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

Firearms Registry May 15th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, our Conservative government is committed to safe and sensible firearms policies. That is why we were pleased to fulfill our commitment to end the wasteful and ineffective long gun registry once and for all. However, owing to a bureaucratic loophole, it was still possible to access outdated copies of the long gun registry through access to information legislation.

The will of Parliament is clear: all copies of the registry must be destroyed. Not surprisingly, the NDP has come out swinging to oppose any measure that would make it harder for them to bring back the long gun registry, which the NDP leader has promised to do.

I call on the members from Timmins—James Bay and Thunder Bay—Rainy River to do the right thing, to do what northern Ontarians want, and support our measures. Canadians know that only our Conservative government stands up for the rights of gun owners. If those members vote to keep gun registry data, their constituents will know what to do in October.

Business of Supply May 11th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I too, as a member of Parliament, have veterans come to my office. As a member of Parliament, I provide the direction they need and the assistance they need.

Through Veterans Affairs Canada, the programs and services are in place. As I mentioned in my comments, I had an opportunity to attend a breakfast the other morning where two veterans spoke. These are veterans who have achieved those services. They knew where to go, and they had assistance.

I think it is the role of all of us as members of Parliament to make sure that we are reaching out to our veterans. I do that through my office, and my staff does that. I am sure the member opposite does that. It is the role of a member of Parliament.

I reiterate that the services are there, and our new legislation, Bill C-58, would expand upon those services. It is a fantastic piece of legislation that would benefit our veterans. I would really like to thank our Minister of Veterans Affairs for bringing this bill forward and his predecessors for their work in bringing this forward. It was one of the recommendations brought forward by the Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs, on which I am so proud to serve.

Business of Supply May 11th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I would point out that the Liberals and the NDP are providing misinformation with respect to this. For Veterans Affairs, the budget is established. It is a Conservative budget. It is established to ensure that there are enough funds for every veteran that requires service. During the course of the year, over those nine years, six times, maybe even nine times, we asked for additional fund authorizations throughout the year in the event that we needed service.

What happens a lot of times with a budget is that a service simply is not required. It is very difficult to predict exactly how much service is going to be required. It is those authorizations, which totalled almost the exact amount the member opposite referred to, that were, in fact, not required. Every single veteran that required service during that time period received service. There was never a situation where service was not received because of a lack of funds. That is a fallacy.

Business of Supply May 11th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Etobicoke Centre.

I am proud to be a member of the Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs. I actually asked to be on this committee because I care very much about the well-being of our Canadian Armed Forces, and I care because I am an air force brat, travelling the world with my parents and siblings for 17 years, my father having had a distinguished 37-year career in the Royal Canadian Air Force.

Both of my sisters and brother-in-law also served their country very well, again, in the Royal Canadian Air Force. My immediately family has over 100 years in the Canadian Armed Forces. I am the only one who did not have military service, so as a member of the veterans affairs committee, this is my way of giving back to armed forces and veterans to the very best of my ability. As a committee, we have recommended substantial improvements, many of which the government has adopted.

Canadians recently marked the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the Netherlands and Victory in Europe Day, or VE Day, as we call it. I know a number of our colleagues had the opportunity to be there and experience that. We all saw Canada's veterans being welcomed with open arms by grateful Dutch citizens. We saw friendships rekindled and happy reunions, along with very moving ceremonies.

We also know that things did not simply go back to normal for many of our brave Canadian soldiers, sailors and airmen and women when they returned home after the war was over.

Certainly for Canadian Armed Forces members today, a homecoming may not be the easy return to the routine one might expect. Rather, for some, they return to a different world. A loving home, one hopes, but a jarring new reality shaped by severe and perhaps permanent injury or illness. Home may now be a place of stress, of uncertainty, of what may seem to be insurmountable challenges. That is as true for family members as it is for the full-time armed forces member, the reservist or the veteran.

This was painfully clear last week, as I attended the second annual Sam Sharpe breakfast, held in his honour to recognize the struggle of Canadian servicemen and women who suffer from operational stress injuries and to highlight individuals and organization dedicated to assisting Canadian Forces members, their families and veterans.

Many may not be aware, but Lieutenant-Colonel Sam Sharpe was first elected to the House of Commons in 1908 as the sitting member for Ontario North at the start of World War I. After suffering mental injuries on the front, he returned to Canada and took his own life on May 25, 1918, at a Montreal hospital.

During the breakfast, we heard two very emotional stories of how PTSD impacted the lives of two of our veterans and how, with the help of services provided through Veterans Affairs, they were managing their PTSD, although, and this message was very clear, they would never be the same.

The people in the Government of Canada have a duty to such brave men and women in need of immediate and perhaps lifelong assistance. They must know that we are here for them. They must never doubt the intensity or sincerity of our care, compassion and respect.

I know I speak for all members in this place when I say that while politics may differ or approaches, ultimately every member of Parliament, from the government and the opposition benches, supports our veterans and expects the highest level of assistance to those in need.

That said, I am concerned with the political undertones of the NDP motion. I am troubled that the New Democrats have proposed this language a month after our government tabled the largest improvement to veterans benefits and supports since forming government. While I agree with the spirit of the motion and the vast majority of what is said in it, I am disappointed with the New Democrats for their continued political manoeuvring, using the noble cause of supporting Canada's veterans.

Perhaps many know, last week our government tabled economic action plan 2015 act. In particular, there is a section that proposes a series of new benefits for veterans and families affected by injury and illness sustained during service to Canada.

This bill also presents a welcome statement of purpose for the new veterans charter, one that goes far beyond the motion being debated here today and that would be formally legislated and approved by both Houses of Parliament. It reads:

The purpose of this Act is to recognize and fulfill the obligation of the people and Government of Canada to show just and due appreciation to members and veterans for their service to Canada. This obligation includes providing services, assistance and compensation to members and veterans who have been injured or have died as a result of military service and extends to their spouses or common-law partners or survivors and orphans. This Act shall be liberally interpreted so that the recognized obligation may be fulfilled.

I hope the member for New Westminster—Coquitlam will support this purpose clause contained in Bill C-58 when the time comes to vote for it in Parliament in the coming weeks.

I was proud to have played a part in the unanimous report of the Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs. So many of the recommendations have been adopted by the government, including adding a new retirement benefit so that veterans have stable, reliable monthly income after age 65.

I want to make something very clear in this debate. Our government has a tremendous obligation to provide assistance to members and veterans of our forces who have been injured as a result of military service. We have an obligation as well to the families of those injured while in service.

I would like to take a few moments to highlight the new retirement income security benefit, which is arguably the largest of the new benefits we have introduced as a government over the past few months. The new retirement income security benefit would directly address this issue for moderately to severely disabled veterans and survivors. Beginning at age 65, eligible veterans would continue to receive monthly benefits totalling at least 70% of Veterans Affairs Canada's financial benefits received before the age of 65. This benefit would be determined on a case-by-case basis, taking into account other sources of income beyond the age of 65.

The key word here is “security”. As per our government's veteran-centred approach, potential recipients in receipt of financial benefits administered by Veterans Affairs would be contacted before they reached the age of 65 to ensure a smooth transition to that security. For disabled Canadian Armed Forces veterans nearing 65, that would mean being better able to save for retirement and anticipate future earnings. Further, when that veteran passed on, his or her survivor would continue to receive approximately 50% of this lifelong monthly payment.

This was one of the key recommendations made by the Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs, and I am so pleased that the government acted swiftly to include it. I look forward to the recommendations being put forward and passed by the government.

Lest we forget.

Business of Supply May 11th, 2015

We opened 600.

Taxation May 6th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, our government makes no apologies for ensuring middle class Canadians are aware of the measures that put more money back in their pockets.

For example, we want Canadians to know about the new family tax cut and enhanced universal child care benefit, which will benefit 100% of families with children, the vast majority of benefits going to low and middle-income families

The Liberal leader's plan will do the exact opposite. Instead of a family tax cut, he will bring in a family tax hike.

Unlike the NDP or the Liberals, Canadians like those in my riding of Sault Ste. Marie can depend upon this government to leave more money in their pockets.

Retirement Congratulations April 29th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, today I would like to recognize the retirement of two significant role models who have served the city of Sault Ste. Marie: Mr. Joe Fratesi, the outgoing CAO and Mr. Bill Freiburger, outgoing commissioner of finance and treasurer.

Joe served as city counsellor for ward 6 for three terms, from 1976 to 1982. He has also worked as the longest serving mayor, from 1985 to 1996, and as the city's longest serving CAO, since 1996. Joe is someone I have worked alongside in my capacity as a city counsellor and in my role as an MP. It has been a privilege.

Under Bill's watch, over 30 years in the finance department, the Sault's city services have been among the highest and taxes among the lowest in northern Ontario. For that, I am grateful.

Cheers to their retirement. I thank them both for their great advice and service throughout the years.

Taxation April 20th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, Canadians are not ready to replace this Conservative government. Canadians know that they can count on this Conservative government to keep taxes low and provide support to hard-working families. They also know that both the NDP and the Liberals, if given the chance, would raise taxes and increase the bureaucracy.

Our plan for families is opposed by both the NDP and the Liberals. They oppose our family tax cut and enhanced universal child care benefit. Our plan is helping 100% of families with children and putting almost $2,000 back in their pocket.

Families and businesses in my riding of Sault Ste. Marie are eagerly anticipating what further support the Minister of Finance has for Canadian families in tomorrow's budget, and I know they will be well pleased.

Rail Transportation April 1st, 2015

Mr. Speaker, for over a century Algoma Central Railway has played a significant part in the northern Ontario transportation network, providing passenger train service to numerous people in this area. The ACR runs almost 500 km between Sault Ste. Marie and Hearst. In particular, it has served the canoeists, snowmobilers, cottagers and tourists who wish to travel within this beautiful region.

Could the Minister of Transport please update the House on the latest action our government is taking on this important file?

Veterans Affairs March 31st, 2015

Mr. Speaker, as part of our responsibility to those who sacrificed, our government places the highest priority on making sure that veterans and their families have the support and services they need when they need them.

Yesterday, our Conservative government announced the critical injury benefit, which would provide a $70,000 tax-free award for Canadian Armed Forces members and veterans who endure sudden and severe injury or illness while in the line of duty. This benefit is in recognition of the immediate stress and hardship endured by our brave men and women in uniform.

I am immensely proud of the leadership of our Prime Minister and the Minister of Veterans Affairs, who are ensuring that Canadian veterans and their families are treated with the care, compassion, and respect they so deserve.