, the strength of the Canadian economy today demonstrates that our approach is working. I have seen first-hand how our low-tax plan is benefiting the businesses, families, and communities in my own riding of York Centre. We have created jobs, kept the economy growing, and, I am pleased to note, will be returning to balanced budgets in 2015.
Since we introduced the economic action plan to respond to the global recession, Canada has recovered more than all of the output and all of the jobs lost during the recession. Real GDP is significantly above pre-recession levels, which is the best performance in the G7. Canada has weathered the economic storm, and the world has noticed.
Both the IMF and the OECD expect Canada to be among the strongest-growing economies in the G7 over this year and next, with the strong fundamentals in place to perform well for the next 50 years.
For the sixth year in a row, the World Economic Forum has rated Canada's banking system the world's soundest, and KPMG's “Competitive Alternatives 2014” study ranked Canada the most competitive mature market country for business. Moody's, Fitch, and Standard & Poor's have all reaffirmed their top ratings for Canada, and it is expected that Canada will maintain its AAA rating in the year ahead. Canada has leapt from sixth to second place in Bloomberg's ranking of the most attractive countries for business to grow.
Here is an important fact. Did members know that our government is also recognized internationally for increasing the wealth of middle-class earners? According to a major study conducted by The New York Times, Canada now has the richest middle class in the world. For the first time in history, Canadian middle-class families are better off than those in the United States. The study found that median after-tax income in Canada has never been higher and was higher than any of the other countries surveyed, including France, Australia, and the United Kingdom.
Even if the Liberal leader chooses to ignore the obvious, the facts are clear, and the evidence is overwhelming. Canadian families are better off today under our Conservative government than they were under the previous Liberal governments. Today middle-income earners have more money in their pockets, where it belongs. Millions of Canadians who elected this strong, stable, national Conservative majority government did not just make a smart political choice; they made an informed financial decision, and that decision is paying off.
According to Statistics Canada, Canadian families in all income groups have seen increases of about 10% or more in their take-home pay since our government took power. Statistics Canada data also shows how Canadians' wealth has increased dramatically under the leadership of our Prime Minister. The median net worth of Canadian families has increased by a whopping 44% since 2005. This increase has been led by the middle class.
Why are middle-class income earners doing so well under our Conservative government? One of the biggest reasons is our historic tax relief.
As we all know, the man we know as the world's greatest finance minister, the late Jim Flaherty, delivered historic tax relief for all Canadians. In fact, under his steady hand, our government cut taxes for Canadians 180 times, so the federal tax burden is now the lowest it has been in over 50 years.
The Parliamentary Budget Officer reports that we delivered $30 billion in tax relief, benefiting low- and middle-income Canadians the most. The average family of four will pay nearly $3,400 less in taxes in 2014.
To the NDP members and the Liberals who scoff at this, for some middle-income families that could mean car payments for an entire year. That is right. We have made life more affordable for middle-income families, and the opposition parties have fought us tooth and nail on every proposal our government has put forward to put more money in the hands of middle-income families.
I remember the Liberal leader telling Canadians that budgets just balance themselves. I guess no tough choices, no discipline, and no savings are required for the Liberal leader. Instead, he believes in reckless spending and higher taxes that would eliminate jobs, stall our economic growth, and make it harder for families to get by.
We have done the exact opposite. Since day one we have helped families and kept taxes low. Not only did we lower taxes for families but we cut taxes in each and every way the government collects them, whether personal, consumption, or excise and business taxes. Our tax relief included a reduction in the GST from 7% to 5%. It increased the amount that all Canadians can earn without paying federal income tax and reduced the lowest personal income tax rate to 15% from 16%. The TFSA represents the most important savings vehicle since the introduction of the RRSP. Due to popular demand, we even increased the amounts Canadians can save with their TFSA. More than nine million Canadians have taken advantage of opening up a TFSA account.
I am also pleased to note that last month the finance minister successfully secured commitments from Canada's largest banks to offer no-cost accounts for financially vulnerable Canadians. No-cost accounts will be available to youth, students, seniors qualifying for the GIS, and registered disability savings plan beneficiaries. This fulfills a 2013 Speech from the Throne commitment to expand no-cost basic banking services and to end pay-to-pay policies. This will benefit seven million Canadians.
We have supported financially vulnerable Canadians. We have undertaken unprecedented action to benefit Canadian seniors. We have cut taxes for seniors and pensioners by over $2 billion annually. We introduced pension income splitting and pooled registered pension plans, and launched consultations on a new target benefit pension plan. Our actions have helped remove over 380,000 seniors from the tax rolls. In 2014, a single senior can earn at least $20,000, and a senior couple at least $40,000 before paying any federal income tax.
Our government has also introduced a number of other targeted tax reduction measures. For example, we have helped families with children by introducing the child tax credit, the children's fitness tax credit, and the children's art tax credit. We have introduced the registered disability savings plan to help individuals with severe disabilities and their families save for long-term financial security. We have provided additional annual targeted tax relief for seniors and pensioners by increasing the age credit and pension income credit amounts, and raising the age limit for maturing savings and registered pension plans and registered retirement savings plans. We have introduced a public transit tax credit to encourage public transit use.
At the same time, we have increased and enhanced benefits for Canadian families by introducing the universal child care benefit, introducing and enhancing the working income tax benefit, increasing the amount of income families can earn before the national child benefit supplement is fully phased out and before the Canada child tax benefit base benefit begins to be phased out.
What do all of these measures have in common? The opposition voted against every single one of them.
As I have said, Canadians at all income levels are benefiting from tax relief introduced by our government with low and middle-income Canadians receiving proportionately greater relief. More than one million low-income Canadians have been fully removed from the tax rolls as a result of tax relief provided by our government.
Our recent budgets have built upon our record of supporting families and communities while establishing a path for returning to balanced budgets. Successive economic action plans have supported Canadian families by keeping taxes low, better recognizing the costs of adopting a child, helping to lower the prices of consumer goods, and better protecting financial consumers. The economic action plan continues on this track.
From Detroit to Greece, the dire consequences of ongoing and growing deficits are clear. This is one of the reasons why our government has reduced taxes, to keep more money in the pockets of Canadians. We are committed to reducing the tax burden on Canadians in our forthcoming budget.
Let me conclude by saying that I am optimistic about our prospects as a nation. The Canadian economy continues to expand, enjoying one of the strongest job creation records in the G7 over the period of the recovery. Over a million more Canadians are working now than during the depths of the recession, with the overwhelming majority of jobs being full time, high wage, and in the private sector.
While our jobs and growth performance is encouraging, we still have work to do. I am confident that economic action plan 2014 is the way to go. If we hold to the course we have chosen, our future looks bright.