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Conservative MP for Cumberland—Colchester—Musquodoboit Valley (Nova Scotia)
Won his last election, in 2011, with 52.50% of the vote.
Statements in the House
Tougher Penalties for Child Predators Act February 25th, 2015
Mr. Speaker, it is a bizarre argument that an increase in mandatory minimum penalties could work to increase the amount of violence against children. That is ridiculous.
As I said at the beginning of my remarks, no pedophile can violate the rights of, or commit a sexual crime against, a child if they are incarcerated. We know that many of these criminals violate children over and over again. This is not something that is easily cured. Therefore, we need to make sure that the rights of the victim are protected here. We need to make sure that children are protected in Canada, and mandatory minimum sentences that are consecutively served will do just that.
Tougher Penalties for Child Predators Act February 25th, 2015
Mr. Speaker, these funds were intended to support very difficult and challenging jobs. If we cannot find people who are qualified or capable of delivering those services, we do not want to spend the money on people who cannot do the job or are not qualified to do it. We have to find qualified, trained people.
This is an opposition distraction technique to try to distract from the fact that they do not really support mandatory minimum penalties for people who commit child sexual offences. As I said at the beginning of my speech, there is no social program, no upstream solution, that can stop pedophiles from committing sexual offences against children. This is an absolute fact. We need to put policies, laws, and penalties in place that would actually protect our children.
Tougher Penalties for Child Predators Act February 25th, 2015
Mr. Speaker, I would like to inform you that I will be splitting my time with the articulate and passionate member for Mississauga—Streetsville.
Before I begin my official remarks, I would like to say I have never seen an upstream solution or a social program that can cure a pedophile. That is absolutely ridiculous. I have spent 18 years as an educator, over 10 of those as a school principal, and I have seen the victims of child predators. I have seen the victims of pedophilia, and no slap on the wrist, no upstream solution, no social program is going to stop them from violating the rights of our most precious commodity, our children. When they are sitting in a prison cell, predators cannot and will not molest a child. That is the solution for pedophilia in this country.
I am pleased to voice my support for Bill C-26, the tougher penalties for child predators act, during third reading debate. Bill C-26 would significantly strengthen our approach to addressing sexual offending against children. The proposed reforms are targeted at deterring these heinous crimes; ensuring that offenders are held accountable for the harm they cause to the most vulnerable members of our society; and enhancing our ability to monitor these offenders to assist in preventing recidivism.
We know that children are particularly vulnerable to sexual abuse and sexual exploitation. In fact, children represent the majority of all police reported sexual assault victims, and 55% of all police reported sexual assault victims in 2012 were children. It is shocking. Moreover, recent increases in police reported sexual offences are of particular concern. In 2013, they increased by 5% from the previous year, in contrast with the decline in recent years of violent crime generally. This is a higher rate than the two previous years in 2012 and 2013, which each saw a 3% increase. So this is a growing problem.
What are these numbers telling us? In my view the message is clear: we need to do more as a society to protect our children from this harm. That is precisely why Bill C-26 builds on recent reforms enacted by the Safe Streets and Communities Act in 2012, including increasing mandatory minimum penalties and maximum penalties for certain child sexual offences.
Recent jurisprudence reflects the importance of these types of reforms. Judicial consideration of denunciation and deterrence and the imposition of lengthier sentences for child sexual offences have increased following passage of the Safe Streets and Communities Act. These reforms strengthen penalties for child sexual offences. Judges are taking note of Parliament's efforts to recognize the seriousness of these types of offences.
Specifically, the British Columbia Court of Appeal noted: “Parliament has made it very clear that the protection of children is a basic value of Canadian society which the courts must defend”. The Ontario Court of Appeal has also commented on this important legislative objective. That court noted: “...recent amendments to the Criminal Code and decisions of this court have signalled a determination to address, in a more powerful and effective fashion, the need to denounce and deter crimes that involve the sexual victimization of children.”
I believe these are objectives that we can and should support, and they are clearly reflected in Bill C-26's proposed reforms. They are also supported by clear statements of principle contained in the Criminal Code. Section 718.01 clarifies that primary consideration should be given to the principles of denunciation and deterrence when a court imposes a sentence for an offence that involved the abuse of a child. In these cases, the protection of children from those who might harm them is the single most important factor.
Bill C-26's proposal to increase minimum mandatory penalties for these types of offences is entirely consistent with those objectives. In fact, they further those objectives. The application of minimum mandatory penalties to child sexual offences is not new. We now have experience in this regard. For example, Mr. David Butt, who testified before the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights, noted in respect of minimum mandatory penalties:
...the sky has not fallen, in the sense that we still have responsible sentences; we still have a realistic opportunity to present in a sentencing hearing where the appropriate sentence should fall in the range. This is not eviscerated judicial discretion; it has simply moved the floor.
We have to ask ourselves whether it is appropriate to move the floor.
Mr. David Butt, the legal counsel for the Kids Internet Safety Alliance, made those comments on February 4, 2015.
The answer to Mr. Butt's question regarding minimum mandatory penalties for child sexual offences is an unequivocal yes. I agree that minimum mandatory penalties recognize an appropriate level of moral opprobrium, as he stated, for child sexual offences. Furthermore, I am convinced that these types of sentencing measures contribute significantly to the realization of the Criminal Code's important objectives of denunciation and deterrence with respect to child sexual offences.
These are the reasons why Bill C-26 proposes further penalty increases for child sexual offences, as well as mandatory consecutive sentences where offenders are sentenced at the same time for contact child sexual offences and child pornography offences, or for contact child offences against multiple victims. This is another critical aspect of Bill C-26.
I will be clear. Bill C-26's consecutive sentencing reforms mean that sentencing judges must impose consecutive sentences in these cases, regardless of the totality principle, which maintains that the total length of sentences ordered to be served consecutively should not be unduly long or harsh. Judges would be specifically directed to impose a sentence for each conviction and order that they be served consecutively. This would respect each individual victim.
Importantly, these reforms would ensure that the harm done to each child victim is recognized specifically. There would be no more sentence discounts for offenders who are sentenced for multiple offences against multiple victims at the same time. Bill C-26 is clear on this point: offenders must be, and I repeat, must be held accountable for each and every victim they have harmed.
Recent sentencing cases demonstrate the importance of these reforms. Now, although courts have generally been imposing consecutive sentences in cases where offenders are sentenced at the same time for contact child sexual offences and child pornography offences, often in recognition of the additional harm caused when material is distributed via the Internet, the approach to cases involving convictions for offences against multiple victims is much more inconsistent.
We are seeing judges impose concurrent sentences for offences committed against different child victims. I am concerned that such an approach to sentencing might be seen by some pedophiles, in some sort of perverse way, as an incentive to actually violate the rights of multiple victims. Of course, that is not the intention of sentencing. However, we are concerned about the effect of a particular law or practice, not its intention. Certainly, it could not be said that the practice of imposing concurrent sentences in these types of cases serves the important objectives of denunciation and deterrence, which are enshrined in the Criminal Code itself.
These reforms are clearly needed. The victims who testified before the committee on justice and human rights were very clear on this point. However, Bill C-26's sentencing reforms would not stop there. The bill would increase these penalties for breaches of supervision orders, which could be imposed to prevent future offending. The breach of a condition included in such an order is a factor indicating that the offender is at risk of offending again. Therefore, it is critical that penalties for breaches of such orders act as a deterrent.
Accordingly, Bill C-26 would ensure that anyone convicted of breaching a probation order, peace bond, or a prohibition order would be subject to a maximum penalty of 18 months on summary conviction, rather than the existing 6 months, and 4 years on indictment, rather than the existing 2 years.
I have focused on Bill C-26's proposed sentencing reforms, but the bill proposes other important reforms that would assist in ensuring that the evidence of an accused's spouse is available in child pornography prosecutions. Information could be shared between Canada and foreign countries concerning Canadians and permanent residents of Canada who may travel abroad to sexually offend against children. Moreover, the public would be informed of high-risk offenders who might offend against our children.
I see that my time is running out. I will stop there and pick it up in questions and comments.
Intergovernmental Affairs February 17th, 2015
Mr. Speaker, as I said, Canadians understand that when the mortgage is paid off, they stop paying the bank. These agreements are coming to an end.
We are continuing to invest large sums of money in housing across the country. We are working with our provincial and territorial partners to ensure they have the resources necessary to continue to deliver housing to the most needy across Canada. We have signed agreements with almost every provincial and territorial government in the country. We are getting the job done when it comes to housing, when it comes to infrastructure, when it comes to supporting Canadians to get the shelter they need, the most in need Canadians.
What would not help them is the Liberal policy to increase taxes, implement a carbon tax, which would kill jobs and force more Canadians into poverty and which would increase the need for housing across Canada. That is a plan that will not work.
Intergovernmental Affairs February 17th, 2015
Mr. Speaker, the hon. member for Trinity—Spadina is calling for the government to both renew long-term social housing agreements and provide new funding for housing, and I am pleased to explain our position on both of these matters.
The social housing agreements to which the hon. member referred were signed many years ago, in some cases close to 50 years ago. The end date has been known since those agreements were signed and typically coincides with the final payout of the mortgages on these properties. As I noted in the House some time ago, Canadians understand that when their mortgage expires they stop paying the bank.
That is essentially what is happening here. As the agreements end and as they mature, housing providers will find themselves with a valuable real estate asset and reduced operating expenses that can be used to continue to offer affordable housing to the clients. The fact is that most non-profit co-operative housing projects are expected to be financially viable when the agreements come to an end and the federal subsidies stop.
For those who may experience difficulty, CMHC has been actively working with them to help them prepare for the end of these operating agreements. For example, CMHC's affordable housing centre offers a range of tools to assist housing providers, such as a project viability calculator, capital planning tools, and project profiles. Our government has also created more flexibility in some housing programs administered by CMHC to give eligible housing providers better access to funding for capital repairs and renovations.
Hon. members will recall that in economic action plan 2009, we provided more than $1 billion to renovate and retrofit existing social housing so it could continue to be available for Canadian individuals and families in need. Close to 15,000 social housing projects were completed across Canada, everything from replacing roofs and windows to upgrading plumbing and electrical systems.
As for new funding for housing, I would remind the hon. member that economic action plan 2013 renewed the investment in affordable housing for five years, with an additional federal funding of $1.25 billion. This brings the total federal commitment under this initiative to close to $2 billion over the previous eight years.
This funding is delivered and cost-matched by the provinces and territories, which are best positioned to identify and address local housing needs. Depending on their priorities, provinces and territories can also opt to use the investment in affordable housing funds to support projects whose operating agreements have matured, or for other purposes such as new construction or renovation projects, shelter allowances, or assistance toward home ownership.
I am pleased to advise the hon. member that the renewal agreements have now been signed with almost all provinces and territories. The governments of Canada and Ontario, for example, signed a renewal agreement last August that provides for a joint investment of more than $800 million over five years.
The investment in affordable housing is doing exactly what the hon. member has asked for. It is reducing the number of Canadians in housing need. Looking specifically at Ontario, our government has invested some $5.7 billion in housing in that province since 2006. This includes more than $240 million under the investment in affordable housing—funding that means almost 18,000 households in that province are no longer in housing need.
However, there is more to be done. That is why we have renewed the investment in affordable housing and why, again this year, our government will continue to invest about $2 billion in housing across Canada.
Make no mistake: action is being taken. Working with the provinces and territories, we are ensuring that the housing needs of Canadians are being met.
Opposition Motion—Job Creation February 5th, 2015
Mr. Speaker, I disagree with the member across the way. I think the government has taken strong steps to support the commercialization of new products. One of the programs we have in place allows businesses with new products to compete for federal government contracts.
We all know that any time a new product hits the market, one of the first challenges is finding that first big contract. We know that if we have a new product come to market, finding that first customer to buy it gives it a strong reference on the resumé of that product so that it can be sold to other people.
We have a program in place so that new products in Canada can get that first contract from the federal government. With that, they have a federal government reference to sell that to private sector employers. We have lots of programs and incubators to support other private sector people purchasing these new things and supporting our new entrepreneurs and new products.
I would like to go on, but I have run out of time.
Opposition Motion—Job Creation February 5th, 2015
Mr. Speaker, I have to say that this is probably the best question I have had from a colleague from the NDP since I was elected in 2009.
Manufacturing is an important economic driver across the country. The Liberal leader said that manufacturing is a factor from the last century and is a thing of the past. He should tell that to the workers in the aerospace industry in IMP Group in my riding, almost 1,200 workers in Cumberland–Colchester–Musquodoboit Valley. Our largest private sector employer depends on manufacturing. There are literally thousands of jobs in my riding alone in just one business based on manufacturing.
They have a robust future. They are signing contracts with companies all over the world to produce aerospace parts for aerospace manufacturing. There are other jobs related to that.
Look at the Irving shipyards in Halifax. There is some $25 billion in shipbuilding. It is going to hire thousands of Nova Scotians. That is manufacturing.
Intertape Polymer Group, in Truro, my hometown, exports to several different countries all over North and South America.
Manufacturing is the heartbeat of small business and medium-sized enterprises across the country. This is where entrepreneurs and innovators live and breathe. For the Liberal Party to say that this is an industry and sector whose time has passed is so backward looking and backward thinking that I cannot see how any Canadian will stand up and support it in the next election.
Opposition Motion—Job Creation February 5th, 2015
Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to speak about the important role that Canada's manufacturers and small businesses play in creating jobs and a strong Canadian economy. Comprising 98% of all employer businesses in Canada, small businesses are a significant driver of economic growth. They are an important pillar supporting workers, families, and communities across the country. Our government appreciates the efforts and contributions that businesses, and small businesses in particular, make in Canada.
As a result, we have implemented a wide range of policies and programs on the understanding that when our small businesses succeed, all Canadians succeed. While the NDP is moving toward our policies, we believe that our proposals are much better thought out. Since taking office, the Conservative government has put in place numerous measures that benefit Canadian small and medium-size companies.
For example, the accelerated capital cost allowance for investment in machinery and equipment has been of great benefit to Canada's manufacturers and processors. This has helped them make investments needed to compete at home and abroad. Here I would point out that NDP voted against an extension of this measure in Budget 2013.
On top of that, various incentives in the Canada Revenue Agency have helped improve the provision of information and services to small businesses, while reducing the administrative burden and increasing taxpayer fairness.
Another example of our reductions of red tape is the ongoing funding of $3 million a year to make BizPaL a permanent service for businesses through Budget 2011. BizPaL is an online service that significantly reduces the red tape burden on small business owners by allowing them to quickly and efficiently create a tailored list of permits and licences from all levels of government necessary for them to operate their businesses. It is one-stop shopping for small business. The New Democrats voted against this red-tape reduction measure, then, just as they have today, called for a massive payroll tax hike on all Canadians. This would greatly harm the growth of small business across Canada from coast to coast to coast.
In addition to cutting red tape, our government has helped connect businesses to vital partners to help them innovate in their operations. Our government provided $100 million over five years to help leading business accelerators and incubators across Canada to increase their service offerings for early-stage businesses and entrepreneurs. These investments will help entrepreneurs create new companies and realize the full potential of their innovative ideas through mentorship, specialized training, and business support, and also to support networking with potential customers and investors.
In addition, our government has been increasing the venture capital financing available for innovative companies through the implementation of the venture capital action plan. Since the announcement of this plan in January 2012, the government has invested in four high-performing venture capital funds and established and invested in three large-scale private-sector funds of funds with private sector investors and interested provinces across Canada.
These measures build on so many others that have been introduced by government since 2006, many of which the opposition members have voted against, to assist small businesses to make the investments they need to create good jobs and grow our economy.
Since 2006, the Conservative government has reduced the small business tax rate to 11%. We have increased the amount of income eligible for the lower small business tax rate from $300,000 to $500,000. We have also enhanced the availability and accessibility of the financial support for innovative small and medium-size businesses under the scientific research and experimental development tax incentive program.
We also established the Red Tape Reduction Commission to review the areas of federal regulation most in need of reform, to reduce the cost of compliance for small businesses. We reduced the paperwork burden on businesses by 20% through the paperwork burden reduction initiative.
We increased the lifetime capital gains exemption on qualified small business shares from $500,000 to $800,000. We also indexed this limit to inflation, so the exemption limit has now increased to $813,600 for 2015 as a result.
In addition, we eliminated close to 2,000 tariffs on manufactured inputs, machinery, and equipment. We have provided about $400 million in annual duty savings to businesses across the country. As well, new trade agreements have been established with South Korea and the European Union, which would bring significant benefits and savings to Canadian businesses and open new markets to our exporters.
Creating savings and opportunities for businesses so they can grow and succeed is a critical role for government. We also know that no business can succeed without high calibre employees. From travelling across the country and speaking with entrepreneurs, businessmen, businesswomen, and others who hire and employ people, we know that one of the biggest challenges these employers face is finding qualified and well-trained employees to fit the job profiles they are advertising. This is why our government has introduced numerous training and employment insurance measures to help businesses create good jobs for Canadians.
For example, the small business job credit will deliver significant EI savings to businesses, helping to defray the costs of hiring new workers. The new Canada job grant will better prepare the next generation of Canadians to meet the demands of the evolving labour market, bringing employers into the game so that they have more say and control over what training opportunities are offered, and also the ability to help pay for that training.
It is well known that in these uncertain economic time, the labour market faces uncertain challenges. This is why our government has taken action to ensure that many Canadians have the opportunity to participate in the workforce, given the emerging skills shortage. It is is also why we have focused so intently on and encouraged apprenticeships, particularly in the Red Seal trades, where the need is currently the greatest. Our government introduced the apprenticeship job creation tax credit, which reduces employers' taxes by an amount equal to 10% of the wages paid to apprentices for their first two years of an apprenticeship in a Red Seal trade up to a maximum of $2,000 per apprentice per year. We have also introduced a $1,000 apprenticeship initiative grant for apprentices in each of their first two years of apprenticeship in a Red Seal trade.
The New Democrats voted against both of these job-creating measures, so why would small businesses now believe they are here to support them today?
To build on these measures and further respond to skilled labour shortages, in 2009 we launched the apprenticeship completion grant. Apprentices who complete their certification in any of the Red Seal skilled trades are entitled to receive a taxable grant of $2,000.
In addition to supporting the training and hiring of skilled labour, our government has focused considerable investment on innovation and helping businesses get their products from the farm gate to the market. The new international trade agreements will certainly deliver this benefit.
Our Conservative government has also invested directly in initiatives to help advances in commercial technology, including a $1 billion advancement toward additional knowledge translation; helping discoveries move from laboratories into market applications across the economy; and almost $4 billion in additional support for applied research and business innovation, including the automotive, aerospace, forestry, and clean technology sectors. These measures translate into more innovation, success, jobs, and stronger growth for Canadians.
These are the pillars of Canada's economic action plan and they have delivered for all Canadians. We have among the best job-creation records in the world, with nearly 1.2 million net new jobs created since the pit of the economic recession in July 2009. We have the strongest middle class in the world. Canada is now viewed as one of the best places in the world in which to start and grow a business.
Our government looks forward to building on our record by supporting the dynamic businesses that we have in Canada so they can move forward in a positive direction. Small business owners are the entrepreneurs, innovators, risk takers, and the visionaries who will lead Canada for the next generation. Our government values the contribution of small businesses to the success of the Canadian economy and we will always support and grow this important sector, not just when an election is on the horizon.
Employment February 3rd, 2015
Mr. Speaker, it is quite the contrary. We have been over this with the member opposite before. He simply needs to look at the facts when it comes to what this government is doing to support youth employment in Canada.
Our government offers a wide range of youth employment programs and services that will help young Canadians make a successful transition to the labour market. They range from financial assistance to work experience, career information, and job search tools, so once again, I strongly encourage my hon. colleague opposite to get all the information available on these resources, programs, and initiatives so that he can better support young constituents in his riding as they make the move from school to work.
In the meantime, our government will continue to invest in young Canadians, connect them with available jobs across the country, and make sure they have the skills needed to apply for those jobs and have the labour market information needed to know where to apply.
I can only hope that the member opposite, who seems to be so concerned about youth employment, will actually support the initiatives our government brings forward in this year's budget so that young people in this country can get the jobs that are available to them.
Employment February 3rd, 2015
Mr. Speaker, the claim by the member opposite that our government is not adequately supporting young Canadians could not be further from the truth. I think he is simply not aware of all of the programs, initiatives, and resources our government offers to young Canadians to help connect them to available jobs and employers who are looking for young people to fill jobs all across this country but are having difficulty finding young people with the skills they need to fill those positions.
I am actually quite happy to elaborate a little about all our government has done to get the facts straight on this important issue and make sure that jobs are available for young Canadians and that young Canadians have the training they need to apply for those existing jobs.
Through our skills agenda, we are ensuring that Canadians have the skills they need to apply for in-demand jobs. This is exactly true for young Canadians. I am sure my colleague on the other side of the House has seen the work our government has done to help young Canadians plan and pay for their post-secondary education.
My colleague may even remember the significant investments in apprenticeships we announced in last year's budget. We introduced the new Canada apprentice loan. This provides apprentices, registered in Red Seal trades, with access to interest-free loans to help ease the financial burden of upgrading their craft, which of course started accepting applicants last month. The Canada apprentice loan has already been successful across the country, and we are seeing a lot of uptake with people applying for this support.
In regard to youth employment, we are moving on many fronts. The government also provides a variety of youth employment programs to help all young Canadians, not only apprentices, make informed career choices and develop the skills, experience, and knowledge they need to secure a good job in our rapidly changing job market.
For example, I am sure the hon. member is aware of our youth employment strategy, $300 million. Unfortunately, his party has consistently voted against it. I am sure he knows that, through several programs, our government provides skills development and work experience for at-risk youth, summer students, and recent post-secondary graduates. It is clear from the number of applicants we see each year that the skills-linked programs are a huge success.
In November, the member opposite asked about employment centres in general for his riding. I might remind the member that we informed him at that point that, if he has specific questions on specific applications for people in his riding, he should please bring them to us outside the House and we will gladly look into them for him.
Our goal is to fund high-quality projects that meet community needs. However, we receive many quality proposals, and not all could be selected with available funding.
In economic action plan 2014, we announced our intent to improve the youth employment strategy and align it with the evolving realities of the job market, and to ensure better outcomes for Canadians and better value for taxpayers.
The summer works experience program provides summer job opportunities for secondary and post-secondary students. This program is an important part of our youth employment strategy.
I ask the member across the aisle that, when we bring these programs forward, when we bring these key investments, which will match young people in this country to available jobs and match employers who have positions with highly skilled young people who are trained to do those jobs, he and his party support those initiatives that we put forward for funding, if he is truly interested in improving the opportunities for young people in this country.