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Track Peter

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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word is parks.

Conservative MP for Thornhill (Ontario)

Won his last election, in 2011, with 61.40% of the vote.

Statements in the House

National Defence October 23rd, 2014

Mr. Speaker, can the Minister of National Defence please update the House on the status of Operation Impact, Canada's contribution to the fight against the terrorist forces of ISIL in the Middle East?

Nááts’ihch’oh National Park Reserve Act October 23rd, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I can answer the concerns raised by my colleague in her well-reasoned and thoughtful question.

Sometimes we think only in the context of our great traditional centuries-old national parks and the protections that have continued over the decades, but we must realize that with the creation of any new national park, the Government of Canada and Parks Canada are not the sole decision-makers in these matters. We are in partnership with governments, in this case the Government of the Northwest Territories, with the various communities of the north, and, as my colleague mentioned, with the input of those organizations and companies that this government believes are responsible for helping to build the economic vitality of not just the urban south but of the north.

I salute the ambition of those among us who would make our entire northern lands into one great national park reserve with no development. However, it is the responsibility not only of the Government of Canada but also the people of Canada, the provinces and territories, and local governments to consider exactly the balance between environmental protection of our special places and reasonable social and economic development. The legislation now before us speaks to exactly that balance.

Nááts’ihch’oh National Park Reserve Act October 23rd, 2014

Mr. Speaker, it is always a pleasure to travel in the northern reaches of our country with the hon. member for Yukon.

The work to create this additional protected space adjacent to the great Nahanni National Park Reserve has taken many years and extensive consultations with all of the groups that I mentioned in my speech, including the Government of Canada, the Government of the Northwest Territories, the regional community corporations, and equally important, the people who have lived on this land for thousands of years, the Sahtu Dene and Métis peoples. In their negotiations, they had a variety of views on exactly what needed to be protected and how it should be protected.

I can assure members of the House that there were many versions of the ultimate map designating exactly what the boundaries of the park would be, including the protected areas, the spiritually relevant areas of the park, and the areas relevant to protecting wildlife and biodiversity, as I mentioned in a previous answer to a colleague on the other side of the House.

At the Prime Minister's announcement in Norman Wells not far from the new park, which still requires infrastructure to be developed to allow easier access, there was great joy and satisfaction that all of the considerations necessary to create a new national park had been recognized in the spirit of co-operation and collaboration.

Nááts’ihch’oh National Park Reserve Act October 23rd, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for his question.

I think that the breadth of the member's original question, before focusing on the protection of flora and fauna, particularly wildlife and all its forms in the new Nááts’ihch’oh national park reserve, makes it a complicated and very large question.

There is the creation and stewardship of both our traditional national parks and our new national park reserves and marine protected areas on all three coasts in very different parts of the country. There is the new Sable Island National Park Reserve, the proposed Rouge national urban park reserve within the outskirts of the Greater Toronto Area, and of course, Nááts’ihch’oh, which is a remote, still largely unsullied part of our great natural spaces in the north. They face a number of challenges in terms of designing the national park plan for each individual park, such as ensuring that there is reasonable accessibility for visitors and considering highways as well as a variety of civilization infrastructure realities, such as power lines and so forth.

Parks Canada is world renowned. In my travels around the world, in almost every situation when visiting a protected national space abroad, I have heard from the administrators of these parks of their great admiration for the work of Parks Canada.

In regard to the protected species within Nááts’ihch’oh national park, great care has been taken, because Nááts’ihch’oh has a very important part to play in the life and continued existence of the woodland caribou. On the calving grounds, both the Sahtu and Dene people, the Northwest Territories, and wildlife authorities have advised protecting these birthing grounds, and I can assure my colleague that they would be protected under this legislation.

Nááts’ihch’oh National Park Reserve Act October 23rd, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I will enthusiastically encourage all fellow members of the House to join me in supporting Bill S-5, the Nááts’ihch’oh national park reserve act. As my colleague from Yukon has reminded the House, this legislation would protect unparalleled wilderness lands in the Northwest Territories, about 5,000 square km, which is an area only a little smaller than the entire province of Prince Edward Island.

In August 2012, I had the honour of travelling with thePrime Minister to Norman Wells in the Northwest Territories to announce the establishment of Nááts’ihch’oh national park reserve. The name of the proposed national park reserve comes from North Slavey, an aboriginal language. The word means “pointed like a porcupine quill” and refers to the shape of Mount Wilson, which is a peak that looms over a series of moose ponds in the proposed reserve, which are the headwaters for the world-famous South Nahanni River. Aboriginal people consider this mountain sacred. They have lived off the surrounding lands for millennia.

The establishment of Nááts’ihch’oh national park reserve completes the ongoing work to significantly expand the Nahanni National Park Reserve and to conserve a significant portion of the South Nahanni River watershed. In short, Canada has expanded the boundary of Nahanni to the point that it is the third-largest national park complex in the country. This expansion, the largest in Canada's history, would build on our country's strong tradition of national parks and our international leadership in conservation.

The boundaries of the proposed park reserve are the product of a broad process of collaboration and consultation. Hundreds of individuals, over a number of years, shared their views on the proposed boundaries. Representatives of aboriginal groups, territorial governments, regional community corporations, mining companies, and other federal departments were also brought into the consultations.

Ultimately, the proposed boundaries would achieve key conservation gains, such as protecting the upper reaches of the South Nahanni River and habitat for woodland caribou and grizzly bear. They would provide for conservation values and visitor experience without blocking access to significant areas with high mineral potential. The proposed boundaries would also ensure that the Nááts’ihch’oh national park reserve would protect nearly 4,900 square kilometres of the Sahtu Dene and Métis settlement area of the Northwest Territories.

The legislation before us would also support Canada's national conservation plan, announced recently by the Prime Minister. The plan proposes to contribute to Canada's long-term prosperity by taking concrete action in three priority areas: conserving our lands and waters, restoring ecosystems, and connecting Canadians to nature. The establishment of Nááts’ihch’oh national park reserve would support each one of these three priorities. It would conserve a beautiful landscape located in the southwest corner of the Northwest Territories and, as my friend reminded us, along the Yukon border.

Given its remote location, this land fortunately remains largely unspoiled. The protections afforded through the legislation now before us would ensure that these lands and waters would continue to be enjoyed for many generations to come. The massive expansion of protected areas in this part of Canada would also help preserve a unique ecosystem. With the addition of Nááts’ihch’oh, more than 85% of the South Nahanni watershed would be protected. Today, this region features habitat for mountain woodland caribou, grizzly bear, Dall sheep, mountain goats, and trumpeter swans. During the all-too-short summers, the fields burst into life as wildflowers bloom and insects buzz over a thick carpet of moss, grass, and shrubs.

Creating the new park reserve would mean that more than 10% of Canada's north would be managed as protected areas for the benefit of Canadians, for the benefit of aboriginals, and for the benefit of local communities. In total, the north would have 11 national parks, 6 national wildlife areas, and 16 migratory bird sanctuaries. The total area would include nearly 400,000 square kilometres, an area about the size of Newfoundland and Labrador, which I think is quite a legacy for future generations.

Given its timeless beauty and abundance of flora and fauna, it is no wonder that aboriginal people have long felt a deep connection with this part of their north. A particularly spiritual place to the Sahtu Dene and the Métis people is the mountain that towers above the Moose Ponds on the upper South Nahanni River.

Creating the Nááts’ihch’oh national park reserve would mean these lands would also attract visitors from outside the north. People would come from across Canada, we hope, to see the spectacular landscapes of the upper reaches of the world-famous South Nahanni River. Visitors would also be able to hike, canoe, raft, and climb in the new Nááts’ihch’oh and the recently expanded Nahanni national park reserves.

The establishment of Nááts’ihch’oh national park reserve would demonstrate to Canadians that this government understands the importance of protecting wilderness, while continuing to make it accessible for people domestically and from around the world.

The bill would also provide the Minister of the Environment with the powers to permit two pre-existing mineral access roads through a small part of the national park reserve and to enforce the necessary measures to ensure that the environment is protected where required. These road provisions are exactly what Parliament approved in 2009 when it passed legislation to expand Nahanni National Park Reserve sixfold. There is a mineral access route contemplated in the northwestern part of Nahanni that travels north into the new Nááts’ihch’oh national park reserve, and Bill S-5 would simply extend the minister's powers to permit that part of the road within Nááts’ihch’oh.

The Government of the Northwest Territories has indicated that there are processes now in place, should any development be proposed for lands adjacent to the new national park reserve, so that there will be environmental assessment, including public hearings, under the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act.

The Government of the Northwest Territories has stated many times and very clearly that it has a very rigorous system of oversight and practice with regard to the protection of the environment. Even with the proposed park boundary, any adjacent development would be subject to a very thorough review in the context of maintaining and protecting the park.

The bill is, I believe, a concrete example of the action we are taking within the northern strategy, which proposes a responsible approach to development, one that balances environmental protection with social and economic development, one that empowers northerners and exercises Canada's sovereignty in the north. People would have an active role in managing this new national park reserve, which would help build capacity and, at the same time, strengthen northern governance.

I would hope, in closing, that hon. members would join me in supporting Bill S-5, Nááts’ihch’oh national park reserve act.

Rouge National Urban Park Act October 8th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for his obvious commitment to the rivers and natural places across the GTA.

With regard to the question of ecological integrity, the general definition is that in our great and wild national parks ecological integrity is very often taken to allow nature to take its course, whether that is wildfires, floods or erosion, the natural changes that take place across these spaces.

In the parks plan for our oldest parks, Banff and Jasper, for example, there are provisions for interventions around townsites, around the townsite of Banff or Jasper, for example, with regard to fighting fires, floods, controlling river flows, town dumps and the use of infrastructure of these towns.

Parks Canada has made a commitment. Certainly the stewards of the Rouge Park Alliance over the years have been looking for one body like Parks Canada, pre-eminent in the world in terms of its stewardship—

Hong Kong September 30th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, Canada is home to a large population of Canadians who were born in Hong Kong. I am proud to represent many in my riding of Thornhill and share their concerns regarding recent developments in Hong Kong.

Over the past several weeks, peaceful demonstrators have expressed their anxiety about the uncertain future of the one-country-two-systems policy. This past weekend, tensions in Hong Kong peaked, with police cracking down on these protesters.

Yesterday, our Minister of Foreign Affairs stated that “Aspirations of people of Hong Kong are clear. Canada supports continued freedom of speech and prosperity under the rule of law”.

I know my constituents are grateful for Canada's consistent support of the basic law

I am proud to stand with the people of Hong Kong, and I am proud that Canada continues to be a principled global actor that promotes our values of freedom, democracy, human rights, and the rule of law.

Parks Canada September 23rd, 2014

Mr. Speaker, our Conservative government created the Rouge national urban park act, which will result in the first urban national park in our country.

Last year, Ontario's Liberal government signed an agreement with our government to transfer lands to Parks Canada to help establish the Rouge national urban park, but Ontario is now backtracking on its commitment.

Could the Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister please inform the House on the status of that agreement?

HPV Vaccination Program September 15th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to thank colleagues on both sides of this House for the kind words and prayers during my recent medical bout with cancer. I would also like to thank the physicians and staff of the Odette Cancer Centre of Toronto's Sunnybrook Hospital.

I am very grateful for a positive outcome, but I am grateful as well for insight provided by medical professionals on a crucial matter of public health.

Colleagues will recall that while vaccination programs are a primary responsibility of the provinces, our government provided funding in the 2007 budget for a national vaccination program to immunize adolescent girls against the human papillomavirus, HPV. My doctors advise that the program should now be extended to cover boys, that otherwise we can expect a spike in the incidence of HPV cancers in men in coming decades.

I am delighted to report that the Minister of Health has told me that she will take this matter under consideration.

The Budget February 12th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, productivity is a challenge, and that is why previous budgets and this budget address the assistance to our manufacturing sector to invest in technology, in equipment that will increase productivity. A great deal of our foreign trade balance has less to do with the steadily recovering Canadian economy than the inability of some of our traditional markets to buy our goods and our products.

However, again I would look to the Retail Council of Canada, which said, “All in all, this is a very good budget for Canadian retailers”. The Association of Canadian Community Colleges said:

...this is an encouraging budget that helps support measures to address the gap in skills affecting so many sectors of the economy. The budget also recognizes the important role played by colleges and institutes in Canada's innovation system....

Again, it is an investment that will speak to future improvements in Canadian productivity.