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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was fact.

Last in Parliament September 2021, as Conservative MP for Simcoe North (Ontario)

Won his last election, in 2019, with 43% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Georgian Bay Channel to Lock 45--Port Severn October 6th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I would like to begin by thanking all of the members who participated in the debate, the hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport, and the member for Essex.

I also thank the member for Beaches—East York, the member for Ottawa South, the member for Newton—North Delta, the hon. member for Lac-Saint-Louis, Sarnia—Lambton and Windsor West. I thank each of them for their compliments of my work on the motion and for their support of the motion.

It was clear through the comments that we heard on this particular question and on the motion that there are a number of different questions and concerns that arise out of any debate that involves not only our important Canadian waterways but in this case the Great Lakes. Many of those members of Parliament whom we heard from take their economic means from and much of their local enterprise is derived from things such as recreational boating and all of the things that come from that, from retail to services to marinas. All of those economic interests are affected when we clear up impediments such as the canal at Port Severn.

As members heard, this is a beautiful part of our country. We do everything we can to attract recreational boaters and tourists, for a whole host of reasons, to experience the wonders of Georgian Bay and the inland waterway that stretches from Lake Ontario all the way up to Georgian Bay and Lake Huron. This is what connects much of that summer-season commerce and we know we want to keep that going strong. That is what the direction of the motion is.

I would just finish off and somewhat encapsulate what we heard with a quote from the lockmaster at Lock 45, the immediate lock there. He was there for more than a decade and his family has been there for generations. He summed it up this way:

...very frustrating for the boaters, as well as for me and the staff, because they thought it was our problem. The years passed and water got lower and lower; the problem magnified. Boats had problems going downstream. With any current, they were on the rock shoal. Boats couldn’t meet under the bridge. The boats from 36 feet and upwards started avoiding the locks because of the dangerous and unsafe area.

That is exactly the precise direction of the motion, to address that particular issue. Once again, I thank all hon. members for their support of the motion, and I look forward to seeing it pass should the members consider it that way.

Franco-Ontarian Day September 23rd, 2014

Mr. Speaker, Franco-Ontarian Day is almost upon us. It is a time to celebrate francophones in Ontario and pay tribute to their contribution to Ontario's rich culture and history. The francophones in my riding, who live mainly in Lafontaine, Penetanguishene, Perkinsfield and the townships of Tiny and Tay, carry on in the tradition of generations of francophones who, since the late 18th century in Upper Canada, have invested their time and talents in agriculture, education, business and the arts.

I salute the Franco-Ontarians in Simcoe County and across the province for their contribution to our history and our society.

Georgian Bay Channel to Lock 45 – Port Severn June 16th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, the member for Scarborough—Guildwood would know well that the ageing infrastructure of the Trent-Severn does need regular attention. That was one of the reasons I was glad to see in budget 2014 a commitment of $391.5 million for Parks Canada to complete many projects involving dams, bridges, and roads on properties that are under Parks Canada. To answer my colleague's specific question, though, this would be a one-off, as he described, and would not be contemplated within the existing Parks Canada budget.

It is actually just outside the Trent-Severn Waterway jurisdiction. It goes as far as the dock on the low side of Lock 45, so the government would have to authorize additional funds. The government would have to consider how that might be accommodated, but it would not exist on the current list of deferred maintenance affecting the Trent-Severn Waterway.

Georgian Bay Channel to Lock 45 – Port Severn June 16th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, the member for Beaches—East York asked a pertinent question.

There is no doubt that the nature of in-water works in our part of the world requires a rigorous examination in terms of the environmental impact. Several regulatory authorities would become involved in that process, and regardless of whether a private or public enterprise undertook the work, all of those permits would have to be satisfied. The lead agency in this case would be the provincial ministry of the environment and natural resources, which would provide the necessary permitting. That is a public process that one would have to go through.

In terms of other consultations because of the nature and scope of the work, this is a very specific rock excavation that would not be a lot different from any other remedial types of excavations in the area. Not having a broad application in the local community, consultations have been really restricted to the local economic interests in our area.

Georgian Bay Channel to Lock 45 – Port Severn June 16th, 2014


That, in the opinion of the House, the government should consider the advisability of measures to deepen and straighten the vessel navigation channel which provides access between Georgian Bay and the westerly limit of the Trent-Severn Waterway, at Port Severn.

Mr. Speaker, it is a great privilege to address the House this morning, on the kind of rare occasion for a chair occupant to have the opportunity to address the House. As many members may know, I have the privilege of having chair occupancy, along with the great team that does work in this area, the hon. member for Regina—Qu'Appelle, the hon. member for Windsor—Tecumseh, and the hon. member for Haliburton—Kawartha Lakes—Brock. It is a great team to be part of, but it does not accord us with the time to address the House, except on rare occasions such as this.

As the motion was read, members can tell that this is about improving a very specific part of the navigable waterway, just below Lock 45 at the village of Port Severn. That may not be all that familiar to a lot of members, so I will describe exactly where that is.

Before I go on, I want to mention that my seconder today, the hon. member for Elgin—Middlesex—London, is greatly familiar with this area that we speak of. Of course, he is very close to a part of the Great Lakes himself, representing his riding in southwestern Ontario. He is intimately familiar with the kinds of benefits that are derived from the recreational boating economy that is a central part of job creation and wealth creation in our part of Ontario.

Georgian Bay is a part of my riding. As members might know, it is almost as large as Lake Ontario itself. It sits on the northeastern corner of Lake Huron. Lake Huron and Lake Michigan are the two lakes that actually compose slightly over 50% of the total area of the Great Lakes in their entirety.

In my part of the riding, there are several communities along the south shore of Georgian Bay. This is the southernmost portion of the bay where, for many recreational boating activists and participants from the GTA and southern Ontario, it is the closest point at which they can meet with Georgian Bay.

In my riding alone, there are no less than 4,000 recreational boat slips. There is also all of the economy that ensues from that, whether from repair shops to marine services to sales to retail, all of the things that derive from that basic economic activity.

Georgian Bay connects many towns and villages, of which members may be well aware, and we all have a great stake in that recreational boating economy. These are places like Owen Sound and Parry Sound. In my riding, there are Midland and Penetanguishene; places like Collingwood, Tobermory, Manitoulin Island, the North Channel. However, this being a binational waterway, it also connects with the recreational boating traffic from the United States, especially in our corner, from the State of Michigan.

All of the boaters who frequent Canada during the fair weather months make their routes from the northeastern parts of the United States up to the Great Lakes, and then find their way through the Trent-Severn Waterway from Georgian Bay back down to Lake Ontario. They can then reconnect with the Erie Canal, and right back down south along the eastern seaboard, all the way to Florida.

I mentioned the Trent-Severn Waterway. Many members are familiar with this wonderful waterway. There are members in the House who have familiarity with it because they have cottages or real estate on it. It is part of southern Ontario's cottage country community, which has no less than $23.6 billion worth of residential property. This is a waterway that was built by the Government of Canada in the late 19th century and early into the 20th century, comprising, as I said, $23.6 billion in residential property, with an annual economic influx to our region of about $1 billion annually and all of the different economic activities that ensue from it.

It is a waterway that is 386 kilometres long, connecting Georgian Bay at the village of Port Severn, all the way down through central Ontario, Lake Simcoe, through the Kawartha Lakes, and out to Lake Ontario on the north shore, around the town of Trenton.

There is a total of 160 dams, 44 locks, one marine railway, and some 50,000 residences on the waterway itself. There are another 16,500 residences on what are called the reservoir lakes. They are the lakes that were created to provide water to the Trent-Severn Waterway over the course of the summer, so that the navigation operation could continue.

That brings us to the little village of Port Severn itself. Port Severn is at the mouth of the Severn River. Where the Severn River flows, the river itself drains an area of approximately 5,500 square kilometres of our part of the area just east of the shoreline of Georgian Bay. It flows down through there, including the Lake Simcoe watershed, which goes as far south as the Oak Ridges Moraine, as those in the Toronto and southern Ontario will know . It is the high ground just above the city of Toronto. Everything north of that moraine drains northward initially, through Lake Simcoe, and eventually into the Severn River. It flows out to Georgian Bay through the Severn River.

During the time of early settlement in Ontario, that river was critical to the local economy involving the lumber industry. It was the main route to get fallen logs from their part of the watershed to the mills. Port Severn was established for the lumber industry, and it took its path from those early routes. For the case of today's discussion, it is also the point at which all of the navigable waterways and recreational boating activity that occurs both on Georgian Bay and the inland waterway up the Trent-Severn connect. There could be anywhere up to 40,000 vessels across the waterway itself. The ability to connect between the two waterways is through a very narrow channel, which is right below Lock 45 on its way to Georgian Bay.

We do not have the ability to show members any graphs, pictures, posters, or anything of that sort, so I will do my best. I would ask members to imagine the eastern shore of Georgian Bay as being fairly shallow. Along the approaches to the shoreline, there are very few areas where there is enough water depth to allow larger vessels to get close to shore. Therefore, when the canal was built in the late 19th century to early 20th century, and the navigation channel was essentially excavated out of the rock to allow more vessels to come through, it was done in a way that would allow them passage between the two waterways. As I said, most parts of the Trent-Severn were built around 1880, and finished in 1920, with the final link between Lake Couchiching and Sparrow Lake. It has largely been the same from the early days when the canal was created.

I know that many members have travelled the incredible expressway that we have to cottage country in Ontario, called Highway 400. It starts right in Toronto, and there are four lanes all the way to Sudbury. There are only a few narrow spots, along the French River area and south of it, that are still two lanes, but the Province of Ontario continues to build it. That highway crosses the canal right at Port Severn. Of course, the canal in question here existed well before that highway was created.

When the canal was built, they built it for the vessels of the day. They also built it for the amount of traffic that existed at that time. As one can imagine, both have grown over the decades. Vessels have become larger and there is more traffic. In fact, we see upward of 6,200 passages through Lock 45 in a given season. In the summer, up to 82 vessels per day pass through the canal, one way or the other.

What has created a problem for the canal since the year 2000 is that we have had a persistent low water condition in the upper Great Lakes, on Lake Huron, Lake Michigan, and on Georgian Bay. As that has persisted, the difficulty in navigating the canal has become worse.

Members may know that the water levels on Georgian Bay fluctuate about a metre and a half from top to bottom, and that happens on about a 15 to 20-year cycle. However, recently, particularly because of climatic conditions, we have had a persistent low period of water levels. We have seen that come back and recover a little this past year, but the low water conditions have made the channel that much more treacherous for larger boats to navigate.

What exactly is wrong with it?

Those of you who have piloted vessels like this would know that when there are onshore winds or currents that are sometimes unexpected and one is navigating a 32 or 34-foot vessel through a channel like that, the sudden change in conditions can move one into a spot that is not so easy to deal with. The risk of collision, either with shoals or other vessels, becomes very real. This is exactly what has happened in this little canal below Lock 45. In fact, pilots of various vessels have spread the word that this is a very treacherous canal.

The community of pilots of these vessels is very close knit. These people all talk with each other, and they have simply stayed away. We have also heard from operators of marinas all across my region, and they are the ones who originally brought this issue to my attention. They want to know what can be done to make the canal more safe.

Therefore, over the last year, I undertook to see exactly what could be done. We talked to local contractors to find out what it would take to make the canal safe. They are in the business of doing this kind of work, and they know what they are doing.

We had one project estimate to remove approximately 1,200 cubic metres of rock from this particular channel, to widen, deepen, and straighten it, to make sure that vessels could get through even if a low water condition existed. The cost of this project is in the range of $650,000, which is not a huge amount of money. It is removing rock, but once it is done, it would stay done, just as the existing channel has from its early days. This is not an area that will continue to be silted in, and so on.

This is a project that needs to be done. It is a very specific channel, and it would make a mountain of difference for our operators of retail navigation, marine navigation, and all of the various businesses and employees who rely on this kind of employment. It would allow much more traffic between the Trent-Severn Waterway and the Georgian Bay destination.

I should say, by the way, that Georgian Bay is the very best inland waterway that Ontario has to offer. The member for Elgin—Middlesex—London may disagree because he is on beautiful Lake Erie, and of course all the members who are situated around the Great Lakes would know what great boating our Great Lakes offer. However, for those those who have had the chance to visit the Georgian Bay coastline, it is stunning. There are fantastic services and communities along it, which provide great services for boaters.

I am presenting a proposition to the House for consideration. I have asked in the motion for the government to consider the advisability of the measures it would take to make this channel more safe and take away the deterrents to boating in this region of the country. I realize that we do not know what may follow in terms of the water level conditions that may persist. However, if it is anything like the last 13 years or so, if not addressed, it would conceivably still represent problems.

I seek the support of the House to pass this motion and take one next step toward getting those measures complete.

Stephen Leacock Memorial Medal for Humour June 3rd, 2014

Mr. Speaker, this Saturday, the Stephen Leacock medal for humour will be presented at a gala reception at Geneva Park Conference Centre near the city of Orillia, in my riding.

As members may recall, Stephen Leacock was Canada's most famous author of humour. Leacock, the head of McGill University's Department of Economics and Political Science for 28 years in the early 1900s, also kept a summer residence in Orillia. That is now home to the Leacock Museum as well as the annual tribute to Canadian authors of humour.

This year, the Leacock Associates have awarded the medal for humour to Cape Breton's own Bill Conall for his sophomore novel The Promised Land. It is a hilarious tale of hippies who are on a journey to Cape Breton in the 1970s. I can just imagine the humour that arises. Members also have first-hand knowledge of just how well Cape Bretoners are endowed with a knowledge and a knack for humour.

I invite all hon. members to join me in congratulating Bill Conall, winner of the Leacock medal for humour 2014.

Business of Supply May 7th, 2014

I would like to open this committee of the whole session by making a short statement on this evening's proceedings.

Tonight's debate is being held under Standing Order 81(4)(a), which provides for each of two sets of estimates selected by the Leader of the Opposition to be considered in committee of the whole for up to four hours.

The debate is also held under the provisions of the order made on Tuesday, May 6, 2014. Tonight's debate is a general one on all of the votes related to Transport. Each member will be allocated 15 minutes. The first round will begin with the official opposition, followed by the government and the Liberal Party. After that, we will follow the usual proportional rotation.

As provided in an order made on Tuesday, May 6, 2014, parties may use each 15-minute slot for speeches or for questions and answers by one or more of their members. In the case of speeches, members of the party to which the period is allotted may speak one after the other. The Chair would appreciate it if the first member speaking in each slot would indicate how his or her time will be used, particularly if it is to be shared.

When the time is to be used for questions and answers, the Chair will expect that the minister's response will reflect approximately the time taken by the question, since this time will be counted in the time originally allotted to the parties.

Though members may speak more than once, the Chair will generally try to ensure that all members wishing to speak are heard before inviting members to speak again, while respecting the proportional party rotations for speakers.

Members need not be in their own seats to be recognized.

Finally, I would remind hon. members that according to the order made May 6, during this evening's debate, no quorum calls, dilatory motions, or requests for unanimous consent shall be received by the Chair.

As your Chair, I am guided by the rules of the committee of the whole and by the order made on Tuesday, May 6, 2014. However, in the interests of a full exchange, I am prepared to exercise discretion and flexibility in the application of these rules.

I also wish to indicate that in committee of the whole, ministers and members should be referred to by their titles or riding names, and of course, all remarks should addressed through the Chair.

I ask for everyone's co-operation in upholding all established standards of decorum, parliamentary language, and behaviour. At the conclusion of tonight's debate, the committee will rise. The estimates related to Transport will be deemed reported, and the House will adjourn immediately until tomorrow.

We may now begin tonight's session. The House, in committee of the whole, pursuant to Standing Order 81(4)(a), the first appointed day, consideration in committee of the whole of all votes related to Transport in the main estimates for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2015.

The floor is open.

Pete McGarvey April 9th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, today I pay tribute to one of Orillia's most prominent citizens and a great Canadian, James A. “Pete” McGarvey, who sadly passed away last month.

Pete started his stellar career in radio journalism with Orillia's CFOR radio in 1947, where he would stay for nearly 20 years before moving to CFCO in Chatham and then on to CKEY in Toronto.

As a journalist, he reported from Moscow, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Washington, Jerusalem, and Beirut, and he received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Radio-Television News Directors in 2004. However, Orillia was always home for Pete. He served there for 10 years on town council and was part of the 1950s campaign to restore the summer estate of Stephen Leacock. He was one of the founders of Orillia's Mariposa Folk Festival in 1961, which remains one of Canada's best each season.

On behalf of all parliamentarians, I extend our heartfelt condolences to Eileen and sons Peter, Will, and Doug and their families, with the full knowledge that Pete McGarvey's memory and his legacy will live on for generations.

Winter Olympic Games February 11th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, earlier today we got the great news of yet another incredible achievement by our athletes in Sochi. At the debut at the winter Olympics of the women's ski slopestyle, Canada has taken the gold and bronze medals, putting Canada to the top of the medal standings for the first time in our history.

The women competing in free-style skiing this Olympics remember their comrade and hero, Sarah Burke, who died while training two years ago. She pioneered the sport, and with or without the tribute to Sarah on their helmets, it is clear they hold Sarah's memory and spirit in their hearts.

Today's gold medallist is the daughter of fellow resort operators in Ontario, a family we grew up with and admired for their drive and their dedication to family and business. Nineteen year old Dara Howell is the pride of Huntsville, Ontario. I know that Doug, Dee, and Brent, and the entire Howell family are immensely proud.

Today, I join with the member of Parliament for Parry Sound—Muskoka and all Canadians in congratulating Dara Howell, gold medallist, Sochi 2014.

Stephen Leacock Memorial Medal for Humour June 11th, 2013

Mr. Speaker, last Saturday night, Orillia's literary community gathered at the Geneva Park Conference Centre to award the 2013 Stephen Leacock Memorial Medal for Humour. As members may know, Leacock, Canada's most famous author of humour, made his summer home on Lake Couchiching near Orillia, the fictional town he called Mariposa.

This year, the Leacock Associates have awarded the medal for humour to Cassie Stocks of Edmonton for her novel Dance, Gladys, Dance. She joins a distinguished group of Leacock medal winners, including W. O. Mitchell, Farley Mowat, Mordecai Richler and Stuart McLean, but even more remarkable is that this is Cassie's first novel.

I would like to thank the Leacock Associates and TD Financial Group for recognizing these outstanding contributions to Canadian literature each year. I invite all hon. members to join me in congratulating the 2013 winner of the Leacock Memorial Medal for Humour, Cassie Stocks.