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Conservative MP for South Surrey—White Rock—Cloverdale (B.C.)
Won his last election, in 2011, with 54.60% of the vote.
Statements in the House
Canada-Honduras Economic Growth and Prosperity Act March 6th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, certainly the member does not expect me to predict the future. However, he does bring to mind the Liberal record.
It was not long ago that the Liberals were in power for 13 long years, as many people describe it. We might ask ourselves how many trade agreements they accomplished during those 13 years. The answer is three. That is not much to have accomplished during that long period of government.
Yet here we are, a Conservative government since 2006, and we have concluded agreements with 37 countries while, at the same time, improving the trade relations we have with the three that the Liberals were able to secure.
When the member opposite tries to attack our government on our trading relationship, it is a bit rich for him to go down that path, considering his own record of engagement in that party.
Canada-Honduras Economic Growth and Prosperity Act March 6th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the member's question and comments. I do hope he is not trying to discourage Canadians from finding a warmer climate in which to spend some time during the winter.
However, he asks about our initiatives to increase tourism to Canada, and I would point out that we are increasing tourism to Canada. Looking at the opportunities we have created, for example, for Asian tourists to come to our beautiful country, we see that we have provided visa-free access to the Taiwanese in recent years. More recently, we have seen an increase in the number of Chinese tourists coming to Canada; as many as 400,000 last year, I am told. From people I have spoken with, I hear that when they go to Niagara Falls or other iconic destinations in Canada they see a large number of tourists from around the world, but particularly from Asia, where we have focused heavily on promoting Canada's opportunity for tourism.
Yes, Canadians want to spend some time in warmer climates, perhaps during the winter, but we are also making ourselves very inviting to the rest of the world.
Canada-Honduras Economic Growth and Prosperity Act March 6th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Don Valley West.
It is my pleasure this afternoon to highlight how the Canada-Honduras free trade agreement would fit with Canada's strategy for engagement in the Americas.
Canada's prosperity requires expansion beyond our borders into new markets for economic opportunities that serve to grow Canada's exports and investments. As members will recall, the Prime Minister announced the Americas as a foreign policy priority in 2007, with a vision of a more prosperous, secure, and democratic hemisphere. Seven years on, our whole-of-government engagement in the hemisphere has never been stronger.
There are three goals in the Americas strategy. The first is to increase Canadian and hemispheric economic opportunity. The second is to address insecurity and advance freedom, democracy, human rights, and the rule of law through capacity-building. The third is to build a stable foundation for Canada's engagement and increased influence in the hemisphere.
Stronger economic ties are becoming increasingly important with uncertainty in the global economy. Our government understands the importance of trade to our economy. It represents one out of every five jobs in Canada and accounts for 64% of our country's annual income.
Increased engagement through trade and commercial economic ties is one of the best ways we can support positive change and sustainable economic growth in the Americas.
Our Conservative government's efforts to increase mutual economic opportunity centre on creating the conditions for a dynamic, transparent, and rules-based commercial and investment environment. In particular, advancing free trade in the Americas opens new doors of opportunity for Canadian and Honduran companies and increases economic benefits for all, including more jobs and prosperity.
Canada and Honduras have enjoyed a very positive relationship since we first established diplomatic relations in 1961. Given our demonstrated commitment to democratic development, our important development assistance program—which is the biggest development program we operate in Central America—and our growing trade and investment linkages, Canada continues to be a constructive partner for Honduras.
Canada, represented by the former minister of the environment, the member for Thornhill, played a leading role in efforts to reach a peaceful, negotiated solution to the political crisis sparked by the coup d'état in Honduras in June 2009.
On the economic front, bilateral merchandise trade between Canada and Honduras reached $257 million in 2012, growing 9% over the previous year. Merchandise exports to Honduras were a modest $38 million in 2012, while imports from Honduras were $218 million. Undoubtedly, our new agreement will allow us to increase our exports substantially in a range of industry sectors.
With respect to capital, Canadian direct foreign investment is most prominent in Honduras in the garment, manufacturing, and mining industries. Tourism is a growing industry in Honduras, and Canadians are a significant factor. From January to October of last year, 25,000 Canadians visited Honduras, with an additional 37,000 Canadians entering the country by cruise ships over that same period.
As with any trade agreement, various industries in each province would benefit through increased exports and the new jobs that would be created.
The Canada-Honduras free trade agreement would benefit exporters from my home province of British Columbia through the elimination of Honduran tariffs in sectors of export interest, such as textiles, which currently face up to 15% tariffs; industrial machinery, also facing tariffs of up to 15%; and construction equipment, which would also see the elimination of current tariffs, which range up to 15%. Additionally, B.C.'s forestry sector stands to benefit with the elimination of tariffs, as wood and pulp and paper products currently face tariffs as high as 15%.
Seven of Canada's concluded free trade agreements are with countries in the Americas: Mexico, through NAFTA; Chile; Costa Rica; Peru; Colombia; Panama; and, of course, Honduras.
Our government recognizes the need to make companies aware of the advantages and opportunities that they create to maximize the mutual benefits flowing from these agreements. Our strategic push to liberalize trade with the Americas is working. We are removing barriers and facilitating two-way commerce.
The Americas offer great potential. Total trade between countries in the Americas and Canada, which was at $56 billion in 2012, has increased by 32% since 2007, and Canadian direct investment in the region, at $168 billion in 2012, has increased by 58% since 2007.
In order to continue to promote mutual economic opportunity, our government's strategy for engagement in the Americas focuses on intensifying trade promotion and relationship-building efforts to ensure that the Canadian private sector is taking full advantage of trade and economic agreements, as well as on building the capacity of our trading partners to capitalize on the benefits of free trade with Canada. The Canada-Americas trade-related technical assistance program, for example, serves to assist Canada's trade partners in Latin America and the Caribbean region to maximize the opportunities and benefits of increased trade and investment afforded them through their free trade agreements with Canada.
In line with our strategy, our Conservative government is committed to a strong economic partnership with Honduras that would contribute to enhanced prosperity and sustainable economic growth in both countries. For example, there are currently a number of development projects under way in Honduras which aim to improve food security, such as the Special Programme for Food Security.
The free trade agreement and its parallel agreements on labour and environmental co-operation would promote responsible commercial exchange while building a winning advantage for our companies, in particular in areas where Canada has experience an expertise, such as in natural resource management.
However, it is important to recall that prosperity and security are mutually reinforcing. To enable and protect Canadian trade and commercial investments, the security situation in Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean must be taken into consideration, and it has rightly been made a focus in our strategy for engagement in the Americas. Recognizing the challenges to overcome for peace and prosperity in the region, Canada has committed over $70 million in security assistance to Central America since 2008, with $25 million announced in 2012 by the Prime Minister for the Canadian initiative for security in Central America. Through such investments, we are helping to strengthen security and institutions that safeguard freedom, human rights, democracy, and the rule of law. Canada also works closely with the Central American integration system to improve donor coordination and security co-operation in Central America.
Honduras is also a country of focus for Canadian development programming, through which we are stimulating sustainable economic growth, increasing food security, and securing the future of children and youth. The Building Effective Justice Systems project, for example, contributes to the strengthening of the criminal justice system through training in crime scene examination, investigation, and oral trial techniques.
In a region where relationships are fundamental to success, long-term and multi-faceted engagement is a vital part of Canada's strategy for engagement in the Americas. Competition for market share is on the rise, and Canada must demonstrate that it is a serious and committed partner. The engagement of the Prime Minister, ministers, and Conservative members has been central to this effort.
While sustaining high-level engagement is essential, our government continues to build and strengthen relationships across the private sector, government, academia, civil society, and among individuals. Through our strong bilateral relationships and the increasing people-to-people networks generated through educational exchanges, increased tourism, and business links, our ties with Honduras are growing stronger every day, and we are seeing an increase in the opportunities for both countries.
The Canada-Honduras free trade agreement and the parallel labour and environmental co-operation agreements are key components to advance in Honduras the goals of Canada's strategy for engagement in the Americas. I ask all hon. members for their support.
Interparliamentary Delegations March 5th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 34(1), I have the honour to present to the House, in both official languages, the report of the Canadian Parliamentary Delegation of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association respecting its participation in the bilateral visits to Bangladesh and India, March 8 to 16, 2013.
Ukraine February 26th, 2014
Mr. Chair, let me first make it clear that I do have Ukrainian descent, and my wife has Ukrainian descent, and I have Ukrainians in my constituency. However, that is not the only reason I am here. I am also here because, as a country, we need to support democracies around the world. We need to be there when they are in crisis. We need to help them re-establish freedom, human rights, and the rule of law, and that is exactly what our government has done and what we intend to do.
Ukraine February 26th, 2014
Mr. Chair, for a time my colleague and I served together on the trade committee. I fully appreciate the information and what he learned on his visit to Europe as we were studying the CETA agreement.
He makes a good point. Part of the reason that Ukraine is in this situation is because it does not have a lot of options. It is heavily dependent on Russian oil and gas, and desperately dependent on some financial stability, which was promised by Russia.
There is no doubt that even with the IMF coming in and providing a $15-billion loan, things will almost certainly get more difficult than better. Almost every time the IMF comes along it provides support, but it is not without conditions. Sometimes the conditions can be the hardest part of the medicine. However, the alternative is worse. We have seen that the alternative has been rejected. Therefore, Ukraine may not have any other choice than to take the package provided to it, including the conditions that go along with that.
The European Union has promised some amount of support. What that number will be we do not yet know. We do not have all of the information we need as a country to assess, with our partners, what we can do to help. That is why it is so important that the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the rest of the delegation, who are departing as we speak for Ukraine, speak with this intermediate government and assess what kind of support is needed. That is the beginning of the conversation. We will know much more once they get back and we have had that discussion.
Ukraine February 26th, 2014
Mr. Chair, since our last emergency debate on Ukraine, on January 27, the developments, and more particularly what has happened over the weekend, can only be described as incredible. Canada mourns the lives that were lost, and we are thankful that peace has been restored. Throughout this crisis, Canada has stood firmly behind the people of Ukraine for a free and democratic country, and we will continue to support Ukraine in the transition through this pivotal moment of its history.
It is important to remind the House of how this crisis was created. Canada was both shocked and disappointed when the Ukrainian government suddenly announced on November 21 that it would not pursue an association agreement and deep and comprehensive free trade area with the European Union. This was an abrupt reversal from years of planning and earnest negotiations on the part of our European partners, and a divergence from Ukraine's path of a deeper partnership and integration with the west. Canada believed then, and believes now, that Ukraine's greatest opportunities for a better future lie in association with the European Union.
While the protests started out against Yanukovych's sudden reversal, of course, the voice of the people united to express their disillusion and discontent with much larger issues, such as corruption and the siphoning off of national assets.
One day after our debate on December 10, Ukrainian authorities ordered the use of riot police against peaceful protesters in Kiev's Maidan square. Our Prime Minister issued a statement to express his deep concern regarding the use of force against Ukrainian citizens who were within their rights to protest and express their opinions.
A few days later, I personally visited Kiev with the Canadian delegation. We visited the protesters in Maidan square and encouraged the Ukrainians to find a peaceful solution to the crisis. The Ukrainians I met are tired of the corruption in their nation, and they want to embrace Europe and the west. They do not want to go backwards to become a satellite of the Russian empire once again. The protesters were positive, hopeful about their future, and determined to see that their demands would be met. Sadly, as they marched with the hope of changing the future of their country and becoming closer to Europe, braving harsh winter conditions in order to stage 24-hour protests, President Yanukovych again blighted Ukrainians' faith for a better future.
On December 17, Mr. Yanukovych travelled to Russia to meet with President Putin, where he accepted a $15-billion aid package along with reduced prices for gas. While the deal provided an urgent boost to Ukraine's fast deteriorating economy, it was unclear what conditions were imposed by Russia. However, far from quelling protesters, the deal had the exact opposite effect. Massive rallies took place in Kiev and other parts of Ukraine. We now know the outcome of those protests. There were dozens who were killed or seriously injured. Yanukovych has now abandoned his office, and a transitional government is being formed in anticipation of free elections to be held later this year.
I would like to offer a few observations on the current situation. While the oppressive Yanukovych regime is gone, Ukraine faces major challenges in the months and years ahead. The economy there remains fragile, and foreign assistance is essential. Canada and the west, through the International Monetary Fund, are prepared to provide an assistance package, and $15 billion has been set aside by the IMF. While Europe and the west provide Ukraine's best options in terms of expanded trading opportunities, reaching agreements will require negotiation and compromise.
We also call on the Russian government to continue to respect the sovereignty of Ukraine. I was very encouraged to hear the Russian ambassador's recent comments indicating that his nation will not intervene militarily.
In terms of the domestic political situation, the variety and number of political parties present challenges in reaching a consensus on the many important issues facing the nation. Regardless, we call on all parties and leaders to respect the rights of all Ukrainians. Ensuring minority rights are protected demonstrates a nation's commitment to freedom and the rule of law. The rule of law also demands that those who committed crimes, firing on unarmed protesters, be brought to justice and tried impartially.
Even as the barricades come down and people return to their normal lives, the events at Maidan and cities across Ukraine will always serve as a lasting reminder of the deep commitment to freedom that the Ukrainian people have. It is a commitment that Canadians share, and we will stand by Ukraine at this challenging time of transition as they aspire to a better future.
Petitions February 26th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, I stand on behalf of my constituents of South Surrey—White Rock—Cloverdale, who are calling for tougher laws and a new mandatory minimum sentence for those convicted of impaired driving and for redefining the offence of impaired driving causing death as vehicular manslaughter.
Ukraine February 13th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, while much of our attention is focused on Sochi and the achievements of our Olympic athletes, it is important that we not forget the situation in nearby Ukraine.
The struggle for freedom and democracy is being waged by hundreds of thousands of ordinary Ukrainians on the streets of Kiev.
I was in Ukraine recently, and I know the resolve of the people is firm. They want a better future for their nation.
While the Ukrainian government has partially withdrawn its draconian anti-protest legislation, opposition leaders are still being kidnapped and tortured, and protestors are still being brutalized.
The treatment of Dmytro Bulatov, a leader of AutoMaidan who was held captive for more than a week and beaten and tortured for the purpose of gaining a false confession, is only one recent example.
I therefore call on the government of Ukraine to sit down with the opposition and resolve this crisis peacefully.
Refugees in Iraq November 7th, 2013
Mr. Speaker, in front of the American Embassy here in Ottawa, five members of the Iran Democratic Association have been on a hunger strike for the past 65 days to bring attention to the plight of a large group of Iranian refugees in Iraq. The 3,000 pro-Iranian democracy activists, known as the MEK, who are refugees in Camp Ashraf and Camp Liberty, are being harassed by Iraqi security forces.
The hunger strike started after the latest assault on Camp Ashraf on September 1, in which 52 unarmed refugees were killed by Iraqi forces and another 7 individuals, 6 of whom are women, were taken hostage. The world community has condemned this outrage, and Canada has called for those responsible to be brought to justice.
It is time for Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki and his government to stop pandering to the Iranian regime, free the hostages and assist these refugees in getting to western nations.