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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was afghanistan.

Last in Parliament September 2008, as Conservative MP for Mississauga—Streetsville (Ontario)

Lost his last election, in 2008, with 36% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Maher Arar October 24th, 2007

Mr. Speaker, today in the United States House of Representatives foreign affairs committee, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice admitted that the case of Canadian Maher Arar was not handled well by the United States.

Could the Prime Minister share with the House the government's reaction to this admission?

Afghanistan October 19th, 2007

Mr. Speaker, Canada is an important member of the international coalition working to rebuild Afghanistan and create stability there. One question on the minds of Canadians right now is this. Are we and our allies winning the hearts and minds of the Afghan people?

I would like the Minister of Foreign Affairs to tell the House now how an average Afghan sees the international mission and does he have any information he can share with the House about Afghan public opinion?

Afghanistan June 11th, 2007

Mr. Speaker, Canadians are proud of our continued support and aid to the beleaguered country of Afghanistan. As the Afghani people work toward a better future, valiantly continuing the struggle against terrorism, Canada's contribution has been measured both in monetary terms and in the ultimate sacrifices by our men and women in uniform.

However, the sacrifice of Canada's armed forces is undermined without a substantial developmental aid component to complement the work of our military. In budget 2007, Canada's Conservative government outlined such aid for the Afghan people.

Shockingly though, the leaders of the Liberal Party and the NDP are playing political games that threaten $135 million in developmental aid to Afghanistan. What do the NDP and Liberals have against helping the poorest of nations? It is time to put petty partisanship aside and make this Parliament--

Afghanistan May 2nd, 2007

Mr. Speaker, I am dismayed by the accusations and innuendoes of the opposition parties about our mission in Afghanistan. It is time for them to stop using this mission for their own political purposes.

The situation in Afghanistan is far more complex than is generally understood. The government is taking a realistic, multidimensional approach.

We are supporting Canada's effort to save lives through de-mining operations, to improve quality of life through development, to bring hope through microcredit programs, to bring freedom through education, and to stabilize the country that has known only turmoil for so long.

We owe a debt of gratitude to our troops and to our development teams. They are carrying out this mission with honour, dedication and professionalism. They are enhancing Canada's reputation as a country that values freedom, democracy and human rights.

Under the Liberals the funding for this mission was set to decline annually until 2009. We must give credit to the Prime Minister for increasing the aid dollars, evidenced by an additional $200 million announced recently.

Business of Supply April 26th, 2007

Mr. Speaker, that is the party that sent the troops to Afghanistan and that is the party, in 2003, that provided the troops in Kandahar. Now it is saying that it is a different mission. Now it is saying we are spending too much on the military.

I mentioned just a few of the successes we have in Afghanistan and Kandahar. Our SAT, strategic assistant team, is taking the Afghan ministers into the rural area. I talked to the minister of rural development. They are very pleased with the work. I will tell the member, when I was in Kabul, about 250 women and 100 men were being trained. That was a Canadian project, my friend, and these women and men were getting a salary of $120 to $150 a month. That is higher than anybody in Afghanistan.

Business of Supply April 26th, 2007

Mr. Speaker, that is what I said in my initial comments, that we are not looking at the mission. We call it a war making mission. It is absolutely not a war making mission. I would like to ask my hon. colleague a question in answer to her question.

In Kandahar, 100 projects have successfully been completed, some more are in progress, because of the security forces. There is the Kajaki dam just northeast of Kandahar which the military is trying to secure. It is not for military purposes. It is for provincial purposes. This dam has broken down. There is a power station there. We are trying to fix it, so we can provide electricity to two million citizens and businesses.

When I was in Afghanistan, I found out that there are three companies, an American company, Phelps Dodge, a Canadian mining company and an Indian mining company that are building, 50 kilometres south of Afghanistan, a copper mine project worth $1.8 billion. Why would they go there if they did not see prosperity and success? What does the member have against helping the poor Afghans who want the same life the member and I?

Business of Supply April 26th, 2007

Mr. Speaker, while the members opposite and the NDP get some snippets from the newspapers and make speeches which are absolutely not relevant, I will endeavour to not be political about it, but bring before the House the development that has been taking place in Afghanistan.

I would like members of Parliament to consider that without the security in place our Canadian armed forces help to provide, our ability to redouble our efforts in reconstruction and development would be severely hampered.

Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Oxford.

Canada is helping make a difference in Afghanistan and I would like to call the attention of the House to the latest results from the field. Let me share with the House some of the achievements in which our assistance has contributed.

Canada is among the top five donors to the Afghanistan reconstruction trust fund, a multilateral fund managed by the World Bank that provides regular salaries to more than 270,000 civil servants, including 144,000 teachers.

Two weeks ago the Minister of International Cooperation and her parliamentary secretary travelled to Afghanistan. They met with the Afghan education minister, Mr. Hanif Atmar, who described in glowing terms the difference Canada has made in getting children back to school, in paying teachers' wages, and in providing education for these teachers who can in turn impart knowledge to the children, so they can have hope for a better life.

Truly, we are helping Afghanistan invest in a better tomorrow by providing education to the young people who are, after all, the leaders of tomorrow.

Our security situation is also improving. The Minister of International Cooperation also reported to the House in mid-April how she was able to travel in Afghanistan outside the wire where Canadians and civilians would not have dared travel a year or two ago. I can tell the House they had a marathon of 100 Afghans participating in Kandahar.

This is a clear example of progress being made and an example of how many things are improving as Canada and Afghanistan work together to rebuild the country. This is the opportunity that we have provided. We ought to be proud as Canadians.

We are also helping with democratic development. Through CIDA, the Government of Canada is also helping Afghans participate in grassroots democracy in action, in virtually the four corners of the country. It is called the national solidarity program and it has been successful in Kandahar and elsewhere across the country.

There are now more than 16,000 community development councils elected by the local village people that make decisions as to what community priorities should be funded. They select the projects and implement them. They tell us what project they want and we help them complete those projects.

Women are participating as full members in many of these councils, making important decisions about projects to improve public health and education in their communities. Five years ago women had no voice in public life.

As for redoubling Canada's commitment, the Government of Canada has already been reinforcing its commitment to reconstruction and development in Afghanistan. Our assistance in Afghanistan from 2001 to 2011 exceeds $1.2 billion, which includes $200 million recently announced by the Prime Minister.

We have disbursed $130 million during the fiscal year that just ended, including $39 million in Kandahar. This is seven times the amount spent in Kandahar during the previous fiscal year. That is progress.

When we formed the government, funds for development were set to decrease until 2009. One of our first acts was to increase development spending and we intend to do more for the people of Afghanistan and Kandahar in particular.

May I remind members of the House that in January of this year my colleague, the Minister of International Cooperation, announced almost $24 million for projects based primarily in Kandahar.

These projects include: demining activities to enhance stability and security, funding for a literacy program, and support for a maternal health initiative that will promote healthy pregnancies and safe childbirths.

These efforts are delivering results. There has been a 55% drop in the average number of victims of landmines every month since 2001. Six million children are in school and a third of them are girls. In 2001 there were only 70,000 children in school and there were zero girls. I call that progress.

In Kandahar we have delivered blankets and tents to 20,000 families and medical supplies to 140,000 people. Last February the director of Microfinance Investment Support Facility for Afghanistan travelled across Canada. He spoke to Canadian non-governmental organizations and to Canadian parliamentarians about the work his facility is doing with support from the Government of Canada to provide the people of Afghanistan with access to financial services.

During this visit Canada's Minister of International Cooperation announced an additional contribution of $16 million for this initiative. This fund has exceeded expectations. It is a success story. The world is looking up to it and praising it.

As of February 28, 325,000 Afghans, almost three-quarters of them women, have obtained small loans and savings services. Each month the program reaches an average of 10,000 new clients. Those women and men get loans to start businesses, such as bakeries, tailor shops and carpenter workshops. They buy farm animals, tools and seeds to improve their production.

The IMF predicts that Afghanistan's economy will grow by 12% this year. Canada, through its support for Afghan national programs, is helping to make that happen by helping to create the jobs that are key to reducing poverty. Indeed, Canada is supporting projects that are changing the lives of the people of Afghanistan, but it takes a military presence to provide the security for this type of progress to be achieved in such a challenging environment.

In a newspaper article published yesterday in the Ottawa Citizen a local school principal in Kandahar said that part of the reason he is able to operate a school is because the security situation in Kandahar is getting better.

In conclusion, I would remind members of Parliament that the tremendous efforts related to reconstruction and development are already taking place. Recent announcements by my colleague, the Minister of International Cooperation during her trip to Afghanistan in mid April, confirmed that Canadians remain strong.

Canada will contribute up to $10 million for food aid and humanitarian assistance to refugees and internally displaced people in Afghanistan. Canada is contributing up to $5 million to help more than 3.4 million Afghans participate in food for work programs, training and education.

In addition, Canada is providing up to $5 million for immediate assistance to returning refugees and internally displaced people within Afghanistan. This will ensure that the most vulnerable people are assisted with shelter, food and fuel, and are helped to reintegrate into the local population.

Canada continues to redouble its efforts in terms of reconstruction and development in Afghanistan, but it would be nonsense to imagine that Canada and its implementing partners can continue this demanding work without the enabling element of security provided by our armed forces.

Security provides the space for development to take place and the impact of the development world will bring about the stability needed to make sure the residents of southern Afghanistan can live their lives in safety and build a future in a land that is at last peaceful. Canadians can be proud of our contribution.

While I was in Afghanistan, I met the ISAF commander and he had high praise for Canadians. Canada is one of the only countries that assisted with the military operation that was successful in 100 projects inside Kandahar.

Health April 26th, 2007

Mr. Speaker, respiratory diseases affect more than 3.5 million Canadians. According to the World Health Organization, lung disease will be the third leading cause of death in the world by 2020.

The government has delivered by introducing patient wait times guarantees with the provinces and new Canada food guides and we have provided funding for heart disease and cancer.

Could the Minister of Health inform the House how our government is working to improve the respiratory health of Canadians?

Elimination of Racial Discrimination March 21st, 2007

Mr. Speaker, today is the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

On this day we commemorate the Sharpeville massacre in which 69 demonstrators were gunned down for protesting peacefully against the apartheid regime in South Africa. This event marked the beginning of the end of apartheid and has been commemorated by the United Nations since 1966.

Canada was one of the first nations to support the UN declaration. To mark this day the Government of Canada supports young people in numerous activities which raise awareness of the harmful effects of racism and demonstrates clearly the commitment and leadership of the federal government to foster respect, equality and a greater understanding of our cultural diversity.

Through their participation, Canadian youth continue to speak loudly and eloquently. There is no place for racism in their lives and in our multicultural country of Canada.

Business of Supply February 22nd, 2007

Mr. Speaker, one of the reasons I am on this side of the House is because of those disappointments. The Liberal Party has moved away from people like myself. The Liberal Party has done nothing for immigrants for the longest time. The Liberal Party has done absolutely nothing for credential recognition. There has been nothing but rhetoric and it continues in the same vein.

I was hoping Liberals would have learned something. At least one of the hon. members recognizes that the Liberal Party had some ideas but they were not implemented. At the same time, the rest of the members on the opposite side continue to defend the indefensible. It is time that we move the agenda forward. It is time that we get the job done.