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Conservative MP for Wellington—Halton Hills (Ontario)
Won his last election, in 2011, with 63.70% of the vote.
Statements in the House
Committees of the House February 27th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the first report of the Standing Committee on Official Languages entitled “The State of French Second-Language Education Programs in Canada”.
Democratic Reform February 5th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, on December 3, last year, the reform act was introduced, a bill that offers realistic and real reforms to strengthen Parliament. The reform act proposes three simple reforms to strengthen the role of the people's elected representatives by empowering members of Parliament and giving them the tools they need to better represent their constituents in Ottawa.
Since its introduction, there has been unprecedented public support for the bill. Here is just one example. The Canadian Association of Retired Persons, CARP, surveyed some of its 300,000 members across Canada and asked them what they thought of the reform act. Seventy-five per cent of them said they support the reform act, 72% said the proposals would significantly change Parliament, and 62% said the proposals would improve accountability.
This poll and others like it make it clear that Canadians want to see parliamentary reform. The reform act is the vehicle for that reform.
Petitions January 31st, 2014
Mr. Speaker, I present a petition from 70 or so constituents in my riding of Wellington—Halton Hills, mostly from the Rockwood area, who petition the government to put a moratorium on genetically modified alfalfa.
Election of Committee Chairs January 29th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, continuing with the debate on Motion No. 431 moved by the member for Saskatoon—Humboldt, it is important to note that this Parliament was created by the Constitution Act, 1867, when it united the three provinces of Canada, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia. It is important to point that out, because our Parliament derives from the Parliament of the United Kingdom. In fact, the Constitution Act, 1867, states that Canada is to have “a Constitution similar in Principle to that of the United Kingdom.”
The reason it is an important point to make is that it is useful to compare how our committees function here in the Canadian Parliament and how committees function in the Parliament in the United Kingdom. Here committee chairs are elected by committee members, but the three whips of the recognized parties in the House of Commons control committee membership. Of the 24 committees of the House, the committee chairs are restricted by the Standing Orders to government members for 20 committees. For four other committees, they are restricted to members of the opposition, and the election of these committee chairs is done not by secret ballot but rather by open vote. Therefore, in fact, the votes are whipped. The whips control the committee chairs as well.
In the U.K. Parliament, a majority of committee chairs are elected by secret ballot. Committee members are appointed by the whips, as they are here. It is important to note that the chairs have been elected by secret ballot only recently in the U.K. Parliament. Before June 2010, they were appointed as committee chairs, as we presently do in the Canadian Parliament. It is important to note that the U.K. Parliament has changed the rules and in the last three and a half years has elected committee chairs by secret ballot vote. If it can change the way its committee chairs are elected, if it can change the way its legislative committees are structured and function, so too can we. That is an important point to make on this whole issue.
I also note that the report of the U.K. Parliament further recommended not only that committee chairs be elected and continue to be elected by secret ballot vote but that members also be selected by secret ballot vote. In other words, not just committee chairs but committee members would be selected by secret ballot vote. That too is something worth consideration, because at the end of the day, legislative committees of this Parliament and this House are separate and independent from the executive branch of government. It is really important that legislative committees have the autonomy to hold the executive branch of government to account in terms of reviewing legislation, governor-in-council appointments, the estimates, and other matters that come under their responsibilities. Committees would be more autonomous and strengthened in that oversight function if the chairs and caucus members were selected for committee by secret ballot vote.
That is an important point we should think about and look at. That is why I support this motion. It would allow us to examine the current system we have. I am personally of the view that parliamentary secretaries should not sit on legislative committees. I have spoken over the years to many members of the House who are members of the Liberal caucus who have told me that they too share the view that parliamentary secretaries really should not sit on committees. That would give committees more autonomy and independence in ensuring oversight of the executive branch of government.
I am going to close by making a broad comment about the various proposals for reform. We recently had the adoption of the motion to study e-petitions in the House of Commons and to look at the way it is currently done in the U.K. I note that the White House has an e-petition function on its website as well. We have a motion in front of us right now, Motion No. 431, to look at secret ballot election of committee chairs. I recently introduced a reform act in the House of Commons.
The general point I want to make is this. We live in a rapidly changing era of social media, content communities like YouTube, collaborative projects like Wikipedia, blogs and microblogs like Twitter and Facebook, and increasingly younger people are attuned to and work through these social media.
As parliamentarians, if we do not provide new ways for Canadians to come together in communities, to voice their expression online through functions like e-petitions, to reform Parliament in the way its committees function and to reform it more generally, we risk having reform forced upon us.
I encourage members in the House to seize and support this motion and to adopt the reforms that are necessary to keep this place relevant in the 21st century.
Business of Supply December 9th, 2013
Mr. Speaker, it is important to note that public pensions are provincial areas of jurisdiction. We used the federal spending power in the mid-1960s to convince the provinces to come on board with a single national plan. We were successful in convincing nine out of the ten provinces to do so. Quebec chose to establish its own Quebec pension plan. As a result, there is a federal-provincial agreement in place to effect any changes to the pension plan. The agreement said that as a government we need to secure the support of two-thirds of the provinces in this country that have at least two-thirds of the Canadian population.
In recent media reports, some provinces, such as Quebec, Saskatchewan and Alberta, have indicated some concern about increasing the benefit levels.
Can my colleague from Calgary tell the House what challenges there would be to achieving a substantial agreement in order to effect these increases in benefit levels and premiums?
Business of Supply December 9th, 2013
Mr. Speaker, I notice that the opposition supply day motion calls for an increase to the pension benefit but makes no mention of the increase in premiums that would be necessary to fund that increase in benefit levels.
It is important for members in the House to realize that when the Canada pension plan was first introduced in 1966, premiums represented 3.6% of annual earnings. By 1997, in the pay-as-you-go system, premiums had risen to 6% of annual income. The pension plan at that point was underfunded, and the projection was that premiums would rise to 10.1% by 2016 and then to 15% or so beyond that. To address the concerns about skyrocketing premiums, the government decided to move away from a pay-as-you-go system toward a system in which we would earn surpluses every year to put away for future use. Today we are at 9.9% of annual income in premiums paid to the fund.
What impact on the economy would an increase have on employers and employees throughout this country?
Battle of Hong Kong December 5th, 2013
Mr. Speaker, I am here today because of a great Canadian. Seventy-two years ago this month, this Canadian, along with many others, fought in the Battle of Hong Kong to defend the people of the crown colony, my father being one of them. In that battle, the Japanese attacked the Royal Rifles and the Winnipeg Grenadiers in the first Canadian combat engagement of the Second World War.
Seventeen days of battle ended on Christmas Day 1941, with 290 Canadians dead, 493 wounded, and 1,600 made prisoners of war. For three and half years, they lived in appalling conditions. Hundreds died. Years later, my father moved to Winnipeg, home of the Grenadiers. Years after that, I met that great Canadian, Mr. George MacDonell, who was taken prisoner of war in that battle.
I stand here today in this Canadian House of Commons, because Mr. MacDonell stood in Hong Kong 72 years ago to defend my family. Mr. MacDonell is here today in Ottawa. I ask all my colleagues to recognize this great Canadian.
Reform Act, 2013 December 3rd, 2013
moved for leave to introduce Bill C-559, An Act to amend the Canada Elections Act and the Parliament of Canada Act (reforms).
I have the honour to present my bill. It is a bill that would strengthen the principle on which our democratic institutions in Canada were founded, that being the principle of responsible government. It would strengthen local control over party nominations. It would restore and strengthen the concept of confidence in House of Commons parliamentary party caucuses and would reinforce the caucus as a decision-making body.
The bill is based on some old ideas that people like Robert Baldwin and Louis-Hippolyte LaFontaine—a monument to whom is standing behind the Centre Block on Parliament Hill—put forward that established the principles on which modern Canadian political institutions are based. These ideas have laid the foundations for this country. If adopted, I hope this bill will strengthen those ideas and allow our Parliament to flourish in the 21st century.
(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)
Petitions November 25th, 2013
Mr. Speaker, I have a petition from constituents in Hillsburgh and Erin, in Ontario, who call for the creation of a legislative ombudsman mechanism for responsible mining.
Aboriginal Affairs October 29th, 2013
Mr. Speaker, 250 years ago this month, the Royal Proclamation of 1763 was issued by King George III establishing a boundary, the proclamation line, between the British colonies on the Atlantic coast and the aboriginal lands west of the Appalachian Mountains and establishing the important precedent that aboriginal peoples had rights to the lands they occupied.
The Royal Proclamation prohibited the purchase of aboriginal land by individuals and required all future purchases of land to be made by crown servants.
It is the first document of the Crown to recognize aboriginal rights and freedoms. It laid the foundation for all future treaties and was so important that in 1982, it was included in section 25 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
I ask all members in the House to join me in recognizing this historic anniversary for aboriginal peoples.