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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

Election of Speaker June 2nd, 2011

Mr. Chair, this being the first opportunity I have to speak in the 41st Parliament, I would like to take time to thank the great people of Simcoe North for giving me their confidence for a third term.

I would like to congratulate the hon. members who have been elected and welcome those who are sitting here for the first time.

Canadians have elected their first majority Parliament in 11 years. It is the first time since 2004 that a federal election is not looming and it is a first term for more than one-third of hon. members. We have an opportunity to make the House of Commons work better for Canadians. Today is a big part of that; our choice for Speaker.

To help inform members in order to make a decision today, I would like to take a moment to give some of my background, relate some of my experience and share my thoughts on the role and responsibilities of Speaker.

During the 25 years I spent learning to run our family's tourism business in central Ontario, it became clear to me that our success relied on the relationships we built with the people we worked with: our family members, clients, staff and competitors.

We know that the same holds true for the work we do in public life. Listening to and understanding our constituents, colleagues, team members, volunteers, and even our political opponents, greatly determines our accomplishments.

This is the life experience that has guided my work in public life to this day. They are the lessons which helped me in chairing the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development in the last Parliament.

In committee, I learned that the judicious and impartial use of procedural rules and profound respect for each member allowed the proceedings to take place in a civil and frank manner.

We are all aware that Canadians would like to see an improvement in the level of civility and decorum in the House. So, too, I expect, would members.

The difficulty lies in balancing the protection of a member's rights and privileges—freedom of speech—with respect for order and decorum. It is a careful balance, one that the Speaker must maintain.

As a servant of the House, the Speaker can only preside within the limits that the House and hon. members grant.

Achieving an improvement in civility and decorum will take a combined effort, the will of members, the fair and consistent application of procedural rules by the Speaker, and a strong working relationship among the Speaker and our House leaders and whips. This is a task that I would look forward to working through so that Canadians could take greater pride with our work here.

To conclude, I believe it is crucial that the Speaker be able to communicate in both official languages. My French teacher has told me that I am at an intermediate level and that, with some hard work, I could be functionally bilingual within a year. I am making that commitment here before you, Mr. Presiding Officer, and before the members.

I would like to thank the hon. members for having listened to me today. I would be honoured to have your support.

I thank hon. members for your consideration today and I would be honoured to have your support.

Committees of the House March 25th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, before I table my report, I would like to use this occasion also to thank you for all the work you have done and the help you have provided. It was a great privilege to travel with you in May of last year. That is a trip that I am sure will be in my memories for the rest of my years and I appreciate that.

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the sixth report of the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development concerning Bill C-530, An Act to amend the Northwest Territories Act (borrowing limits). The committee has studied the bill and has decided to report the bill back to the House without amendment.

The Budget March 24th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, in January I held several meetings in my riding with constituents to consult on the budget. My constituents were clear.

They asked for support for low income seniors. Our budget has delivered on that, with a guaranteed income supplement top-up of $600 for single seniors and $840 for couples.

They asked for an extension to the eco-energy retrofit homes program. Again, our budget has delivered, with an investment of $400 million.

They asked for tax credits for small businesses to create jobs and to reduce red tape. Our budget has delivered, with a $1,000 small business hiring tax credit and the Red Tape Reduction Commission.

My constituents have rarely shown interest in partisan political games, but they are concerned about their jobs, their families and their futures.

I ask the members opposite to listen to the priorities of Canadians, set their political ambitions aside and support this budget.

The Budget March 22nd, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I wonder if the government House leader could please tell the House if any member of the ministry is selling access to Canadians in return for a secret briefing on the budget that will be tabled in the House later this day?

Committees of the House March 11th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the fifth report of the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development, entitled “Supplementary Estimates (C) 2010-11”.

Petitions March 2nd, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I have a petition signed by just over 200 constituents from my riding. They bring particular attention to the House of Commons about their concerns with regard to the use of the Internet for the exploitation of children and the continuing dissemination of child pornography.

They are requesting that Parliament speedily enact legislation that would strengthen sentences and do everything it can to protect children and deter pedophilia.

First Nations Financial Transparency Act February 28th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, it is a great delight to have this opportunity to express my wholehearted support for Bill C-575, the first nations financial transparency act.

The reason for my support of this bill is quite simple. It is time that the Parliament of Canada embed in the law of the land the right that all Canadians now enjoy, and all members of first nations should enjoy, and that is the right to know how much their elected representatives cost in terms of carrying out their public business.

Bill C-575 would secure this fundamental right of men and women of first nations communities in a perfectly straightforward way. The bill would require first nations governments to include a schedule of remuneration in its annual audited financial statement. Each schedule would provide detailed information on the salaries and reimbursement of expenses paid by a first nation to its chiefs and councils.

The bill further requires every first nation to make its schedule of remuneration publicly available within 120 days after March 31 in each calendar year. If any first nation fails to make public its schedule, the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development will have full legal authority to make it public.

All Canadians believe strongly in the right to know how much their elected representatives earn. I am convinced that the same can be said of first nations people. Our shared conviction alone should be more than enough reason for all of us to support Bill C-575.

Yet, that reason alone does not tell the whole story of this bill. Let us consider the practical benefits that would be generated when this principle is embedded in law. Three practical things come to mind: transparency, accountability and effectiveness.

Bill C-575 would help first nations governments become more transparent by having mandatory reporting requirements. All first nations governments, each and every year, would be required to make public detailed information on the salaries and reimbursement of expenses paid to chiefs and councillors without exception. Bill C-575 would mandate that this information be easily accessed by first nations communities. Transparency does not come much more straightforward than that.

And yet some of our colleagues and some leaders of first nation governments have said that Bill C-575 is unnecessary because many of these governments already make this information available to people who ask for it. Their stance leads me to wonder if these critics truly understand the meaning of political transparency.

Political transparency is not about governments merely being willing to share information. Genuine political transparency involves governments actually giving men and women the tools they need to see that information for themselves. That is transparency in its fullest. That is exactly what this bill would deliver.

The bill would also make first nations governments more accountable. We know accountability is another fundamental principle of Canadian political life. Canadians recognize that knowing how much their representatives make in salary and reimbursement of expenses lies at the very heart of political accountability. After all, how is it that Canadians can hold their elected representatives accountable for their actions if they do not have pertinent financial information at their fingertips? By requiring first nations governments to disclose detailed information on remuneration of expenses and salaries of their elected officials, this bill would make those elected officials more accountable to the people they serve.

I am pleased to see that the Assembly of First Nations agrees with the very principles of this bill. The AFN recently passed an important resolution at its special chiefs assembly in December. The resolution pledges that first nations governments should maintain what the AFN calls transparent and accountable decision-making structures.

I do need to point out that the first nations have always had the ability to make that information available in public. Regrettably, a considerable number choose not to. The AFN resolution merely asserts that, essentially, it is a good idea that first nations chiefs and councils might want to do this, but it is certainly not binding. We do not believe that an issue as important as this should rely only on a non-binding resolution. The path that the bill sets out is an effective, binding, and transparent way to ensure this information is available to the public.

Bill C-575 provides first nation governments with an ideal way to follow through on the AFN's intent—greater transparency and accountability. The bill provides these governments with a clear and consistent standard they can abide by, and that all men and women of first nation communities can expect their governments to honour. That kind of standard is a perfect example of political accountability.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the hon. member for Saskatoon—Rosetown—Biggar for spurring the House to take constructive action to bring greater transparency, accountability and effectiveness to first nations governments. In that same spirit of constructive action, I want not only to express my wholehearted support for but also for the principle of this bill. I have one brief suggestion that she and the House might consider to improve it.

This suggestion is not completely my own. In response to a question posed by the honourable member for Saskatoon—Rosetown—Biggar on November 22, the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development stated that we should expand the coverage of Bill C-575 to include all sources of income earned by first nation chiefs and councillors—not just income that comes from funds transferred to first nation communities by the federal government.

I fully agree with the minister's idea and let me explain why. A small part of the funds that are collected for each first nation every year is an unconditional grant designated as band support funding. This money is designated to help communities pay the salaries of elected officials and non-elected administrators, and to offset the normal operating costs associated with running a band office. Yet, many first nations communities also derive revenue from other sources, such as band-owned businesses and through arrangements with other governments. Revenues from these sources may also be used to cover the salaries and expenses of first nations officials.

Accordingly, we should make sure that Bill C-575 compels each first nations government to detail in its schedule of remuneration all salaries, honoraria, and reimbursement of expenses paid to its chiefs and councillors directly or indirectly through the band office.

I urge all of my colleagues who serve on the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development to consider this amendment, and even more fervently, of course, I urge members of the House who have joined us here this morning to adopt Bill C-575 at second reading.

It is time to pass the bill. It is time for all first nations governments to become even more transparent, accountable and effective.

It is time to embed in the law of the land a right that all members of first nation communities should enjoy.

Canadian Wheat Board Act February 10th, 2011

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-619, An Act to amend the Canadian Wheat Board Act (notice of opting out and licence for activities).

Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to introduce a bill today entitled an act to amend the Canadian Wheat Board Act , and delighted to have the bill seconded by my colleague, the hon. member for Westlock—St. Paul.

The bill proposes to bring marketing choice to western grain farmers, giving them the opportunity to opt out of participation in activities, such as transporting, exporting and selling, that are now the exclusive domain of the Canadian Wheat Board.

In the interests of western farmers, I commend this bill to the consideration of all hon. members.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Justice December 10th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, our Conservative government is committed to making our streets and communities safer.

This week, after nearly a year, our government was successful in passing important legislation to strengthen the national sex offender registry and the national DNA data bank which will provide greater protection for children and all Canadians.

Currently our Conservative government has over 20 other bills before Parliament to get tougher on crime and to make our streets and communities safer, but here is the problem. Due to the lack of support from the coalition of the Liberals, the hug-a-thug NDP and the Bloc Québécois, these bills have not passed.

The coalition continues to stall legislation to eliminate pardons for dangerous offenders, to repeal the faint hope clause and to end house arrest for serious crimes.

The Ignatieff-led coalition should support our efforts, need I say again, to get tough on crime--

Committees of the House December 9th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the third report of the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development entitled, “Northerners Perspectives for Prosperity”. This has been a great body of work that the committee has completed and we are delighted today to present it to the House.