House of Commons photo

Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was taxes.

Last in Parliament October 2015, as Conservative MP for North Vancouver (B.C.)

Lost his last election, in 2019, with 27% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Post-Secondary Education May 15th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, our government's economic action plan 2015 is helping young Canadians and helping students.

The youth employment strategy is helping thousands of students across this country. We have the futurpreneur program, and we have much more to help students get jobs and get trained in Canada.

The Economy May 13th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I can assure the member opposite that consumer protection is one of the top priorities of this government. It is unfortunate because he voted against every single consumer protection measure that we introduced.

The government has adopted a responsible and measured approach to ensure Canada's housing market remains strong and stable. We have acted to adjust the rules for government backed insured mortgages. We withdrew government insurance from backstopping home equity lines of credit. We have strengthened the housing finance system by amending the oversight of CMHC. We will continue to closely monitor the housing market and we will stand ready to implement further measures should they be warranted.

Our government believes these efforts will contribute to the long-term stability of the housing market and will benefit all Canadians. Shamefully, this member voted against each measure our government introduced to help Canadians buy their first homes.

The Economy May 13th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, let me reassure the hon. member for Trinity-Spadina that we have taken action and we will continue to monitor all parts of the economy, including areas that may pose a particular risk.

It is thanks to the prudent fiscal management and the sound leadership of our Prime Minister that Canada has weathered the storm of the great recession. Our economy has created over 1.2 million net new jobs since the depths of the recession, one of the strongest job creation records in the G7. The overwhelming majority of those jobs are full-time in the private sector and in high-wage industries.

According to the International Labour Organization's global wage report, Canada has the best pay gains in the G7. The Centre for American Progress says that Canada has experienced continuing middle-income growth, while for many countries it has halted.

Unlike the NDP and the Liberals, we will not raise taxes on Canadian families, drive the country further into deficit, and pile on more debt. That is why our government took a prudent approach and made a number of adjustments to residential mortgage insurance, and we will consider others, as warranted.

Our government does not see the need for a major shift at this time. Our long-term objective is to gradually reduce the government's exposure to residential mortgages. We will continue to monitor the real estate market, as necessary.

However, let me remind the House that the NDP and the Liberals voted against every measure our government introduced to make houses more affordable for Canadians while limiting taxpayer exposure.

Our government has acted to adjust the rules for government-backed insured mortgages. These adjustments include: requiring a minimum down payment of 5% for owner-occupied properties and 20% on other properties; reducing the maximum amortization period to 25 years from 35 years for mortgages with loan-to-value ratios of more than 80%; and lowering the maximum amount Canadians can borrow in refinancing a mortgage to 80% from 95% of the value of their homes.

Similarly, we strengthened the housing finance system by amending the oversight of Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, CMHC, to ensure the corporation's commercial activities are managed in a manner that promotes the stability of the financial system. We will continue to act when necessary to support the long-term stability of Canada's housing markets and encourage savings through home ownership.

There is no doubt that housing has been top of mind for many Canadian families. That is why our government is helping make life more affordable for families with our family tax benefits. Under our plan, every family with children will stand to benefit. In fact, an average family of four will receive $6,600 this year alone. That is money back in the pockets of Canadians to help them with their priorities, like buying a new home, for example.

We also doubled the TFSA, the most important savings tool for Canadians since the RRSP. Over 11 million Canadians have already opened up tax free savings accounts.

There are many more items, but I would like to highlight that our government knows a stable and well-functioning housing finance system is important for the health of Canada's financial system and economic stability, which benefits all Canadians. After all, the biggest investment most Canadians make in their lifetimes is the purchase of their homes and ensuring that such an investment is secure is the responsible thing to do.

Economic Action Plan 2015 Act, No. 1 May 13th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, the tax-free savings account is being heralded across the country as the best savings vehicle since the RRSP was introduced half a century ago, as I mentioned. As a result, 11 million Canadians have chosen to take up the TFSA, and the vast majority of them are middle- and low-income Canadians. These are people who want to save for their future so that they can be comfortable in their retirement.

The least a government can do is offer Canadians a vehicle with tax assistance. It is a voluntary vehicle, so it is up to people whether they want to contribute, but it is a tax-assisted vehicle so that they can save for the future.

It is not a mandatory vehicle of the kind the opposition wants to impose. This is a voluntary vehicle, because we believe Canadians are the ones best able to decide how and when they want to save for the future.

Economic Action Plan 2015 Act, No. 1 May 13th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, my hon. colleague may have read that section, but she obviously does not understand it.

Economic action plan 2015 reaffirms the government's commitment to pursuing a new disability and sick leave management system. The 40-year old sick leave accumulation system is antiquated and not responsive to the needs of the majority of our employees.

Over 60% of the employees in the public service do not have enough banked sick leave to cover the waiting period before accessing long-term disability benefits; 25% have fewer than 10 days banked sick leave. This places them at risk of income loss. A modernized system would provide adequate support for all employees, regardless of age, medical history and years of service.

The system is not equitable, leaving younger or newer employees without means to handle a short-term illness or injury. The current system also does not have a provision to address mental health issues.

We are resolving those in this budget.

Economic Action Plan 2015 Act, No. 1 May 13th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, when it comes to fairness, it is the middle- and low-income Canadians who have actually benefited the most as a result of our measures. Here is a quote from Mackenzie in Swan River, Manitoba. She said:

This helps a lot for single parents.... Thank you for helping us raise our children.

The Liberals want to raise taxes on middle-class families. They think that budgets balance themselves. They want to raise taxes on middle-class seniors and they want to raise taxes on middle-class consumers. That is their plan, to raise taxes on the middle class.

In contrast, our Conservative government is reducing taxes on the middle class, and in fact benefiting all Canadian families, but do not take my word for it. This is a quote from the CFIB:

CFIB gives 2015 budget an “A”: Big tax cut for small business

....small business owners across the country will be thrilled to see several small business friendly measures in the 2015 budget...

What is good for small businesses is good for Canadians and good for employment.

Economic Action Plan 2015 Act, No. 1 May 13th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I am glad that the member opposite asked me that question, because it gives me the opportunity to again repeat that the tax-free savings account is the most popular savings vehicle since RRSPs were introduced half a century ago. In fact, 11 million Canadians have already opened TFSAs, and the vast majority are middle and low-income Canadians, including 600,000 seniors with incomes below $60,000. They are maximizing their TFSA room, and they will benefit from this measure.

It would give Canadians another opportunity to save for their retirements, to save for that down payment on a house and to save for their children's education. It is just another opportunity for Canadians to save with tax assistance from the government.

Economic Action Plan 2015 Act, No. 1 May 13th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, it is a great pleasure to be here today to discuss Bill C-59, the new chapter of our government's economic action plan.

It is apparent that our plan continues to yield results. Indeed, Canada continues to move forward in the face of a fragile external environment and global economic uncertainty. Despite this uncertainty, Canada has achieved one of the best economic performances among G7 countries over the recovery. Real gross domestic product has increased more in Canada than in any other G7 country since the end of the recession. Furthermore, since we introduced the economic action plan to respond to the global recession, Canada has recovered all of the jobs lost during the recession, and more. In fact, the Canadian economy has posted one of the strongest job-creation records in the G7 over the recovery, with over 1.2 million net new jobs created since June 2009.

Today's legislation would continue our government's hard work. It would help families and communities prosper, support jobs and economic growth, ensure the security of Canadians, and of course, fulfill our promise to balance the budget.

In my allotted time today, I would like to highlight some of the important and thoughtful measures in Bill C-59 and illustrate how they would benefit Canadians.

Our government holds a fundamental belief: those who work hard to earn their dollars deserve to keep them. It is why we have cut taxes over and over again. In fact, this government has lowered taxes every year since coming into office. That is over 180 different times. As a result, the overall federal tax burden is now at its lowest level in more than 50 years. Canadians at all income levels are benefiting from the tax relief introduced by our government, with low- and middle-income families receiving proportionately greater relief.

In 2015-2016, Canadian families and individuals would receive $37 billion in tax relief and increased benefits as a result of our government's actions taken since 2006. For example, a typical two-earner family of four would receive tax relief and increased benefits of up to $6,600 in 2015 thanks to measures such as the family tax cut, the universal child care benefit, the GST reductions, the introduction of the children's fitness tax credit, and other broad-based income tax relief measures.

By reducing taxes consistently and enhancing benefits to Canadians, the government has given families and individuals greater flexibility to make the choices that are right for them. Canadians know that it is only the Conservatives who can be trusted to truly lower taxes for them.

Bill C-59 would go even further to help Canadian families make ends meet by supporting tax fairness through the family tax cut, which would allow a higher-income spouse to in effect transfer up to $50,000 of taxable income to a spouse in a lower income bracket. By increasing the universal child care benefit for children under age six and expanding it to children aged six through 17, parents would be eligible for a benefit of $160 per month for each child under the age of six and $60 per month for children aged six through 17. This is great news for every Canadian family with children. Increasing the child care expense deduction dollar limits by $1,000, effective for the 2015 tax year, would mean that the maximum amount that could be claimed would increase to $8,000 from $7,000 for children under age seven and to $5,000 from $4,000 for children aged seven through 16, and to $11,000 from $10,000 for children who are eligible for the disability tax credit.

Every single Canadian family with children under the age of 18 would benefit from these important measures. The Liberal leader admitted that he believed “benefiting every single family is not what is fair”. I disagree. Our government believes that every single Canadian family would keep more of its own money, and that is the absolute definition of fairness.

We would also increase the tax-free savings account annual contribution limit to $10,000 to help Canadians save more of their hard-earned money. Whether they want to purchase a new home or car, start a new business, or save for retirement, Canadians have many reasons to save at every stage of their lives. That is the whole reason our government introduced the tax-free savings account in the first place. The TFSA provides greater savings incentives for low- and modest-income individuals, because in addition to the tax savings, neither the income earned in a TFSA nor withdrawals from it affect a person's federal income-tested benefits and credits, like the Canada child tax credit or old age security and guaranteed income supplement benefits.

I am proud that Bill C-59 would give Canadians more options when it comes to saving for their future and would let Canadians, not the government, manage their own money.

Just as we are making it easier for Canadians to save, we want them to feel confident that they will be able to enjoy their golden years. The fact is, Canadians are living longer than ever and are opening new rich chapters in their lives in retirement. That is why Bill C-59 introduces measures to give seniors more freedom and flexibility when it comes to managing their retirement income.

For example, Canadians' retirement savings are typically held in tax assisted registered plans, such as RPPs, registered pension plans; registered retirement savings plans, RRSPs; registered retirement income funds, RRIFs; and tax-free savings accounts, TFSAs.

Bill C-59 would adjust the RRIF minimum withdrawal factors that apply in respect of ages 71 to 94 to better reflect more recent long-term historical real rates of return and expected inflation. As a result, the new RRIF factors would be substantially lower than the existing factors, helping seniors across the country. By permitting more capital preservation, the new factors would help reduce the risk of outliving one's savings while ensuring that the tax deferral provided on RRSP and RRIF savings continued to serve a retirement income purpose.

This is another example of how we are supporting seniors, not looking for new ways to tax them. Unlike the opposition members, who would much too eagerly jump at the opportunity to tax Canadian seniors, and they have proven that recently, we believe that the best thing we can do is provide extra support for seniors with lower taxes, solid pensions, and a strong health care system.

Let me take a minute to recognize the brave men and women who have stood and fought, and continue to, for our freedom. Those are Canada's veterans. We must never forget the contribution veterans have made to our freedom and security. They have willingly defended the security of Canadians knowing full well the potential cost of their own commitment. We owe them our compassion, our respect, and our gratitude.

With the implementation of the new veterans charter in 2006, the government significantly increased the range of benefits and services it provides to veterans. This included not just compensation but support to help restore their ability to function back at home and in their communities. However, we can always do more for these heroes, which is why I am extremely proud that Bill C-59 proposes additional improvements to the charter, including new investments to enhance benefits for moderately to severely disabled veterans and increased support for family caregivers. Specifically, it would create a critical injury benefit, which would provide a $70,000 tax-free award to Canadian Armed Forces members and veterans who have suffered service-related severe, sudden, and traumatic injuries or diseases.

Furthermore, many veterans depend on the support of friends and family who often provide informal caregiving services. Therefore, the bill would create a new tax-free family caregiver relief benefit to seriously disabled veterans who require daily assistance from an informal caregiver. This new benefit would provide annual financial support of $7,238 to eligible veterans so that they could better afford paid services and give respite to their loved ones.

When I speak with veterans in my home riding of North Vancouver, I appreciate the sacrifice these Canadians have made. I am pleased that the bill can go a long way in giving them more of the assistance and support they need.

However, there is still more, and I would like to turn my attention to small businesses.

We know that small businesses are the lifeblood of the Canadian economy. They account for over 90% of all businesses in Canada and employ two-thirds of all Canadians. Needless to say, our government believes that small businesses should spend their time growing their businesses and creating jobs, not choking on high taxes and excess red tape. It is why we have repeatedly cut taxes significantly for small businesses and their owners. Building on our record, today's legislation would reduce the small business tax rate to 9% by 2019, the largest tax rate cut for small businesses in more than a quarter of a century.

For example, for a Canadian small business with taxable income of $500,000, as a result of this tax cut and other measures since 2006, the amount of federal tax paid would be 46% lower than in 2006, which is nearly half of what is was just nine short years ago. This would mean an annual tax reduction of up to $38,600 that could be reinvested in the business to fuel its growth, retain capital and create long-lasting jobs.

I would now like to discuss one of our government's most important promises: balancing the budget.

When the great recession hit us, we responded quickly and effectively with a historic stimulus program. Our plan worked. We emerged from the recession faster and stronger than virtually any other major advanced economy. When the crisis passed, we set out on a course to balance budgets, but we did not do it by raising taxes or slashing transfers for education and health care, like the Liberals did in the 1990s.

It is really important to point out that we balanced budgets while keeping transfers now at the highest level in history. We focused on controlling operating expenses for federal departments, identifying efficiencies that focused on making government operations better and more efficient. As a result, the deficit has been reduced from $55.6 billion at the height of the global economic crisis to a projected surplus this year of $1.4 billion and $1.7 billion the year after. This is great news for Canadians everywhere.

Indeed, when we survey the state of the global economy, Canada's reputation for sound fiscal management is ironclad, and the world looks to Canada as a leader and economic powerhouse, well tested against the odds. That is a reputation our government intends to keep and it is exactly why Bill C-59 introduces balanced budget legislation. The legislation would ensure that the hard-won gains achieved over the past five years would remain in place for future generations.

We have said it before and we will say it again: budgets do not balance themselves. The opposition members, who seem preoccupied with high taxes and deficits, may think that they do, but here on this side of the House we know that fiscal discipline, balanced budgets and strong leadership will leave our children and grandchildren with an even more prosperous country.

The legislation would also ensure that the only acceptable deficits would be ones that respond to a recession or an extraordinary circumstance, such as a war or natural disaster. Deficits outside of a recession or an extraordinary circumstance are unacceptable and the need to return to balanced budgets is immediate. To that end, this legislation proposes that, should Canada again enter into deficit, the finance minister would be required to testify before the House of Commons committee on finance within 30 days and present a plan with concrete timelines to return to balanced budgets.

Moreover, should the deficit be due to a recession or other extraordinary circumstance, operating spending would be frozen, as would the salaries of cabinet ministers and deputy ministers government-wide once the recovery begins. If on the other hand the deficit is due to mismanagement, operating budgets will be frozen automatically and the salaries of cabinet ministers and deputy ministers alike would be reduced by 5%.

This approach would ensure that any increase in spending to respond to a recession, war or natural disaster would be temporary, targeted and timely. It is just another way that our government is taking leadership to ensure long-term prosperity for Canadians.

I could list many more measures in this bill that would benefit all Canadians, but I see that my time is almost up.

Our government's hard work has borne fruit. Our economic action plan is working, and we continue to get noticed on the global stage for our rock solid economy. In fact, ours is the largest economy that still has a Triple-A long-term credit rating. Canada is one of only a handful of countries in the world that still has that Triple-A credit rating.

For example, the World Economic Forum rated Canada's banking system as the soundest in the world for the seventh year in a row in its annual Global Competitiveness Report. This is unheard of. According to KPMG, total business tax costs in Canada are the lowest in the G7, and 46% lower than those in the United States. In fact, Bloomberg says that Canada is the second best place in the world to do business. When was the last time that happened? I do not think that has ever happened.

This economic resilience also reflects the actions that our government took before the global crisis, including lowering taxes and paying down debt. In fact, we paid down about $39 billion in debt prior to the recession. We have also reduced red tape and promoted free trade and innovation.

Our government's priorities have always been to create well-paying and secure jobs for Canadians and Canadian families, to lower taxes for Canadian families and businesses, and to balance the budget. Bill C-59 does not stray from these priorities. In fact, the bill would ensure that Canada's future is secure and prosperous, with a healthy economy fuelled by low taxes and sustainable public finances, all while helping families, seniors, veterans, small businesses and many more. It is another reminder that a government can reject high-tax and high-spend schemes that would put us back in a deficit and still provide meaningful support for all Canadians.

I encourage all members of the House to read the legislation. I hope that the opposition gives the bill the support that it deserves.

Employment May 8th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for Burlington for that excellent question.

Our government is continuing to introduce job-creating measures in budget 2015, such as reducing the small business tax rate down to 9%, providing manufacturers with an accelerated capital cost allowance for another 10 years, supporting young entrepreneurs through Futurpreneur Canada, and introducing the new public transit fund.

However, the Liberals and the NDP want higher taxes on the middle class. We know that would kill jobs and harm the Canadian economy.

Small and Medium-sized Businesses April 30th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to be here tonight to have the opportunity to showcase our government's work to reduce credit card acceptance fees and ensure that consumers and businesses are treated fairly.

I also find myself speaking to another mind-boggling motion where the NDP has no ground to stand on when it comes to supporting small business and consumers. After all, it voted against every single one of our consumer protection measures.

Our government understands it is no secret that small businesses are the lifeblood of the Canadian economy. However, what separates us from the opposition parties is that we have taken clear action to support them, rather than rhetoric and deathbed conversions. Small businesses account for over 90% of all businesses in Canada and employ half of the working men and women in the Canadian private sector. Our government believes that small businesses should spend their time growing their businesses and creating jobs, not choking on high taxes and red tape.

What does the member opposite propose? He proposes that we lower costs for businesses and consumers by reducing transaction fees charged to merchants and allow merchants to disclose to the consumer the transaction costs relating to the payment method chosen at the point of sale. I was surprised to hear that the NDP even recognizes the importance of small and medium-sized businesses at all. As for the middle class, with a clear plan to raise taxes on the middle class, I find it hard to believe they want to help the middle-class Canadian.

Allow me to talk about our record on supporting small business. We have already cut taxes significantly for small businesses and their owners. We cut the small business tax rate to 11% in 2008. In economic action plan 2015 we have gone further by proposing a new plan to reduce small business taxes to 9% by 2019. That is the largest small business tax cut in 25 years. We increased the lifetime capital gains exemption on qualified small business shares to $750,000 from $500,000 in 2007. In economic action plan 2015 we further enhanced the exemption for farmers and fishers to $1 million, recognizing the importance of these assets for the retirement plans of Canadians.

We also reduced small businesses' El premiums by introducing the small business job credit. This credit is expected to save small businesses more than $550 million over 2015-16. It is estimated that this measure will reduce taxes for small businesses and their owners by $2.7 billion over the 2015-16 to 2019-20 period. Almost 700,000 small businesses from coast to coast to coast will benefit from this rate reduction. It will enable them to retain more earnings that can be used to reinvest and create jobs.

When it comes to promoting job creation and economic growth, our government continues to make responsive and responsible decisions. We are also continuously cutting red tape and reducing the tax compliance requirements faced by businesses.

The NDP and the member voted against all of our past measures to support small businesses and they will continue to do so in the future.

Allow me to move on to merchant fees and credit and debit card use. Our government is implementing policies focused on raising Canada's economic potential and creating stable, well-paying jobs. However, we cannot rest on our laurels. These are uncertain economic times at home and abroad. Small businesses are stretching dollars as far as they can go. They need more support so our economy can continue to grow. That is why our government took timely action to address credit card fees. Every time a merchant accepts a credit card payment, the merchant pays fees and like any other cost, fees mean higher prices for consumers.

Last fall, we accepted voluntary commitments by Visa Canada and MasterCard Canada to cut credit card fees by close to 10%. Specifically, the proposals from Visa and MasterCard will voluntarily reduce their respective credit card fees for consumer cards to an average effective rate of 1.5% for a period of five years. They will ensure that all merchants receive a reduction in credit card fees. They will provide a greater reduction for small and medium-sized enterprises and charities, which have the least amount of bargaining power. They will require annual verification by an independent third party to ensure compliance. More importantly, Visa and MasterCard already started to implement the reductions in April 2015.

The purpose of these voluntary commitments is simple. It is to reduce the cost of credit card acceptance for merchants in order to keep prices low for consumers. I am not sure if the member opposite missed this, but this agreement will help consumers and merchants alike.

Let me reassure the hon. member that if the reductions in interchange fees are not passed along to merchants or the overall cost of accepting credit cards increases at any time during the period covered by these commitments due to actions by Visa or MasterCard, the government reserves the right to rescind its acceptance of the voluntary commitments.

Now let me turn our attention to the enhanced code of conduct for the debit and credit card industry that was announced last month. It aims to promote fairness in the credit card markets and addresses the issues that businesses told us about. We worked hard to fix the problems. Merchants will now have a new, more user-friendly complaints process for code-related complaints. We are improving disclosure requirements within contracts so that information summary boxes outlining terms and conditions and merchant fees are in plain language. Businesses will have more flexibility to exit their contracts without penalty. As well, the code will now apply to mobile payments.

This stronger code also offers new protection for consumers. Credit card issuers will have to inform consumers that using premium cards may mean higher fees. There will be new branding requirements for premium cards to make them easily identifiable. We are introducing new protections with mobile devices so that consumers have choice, not the big banks and credit card networks.

Taking together all that we have done since 2006, and what is to come, I can say with confidence that protecting consumers and supporting small business remain a central focus of our government, and small businesses have noticed. I will name a few.

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business stated:

—the Code of Conduct for the Credit and Debit Card Industry...has served merchants extremely well....[It] has done an excellent job in ensuring some fair ground rules and maintaining Canada’s low-cost debit system.

The president of the Retail Council of Canada stated, “I am delighted that merchants will have full choice in which networks and payment methods to accept”.

Members do not have to take my word for it. Given all of the aforementioned consideration, we do not need to make amendments to the motion. Nor is it a necessary one. It is only our government that has a real track record for supporting the middle class, small businesses and Canadian consumers. For that reason, I encourage all members to vote against the motion.