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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was canada's.

Last in Parliament October 2015, as Conservative MP for Willowdale (Ontario)

Lost his last election, in 2015, with 37% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Elimination of Partisan Government Advertising Act June 1st, 2015

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise today to speak on the subject of government advertising. I am proud to say that I am quite pleased with our government's accountability, responsibility, and transparency.

Let me just say that one of the main issues before us today is whether Bill C-544 would bring more accountability to our system of government. Making government more accountable and responsible to Canadians is a goal that we can all get behind, but it is not clear whether this bill would lead us in that direction. It includes new financial resources and administrative requirements that would not provide value for money for the taxpayer. As such, the government cannot support this legislation, and I urge all members to vote against it.

What is clear is that we already have a number of safeguards in place to ensure the integrity of advertising, which include robust planning and reporting mechanisms. Through the “Annual Report on Government of Canada Advertising Activities”, for example, we provide a summary of major campaigns, expenditures, and general information on the advertising and management process. This important accountability report is posted publicly for all Canadians to see. In addition, all allocations from the central advertising fund are reported quarterly on the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat's website.

We also ensure the integrity of advertising by ensuring that it is well coordinated and transparent. For example, a federal department must co-ordinate its advertising with the Privy Council Office and Public Works and Government Services Canada. As required by the procedures for the management of advertising, departments must align their advertising activities with government priorities, themes, and messages.

The government takes this duty to account for its activities and expenditures very seriously. We are intent on ensuring that every taxpayer dollar that we spend is spent wisely and openly.

I firmly believe that our actions speak for themselves. Indeed, over the past few years, the government has undertaken a number of measures to help strengthen accountability, transparency, and oversight in government operations. These measures include the development of a robust regime of a proactive disclosure of information on government operations by departments and agencies, which allows government and public sector officials to be held to account.

Another very important milestone was the implementation of the Federal Accountability Act of 2006 and its companion action plan. Through the Federal Accountability Act and action plan, we implemented numerous measures to make our public institutions more transparent and accountable. Together, these two documents provide assurance that the powers entrusted to the government are being exercised in the public interest.

The Federal Accountability Act includes a number of measures, but let me just focus on a few today.

Through the act, for example, we created a new standard of accountability for the financing of political activities. We did that by reducing the maximum annual contribution by individuals to political entities and by prohibiting unions and corporations from making political contributions. We also banned secret donations to political candidates by prohibiting electoral district associations and parties from transferring money to their candidates from a trust account.

We also strengthened the Access to Information Act by extending its reach and scope. As a result, more government institutions than ever before are subject to the act, including departments and agencies, crown corporations, and wholly owned subsidiaries.

We also strengthened the role of the Auditor General of Canada. Thanks to the Federal Accountability Act, the Auditor General now has the authority to follow the money by inquiring into the use of funds that individuals, institutions, and companies receive under a funding agreement with any federal department, agency, or crown corporation. This change has strengthened the role of the Auditor General as an independent and reliable source of information. It also helped to reassure Canadians that their government is using their tax dollars wisely.

In addition, under the act we strengthened auditing and accountability within departments by clarifying the managerial responsibilities of deputy heads within the framework of ministerial responsibility and by bolstering the internal audit function within departments and crown corporations.

In short, we have strengthened accountability in every corner of government and for all Canadians and businesses that receive government funding.

Canadians work hard, pay their taxes, and play by the rules, and they expect accountability and transparency from their government. This is why we continue to pursue opportunities and support efforts that promise to make our public institutions more transparent and accountable. This includes ensuring that Parliament and Canadians are better informed about public spending.

We have achieved this by improving financial reporting, which has admittedly changed significantly in recent years.

For example, each department and agency now publishes its own annual financial statement on the full nature and extent of its activities. This innovation has been in place since 2006, and it is one of the key ways the government demonstrates accountability for its use of public funds.

It has also contributed to Canada's leadership in financial reporting. Indeed, very few jurisdictions publish annual financial statements at the departmental level.

The government is committed to meeting the high expectations of Canadians, and we will continue to explore and implement new ways of providing accountability for Canadians. After all, accountability is the foundation of Canada's system of responsible government. It is key to assuring Parliament and Canadians that public resources are used effectively and efficiently.

The good news is that we have achieved a great deal. As the Prime Minister has said, “Canada now has one of the most accountable systems of government in the entire world and this is something Canadians are rightly proud of.”

This is indeed a proud record of achievement, and I can assure my hon. colleagues that supporting the bill before us today will not contribute to that record.

It is not clear whether its new administrative and financial resources requirements would provide value for money to taxpayers, as promised. I urge all members to join me in voting against the bill.

The Budget April 23rd, 2015

Mr. Speaker, this week our government delivered a balanced budget to Canadians, made possible through prudent leadership and a commitment to provide what matters most to Canadians.

Canadians know that budgets do not balance themselves and they know that sponsorship scandals and satellite offices around the country do not allow for balanced budgets.

Canadians do know that sensible and careful decisions provide room for tax cuts and a plan for the future that will benefit families, seniors, veterans and all Canadians.

The constituents of Willowdale know that lowering the amount of money that seniors over the age of 71 have to take out of their registered retirement income fund annually is important. They know that putting more money back into the pockets of families with children under the age of 18 allows them to provide what is best. They also know that reducing gridlock in Willowdale with the public transit fund will benefit the entire community.

Our economic action plan is working.

Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices Act March 23rd, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I heard the comments of my colleague. The member opposite does not quite understand that we are not targeting one culture or one cultural community, but those who use their culture as an excuse when practising these barbaric acts. People come to Canada to participate in a shared value, and these barbaric practices are certainly not our shared value.

Let me quote a human rights lawyer, Taima Al-Jayoush, who had this to say about the bill:

When we describe a crime as “barbaric” we are simply calling it what it is. No one should identify with it except the ones who have committed such a crime. It is not directed at any certain community.

Why will the opposition not stand up for these victims and take action? Since this is an important piece of legislation, it should not be playing a political game at this time. It should stand up for people's lives.

Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices Act March 12th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to speak to this bill. I am pleased to have an opportunity today to speak in support of Bill S-7, the zero tolerance for barbaric cultural practices act.

In the Speech from the Throne in October 2013, our government promised that it would ensure that early and forced marriage and other harmful cultural practices, such as polygamous marriages and so-called honour-based violence, do not occur on Canadian soil.

I might add that it is within my living memory that in our east Asian cultural tradition there were polygamous marriages. I can still remember my grandparents having a polygamous marriage, because that was the society of that time. However, over time, over the last two generations, that has changed. We can change it.

Bill S-7 delivers on that promise. The zero tolerance for barbaric cultural practices act demonstrates that Canada's openness and generosity does not extend to early and forced marriage, polygamy, or other types of barbaric cultural practices.

Canada will not tolerate any type of violence against women or girls, including spousal abuse, violence in the name of so-called honour, or other mostly gender-based violence. Those found guilty of these crimes are severely punished under Canada's criminal laws.

This bill would establish a national minimum age of 16 for marriage to protect our most vulnerable in society, our children, from early marriages. The minimum age of 16 for marriage currently only exists in federal legislation pertaining to Quebec. As a result, the common law applies to the rest of Canada, which is usually interpreted as a minimum age of 14 for boys and 12 for girls, but could be as low as 7. This bill would now set 16 as the minimum age for marriage across Canada.

The Civil Marriage Act would also be amended to codify two existing legal requirements for a valid marriage. Currently, these requirements are legislated only in Quebec: the legal requirement for free and enlightened consent to marriage, and the requirement for ending an existing marriage prior to entering another. Consent is truly the most critical aspect of a lawful marriage.

This amendment would make it clear that no Canadians should ever be forced to marry against their will and complements certain amendments to the Criminal Code, which I will discuss.

The requirement for ending an existing marriage prior to entering another is consistent with section 2 of the Civil Marriage Act and the longstanding Criminal Code prohibition against bigamous and polygamous marriages.

Also in relation to polygamy, this bill proposes amendments to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act to specify that a permanent resident or foreign national is inadmissible on the grounds of practising polygamy in Canada. Under the current immigration law, non-citizens can only be removed in cases where there is a criminal conviction for practising polygamy or where there is a finding of misrepresentation.

To eradicate this practice on Canadian soil, this bill would prohibit both temporary and permanent residents from practising polygamy in Canada and provide for the removal of non-citizens who practise polygamy in Canada without the need for a Criminal Code conviction or a finding of misrepresentation.

Coming back to the issues of early and forced marriage, this bill proposes several amendments to the Criminal Code to better prevent Canadians from being victimized in these ways. The proposed amendments in this bill fill a gap in the existing legislative scheme by creating offences that focus on the active participation in the forced or underage marriage ceremony itself.

The bill proposes two new offences that would extend criminal liability to anyone who knowingly celebrates, aids, or participates in a marriage ceremony where one or both of the spouses is either under the age of 16 or is marrying against his or her will. This would cover both those who conduct the marriage ceremony and those, such as family members, who have full knowledge that a marriage is forced or involves a child under 16 and actively participate in the marriage ceremony. However, to be prosecuted for this offence, a person would need to have engaged in some conduct specifically directed toward helping an early or forced marriage to occur.

The proposed offences address the social harm caused by the public sanctioning of these harmful practices. Studies have indicated that the vast majority of victims of a forced marriage are subjected to violence within that marriage. Similarly, girls who marry early are at far greater risk of experiencing complications in pregnancy and childbirth, including higher maternal mortality rates, experiencing violence in the home, and having their education disrupted.

Underage marriage violates girls' basic human rights and prevents them from fully participating in society.

These two new offences would be punishable by a maximum of five years' imprisonment. The bill also proposes to make it an offence to remove a child from Canada for the purpose of a forced or underage marriage outside of Canada. This government is aware of disturbing cases of Canadian children being taken abroad for forced or early marriage.

Child protection officials who believe that the child would be removed from Canada for a forced or underage marriage currently lack the requisite legal tools to intervene and prevent the child's removal from Canada. The bill would change that by adding the new offences related to an underage or forced marriage ceremony to the list of offences in the provisions that makes it a crime to remove a child from Canada.

I am confident that these proposed amendments would help prevent and deter the removal of children for such harmful practices and effectively punish those perpetrators who violate the law.

Moreover, the bill has prevention measures to protect vulnerable Canadians and residents from early or forced marriage.

The bill also proposes to introduce specific forced or underage marriage peace bonds to allow potential victims to seek protection against a pending forced or underage marriage. An order under the new peace bond provision could specifically prohibit people subject to the order from making arrangements or agreements for the forced or underage marriage of victims; require people subject to the order to surrender passports in their possession; prohibit them from leaving the country or taking a child out of the country; and require them to participate in a family violence counselling program.

Finally, in the area of violence motivated by so-called honour, it bears repeating that all forms of violence, whatever the motive, are fully prohibited by the criminal law. There is no need to create specific offences for honour-based violence.

The defence of provocation has been raised in several so-called honour killing cases in Canada on the basis that the victim's behaviour such as choosing one's own marriage partner or making other such personal decisions for oneself without a family or a husband's approval amounted to a wrongful act or insult that, when considered in the context of the cultural community to which they belonged, provoked the accused to kill due to a sense of damaged honour or reputation. To date, the defence has not been successful in so-called honour killings in Canada, however, the defence remains available to be raised in similar cases in the future.

Canada will not tolerate early and forced marriage and other harmful practices taking place in our country.

Rise in anti-Semitism February 24th, 2015

Mr. Chairman, I am so appreciative of all my hon. colleagues being awake at this late hour to listen to the last speaker. Not that I wish it for myself, but as the last speaker, I have the pleasure of leaving the last thought this evening on this important debate.

As my colleagues have described, the troubling growth in anti-Semitism around the world is an urgent and pressing issue that we must face internationally and also here at home.

I would therefore like to focus my remarks on what we have done and what we must continue to do in Canada to prevent the spread of anti-Semitism in our own country.

Our nationally standardized hate crime data initiative indicates that Jews are the most likely religious group to be targeted for hate crimes, even though Jews constitute less than 1% of the Canadian population. Therefore, the government has rightly taken a firm approach to organizations that promote hatred of Jews, that publicly deny the historical reality and the extent of the extermination of the Jews during the Holocaust, or that apologize for terrorism.

Canada also realizes that too often not enough is done to ensure that our societies, and especially younger generations, remember the lessons of the Holocaust, and so the Government of Canada has undertaken nationally a series of important actions to educate Canadians and to protect at-risk communities.

Among the actions at the national level, in 2011 Canada created the communities at risk: security infrastructure program, which allows not-for-profit organizations to apply for funding to improve security infrastructures and systems in places of worship and community centres that are vulnerable to hate-motivated crime. This program has been leveraged by at-risk communities, including Canada's Jewish community, to ensure a greater sense of safety in places of worship and community gatherings.

Right in my own riding of Willowdale, a Jewish synagogue and Jewish schools were the subject of some racist remarks and graffiti. They have benefited from this program by strengthening their security on their perimeter and on their premises.

The Canadian government also continues to develop its systems for collecting data on hate crimes. Combined with law enforcement training, these systems allow the authorities to better address violence against groups at risk, including the Jewish community.

In addition to these measures, the government has examined Canada's own troubled history with anti-Semitism. In particular, it is important that Canada openly examine its role in implementing the so-called “none is too many” policy that blocked Jewish refugees from finding safe haven in Canada as they fled Nazi Germany in the face of state-driven anti-Semitism. This shameful Canadian policy was represented by the turning away of the MS St. Louis, whose passengers were Jewish refugees, many of whom ended up being returned to Nazi-occupied Europe to their deaths in the Holocaust.

The Holocaust is a key lesson in the history of anti-Semitism, a lesson we cannot forget. Canada's national Holocaust monument will be inaugurated in Ottawa this fall to remember the victims of the Holocaust and pay tribute to the survivors.

The monument will encourage Canadians to reflect on the responsibilities we each have to protect human rights and dignity. Moreover, the Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg, which was opened in September 2014, houses a permanent exhibit devoted to the Holocaust.

I say to my honourable colleagues that people should not be singled out just because of their faith or ethnicity, and we cannot ignore the fact that unimpeded anti-Semitism leads down a very dangerous path, as demonstrated recently in Europe. As the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness said two weeks ago at the United Nations in New York, those who threaten the existence of the Jewish people are a grave threat to all of us.

Let me end by saying that I also had the pleasure of accompanying the Prime Minister to Israel and walking through the Holocaust Museum. One of the most poignant messages that I saw said, “The Righteous Among the Nations”. In Hebrew it is “khassidey umot ha-olam”. It refers to non-Jews who risked their lives during the Holocaust to save Jews from Nazi extermination. Let me just say that it did not include people from western Europe at the time.

China had two diplomats, Pan Junshun and Dr. Ho Feng-shan, who issued over 5,000 visas for Viennese to use as they transited to a third country.

In addition, Japanese diplomat Chiune Sugihara did the same for the Viennese at the time.

As Canadians and as non-Jews, let us take that as our example and guiding light. We need to stop anti-Semitism. We need to lead the way to save what we all cherish and to live in harmony in the world.

Anti-terrorism Act, 2015 February 23rd, 2015

Mr. Speaker, our parliamentary system, our democratic process, is precisely that.

We are only at second reading. From this, we go to a committee where the bill will be vigorously debated. Any proposal or amendment that is reasonable and reflects the will of Canadians will certainly be considered. Not only is there parliamentary debate on this issue, but even before it passes into law it will still have to go to a Senate review.

Our parliamentary process, our democracy, is vigorous enough to review all of the provisions of this bill.

Anti-terrorism Act, 2015 February 23rd, 2015

Mr. Speaker, the purpose of this anti-terrorism legislation sort of falls into a well-known English expression, which says that “An ounce of prevention is better than a pound of care”.

If there is suspicion of a terrorist act, we need to address and curtail or stop that before it happens. Therefore, the oversight of the judicial body that we have, which includes the specialists in law enforcement and security, would already be addressed before this sort of thing happens.

The purpose of this is to address those cases, to prevent them from happening and harming Canadians and our democracy.

Anti-terrorism Act, 2015 February 23rd, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased today to join the debate on Bill C-51, anti-terrorism act, 2015.

Today's world is a dark and dangerous place. We find existential threats to western civilization all around us. We saw the manifestation of these threats in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu and in Ottawa this past October.

However, Canada is not in isolation. Terrorists have struck the hearts of Paris, Sydney, Copenhagen, and Brussels. This past weekend, jihadi terrorists called for attacks on shopping centres around the world, including the iconic West Edmonton Mall.

It is clear that jihadi terrorists have declared war on Canada and her allies. This war is not only against our physical existence and our people, but also our values. These terrorists hate us for the very reason that Canada is the greatest country in which to live, work, and raise a family. They dislike our equality; they dislike our modernity; and they dislike our prosperity.

However, Canada will not be intimidated by threats from any terrorist organization, which is why we are not sitting on the sidelines. Instead, we are joining our allies in supporting the international coalition in a fight against ISIL.

Our national security and law enforcement agencies are continually monitoring for threats against Canada and its citizens and will take the appropriate actions to ensure the safety of all Canadians. Terrorist threats such as these demonstrate why our Conservative government is committed to passing the anti-terrorist act, 2015, to further protect Canadians against jihadi terrorists who seek to destroy Canada.

In line with measures taken by our allies, we are taking additional action to ensure that our law enforcement and national security agencies can counter those who advocate terrorism, prevent terrorist travel and the efforts of those who seek to use Canada as a recruiting ground, and disrupt planned attacks on Canadian soil. The bill would also make it easier for law enforcement agencies to detain suspected terrorists before they can harm Canadians, and toughen penalties for violating court-ordered conditions on terrorist suspects.

Recent events in Canada and around the world remind us that we live in a dangerous world where terrorists target anyone who does not think like them. That is why our Conservative government is intent on giving law enforcement agencies the tools they need in order to counter these threats.

Much has been said by the NDP about the new Criminal Code offence in the legislation of promoting terrorism. It has suggested simultaneously that this power would be overly broad and would not accomplish anything. How it performs these verbal gymnastics is a matter for another day.

However, allow me to say that on this side of the House we believe that jihadi terrorism is an act of war and not a human right.

Allow me to give an example of how this power would work in practice.

Let us say that a terrorist entity puts on YouTube a terrorist propaganda video that concludes with the words “Attack Canada” on the screen, and, through investigation, an individual in Toronto has been identified as the person posting the video. There is no description of the kinds of attacks to be carried out.

Under the current law, counselling the commission of a terrorist offence is criminal, whether the attack is carried out or not. However, the counselling must relate to committing a specific terrorism offence, for example, counselling someone to kill someone for a political, religious, or ideological purpose. That would be the terrorist offence of committing an indictable offence that constitutes a terrorist activity.

In this scenario, there is insufficient detail in the video to allow one to conclude that the person is counselling a specific terrorist offence under the Criminal Code to kill someone, as opposed to disrupting an essential service. Under the new powers in the anti-terrorism act, 2015, posting such a video with its call to carry out attacks in Canada in general, which is a form of active encouragement, would now be caught by the criminal law.

Further, the NDP has also alleged that there are insufficient grounds to justify broadening the powers of law enforcement agencies to lower the threshold for terrorism peace bonds.

Allow me to give another example of why this power is urgently needed.

Let us say that the RCMP is conducting an ongoing investigation of an individual, after being alerted by a family member that he is planning to travel to Syria to participate in terrorist training. After an initial investigation, he explains that his wish is only to visit a dying relative. The RCMP discovers social media web postings to the effect that he is planning to leave very soon for Syria, but no other information is available. He has not made any travel plans. There is not enough evidence to support a criminal charge. However, the RCMP wishes to obtain a terrorist peace bond to stop him from travelling.

Under the current law, the RCMP can seek a peace bond if there are reasonable grounds to fear that an individual will commit a terrorism offence. While the act of leaving Canada for the purpose of receiving terrorism training is a terrorism offence, he has not yet attempted to leave for Syria. The current requirement of “will” may be too high of a threshold to meet with the available evidence in this case.

With the proposed changes, the RCMP would need to satisfy the court that it has reasonable grounds to fear that the individual in question may commit a terrorism offence. Under this new lower threshold, the court would more likely find that the oral testimony of the family member and the public social media posting to be sufficient to order the terrorism peace bond. In this case, if the peace bond were granted, it is likely that the court would consider imposing conditions that the individual report to the police and not leave the jurisdiction without permission, surrender his passport, and, if available in the jurisdiction, provide for electronic monitoring and/or counselling.

These are concrete examples of what the legislation would do. It is absolutely necessary that these measures be put in place to keep Canadians safe.

While the Liberals have a checkered history, full of opposition to common-sense national security policies, like voting against combatting the so-called Islamic State, I am pleased to see that they have indicated their support for this legislation. Conversely, I would note that the NDP has stayed consistent with its soft-on-terror approach and will vote against this legislation. This is similar to its previous votes to allow convicted terrorists to keep their citizenship, and to stop travelling abroad for terrorist purposes from becoming a criminal offence.

I certainly hope that my remarks, as well as those of my colleague, will have changed a few minds on the other side of the House. All Canadians are watching in anticipation to see whether members on the other side of the House will join our Conservative government in taking responsible action to protect our national security.

Multiculturalism February 19th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, today lunar new year is celebrated across the country by many Canadians, including Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, Tibetan, and other communities from East Asia.

Just last night our Prime Minister joined thousands in Richmond, B.C., to mark the arrival of the lunar new year. The Minister for Multiculturalism and the Minister of State for Multiculturalism also joined large community celebrations in Toronto. Over the next few weeks, my parliamentary colleagues and I will take part in celebrations across the country, including here on Parliament Hill.

As we mark the year of the ram or goat, I would like to wish all Canadians peace, prosperity, and good health for the year ahead.

Citizenship and Immigration January 30th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, during a three-hour-long meeting with the Iranian community, many comments were made and some of them might have been misunderstood. That is obviously not what I meant. As an immigrant to this country, no one understands better than me the great opportunity that Canada offers to so many.