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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
Canadian Museum of History Act May 22nd, 2013
Mr. Speaker, I will make a quick comment.
I do not support the hon. member's amendment. However, I do support the government's bill. I think it is a good idea to create a new museum. This is part of the museum's natural evolution in Canada.
In fact, this is the fifth iteration of this museum. This museum started off in 1856, with the Geological Survey of Canada. In 1910, it went into its second iteration as the National Museum.
In 1968, it was known as the National Museum of Man. Later, in 1986, it became the Canadian Museum of Civilization. Now, we have the fifth iteration of this museum in Canada.
I think it is a natural evolution, as we approach our 150th anniversary, to refocus this museum, along with new investments, on the very important history of this country. It is a wonderful project the government has initiated in this regard.
Committees of the House May 21st, 2013
Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the sixth report of the Standing Committee on Official Languages.
In accordance with its order of reference of Monday, February 25, 2013, the committee has considered vote 20 under Privy Council in the main estimates for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2014, and reports the same.
Business of Supply April 25th, 2013
Mr. Speaker, I do not have the numbers in front of me to answer his question directly. However, some of the measures we have taken will help consumers in reducing their energy consumption costs.
The Department of the Environment has estimated that the average Canadian driver of a 2025 vehicle will save about $900 a year in annual fuel costs, compared with driving today's new vehicles.
The regulations we have introduced will achieve meaningful reductions in greenhouse gases, the corollary of which are meaningful reductions in energy consumption. Helping households with reductions in energy consumption is good because it is something that will allow them to manage their tight budgets and help them with the rising costs of fuel and energy.
Business of Supply April 25th, 2013
Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. NDP member for his excellent question.
Of course, this is the reality: in the summer of 2009, the Canadian economy went into recession. However, after that, as a government, we recuperated all economic growth and all jobs that had been lost during the recession. More Canadians are working now than before the recession in the summer of 2009.
We have recouped all the job losses of that recession and then some. In addition, we have recouped all the economic contraction that we lost in that summer and then some. Our economy today is quite a bit bigger and job employment is quite a bit higher than prior to that recession, despite the fact that we have reduced greenhouse gases over the last six to seven years.
Business of Supply April 25th, 2013
Mr. Speaker, the motion in front of us today has three parts, parts (a), (b) and (c).
Part (a) says that the House “agree with many Canadians and the International Energy Agency that there is grave concern with the impacts of a 2 degree rise in global average temperatures”. I think we can all agree with that statement, part (a) of this motion. In fact, it is something the government and the Prime Minister have agreed with.
I have a copy of the Copenhagen accord in front of me. It is the accord the Prime Minister signed on December 18, 2009. I just want to take two quotes from this accord, which the Prime Minister agreed to, which is the official policy of the Government of Canada. It is Canada's reputation that has been committed in this document with the Prime Minister's signature.
Article 1 says:
We underline that climate change is one of the greatest challenges of our time.
Clearly the Government of Canada acknowledges that climate is one of the greatest challenges of our time.
I would like to quote from article 2.
We agree that deep cuts in global emissions are required according to science, and as documented by the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report with a view to reduce global emissions so as to hold the increase in global temperature below 2 degrees Celsius...
Clearly, the government understands and acknowledges that it is a necessity, and part of all people living on this planet, to keep the temperature increase below 2 degrees Celsius.
The Prime Minister attended that Conference of the Parties, 15th session. He committed Canada and the government to the 2% target.
I think part (a) of this motion is reasonable. It is consistent with what the government has stood for and is consistent with what the Prime Minister has committed to.
Part (b) of the motion says that this House “condemn the lack of effective action by successive federal governments since 1998 to address emissions and meet our Kyoto commitments”. This is the part of the motion I cannot agree with. The reality is that from 1998 to 2005, emissions rose.
Part of part (b) is true: from 1998 to 2005, greenhouse gas emissions in Canada rose from approximately 680 megatonnes to 737 megatonnes. Clearly, during that seven-year period, greenhouse gas emissions rose. Clearly, one could say that for that particular period of time, there was a lack of effective action to reduce greenhouse gases in Canada. However, part (b) of the motion says “since 1998”, and it fails to acknowledge the actions and meaningful reductions in greenhouse gases that have taken place since the government came to power at the end of 2005.
At the end of 2005, greenhouse gas emissions in Canada were 737 megatonnes. At the end of 2011, the most recent year for which data is available for the UN reporting system, greenhouse gas emissions were 702 megatonnes.
From the end of 2005, when the government took power, to the end of 2011, over that six year period, greenhouse gases dropped in Canada. They fell. They decreased, from 737 megatonnes to 702 megatonnes.
Part (b) of the motion is not consistent with that reality. These numbers were pulled from the “National Inventory Report: Greenhouse Gas Sources and Sinks in Canada”, which the Canadian government submits to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. This submission was made fairly recently for the period of 1990 to 2011. It is available on the government's Environment Canada website for the public and for members to see.
Part (b) of the motion simply does not reflect reality. It is not something I can support.
What is interesting about the fact that greenhouse gas emissions have dropped from the end of 2005 to the end of 2011, the most recent year for which data is available, is that during that period of time the Canadian economy grew. Therefore, the most important thing to acknowledge about what has happened over that six to seven year period, since the government has come to power, is the trend line that parallelled economic growth to rising greenhouse gas emissions has been broken and we are now in a period where, with increasing economic growth, we are seeing decreases in greenhouse gas emissions.
Part (c) of the motion asks the House to call upon the government to immediately table its federal climate change adaptation plan. I would like to explain what we as a government have already done.
We have taken a sector-by-sector regulatory approach, consistent with what our largest trading partner south of the border has done. That is an incredibly important fact to acknowledge because we cannot go down one type of approach to reducing emissions while the United States goes down a different path. Our economies are far too integrated to take a disparate approach. Therefore, like the United States, we have taken a regulatory sector-by-sector approach to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
In the last year, the government has introduced a number of significant initiatives that need to be acknowledged. The first is the electricity sector regulations, the second is the passenger car and light truck regulations and, more recently, the heavy duty vehicle regulations. I would like to highlight some of the details about those regulations because I do not think the government is getting enough credit for the actions it has taken.
The passenger car and light truck regulations that are being proposed for the 2017 and beyond model years are anticipated to reduce fuel consumption by 50% for passenger cars relative to the 2008 model year.
We have taken the same approach for the heavy duty truck regulations as we have done with passenger cars and light trucks. We expect that for the 2014 to 2018 model years, these new stringent emission regulations will achieve meaningful reductions in emissions for full-size pickups, semi-tractor truck trailers, garbage trucks and buses.
With respect to the electricity regulations that we announced last September, coal-fired electricity-generating plants account for 77% of emissions in the electrical sector and 11% of overall emissions in Canada. The regulations we have introduced will reduce, over the next 21 years, emissions from coal-fired electrical generation plants by 214 megatonnes. As well, between now and 2020 it is anticipated they will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 41 megatonnes in the next six short years from the coal-fired electrical generation sector.
These are significant regulations that are achieving meaningful reductions in greenhouse gases. Since 2005, we have seen a reduction in greenhouse gases from 737 megatonnes to 702 megatonnes, while as the economy has grown.
These regulations are not fully in effect yet. Over the next six years they will achieve even more reductions.
If members do not want to take that from me, in November of 2011 the International Institute for Sustainable Development, a well-respected independent research organization based out of Geneva which the OECD consults, said that Canada's:
—federal and provincial...actions were estimated to likely deliver about 46 per cent of the 2020 national target, or...103 million tonnes...of the 225 Mt needed.
We will do even more with the announcements already made, but clearly more action needs to be taken. The government and the Minister of the Environment has committed to that further action by indicating oil and gas regulations will come out shortly.
I cannot support the motion because it does not reflect the reality of the work that the government has done over the last six years. Climate change is a serious issue. Anthropogenic climate change is a challenge for our planet and this government is committed to taking action and has already taken action. That is not being acknowledged in this motion. For that reason, I encourage members to vote against it.
Election of Committee Chairs April 24th, 2013
Mr. Speaker, I commend the member for Saskatoon—Humboldt for introducing Motion No. 431 in this House. The heart of his proposal is to have the procedure and House affairs committee consider the election of committee chairs by means of a preferential ballot system by all members of this House at the beginning of the session of Parliament.
This motion is very important, because, as Montesquieu once said, what is key to a just society, to an equitable governance system, is the division of powers. In modern western democracies, we have a formal division of powers between the three branches of government: judicial, legislative and executive. Clearly, the judicial branch is separated from the executive and legislative branches. In our system, the legislature holds the executive to account, and a key component of the legislature that holds that executive to account is the committee system of the legislature. Our legislative committees are what we call our standing committees.
Therefore, the proposal from the member for Saskatoon—Humboldt is an important motion, because it concerns the very heart of the governance of the committee system, which is the heart of our legislative system in government.
Committees of the House April 22nd, 2013
Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the fifth report of the Standing Committee on Official Languages.
In accordance with its order of reference of Wednesday, February 27, the committee has considered Bill C-419, an act respecting language skills, and agreed on Thursday, April 18, to report the bill with amendments.
Business of Supply April 18th, 2013
Mr. Speaker, I have been listening to this debate, not just in the House but for the last number of months with a great deal of interest and puzzlement.
Since 2006, 14 foreign promotion and protection agreements have been concluded or brought into force by this government. Between 1990 and 2006, some 10 foreign promotion and protection agreements were brought into force. In other words, since 1990, some 24 FIPA agreements have been concluded or brought into force. The Canada-China FIPA agreement is similar to those 24 other FIPA agreements negotiated since 1990. It contains the same or similar core standard obligations as in these 24 other agreements. It contains rights and obligations that apply equally to both Canada and China.
In light of these facts, my question is this. Why is this FIPA such a concern? If this FIPA is similar to the other 24 FIPAs, what is motivating all the concern about this Canada-China foreign promotion and protection agreement? Is this a form of dog whistle politics that is going on here? What is motivating all the concern about this agreement in light of the fact that it is so similar to the other 24 agreements?
Privilege April 15th, 2013
Mr. Speaker, I appreciate being allowed to speak to this question of privilege. It is the first opportunity I have had to speak to the point raised by the member for Langley, so I would like to add my thoughts for your consideration.
Speaking in the House of Commons is a fundamental right of members of this place. That is the most important starting point for all of us in this chamber. It is fundamental to what this chamber is all about. The real question in front of you, Mr. Speaker, on this question of privilege is really this: who gets to decide who speaks on the floor of this House? Is it the parliamentary party House leaders, the parliamentary party whips or is it you, the Speaker, who ultimately has the power of recognition? That really is the heart of the fundamental question that the member for Langley raised. It is the question as to whether or not you, as Speaker, still have the power of recognition over members' statements. The most important point to make in the context of this question of privilege is that the fundamental right of all members in this place is speech, the ability to use words to articulate points of view in this place, whether the members are independent members of Parliament not recognized as a parliamentary party, or whether they are members of Parliament who are part of recognized parliamentary parties.
House of Commons Procedure and Practice, also affectionately known as “O'Brien and Bosc” states:
By far, the most important right accorded to Members of the House is the exercise of freedom of speech in parliamentary proceedings. It has been described as…a fundamental right without which they would be hampered in the performance of their duties. It permits them to speak in the House without inhibition, to refer to any matter or express any opinion as they see fit, to say what they feel needs to be said in the furtherance of the national interest and the aspirations of their constituents.
It is the reason why members in this House enjoy immunity from libel and slander laws. It is the reason why it is a breach of a member's privilege to prevent a member from physically getting to this House to speak on the floor. It is a reason why all these privileges exist. It is for us to be able to speak freely on this floor of the people's place, the House of Commons. Speaking is what we do here. In a democracy, we do not solve our debates or disagreements through the tip of a sword or through violence. We solve them through words: words of praise, words of caution, words of criticism. That is why this question of privilege is so important. We settle debates in a democracy through words, and the ability of members to express those words on this floor is the heart of the matter.
Party whips and party House leaders for decades have served a coordinating and scheduling function as to who gets to speak on the floor of this House of Commons. They have played for decades the role of coordination and scheduling in terms of who gets to speak during debates and who gets to speak during other parts of Parliament's life. For example, during debate, the party's House leaders and the party whips coordinate among the three recognized parliamentary parties as to who is going to speak when during the debate, which members, and which rotation. However, if a member of a recognized parliamentary party caucus were to rise at the very end of that list of members that had been coordinated by the three recognized parliamentary parties, a member who had not yet spoken to the bill and who was not on the list that had been prepared by the respective parliamentary House leaders, you, Mr. Speaker, would recognize him or her, even if the party whip or the party House leader sent you a note in the chamber and said, “Do not recognize this member”. Why? Because it is a fundamental right for a member to rise in his or her spot to speak to the chamber.
Unfortunately, over the decades the coordinating and scheduling function of party House leaders and party whips has shifted to that of a command and control function.
I want to draw everyone's attention in the chamber to what has happened to question period over the last 30 years. Before the 1980s, any member of the House could pose a question of the government. After the leader's round was finished, any member of the chamber had the fundamental right to rise in his or her place and ask a question of the government, both opposition and government members. Therefore, six or seven members would pop up at once, like we do in questions and comments, to ask questions of the government.
After the introduction of television in 1977, a significant change to question period was introduced by Speaker Sauvé. According to Mr. Marleau, the former clerk of the House, in the interests of making things more orderly, the speaker decided to request lists of members from the respective parliamentary parties in order to better organize question period. This was done to assist the speaker in scheduling and coordinating which members were going to ask what questions during the 45 minutes of oral questions. It was not intended to serve as a stripping away of the power of recognition of the speaker to recognize or not recognize members during question period. It was not intended to give command and control over who got to ask questions during question period in the chamber.
Over the last 30 or so years, that is precisely what has happened. Today in the chamber, members of Parliament cannot ask questions of the government to hold it to account. They no longer have that fundamental right, whether they sit on that side of the aisle or on this side of the aisle. The only people who get to ask questions in the chamber during oral questions are those who are given approval by the House leader or party whips, who create these lists which are submitted to you, Mr. Speaker, before 2:15 p.m. on Monday through Thursday and before 11:15 on Friday.
Despite Speaker Jerome's ruling of April 14, 1975, that it is a right of members to put questions to the government during question period, today members of the House of Commons no longer have that right to ask questions of the government and to hold it to account.
That shift from the early 1980s to the present during question period from a coordinating and scheduling function on the part of the House leaders and party whips to you, Mr. Speaker, to one of command and control over who gets to ask and answer questions in this place, is instructive of the question in front of us today as to what we should do with members' statements. That shift has eroded the basic principle on which modern Canadian political institutions are based. That is the basic concept of responsible government, the idea that the executive branch of government is accountable back to the legislature and that members in the House have to play that fundamental role, including members in the government caucus.
This shift from scheduling and coordinating to command and control has stripped members of the right to ask questions during question period and is now threatening to do the same during members' statements. It has also eroded the power to hold the government to account, the fundamental concept of responsible government. It is something that our forebears felt important enough that a monument to Louis-Hippolyte Lafontaine and Robert Baldwin, figures in Canadian history in building these institutions, was erected behind Centre Block overlooking the Ottawa River, proclaiming responsible government in Canada.
It is something that the rebellions of 1837 were all about, the idea that crown prerogative was not unfettered and unchecked and that ultimately, the executive branch was accountable to the legislature.
In short, the idea that the executive is accountable to members of a legislature is a fundamental underpinning of modern political institutions in Canada and the shift that has happened in question period and is starting to happen in members' statements is eroding this very fundamental principle. This shift, Mr. Speaker, has also eroded your power of recognition in a corollary of which is your power of non-recognition.
Some in the chamber have argued that parties have the right to discipline members and that parties have the right to curtail members if they say something the party has not approved of, and I agree with that principle. I agree that parliamentary parties, parliamentary leadership, has the right to discipline members for saying things either in the chamber or outside the chamber of which they do not approve. That discipline could involve removing a member of a parliamentary committee. That discipline could involve removing a member as chair of a committee. That discipline could involve removing a member from his or her duties associated with Parliament. However, that discipline should take place after this fact of speaking in the chamber and, most important, that discipline cannot include preventing a member from speaking in the chamber.
It is clear to me that there exists a case of privilege. I ask that you, Mr. Speaker, see it also and that you take over the scheduling of S. O. 31 members' statements from the party whips, party house leaders, restore your powers of recognition during members' statements and strengthen the House of Commons.
Trailblazing NHL Hockey Player March 28th, 2013
Mr. Speaker, I rise today to honour a great Canadian. Long ago, and almost forgotten, Larry Kwong shattered barriers 65 years ago by becoming the first coloured player in the National Hockey League.
On March 13, 1948, Larry Kwong was called up by the New York Rangers to play in the famed Madison Square Garden. While his National Hockey League career lasted only one minute, his impact was lasting. The man known as the “China Clipper” continued to play hockey, leading to a distinguished 18-year career.
Born in 1923 to Chinese immigrant parents in British Columbia, Larry Kwong overcame racial barriers and poverty. He always remained proud of his Asian heritage. My generation owes a great deal to Larry Kwong. He blazed a trail so that others could follow.
I stand here today because I stand on the shoulders of giants like Larry Kwong. I ask all members in the House to join me in recognizing this great Canadian.