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Conservative MP for Huron—Bruce (Ontario)

Won his last election, in 2015, with 45% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Budget Implementation Act, 2016, No. 1 June 6th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, the Liberal member asked a question around infrastructure. The previous government had record levels of infrastructure.

I wonder if the member for Edmonton West would comment on an issue with small rural municipalities, especially in Ontario, and in the one I represent. Municipality after municipality has received letters from Kathleen Wynne that the municipalities are too wealthy, that they have too much money and they are not eligible for infrastructure projects, for sewers, roads, bridges. It is outrageous.

I wonder if the member for Edmonton West would comment on that and maybe have the Liberals across the way send a message to Kathleen Wynne in Toronto to get going on helping rural municipalities across this province, and in other provinces.

Privilege May 19th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, my take-away from this morning, from the Prime Minister, was that he is indeed sorry. The other two things I took away from it are that he has learned nothing and that he is not going to change. That is my take-away from it.

I want to ask the member if he would explain to the House, if I had done the same thing as the Prime Minister did yesterday but grabbed the Liberal whip and elbowed a Liberal female member of Parliament, what might have happened to me today. I would probably be kicked out of caucus, and maybe asked to resign as a member of Parliament. I want the member to outline what might have happened if I had done the same thing in this House.

Air Canada Public Participation Act May 17th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, right from the beginning this has been a rotten deal. We can go right back to the day the Liberals announced the technical briefing, which I was at. I think they gave us two hours notice on a Thursday or Friday, and they had the briefing at 1 Wellington. I left that briefing scratching my head, thinking this was a rotten deal.

The minister was at the meeting. If he had said that Air Canada was helping out Bombardier and in order for it to do that, the government would help Air Canada out a bit, then I think a lot more people in the House today would have a better feeling about what the Liberals are doing. This is quid pro quo, absolutely 100%, and I wish those members over there would say what it is.

We have talked about the review of the Transportation Act, and we have done this and that. We have explored it all. However, the Liberals are talking about jobs and growth for the Canadian economy. Therefore, will the minister stand and say that there will be no more Embraer jets getting serviced in Brazil? Will he say that there will be no more Boeing jets serviced in Ireland? Will he say that there will be no extra jets serviced in Singapore, Hong Kong, China, and all the other ones? Is that what he is going to say? He is talking about jobs, but it does not sound like that to me.

Will he stand in the House today and say that this deal will not allow one more jet to be serviced in another country? Is that what he is going to do?

Air Canada Public Participation Act May 16th, 2016

Madam Speaker, I have enjoyed pointing out the inaccuracies with the Liberal member from Winnipeg. He made comments about the strength of Air Canada. I would point out that the last two years have been two consecutive record years for Air Canada, with this year being better than the year before. That is pointing in the right direction.

Could the member from Saskatchewan take a look at two things? One is on the annual report. For the last two years at least, Air Canada has referenced exchange issues on labour for maintenance. That would lead me to believe it should be doing more maintenance in Canada. The other one is this. We just went through a massive Transportation Act review by Mr. Emerson. Why not take a larger, broader look at it instead of this piecemeal approach at which the Liberals are looking?

Criminal Code May 16th, 2016

Madam Speaker, I listened to some of the speeches here in the House today and I would like to make a comment about the last member who spoke and not be too critical of him. I think his speech is a great opportunity for all members in the House and for hopefully Canadians listening at home, because of the utter lack of knowledge of what he speaks to. That is honesty from my perspective, and I am one member who observes this, but to allude to guns and safety on our streets and to reference that back to the term “variant” is ridiculous.

If we talk to detectives, whether from the Ontario Provincial Police, Toronto Police Service, or anywhere coast to coast, and ask them if the term “variant” would make our streets safer or less safe, they will scratch their heads and say that whoever brought that up does not know what they speak of.

The guns that are on our streets, in our inner cities, and even in rural places like mine that have not been purchased through legal means are the guns that are committing crimes in this country. There is no doubt about that. They come here through the border and go into our streets and commit the crimes.

I do not know if the member for Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound mentioned this, but there are 162,000 guns that are listed in the reference table. There are over 4,000 recently classified as a “variant” and listed as prohibited or restricted. The bill would help streamline this. It would help to eliminate all the cases where people purchase a gun legally, with an acquisition licence—a legal store, a legal gun—and then find out later, because someone looked at it and made a determination that it needs to be prohibited at this point in time. We have seen examples like this.

It also highlights a flaw in the system, in which we see a Mossberg Blaze. There are two variations of a Mossberg twenty-two. That is not an assault rifle; it is a twenty-two. It can be used to shoot rabbits or whatever people need to shoot around their property. It was simultaneously listed as prohibited and as non-restricted. So any gun owner who knows this will see the utter stupidity in the system. Why was one classified as prohibited and the other classified as non-restricted? The one that was non-restricted had wooden features and the other had black plastic around it. That is how the determination was made.

That is an example for members of House to see why the whole issue of these classifications and reference tables needs to be fixed and streamlined. The member for Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound is serving it up here on a silver platter.

I heard other members say that we should look at the whole act and we will finally get it right. Canadians do not trust the Liberal Party for one second for any reform that has anything to do with the Firearms Act. It has been one disaster after another. In previous Parliaments, we saw many members, who had held certain positions for over a decade, flip-flop for the sake of Michael Ignatieff, and we know how that worked out. There might be one here in the House of Commons today.

Canadians do not have trust in the Liberal Party or the Liberal government to make any determinations on this. The member for Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound brings about a better way to make a little more common sense in guns and how they are classified.

Let us look at one issue that is not efficient, and the determination on a variant is as wide as the country. Not to criticize the RCMP, but on its website the classifications are listed and below that is a list of re-classifications. That tells us about how often guns get classified and re-classified, variants, and so on.

People should go to Cabela's, or local gun owners, or a shooting club and ask them what they think makes sense. They should ask people who have owned guns their entire life what they think. They will say that the member for Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound is on the right track and that there needs to be a determination.

Some people in the House of Commons may think that buying a gun is wrong, but it is right, it is legal, and there is a process which Parliament and the RCMP have set up to establish the legal way to acquire a gun. There is a legal way to bring a gun into the country and to sell it, and that way is not efficient. The right thing to do is not to reject it on the first run-through but to look at it.

We know the Liberal Party wants to try to have rural members elected. The rejection of this bill is certainly not a good start. A member from Toronto brought forward his bill on the way in which farmers should handle their livestock, which certainly is no way to gain favour with rural Canadians. The Liberals should have an open mind and take another look at the bill. When they are back in their constituencies next week, they should talk to gun owners and to the people at places that sell guns. They should call a U.S. manufacturer and ask him or her what it is like to try to import a gun into our country.

Again, I want to go back to the Mossberg example. It is a .22, not a high-powered rifle. It is not an assault rifle. It is a rifle that would be used on a farm to shoot a groundhog out in a pasture so cows or steers do not break their leg when they are out grazing. That is what we are talking about. Whether it has black plastic around it or wood on it should not make it, as an example, non-restricted or prohibited. That is ridiculous. The inner workings of it are laid out very clearly as well.

I hope we have further discussion on this. I hope when we get back to the next reading of the bill, the Liberals will have taken a second look at it, talked and consulted with people, and understand the value perhaps in doing this. I also hope they understand that what the member from Winnipeg has said has no connection to what we are talking about today. Fighting crime our inner cities and rural areas and guns that were brought here illegally have nothing to do with the classification of a .22 rifle. It is unfortunate that those kinds of references are made in the House, but they do happen from time to time, incorrectly.

I am pleased to support the bill. I know the member for Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound has been a long-time advocate for safe hunting, safe licencing, and safe purchasing. His father is probably over 80 years old and has owned a gun his entire life. He grew up on a farm and understands safety. That is what we are talking about, and I believe if we change this, we will improve.

As I said, 162,000 guns are registered here. In addition to that, 4,000 guns have been used through the variant classification. People who are trying to sell these guns in their business and people who are trying to purchase these guns do not want to be made into criminals just by the snap of a finger. The member from B.C. referenced that he owned a gun, the Swiss Arms gun, which was classified as prohibited, overnight. Other members in the House, who still sit here today, with the stroke of a pen, would have been criminals if it had come to that. That is not what we are trying to do.

I am a gun owner. I have taken the course. I have a non-restricted classification. To be honest, I am not so sure if I will buy a gun right now with the Liberal government in power. I will likely wait until the Conservatives get back in before I buy another one because I want to ensure my guns do not get taken away. I am pretty sure the member from Winnipeg does not want to take the gun I own away, but we never know with these strokes of a pen.

Tourism in Huron—Bruce May 9th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, spring is in the air, summer is around the corner, and Canadians from coast to coast are planning their summer vacations. I recommend the riding of Huron—Bruce to take their vacation. With over 100 kilometres of shoreline, featuring beautiful beaches, boating, and some of the most beautiful sunsets in the country, they should check it out.

With the Blyth theatre, Huron Country Playhouse, historical lighthouses, museums, renowned golf courses, hiking trails, biking trails, triathlons, the Kincardine Scottish Festival and Highland Games, the Goderich Celtic Roots Festival, Lucknow's Music in the Fields for country music, Dungannon tractor pull, the Walton motocross, camping around the riding in our beautiful provincial parks, and some of the best restaurants our country has to offer, Canadians should visit Huron—Bruce and make 2016 a summer to remember.

Budget Implementation Act, 2016, No. 1 May 5th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, the member for Guelph raised some interesting points. He is a nice fellow. I sit on the industry committee with him, and I like him enough to tell him that he is wrong.

I wonder if the member from Saskatchewan could give us a little more insight on the financial statements the member for Guelph was talking about. I am afraid that, at the end of this fiscal year, we are going to have a big addendum on the massive Liberal spending in the final quarter of this fiscal year. Maybe the Liberals would like to table a budget that shows what it would have been if the Conservatives had been still in government and what the financials look like with the Liberals now in government.

I wonder if she would talk about the Conservatives' balanced budget with a surplus and the Liberals' massive spending deficit.

Excise Act, 2001 April 22nd, 2016

Mr. Speaker, one of the significant differences between other industries compared to the distillery industry is that someone can operate a distillery in an industrial park in Concord, Ontario, or on a farm. It is really that broad.

There is a small distillery in Ontario, in Prince Edward county. There is one in Concord, Ontario, as I mentioned. There is one Grimsby, Ontario. There are larges ones in Windsor, etc. Tourism has seen the benefits of the wine industry, the beer industry, and the small breweries which have grown in recent years. This will increase tourism, there is no doubt about it. It will increase the experience.

When I was first elected, in my riding of Huron—Bruce there were no wineries, no breweries, nothing. There now are three wineries and two breweries. When people come to a riding like Huron—Bruce, they come for the theatre and the lake. Being able to visit a winery, or a brewery or even a distillery adds to the experience and people want to come back. Therefore, from a tourism perspective, it is a no-brainer.

Excise Act, 2001 April 22nd, 2016

Mr. Speaker, trade associations and industry experts have taken a look at this very carefully. This bill is very different from the excise tax changes that took place in the beer and wine sectors. Those are coming up at the WTO. This is completely different. It applies to all distilleries, not just specific ones. It does not leave preference to Canadian versus non-Canadian products or inputs to go into it, so it is covered there.

I would be happy to have any trade lawyer give his or her interpretation of it as well. It should get full scrutiny as well because the intention of the bill is not to get into WTO issues, and we take that very seriously on this side of the House.

I appreciate the question. I knew it would come up. I want to assure the House that this is not the first time we have thought about this. Industry trade associations feel very confident that this will pass the test.

Excise Act, 2001 April 22nd, 2016

moved that Bill C-232, An Act to amend the Excise Act, 2001 (spirits), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise today on private member's Bill C-232, an act to amend the Excise Act, 2001, regarding spirits.

I though it would be appropriate to start my speech by declaring that I have no pecuniary interests. I do not own a distillery. I have no plans to own a distillery. I own no common shares in any distillery stocks, so I just do this purely for the sector, for the industry, and for the spinoff benefits it would have for Canadian businesses.

The current lay of the land for excise taxes on spirits in this country is $11.696 per litre of 100% ethyl alcohol. This rate has been in place for many years without any consideration having been given by government to reduce it. I propose at this time that it is time to reduce it in two different ways.

There are many categories, and it depends on which interpretation we take of a small or medium-size distiller, but regardless of that, this measure would apply to all distilleries that operate in this country. It would reduce the excise tax to $6 per litre of 100% ethyl alcohol, and on over 100,000 litres we would reduce it by nearly 79¢ to bring it to an even $11. This is a good move, I believe, and would be beneficial to the sector.

To put it in perspective and to give an idea of what taxes are involved in just a glass of wine, a glass of beer, or a glass of alcohol, in Ontario, for example, with regard to wine, 80% goes back to the distiller or the chain, 4.3% is federal tax, and 15% is provincial tax. For beer, 46% goes back to the industry or the supplier, 11% goes to the federal government in the form of taxes, and nearly 30% goes to the provincial government. Anyone who knows Ontario knows the Beer Store, and its cut is a little over 12%.

However, the difference is significant in the case of distilleries. The issue is that almost 60% goes to the provincial government, over 17% goes to the federal government, and just a little over 23% is returned back to the industry. If we compare the 80% for wine with the 23% for the spirits and distilling sector, we see a big difference. The bill will not close the gap 100%, but it will make a small step forward in trying to level the field and allow more profitability into the sector.

I know all members want to see businesses grow, whether they are small or large. The one thing we do not want to do as legislators is have a tax regime in place that dissuades businesses from setting up and making investments in this country. With the excise tax where it is currently, we have really not seen much growth at all in the sector in regard to new starts. We are hoping that this measure will be a first step.

One question I think everyone in the House should ask regarding the bill is whether it will be WTO compliant and whether there is a chance that a different country or a different jurisdiction will provide a challenge. We feel quite secure and confident that this will not be challengeable at the WTO, because it applies to all distillers. That is very important. It benefits the entire sector, so that is very good.

The other question I would think all members of Parliament would have is the cost. How much is it going to cost? I mentioned how much we are going to reduce the excise taxes, and the example I can give is an example from the U.K. It reduced the excise tax last year, in 2015, by 2%. In January of this year, the Scotch Whisky Association said that it had nearly £100 million to the positive for government revenues.

The idea that a tax reduction can only cost government I think in this case is incorrect. We have good, solid evidence, recent examples that would indicate that a modest excise tax reduction would actually increase revenues to the government.

I would also like to point out that, just in volume increases and other increases that go along with business, from 2006 to 2015, the excise tax collected on spirits actually increased $200 million. We have seen volume increase, and that is great, but there are huge opportunities for this sector.

If we compare the U.S. to Canada and the taxation involved, 54% of the price in the United States goes to federal, state, and local taxes, and it is nearly 80% of the price here in Canada. We need to continue to be more competitive to compete in America and around the globe.

Another unique difference between bourbon in the United States and Canadian whisky is that bourbon needs to be aged for only a year and Canadian whisky needs to be aged for three years. I would think that around the world, Canadian whisky is viewed as a premium product, but there is a premium amount needed and required to be warehoused, so we also need to be mindful of that.

If we look at the broader market, this is a very significant market worldwide. This is an $8-billion a year market worldwide. Canada has a pretty good chunk of that market. We are in at around $700 million, but we have huge potential and opportunity to actually reach about $2 billion of that market. We could potentially play around 20% to 25% of the market. One of the big reasons is that so many of our brands that we know here are really recognized around the world.

Spirits in this country represent $5.8 billion to Canada's GDP, and represent over 1,200 jobs directly, almost 9,000 in total. It is a huge employer. We can just imagine from the crop in the field to the bottle on the shelf all the different hands and businesses that would be involved to get to that number in this country.

I would also like to mention about the market, just to put in another comparable, that there are 60 to 70 distilleries in this country. There are about five or six significantly large distilleries and a few micro or small distilleries. However, looking at one small sector, there are over 800 small craft distilleries in the United States. In my speech later on, I will reference the opportunity of niche markets with those as well.

The other thing I want to talk about is the large distilleries such as Gimli Distillery in Manitoba and there is a few in Ontario as well. They need to reinvest in their plant and machinery, and a 6% reduction in the excise tax would be very significant for them. It would allow them to invest in green technologies. Many of the plants have some form of green technologies already, closed water loops and many other pieces of their plant, but that would allow them to continue reinvesting in green technologies in the plants. In addition to that, there is bottling and packaging. It would allow them to be competitive on the world market to make sure we do not lose packaging and bottling contracts to the United States. We want to make sure that plants are able to do that.

In addition, I mentioned that Canadian whisky needs to be stored for three years. Therefore, we need storage and additional warehousing. If we are to grow the industry to $2 billion a year, we will need some significant investment in warehousing. We need the large companies in this country to be able to afford to make those investments here and to grow.

I would also like to mention that in addition to the plant and machinery, there is a significant amount of marketing that needs to take place, not only here domestically but around the world.

We have significant markets in China, Japan, obviously in the United States, the U.K., and many other countries around the world. We are competing in a global market which becomes more global each and every day. We need to continue to allow those large companies to make investments in their marketing.

Up until 2010, Canada had the number one whisky in the United States. We need to make sure that we do our very best to get back into that and become competitive.

I come from a rural riding. Farmers are going to benefit from this as well. There are 320,000 tonnes of rye, corn, etc., and in some cases even wheat that go into this industry. Ontario, Quebec, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta are huge suppliers of grains. With rye, for example, distilleries are the number one consumer and purchaser of rye and a huge purchaser of Ontario corn as well.

One thing some people in the House may not know is that when a commodity such as rye or corn goes into a distillery, that is not the end of its life. After it has been fermented and distilled, it becomes distillers grains. At that point, they are in huge demand by beef farmers, dairy farmers, and pork producers. They use it in their feed ration. That is another green example of what the industry is and it also leads to some niche opportunities like the United States has.

There is a distillery in Florida. I have not visited it but I have read about it. They have a ranch and on the ranch they obviously feed their cattle. The grains that go into the distillery are kept and fed to the cattle right on the ranch.

There are huge opportunities down the road in the agriculture sector and for farmers to be able to grow the crops on their farms, to be able to potentially afford to have a distillery on their farms, similar to what many wineries and breweries do. It could increase tourism around the rest of the country as well.

It would also allow agriculture, science and technology, and industry to partner together to create new and innovative varieties of crops, specific ryes, different wheats, that would cater to their niche market. One example, which is on a much larger scale, is rye grown in Saskatchewan that Crown Royal used for its world award-winning Northern Harvest Rye. These are the kinds of partnerships and initiatives that can really spur growth and really help farmers and the industry.

In the few minutes that are left, I would like to thank my staff and the opposition leader's office for their help. I would like to thank the Library of Parliament for its help guiding us along the way, Jan Westcott at Spirits Canada, and of course Still Waters Distillery in Concord. Barry Stein and Barry Bernstein have been a tremendous help in providing information and input about the benefits to this industry.

The last thing I will say is about small craft distillers. This is the biggest opportunity this country has in this sector. It is untapped. It really could unleash with the changes that we are proposing here in literally every member of Parliament's riding around the country. Not every riding has a distillery, but it certainly does not matter if one is a government member of Parliament or in the opposition, there are distilleries in some members' ridings and with the opportunity for many more.

The problem is the way the current system is set up with the excise tax and the requirements from CRA in the warehousing, it is a huge impediment to opening up a new business. What we do not want to have in this country is taxation and regulation being the reasons that we do not open up new businesses.

In the province of Ontario where I live, the LCBO is starting its modernization project. It is going to be less of a burden and less of a barrier to these new businesses. It is also time for the federal government to be a proactive partner, take a first step, and take a look at this.

We want to get this thing done. We are open to suggestions and ideas from other members. If they have amendments, or if they would like to see changes or additions, this is not cast in stone. We are open to ideas. I look forward to questions.