House of Commons photo


Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was terms.

Last in Parliament October 2015, as Conservative MP for Sault Ste. Marie (Ontario)

Lost his last election, in 2015, with 31% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Protecting Canada's Immigration System Act April 23rd, 2012

Mr. Speaker, a lot of work did go into the former Balanced Refugee Reform Act but the reality is that much has changed and the changes are a drain on our system. That act was never intended to be a static act, nor should the law be static. When things change we should be prepared to look at why change is necessary.

Twenty-three per cent of the total refugee claims in 2011 came from the European Union and 18% of total refugee claims came from Hungary. These are safe countries. They are countries like Canada. There is no reason for refugees coming here from those countries. The reality is that by implementing this bill we would save our taxpayers $1.65 billion over five years.

Protecting Canada's Immigration System Act April 23rd, 2012

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to speak today in support of Bill C-31, the protecting Canada's immigration system act.

Since Bill C-31 was tabled earlier this year, we have had the opportunity to debate its provisions on a number of different occasions in the House. I have listened to all sides of the debate and my hon. colleagues have made their points with conviction and often with passion.

I remain convinced that Bill C-31 is legislation that will improve our country's immigration system in a number of important ways, including, of course, cracking down on the lucrative business of human smuggling.

Human smugglers are criminals who operate around the world, charging large amounts of money to facilitate illegal migration. This is an important national issue because the actions of human smugglers undermine the security and safety of Canadians.

In some parts of the country, such as British Columbia, there is also an important global issue. It was on Vancouver Island in B.C. where the drama of human smuggling played out most prominently in recent years, in the cases of both the Ocean Lady in 2009 and the Sun Sea in 2010. It was these two incidents, more than any other, that demonstrated that this was not a theoretical problem in the country. It is a real problem.

Last summer, another human smuggling ship, the MV Alicia, carrying almost 90 Sri Lankan Tamils bound for Canada, was intercepted in Indonesia. In January another 200 Tamils seeking to come to Canada were duped by smugglers and left stranded in the small west African country of Togo.

Just a few weeks ago, the SV Tabasco 2, sank off the coast of Nova Scotia. The captain was killed, three crew members are missing and five survivors are requesting refugee status in Canada. The Minister of Public Safety has suggested that this could be another case of human smuggling.

All of these incidents underline the need to take action.

Bill C-31 would help to do so in a number of ways. It would enable the Minister of Public Safety to designate the arrival of a group of individuals into Canada as an “irregular arrival”. It would establish a mandatory detention for those individuals for up to a year in order to determine their identity and admissibility, including whether they had been involved in any legal activity. Mandatory detention would exclude those designated foreign nationals who were under the age of 16. Also, once an individual's refugee claim had been approved, that individual would be released from detention.

The bill would make it easier to prosecute human smugglers and would impose mandatory minimum prison sentences on those convicted of human smuggling. It would hold shipowners and operators to account when their ships were used for human smuggling. It would reduce the attraction of coming to Canada by way of illegal human smuggling by limiting the ability of those who would do so to take advantage of our generous immigration system and social services.

Cracking down on human smugglers is an important element of protecting the integrity of our immigration system. That is why these provisions have been included in Bill C-31.

Aside from human smuggling, the bill aims to strengthen Canada's immigration system in two other very specific ways. The bill would further build on the long needed reforms to the asylum system that were passed in Parliament in June 2010 as part of the Balanced Refugee Reform Act. These new measures would further accelerate the processing of refugee claims for nationals from designated countries that generally would not produce refugees. They would also reduce the options available to failed claimants to delay their removal from Canada.

It may surprise some of my hon. colleagues to know that Canada receives more asylum claims from countries in Europe than from either Africa or Asia. Last year alone, almost one-quarter of all refugee claims made in Canada were made by European Union nationals. That should give us pause for thought.

EU countries have strong human rights and democratic systems similar to our own and yet they produced almost 25% of all the refugee claims in this country in 2011. That is up 14% from the previous year. At a time of economic uncertainty for most people, this state of affairs comes with a large price tag for Canadian taxpayers.

In recent years, virtually all EU claims were withdrawn, abandoned or rejected. In 2010-11 alone, this was the case for 93% of European Union claims. If this trend continues, that means that the unfounded claims from the 5,800 European Union nationals who sought asylum last year will cost Canadian taxpayers nearly $170 million.

The refugee reform measures in Bill C-31 would help prevent abuse of the system and would ensure that all of our refugee determination processes are as streamlined as possible. This would be accomplished without affecting the fairness of the system and without compromising any of Canada's international and domestic obligations with respect to refugees.

Finally, the bill would enable the introduction of mandatory biometric collection for screening temporary resident, visa and study and work permit applicants, which would strengthen our immigration program in a number of ways.

This component of the legislation and its corresponding regulations that would follow would allow the government to make it mandatory for temporary resident visa applicants to Canada to have their photographs and fingerprints taken as part of their temporary resident visa applications.

Because biometric data is more reliable and less prone to forgery or theft than documents, these measures would strengthen immigration screening, enhance security and help reduce fraud.

It is no surprise to me that this important bill has received widespread support. This is what immigration lawyer, Julie Taub, had to say:

I’m an immigration and refugee lawyer in Ottawa, and a former member of the Immigration and Refugee Board. I can tell you from theory and practice that the current refugee system is very flawed, and cumbersome, and definitely needs an overhaul. It takes up to two years to have a claimant have his hearing. And there are far too many bogus claims that clog up the system, and use very expensive resources at a cost to Canadian taxpayers.

I also like the fact that he is going to fast-track these claims, so they do not clog up the refugee system for genuine claimants. I have clients who’ve been waiting since 2009, early 2010 to have their hearing, and I represent many claimants from, let’s say Africa, the Mid East countries, who base their claim on gender violence or Christian persecution in certain Middle East countries, and they have to wait, because the system is so clogged up with what I consider to be unfounded claims from citizens of safe country of origin.

As Canadian parliamentarians, we should all be committed to maintaining Canada's generous and fair immigration system, which is the envy of the world. We need to ensure that such an important system is always operating in our national interest and as effectively and efficiently as possible. That means that we need to preserve what works well in the immigration system and improve the system in areas where there are shortcomings.

The measures in Bill C-31 are necessary to protect the integrity of our immigration system. I support Bill C-31 and I encourage all of my colleagues in the House to join me in doing so.

Air Service Operations Legislation March 13th, 2012

Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask my hon. colleague if she could please explain the necessity the expedite the passage of this bill?

Curling February 16th, 2012

Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House with the pleasure of congratulating Team Jacobs from the Soo Curlers Association in Sault Ste. Marie.

Soo Curlers hosted the Dominion 2012 Northern Ontario Men's Curling Championship from February 4-11.

On February 10 in my riding, Team Jacobs scored a very rare eight-ender in the sixth end of the semi-final against Team Phillips. Jacobs had been leading 6-3 at the time and had the hammer, with the eight rocks in the ring forcing an early handshake.

The final game against Team Jakubo ended in a 9-2 score and gave Team Jacobs the Northern Ontario Championship title for the third year in a row.

Brad Jacobs and his teammates, E.J. Harnden, Ryan Harnden and Scott Seabrook, now prepare for the Brier that is set to take place in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan from March 3-11. I boldly predict that Team Jacobs will win this year's Brier.

Hurry hard, Team Jacobs.

Petitions February 10th, 2012

Mr. Speaker, the residents of my riding of Sault Ste. Marie bring forward the following petition to abolish the long gun registry.

The petitioners draw the attention of the House to the long gun registry being an unnecessary burden on honest and law-abiding hunters and state that it does not reduce crime or stop deadly weapons from falling into the hands of criminals. Therefore, the petitioners call upon Parliament to abolish the long gun registry.

Business of Supply February 9th, 2012

Mr. Speaker, I would like to bring to the member's attention that in my riding of Sault Ste. Marie, Essar Steel Algoma is owned by an Indian company and TenarisAlgomaTubes by an Argentinian company. These companies were going to go out of business. No Canadian company stepped up to the plate to make the huge investment required. There are 3,900 unionized Canadian jobs in my riding of Sault Ste. Marie because of foreign investment.

I would like to ask the member opposite what he would say to the hard-working residents of Sault Ste. Marie who are working for majority foreign-owned companies.

Team Ontario Golf Program February 8th, 2012

Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House today with the pleasure of congratulating one of my young constituents on a great achievement.

Zaafina Naqvi has accomplished an outstanding feat at the young age of 14. This past July, she won the Ontario bantam golf championship held in Cambridge, Ontario.

She is the first resident of Sault Ste. Marie to ever earn a berth in the prestigious under 17 Team Ontario golf program. This program provides support, guidance and training to aspiring athletes. I would like to extend my congratulations to Zaafina for earning a place in this prestigious program. On behalf of the Canadian government, I would also like to wish her the best of luck in her training.

As an avid golfer myself, I am happy to see such excellence displayed by members of my own constituency. I hope that this program provides her with the tools necessary to take her golf game to the next level.

Ending the Long-Gun Registry Act February 7th, 2012

Madam Speaker, the member opposite stated that 92% of the police use the registry. My question is: How many use it by choice?

We know that the database is accessed automatically every time a car is pulled over for speeding. Does the member opposite think that if the datum shows that the owner of the vehicle does not have a registered long gun that the police should let his or her guard down? Does the member opposite think that the police should treat every circumstance as if there were a dangerous weapon available and that the long gun registry serves no useful purpose?

Ending the Long-gun Registry Act February 7th, 2012

Mr. Speaker, I did take the opportunity to meet with the chief of police in my riding. He did state that there was not one incident where the long gun registry provided any service to save any lives in Sault Ste. Marie.

He did tell me the registry is used, but the reality is it is used if the police pull over a vehicle. The software system automatically checks to see whether that person has a gun or not. If a police officer has to depend on that, then that is ridiculous.

Ending the Long-gun Registry Act February 7th, 2012

Mr. Speaker, I can assure the member that even though the speeches might sound the same, I believe every word that I am saying.

I represent the constituents of the riding of Sault Ste. Marie. My constituents elected me in large part based on our government's position on the long gun registry. An NDP member was defeated for that same reason. I stand by our government's position and I stand by the constituents of my riding of Sault Ste. Marie.