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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was things.

Last in Parliament October 2015, as Conservative MP for Etobicoke—Lakeshore (Ontario)

Lost his last election, in 2015, with 32% of the vote.

Statements in the House

National Defence November 18th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, as the member knows, no decision has been made. Any statements coming from the Pentagon are completely false.

We need to ensure that our men and women in uniform have the equipment they need to do the job asked of them.

That is also why the lifespan of the CF-18s will be extended until 2025.

National Defence November 7th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I would like to remind the House and the member that no decision has been made on replacing the CF-18s as of yet.

As the member also knows, the CF-18s are being life-extended to maintain a fighter capability for missions like Iraq. The extension of the life of the CF-18 will be through 2025.

Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 2 October 31st, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I think there are a lot of things for families in the budget. There are also a lot of things for small businesses.

I know the parliamentary secretary is very engaged on the agriculture file. Maybe he would talk about some of the tax relief for small businesses, including for farms. I know in the budget there is an extension of the lifetime capital gains exemption for farming properties, for example, and some of the other small businesses.

Would he comment on that and the host of measures for farming and other small businesses?

Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 2 October 30th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I am not sure if the member is talking about this year's budget or next year's budget, but if he is talking about spending the surplus that would be next year.

We are going through a consultation process. I know the Minister of Finance is consulting with stakeholders across the country. The finance committee is doing those consultations also. I am actually doing some of those consultations with stakeholders in my community and getting their thoughts.

Predicting what next year's budget would look like in terms of a percentage allocation is a bit of a mug's game. However, there will certainly be some mix of debt reduction, debt relief and some new programs.

In this year's budget there is such a long host of new spending programs in all different areas. When we went through the recession of 2008-09, we had to really trim some spending, so the last few budgets have really introduced some new spending in some very important areas. One I will just mention specifically is the infrastructure program. It is very important for Toronto, for Scarborough—Guildwood as well as for Etobicoke—Lakeshore. We are working with communities to make significant investments in infrastructure now.

Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 2 October 30th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I am delighted to talk about the business of supply, because that really was what the question was about. We get appropriations. This goes back centuries. That is the way our system works. The Crown has to ask Parliament to spend money. The Crown then gets that appropriation. Certain things happen. For example, money does not get spent when there is a delay in the approval of a construction project. That means the appropriations get carried over to the next year. However, the Crown has to ask once again through the estimates process to appropriate the funds.

That happens across department to department where for various reasons the money does not get spent. It does not mean the government is not doing its job. There are just certain realities when it comes to project based spending in particular, where a gate is not achieved so the money does not get spent. It does not mean there is no intention to spend it. It just has to do with the timing of that spending.

Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 2 October 30th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, it is a real pleasure for me to rise to speak to Bill C-43, the budget implementation act, no. 2. This is a budget that we introduced in February. We have been talking about this budget for almost nine months and it is time to get it passed. It is a good idea to get budgets passed in the year they are introduced and then we can think about the next budget in 2015. I know sometimes the opposition would like to extend the debate on this for several more months, but it is time for us to get acting on this, with some very important measures for the fiscal health of the country.

First I want to talk about the benefits of balanced budgets. This is the framework we are working within when we talk about this budget. There are obviously tax measures here, but also spending measures. Combined with the good measures we have taken over the last few years, they brought us us to a point where we are looking at balanced budgets again in 2015. That is very important.

I also want to talk about small businesses because they are so important. Many jobs are created in our country because of small business. Some small businesses become very successful and become larger businesses, but they are engines of growth and for employment. There are some very important measures in the BIA, the budget implementation act, to support small business.

I also want to talk about support for students, and getting young people their first jobs. Youth employment is always a challenge in every country in the world, and Canada has done a better job than most countries when it comes to youth employment, so I want to talk about that.

The last item that has given a real framework within the BIA, no. 2, is the DNA missing persons index. I want to talk about that. We have not spent enough time talking about it in the debate. I noted that some of my colleagues opposite wanted to deviate from the actual content of Bill C-43 and wanted to talk about things that were outside the budget, but I want to focus my comments on the budget.

When it comes to the benefits of balanced budgets, on this side of the House we understand how important it is. We are the only G7 country that has a rock solid AAA credit rating. That is important because it keeps our interest rates low. When we have lower interest rates, it means we pay less in interest costs. It means we have more fiscal capacity to do other things. It frees up taxpayer dollars that are otherwise spent on interest payments. We can spend money on programs instead. The major credit rating agencies, Moody's, Standard & Poor's, and Fitch, all gave us that AAA rating. It is something a lot of other countries, including G7 countries, do not have. We are very proud of that, and it is because we have made sound fiscal decisions in the last few years to give us that AAA credit rating.

The other benefit of that strong credit rating is it gives us an environment where business has confidence to invest and create jobs. It also gives consumers confidence when it comes to buying homes, to buying other real property and making investments that stimulate activity in the economy.

It also strengthens our ability to respond to emergencies. Because we have some fiscal capacity, we can adapt to global shocks.

We can also prepare for an aging population. The reality is we are going to have some challenges in the coming years and because of the wise decisions we have been making since 2006, and especially since we have had a majority government since 2011, we have really wrestled with the issue of balancing the books.

It is also a fairness inequity when it comes to generations. It is a responsibility for us, as parliamentarians and legislators, to not leave our children's generation and our grandchildren with a debt that we accumulate. It is very important that those people who are not old enough to vote today should not be burdened with a debt that our generation creates.

I will just mention a couple of relevant statistics.

In 2014, Canada's net debt to GDP ratio was less than 40%, which is the lowest among G7 countries, by quite far in fact. Germany is the second lowest at only 52.2% and the G7 average is about 87%. That is a measure of our fiscal strength, the fact that our debt compared to the economy's ability to sustain is really an important metric.

Overall since 2010, we have taken many actions on the spending side of things. We have reduced spending since 2010 by over $19 billion a year. Those kinds of things do not happen by accident. Budgets do not balance themselves. This is because of the very strong measures we have taken to control spending in the federal government, and that is what has given us this room and has also given us this balanced budget.

This is unlike the previous Liberal government. The Liberals had a majority government for 13 years and they had all kinds of ability to do things with their budgets, but they chose to drastically reduce transfers to the provinces: the Canada health transfer, the Canada social transfer, all kinds of transfers to the provinces. They also they reduced transfers to individuals.

We are not doing that in our budget. We have not done it in any of our budgets. In fact, we have increased transfers to the provinces to almost $65 billion in 2014-15, which is a 50% increase since 2006.

We are balancing the budget, but unlike the Liberals, we are not doing it on the backs of the provinces. That is a very important thing to state.

The previous debater from the NDP talked about the reductions in the Canada health transfer. That is completely untrue. I will give the example of Ontario, where the Canada health transfer has been increasing by 6% per year, but Ontario has only been increasing its health spending by 2% a year. In other words, it has been using the annual increases in the Canada health transfer, pocketing the 4% difference and using it for other programs.

We have made an adjustment to the funding formula based on input from the Canadian Institute for Health Information, which showed that there would be declines in health care spending in all provinces because of better health management within the provinces and because of technology. There are significant administrative costs going down because of technology, but also because the cost of diagnostic equipment is going down. This is resulting in a different way to transfer money to the provinces for health care.

I am going to talk about small business. I know I do not have that much time, but it is a very important topic.

We reduced the small business tax rate some time ago, from 12% to 11%, so all small businesses have benefited from that.

However, the thing that small businesses talk about more than anything is payroll costs. They talk a lot about utility costs in Ontario, but payroll costs are a big challenge for them. We froze EI premiums, and small businesses were very thankful for that. We then took a step further for smaller businesses that pay less than $15,000 a year. We reduced that by a further 15%, and they are very thankful for that. When this was announced, the CFIB said:

This announcement is fantastic news for Canada’s entrepreneurs and their employees, and as such, can only be a positive for the Canadian economy.

It is interesting. When they get that extra cash, what do small businesses want to do? They want to grow their business. Sometimes that means adding hours. Sometimes it means hiring new people. Sometimes it means investing in new technology to increase productivity. It could also mean training employees. Ultimately, it is up to each small business to decide what it wants to do with those benefits.

This is on top of all of the other things we have done to help small business. The lifetime capital gains exemption is a big deal, and we raised that significantly in the last few years. In this budget, we would increase that to $800,000 for a lifetime. This is very important for small businesses who want to transfer their businesses, typically within their own family, but to other individuals as well. This is the exemption they can have, the reward they have for growing their business.

The other things that we are doing, which are detailed in the budget, include cutting red tape for small business. This is one of the things that is really a drag on small business. The number that has been given, and has been verified, is over 800,000 payroll remittances by 50,000 small and medium-sized businesses will be eliminated. It is a real step up for small business when we can remove that red tape.

Overall, we are significantly reducing their taxes.

I would like to talk about support for students, because there are significant measures.

We have launched the Canada job grant, but the important category of students is the apprentices. There are significant measures there. When we look at the apprenticeship incentive grant, the apprenticeship completion grant and the tradesperson tools deduction, there are all kinds of things that really get people into the trades where they can get those jobs.

If we look at other measures that have been extended in this budget, the youth employment strategy would go up from $300 million to $330 million a year. That is very significant.

In the time I have remaining, I would like to talk about the DNA-based missing persons index, because it is such an important measure. This budget implementation act gives the framework for that, with $8.1 million to create a DNA-based missing persons index. This would be a very valuable tool for investigators, for coroners and for law enforcement agencies to find missing people and to investigate crimes. We have created these indices now, through this BIA, which would give the structure for the DNA profiles, ensuring it is used effectively and has the budget behind it, and the rules for how to use that index. It is a very important measure, and I am proud of our government.

It is a terrific budget, it is the right budget for Canada and I hope all members will support it.

Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 2 October 30th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I find it ironic that for more than a day we have heard the NDP talking about the size of the omnibus budget bill, that it is an overly large bill, but rather than talk about what is in the budget bill that member has been talking about things that are not in it. He talked about the national shipping strategy and Arctic offshore patrol ships. Apparently there is not enough content in the budget bill for those members to criticize so they have to go fishing for other topics to talk about.

It is because of our strong fiscal position that we are able to invest in our armed forces and in military equipment, and invest in the Coast Guard.

If the member wants to talk about that topic, even though it is not specifically addressed in this budget bill, why do we not talk about our fiscal capacity and the fact that it is because of the strong fiscal measures that we have taken that we have the room to invest in our military and get it back on track?

Red Tape Reduction Act October 20th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak today on this important piece of legislation for businesses and all Canadians. I would like to start with a bit of context to help us better understand the thinking that led to the introduction of this bill.

Briefly, this bill is a direct result of the feedback we received from small businesses that are so vital to the long-term success of our country. We are debating it today because back in budget 2010, we made a commitment to review federal regulations in areas where reform is most needed to reduce the compliance burden on businesses, especially small businesses, while safeguarding the health and safety of Canadians.

At the time the Canadian Federation of Independent Business estimated that businesses in Canada spend over $30 billion each year complying with regulations, so the government took action. In 2011, we created a Red Tape Reduction Commission, which was made up of both parliamentarians and private sector representatives. Its mandate was twofold. First, it was to identify irritants to businesses that stem from federal regulatory requirements that have a detrimental effect on growth, competitiveness, and innovation. Second, it was to recommend options that address these irritants and control and reduce the regulatory burden over the long term while ensuring that the environment and the health and safety of Canadians were not compromised in the process.

The commission held consultations across Canada to hear directly from the people who are most affected by red tape. This included in particular small business owners. There was also an online consultation to allow an even wider range of business people to provide their views. Overall, people expressed concern with the unchecked growth of regulation and the costs they impose on businesses, especially small businesses. Specifically, business owners also told the commission that a one-for-one rule was necessary to control how often the government turns to regulation to address issues within industry. Then, in January 2012, the commission released its report, complete with recommendations for reducing red tape and its effects on the business community.

It did not take long for the government to take action. A few months later, on April 1, 2012, the government put the one-for-one rule in place. This rule requires regulators to remove a regulation each time they introduce a new regulation that imposes an administrative burden on business. It has worked so well that we moved to enshrine this rule into law last January by introducing the red tape reduction act, which we are considering today.

There is no better time than the present to give the one-for-one rule the force of law. Canada has weathered the economic downturn relatively well and is well positioned for sustained economic growth. We have gone from having one of the highest marginal effective tax rates on business to having one of the lowest. In fact, we are one of the few countries in the world that can boast of having both low debt and declining taxes. As a result, Canada is internationally recognized as one of the best places in the world to do business.

In December 2012, Canada cracked the global top 10 with respect to corporate tax competitiveness, according to a report by PricewaterhouseCoopers. This past January, in Bloomberg's rankings of the best countries in the world for doing business in 2014, Canada placed second, just behind Hong Kong and ahead of the United States. All of this points to an economy that continues to perform well in the global economic environment.

However, now is not the time to rest on our laurels. If we are to continue to rank among the world's most successful nations, we have to keep that international confidence in Canada up. We are taking the right steps to do that. We are on track to balancing the budget, and we have continued to take measures to create a business climate that supports growth and job creation. At the same time, federal transfers to individuals, such as old age security and employment insurance, as well as major transfers to other levels of government, including those for social programs and health care, will continue to grow. We have also taken steps to improve the fairness and integrity of the tax system to ensure that everyone pays his or her fair share.

We are also finding savings and efficiencies in the government's operations. At the same time, we are working to create an environment that is supportive of business. From 2008-09 through 2013-14, we delivered tax reductions totalling more than $60 billion to job-creating businesses. Among those measures is the reduction of the federal general corporate income tax rate to 15% in 2012, from more than 22% in 2007.

We have already taken steps to significantly improve Canada's tax competitiveness and business environment. Now, the steps that we are taking to reform the federal regulatory system are in line with these actions.

Canada needs a regulatory system that works, one that is not overly burdensome, one that does not hinder the ability of businesses to innovate and grow, and one that protects Canadians' health and welfare. The bill being considered today is part of a package of regulatory reforms designed to modernize our regulatory system. By giving the one-for-one rule the added muscle of legislation, Canada would have one of the most aggressive red tape reduction measures in the world. It would increase Canadian competitiveness; free businesses to innovate, grow and create jobs; and underscore Canada's reputation as one of the best places in the world in which to invest and do business.

Let me close by saying that the red tape reduction act is about bringing new discipline to how regulation works. It is about creating a more predictable environment for businesses, and it is about freeing Canadians and their companies to succeed.

Small businesses are the foundation of this country's economy. By removing unnecessary barriers to their success, we would be helping them focus their time and energy on seizing new opportunities for growth and job creation. This would contribute to building the prosperous future we want for Canada and our children.

I ask my hon. colleagues to support the bill.

Citizenship Week October 10th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, next week Canadians are invited to join together to celebrate Citizenship Week. This is an opportunity to reflect on the many freedoms, rights, and responsibilities that we enjoy as citizens of this great country. It is also an ideal time for all citizens to reaffirm their commitment to Canada, our values and traditions.

Since 2006, more than 1.5 million new citizens have made a permanent connection to Canada. We are proud of this record, and we continue to ensure that we welcome even more new citizens to the Canadian family. With our government's recent changes to the Citizenship Act, connections to Canada are being strengthened and newcomers are seeing their applications being processed more quickly.

Next week, thousands of newcomers will become Canadians at poignant ceremonies from coast to coast to coast. I invite all Canadians to take part in Citizenship Week activities across Canada to celebrate all that it means to be Canadian and to show the world that we are Canada proud.

Liberal Party of Canada October 6th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, the Liberal Party has a sordid history of shady dealings and under-the-counter payments.

Canadians are all too familiar with the sponsorship scandal, where millions of taxpayer dollars made their way into the coffers of the Liberal Party.

Canadians remember Shawinigate, where former Liberal prime minister Jean Chrétien used his position of power and influence for his own financial gain. Who could forget David Dingwall being entitled to his entitlements? In the minds of Canadians, the words “Liberal Party of Canada” and “ethical lapses” are synonymous.

Recently, Jamie Carroll, a Liberal-linked backroom insider, was charged by the RCMP for engaging in illegal secret lobbying.

The leader of the Liberal party talks a lot about openness and transparency. He should start by ensuring that his own backroom insiders and strategists stop breaking the law.