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Crucial Fact

  • Her favourite word was million.

Last in Parliament July 2012, as Conservative MP for Durham (Ontario)

Won her last election, in 2011, with 55% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Gasoline Prices September 27th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, this summer I saw how gas tax prices were affecting those in my riding.

Recently the De Young family, a large chicken producer, told me that last year their fuel costs were $90,000 and this year they would almost be $120,000.

In Durham we need to drive to work and we need to drive for work. Seniors on fixed incomes, already challenged with the rising costs, are limiting their activities that require driving. In rural areas of Canada there are no public transit alternatives.

We call on the Liberals to immediately end charging GST on top of fuel taxes at the pump. This measure would effectively recognize the level of one's use and the need for fuel in the daily lives of those in rural communities.

While the government dithers and studies its options, I say that the government has an obvious option for today. We will continue to press for the stopping of fuel tax on gasoline.

Copyright Legislation June 28th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, Canada has a world-class Internet infrastructure in our schools, but the heritage minister's new copyright legislation makes it restrictive, onerous and possibly more costly for schools, teachers and students to download online educational material.

The legislation will make routine classroom activities illegal. Why do the government and the minister want to make our students and teachers pay more for materials they are using now or make them criminals under a new copyright law?

Symbol for the House of Commons June 21st, 2005

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to Motion No. 228 put forward by a member of the Liberal government. The motion suggests that Canada develop and promote a new national symbol, under the guise of warranting a symbol for the House of Commons. I question why Canada needs a new national symbol.

Let us look at our existing symbols. I reviewed the symbols that Canada has, symbols around which Canadians can visualize their pride in their nation, symbols that draw Canadians across the country together, symbols that represent their sense of nationhood, common values and aspirations, not only domestically but internationally.

We all recall how our pride swells individually and collectively when we see the Canadian flag being marched into a stadium at the opening ceremonies of every Olympic Games, or when we see the maple leaf flag being raised behind our medallists on the podium.

People in my riding, as do many Canadians across the country, come to my riding office asking for Canadian made Canada flag pins to take with them when they travel abroad. These pins are sought after by citizens of many other countries as they represent a country that is admired around the world.

What value does our most important symbol, our flag, have to Canadians here in our cities, towns and provinces? For most, the flag is respected and proudly displayed, but this past weekend I was shocked to read an article in the Montreal Gazette, its headline being “Maplephobia a symptom of Gomeryitis”. The article states:

Pity the poor Maple Leaf, the latest victim of the Gomery scandal.

Our flag's image has been so tainted by the sponsorship fiasco no one wants to be caught waving it at our city's Canada Day parade. Last Thursday, a front-page Gazette story said organizers are struggling to find anyone to sponsor floats with Canadian flags, because corporations are “spooked” by the sponsorship scandal.

Our once-proud national symbol now conjures up cash-filled envelopes. In the words of one parade organizer: “Companies are reluctant to sponsor a Canada Day parade float if it means being associated with a Maple Leaf”.

Is it not ironic that a member of the same party that caused such disdain and reluctance to associate with our flag would now propose a new national symbol? The Liberal Party and its way of using taxpayers' dollars to bolster its own coffers and those of a favoured few is the root cause of this shameful situation.

Let me remind all of us that the sponsorship scandal came out of that party's government establishing a program to promote Canada and citizenship in the province of Quebec. To achieve that, we have heard through the Gomery inquiry that the government undertook its mission to promote Canada by imprinting Canada's symbol on everything, including golf balls.

We do not and cannot support substituting a new national symbol when our national flag itself is being shunned.

Before the opposition would consider a new national symbol, we believe that the government has a responsibility to accept this sorry state of affairs. The only way to rehabilitate Canada's flag in this country, particularly in Quebec, is to rehabilitate the government.

Before we need a new symbol to represent the House, we need to rehabilitate how the House works. We need to restore it on a foundation of integrity and accountability. We have to demonstrate that the House is about working on behalf of all Canadians and not just vote buying to stay in power.

If we do not restore a good honest government into the House, then we will have to adopt a symbol none of us would be proud of. In fact, the media has put forward its own suggestion in the form of farm animals feeding at a trough. This is not what Canadians want nor deserve.

The member's motion proposes a new national symbol to reflect the role, heritage and authority of the House. We have seen how the government implements its role, the heritage it will leave in our history and the authority it exercises. We can only imagine what symbols might be used to represent corruption and deception, the biggest scandal in Canadian political history and using its authority to spend billions of taxpayers' dollars at a rate of $1 billion a day to buy votes. This is not a legacy we would choose to symbolically adopt.

Moreover, the motion asks for the protection and promulgation of a new national symbol. We have seen how the government uses Canadian symbols to spend tax dollars and how our tax dollars are not only wasted but misused in such activities.

For this and the fundamental reason that we see our first responsibility is to maintain and rejuvenate all Canadians' pride in this country, its institutions and its flag, before adopting any new symbols we must once again restore the pride of all Canadians in this House, this country and our national flag, so that every float in every parade across Canada proudly carries a national symbol, our Canadian flag, on Canada Day.

Health Care June 17th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, in my riding of Durham, Lakeridge Health is a multi-site organization with four hospitals facing critical challenges that began when its funding no longer met its needs as a consequence of the government's $25 billion cut in health care spending.

Programs delivered at the smaller rural hospital in Port Perry to serve Scugog Township are now under threat.

The government has promised a health care fix for a generation. The government seems to think that wait times is the only crisis facing our health care system. In the meantime, the special needs of multi-site and rural hospitals such as Port Perry are being challenged.

It is critical to meet this special need and not forget rural Canada and the health care funding crisis it faces.

I ask the government to address this funding issue with recognition that we may lose the most basic of health care services in our rural small towns and communities.

An Act to Authorize the Minister of Finance to Make Certain Payments June 17th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, it was interesting to hear the member opposite speak so passionately about some major issues that all Canadians are concerned about. However, I think we should get some clarity around some of the issues.

The first issue is, for example, low income housing. The government and the Liberal Party, along with the NDP, have willingly raised expectations of Canadians about low income housing. There are expectations that this initiative would deliver new homes and rental units for those with low incomes. However, the specific program the money would be directed to is energy efficiency retrofit for low income houses. That means to me that it would be retrofitting existing low income housing, and not building new low income houses.

Can the member tell us how many new low income houses or rental units will be delivered to Canadians through the NDP-Liberal budget?

An Act to Authorize the Minister of Finance to make Certain Payments June 16th, 2005

Madam Speaker, we have all been working very long and late hours and very hard on behalf of all Canadians. It is my privilege tonight to speak to Bill C-48, not only on behalf of all Canadians but particularly on behalf of those in my riding, the residents of Clarington, Uxbridge and Scugog.

It is important that the work of this House not only make promises to benefit Canadians but deliver on those promises. Tonight we are debating Bill C-48, a deal made to buy votes, a bill for up to $4.6 billion of taxpayers' dollars.

The issues covered in Bill C-48 are important to Canadians: the environment, public transit, low cost housing and post-secondary school education. All of these issues are important to Canadians and they are also important to the Conservative Party of Canada, but decades of neglect in these areas have created a resource challenge.

Since 1997 the government has repeatedly underestimated surpluses and accumulated $63 billion of surplus. Meanwhile, provinces and municipalities were struggling.

I ran in the last election to join many others at every level of government; provincial, municipal and federal, to work for the people in their ridings. I came to this House wanting to work in partnership with every level of government and with every person in this House.

However, as a consequence of over a decade of starving the provinces and, consequently, the municipalities, currently we have situations where there is a fiscal imbalance between levels of government. There is a mismatch between revenue raising capabilities and the responsibilities posed to the provinces and the municipalities.

The municipal level is responsible for basic services that the people want and need, such as housing, transit and social services. Yet this federal government continues to be rich, rich in surpluses, while our cities and municipalities continue to be poor.

When I spoke to the budget in April, I said, “It is imperative that all Canadians have a clear picture of the budget and how the government plans to implement the budget and its promises”. But Bill C-48 gives us no details, no plans, no programs and no accountability as to how $4.5 billion will be spent, $4.5 billion not of the Liberals' money, not of the Conservatives' money, not of any party's money, but the money of the people who pay their taxes.

In committee, the Conservatives tried to put forward amendments that would ask the government to table a plan at the end of every year to report on how that money would be spent. The Conservatives also posed an amendment to ask for accountability and transparency mechanisms. The government would not support these two simple amendments.

These people, my riding, my voters, want to ask this government, what is wrong with filing a plan? What is wrong with accountability and transparency mechanisms? Why could the government not support these amendments? Why will the government not ensure that it will indicate with clear commitments that it will deliver on the promises inherent in Bill C-48?

Why not? Because this budget, this bill, is only an enabling legislation. It is a contingent budget. As the parliamentary secretary to the minister said only a matter of mere hours ago, this is an “enabling” budget, an enabling piece of legislation. It is not “mandatory” spending.

I want to point out to everyone in Canada that the minister and the government have clearly articulated that this is not mandatory. How do we know this money is going to come forward to address these important issues for all Canadians?

This budget is a contingent budget. It is contingent on surpluses. It is contingent on ensuring that there will be programs developed, that there will be a plan put in place and merely enabling what? It enables one minister to spend $4.6 billion with no accountability, no timetable, no priorities to be established.

This is only a bill which was part of a deal to buy votes, and this is not good enough for the people in the riding of Durham.

In the riding of Durham, we enjoy a quality of life. We have mixed urban and rural communities. We have some of the best agricultural land in Ontario. It is made up of small towns, villages and hamlets. They want to ensure that this quality of life will not only be maintained and returned to what they enjoyed a decade ago, but they want security in jobs. They want security in their livelihoods. They also want the government to represent them with the values and the integrity that they live by in their daily lives. They want health, safety, education and security not only for the young children, the youth and the adults, but also for those in retirement.

The people in my riding, the families and the citizens of Durham are a community of values and principles. They insist on integrity within their own families, within their community and from their community leaders and from their governments. If we do not maintain a level of integrity in government, what are we leaving for the next generation?

These issues are important. It is not good enough to deceive. It is not good enough to just promise. We must deliver on whatever promises we make.

We want to make sure that we can continue to live in Durham and enjoy the environment, enjoy good quality housing, transit and education, not in the short term but over the long term.

On education for the long term, we have a commitment here for education for two years. What about those who will graduate from high school three years from now, four years from now, five years from now, and six years from now? Why do they not deserve some consideration in lower tuition? Why will the government not make an ongoing commitment to support those youth who will be graduating and possibly going to the newest university in the province of Ontario that is in the region of Durham, the University of Ontario Institute of Technology?

The people in my riding also want to ensure that we take care of the environment. Part of that is ensuring that we try to encourage as much use of public transit as possible, but not only for two years. An ongoing commitment must be made for transit. A two year commitment is not good enough. Where are the dollars for after two years?

If the region in my riding which is now considering regional transportation undertakes to buy those efficient buses, et cetera, hire the drivers, increase the public transit service in my riding, what happens after two years? Where are the dollars to keep those buses and those drivers operating? How are we going to keep paying those drivers? A two year public transit program is not good enough.

On infrastructure, I have watched it and I have seen it over the last decade. Infrastructure deteriorates. What happens after two years? Where are the dollars to maintain those roads? We see right now the state of our infrastructure because of a decade of neglect.

We have to make sure that low income housing is there, not just a program to energy retrofit low income housing. What is energy retrofitting? How many new houses and rental units will that provide?

This bill lacks so much in detail. Where will the dollars go? How will they be delivered? How much will come to my municipality, to every citizen, to every bus rider, to the people who have to now depend on a family member to drive the elderly and the disabled to the hospital, which is 60 kilometres away?

We want real service provision. We want dollars, a commitment to real infrastructure improvements. We want to make sure that the municipalities all share equally in the $4.6 billion that is in Bill C-48. We do not want a short term deal. We want a long term commitment.

An Act to Authorize the Minister of Finance to make Certain Payments June 16th, 2005

Madam Speaker, it will not take me long to say that the only political party I belonged to before joining the Conservative Party of Canada was the provincial Progressive Conservative Party, the same party that that member belonged to.

An Act to Authorize the Minister of Finance to make Certain Payments June 16th, 2005

Madam Speaker, I find it very interesting that that particular member would pose the questions and make the comments that he did, but I will say this. The first part of my career may be in opposition but the second part of my career will be in government, unlike that member.

He asked for specifics and I will give him one specific as an example in the Bill C-48 budget agreement signed between the Liberals and the NDP. The government has been promising low income housing. Low income housing means there should be the potential for people with lower incomes to move into a home, but this agreement talks about the “energy efficiency retrofit program for low income housing”. The existing low income housing is going to be retrofitted to be more efficient. Consequently, how many new rental units will there be? This is typical of the deception and misleading that the government does time and time again. That is a specific example. I challenge any Canadian to get a copy of the actual deal that was signed and read the details.

The member asked a question and knows that when one is in power one does not change parties in order to stay in power.

Foreign Credential Recognition Program June 6th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure today to speak to Motion No. 195 put forward by the member for Brampton—Springdale. The motion is with regard to the recognition of foreign credentials. I want the House and the Speaker to know that the opposition party has been holding round tables on immigration matters.

As we all know, the immigration system in Canada requires a great deal of help and renewal. We have many challenges and many problems. It seems that we laud ourselves as a country that welcomes immigrants and yet we have so many hurdles for them to overcome once they come to this country and even to get into Canada.

However regarding the recognition of foreign credentials I would like to say that during these round tables, and as the chair for the Ontario group, we heard many stories of those who have come to this country expecting to be fully welcomed, to contribute to Canada, to ensure that Canada continues to be the country to which they choose to come, to contribute to its welfare and its well-being and add to the quality of life that they so much want for their families and for the next generation.

As far as the credentialling challenges are concerned, the first challenge is to have a program that welcomes immigrants to the country because of their professional background, their credentials and their experience. They are encouraged and worked with in their own countries to come to Canada. However once they come here, even with all these expectations, all the difficulties and the hard decisions they have had to make to leave their home countries, they find that those very criteria, the experience, their background and their credentials, are not in any way a stepping stone to being a full and contributing member to Canadian society.

Every member in the House can tell us about people in their home riding who have to come to Canada to be part of this country, who have full credentials, who have education levels to be lauded, who have years of experience and who were leaders in their homelands, and yet they come to Canada and find that they are not able to contribute in the same professions and nowhere close to the same levels as they were participating in their homelands.

I also want to explain that because we have no expectations and no obligations of our foreign representatives to ensure that people do not have unreasonable expectations, we should ensure that those who are servicing those in the other lands are equipped, knowledgeable and can ensure that they do not mislead those who are applying to come here.

Second, once they come to Canada, in order to exploit their credentials, further their professions and contribute in that way, they find that most employers require Canadian experience. The question here is how does one get that experience without having some support or some program in which to work with these people so that the Canadian experience can be had and they can demonstrate that they are fully qualified and have the experience, the background and the education to ensure they can contribute.

We also find that many of the stories we are told that people with not only one degree but with multiple degrees, post-bachelor degrees from foreign countries, in order to gain that experience and have their credentials recognized, are leaving this country. I heard a story of a very qualified health practitioner who left this country in order to get the experience from the United States which has more readily recognized her credentials of her homeland which was Romania.

She then had to make a difficult decision as to whether she would stay in the United States where it seemed she was more welcomed than in Canada which encouraged her and said that she would be welcomed. When she first arrived in Canada she found that things were made impossible for her. When she decided to come back to Canada after being in the United States and get work in her field, her previous experience in Canada was a challenge.

Even though these people make hard decisions, leave family at home and get fully qualified, we do not seem to have a system that makes sure that they can stay here, participate and contribute here.

We need to put into place a faster system for recognizing people's credentials, their educational backgrounds and their work experience in their homelands. There is no reason why we cannot set up a system that does not move these people to the back of the line. They should be recognized where they deserve to be recognized and to have a system in Canada that is consistent with our overall theme and pledge of being multicultural, that we do welcome immigrants and that Canada needs immigration and immigrants to contribute to and ensure we have a brighter future.

The motion actually was amended to call for to work with, to coordinate, collaborate and assist with this challenge but the outcome of it was only to report within six months. The opposition believes that we can move forward with this. We believe that because of the complexities of the system and the collaborations that will have to be made there should be a centralized effort. We would undertake to ensure that the challenges in this area were hastily and speedily corrected.

We do not believe that six months of further study to tell us we have challenges and problems would move us forward with any speed. As I said earlier, people are reconsidering coming to Canada and staying here. Consequently, we believe a centralized force is needed, not only to coordinate the 14 federal departments involved but also foreign credentialing, and to collaborate in partnership with the provinces as well as the trade and professional associations which play a large part in determining whether immigrants are going to be welcomed within their professions and consequently become a colleague in the workforce.

We believe that working with the provinces is important. However, because of the jurisdictional challenges, we do not believe the federal government should add another layer. However we should be able to work in partnership with the provinces to ensure that all parties that are involved and participate in this process are at one table.

The coordination between 14 federal departments will be a force that needs to have a centralized focus. We cannot have each department establishing its own criteria or standards. The criteria standard should vary according to professions, not according to departments if there is to be some good thinking and coordination behind it. However we believe that a centralized approach will be more effective.

We believe that Canada is a multicultural country. We have for generations built this country on immigration. We have seen where those immigrants have built the country and contributed to the quality of life that we all enjoy. In the area of foreign credentialing, we are missing such great opportunities. We are missing the ability of these immigrants to contribute. We believe the motion is flawed and we would oppose it.

Business of Supply May 31st, 2005

Mr. Chair, the expectations from those in my constituency are that they should benefit as equally from their tax dollars as any other family in the community. I have a large agricultural community and many of those people are here on the basis of seasonal work and are able to bring their families with them. They are farmers and farmers do not have nine to five working hours. Seeding and harvesting the land are seasonal requirements and often both parents have to be out in the fields working. Therefore their demands for assistance as far as their preschool children and their infants are concerned vary according to the season and according to their own schedules.

I have read the agreement signed in the province of Ontario and some of the other agreements. What studies or what work has been done to expand the benefit of the child care program that is proposed to meet the unique needs of these families? These families are equally an important part of Canada as part of Canada's economy, as part of Canada's food production and as part of Canada's heritage as well, and they want to maintain this. They have been able to do this traditionally through family care, through neighbour care, et cetera. However it does not seem to me that I am seeing any of their tax dollar benefits coming back to assist them with their needs.