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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

The Budget February 13th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, the economic cycle has its ups and downs. The last down cycle was in 2008, and if people had invested in the stock market they would have seen their stocks go down about 30%. Rather than using fairly draconian measures to bring the economy out of that down cycle, we have come up with a gradual way.

We cannot turn on a dime. A certain amount of time is needed to bring our budget to the country. These gradual changes are a steady method to make changes rather than making dramatic changes that would hurt the economy.

The Budget February 13th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, first I wish to indicate that I will be sharing my time with my colleague, the member for Nipissing—Timiskaming.

When I was a university student, one of the first words my professor in the economics department said was, “You cannot spend more than what you have taken in”. Economics is a very simple science. We have to balance what we take in with what we spend.

A couple of days ago, the finance minister indicated very clearly that we need to achieve a balanced budget and that it will be done through job creation, economic growth, and ensuring the long-term prosperity of Canada.

Let me also explain to members opposite, if they do not understand, microeconomics and macroeconomics. Microeconomics has to do with one's basic household budget. We cannot spend more than we earn. Businesses also cannot spend more than they earn, or else they go bankrupt.

I have served in public companies in the past. I have had to stand in front of my shareholders every year to explain the company's strategy to achieve a balanced budget and to put it in a profitable position year after year.

I think the minister has done an excellent job outlining to the nation, to corporate Canada, if we treat Canada as a corporation, in a macroeconomic sense, that we cannot spend more than we take in. I think that is the basic lesson we have to learn about the economy of this country.

In this balanced budget, there is another side that is not being explained at all by the members of the opposition. I do not think they quite understand the concept of assets and liabilities.

The country's assets are our human resources, our natural resources, and our ability to educate our youth so that they can carry on building this nation. Where we cannot internally generate these assets or wealth, we could have policies to bring in immigrants, entrepreneur immigrants, or we could set the most favourable, business-friendly conditions in Canada to attract those types of assets to Canada.

On the liability side, we have to spend in a measured way so that we do not overspend what we have. We can argue that, yes, we can sometimes, in a stimulus way, spend a little bit more, as we did in 2008-09, by borrowing from the future. However, at the end of the day, we have to balance the budget. That is absolutely key to the long-term survival of the economy of this country.

Let me drill down a bit to help my friends across the way understand what is needed to maintain these sustainable economic conditions.

We need to create a business-friendly environment. We need to have safe families. We need to have safe communities. We need to have healthy families. We need to educate our youth from day one until the point that they can contribute to our society. We need to have a stable government. We cannot be changing a government every year or every two years, as we have witnessed in Italy or in Thailand, where in the last 50 years, they have had 30 changes of government. That is not a stable economy for a business-friendly environment.

We need to attract direct foreign investment. Some tools the government has to attract direct foreign investment are low taxes and an investment-friendly environment so that foreign business will say that Canada is a great place to do business, and they will come here and invest.

Let me share something about Canada's tax system. Since the Conservatives have been in power, we have reduced taxes 160 times, from consumption taxes to corporate taxes and just about every kind of tax we can think of.

Our general federal corporate tax in Canada is 15%. This is probably one of the lowest of the G7 and, as a matter of fact, it is the lowest in the world. I used to do business in Hong Kong, where the corporate tax rate is 16.5%. We are even lower than Hong Kong.

Bloomberg and the IMF have agreed that Canada is now one of the best places to do business. We provide our labour, our families, with a very generous universal health system. We have one of the best education systems, which attracts hundreds of thousands of international students, also benefiting our economy.

As far as stimulus to our small and medium-size enterprises, which are the backbone of our economy, our tax rate for businesses under $500,000 is about 11%. I cannot think of a country with that generous a tax regime.

Something that we talk about a lot, and the member opposite alluded to, is the government spends $1 and it generates a 50% more multiplier effect. There are many ways to look at this multiplier effect. In a business sense, if we look at the accelerated capital cost allowance, Canada has a very generous accelerated capital cost allowance. This allows businesses to modernize and to upgrade their equipment so they can be competitive in the 21st century.

We have mineral exploration credits so we could have these minerals more effectively explored and then sell them as products around the world. We have scientific research and development credits that assist our corporations to engage in research and innovation and eventually to take that quantum leap from innovation to commercialization. All of these we have to do effectively with the multiplier effect of our generous tax credit.

Opposition members seem to imply that our government is not compassionate with our spending policy. That is totally wrong. Let me share some of the examples where we are totally compassionate on this side.

We have the arts credit to encourage our youth to participate in the arts and to develop their literary and musical side. We have a fitness credit to encourage Canadians to be fit. We have a mass transit credit to encourage Canadians to use mass transit to reduce pollution in our environment. We have a live-in caregiver credit to allow seniors to live a dignified life in their own homes so they are not ending up in hospitals, old age homes, or totally alone. We have disability credits of many sorts that assist people who are hard of hearing, sight-impaired, and with other disabilities. All of these are totally compassionate measures of our government to recognize the needs of our citizens.

In the budget we also introduced the search and rescue volunteer credit to recognize the good work volunteers do in our society. There is also the adoption expense credit. We recognize that in today's world, many families are unable to have children, so we propose to reduce their adoption costs. There is also the medical expense credit.

The opposition also mentioned the immigrant investment program that we propose to delete. The immigrant investment program as it has existed for 30 years has not worked. At $800,000 it brings in only jobs like convenience stores, dry cleaners, and small grocery stores. These do not work. We will implement a new investor immigrant venture capital fund that would bring money into Canada and we would treat it almost like the CBC's Dragon's Den.

All the economic elements are there for a balanced budget.

Lunar New Year January 30th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, today is the last day of the Year of the Snake in the lunar calendar. Tomorrow, we welcome the Year of the Horse.

The lunar new year has become one of the most widely celebrated holidays in Canada, as millions of Canadians, including those of Chinese, Vietnamese, and Korean heritage, gather with family and friends to ring in the new year this evening. Many communities will put on events featuring lion and dragon dances, giving out red envelopes of lucky money, and enjoying multi-course meals. I encourage all Canadians to participate in these festivities and share in the diversity of our multicultural communities.

According to the Chinese zodiac, each one of the 12 years is dedicated to a specific animal and this year, it is the Year of the Horse. People born in the Year of the Horse are said to be energetic, active, hardworking, and elegant.

On behalf of the government, I wish all Canadians a happy, healthy, and prosperous Year of the Horse.

[Member spoke in Mandarin as follows:]

Xin nian kuai le.

And in Cantonese:

[Member spoke in Cantonese as follows:]

Sun nien fai lok.

Business of Supply December 9th, 2013

Mr. Speaker, if we take this money out of circulation in the economy, it hurts jobs. From an employer's standpoint, it is an additional cost of doing business. It would basically defer all of this to a future point. Therefore, if we put it in the hands of a pooled registered pension plan, it can in turn invest in the economy and make the economy grow and prosper.

Business of Supply December 9th, 2013

Mr. Speaker, again, I speak from my experience as a former business owner. When one has only a handful of employees, it is very hard to approach an insurance company and ask it to provide a pension plan. If I remember correctly, with a contribution of $20,000 to $40,000, one cannot make a pension plan out of that. One needs to have an annual contribution of almost a quarter of a million dollars or upwards in order to do that.

What the government is implementing is a pooled registered pension plan. It would be a regulated plan whereby the criteria for investment and so on would be regulated much like a bank or an insurance company. It would be portable so that as one moves in and out of jobs, or for a small business owner or the self-employed, the savings would be there and managed on a path to growth.

Business of Supply December 9th, 2013

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for his wisely put question.

There is the issue that one has to have the money first before one can spend it. I do not think the members opposite understand this simple principle. One cannot spend money one does not have.

Therefore, our government's attempt at lowering taxes, stimulating inflation, making sure that we can export our products around the world, stimulating the economy and creating jobs is a precondition to having these strong, viable pension plans. If we do not have that basic economic infrastructure, how can we have the money to spend on these nice retirement plans that they talk about?

Business of Supply December 9th, 2013

Mr. Speaker, on the question of trust, we all work better when we all trust each other, but with the Prime Minister on a very high level basis, we cannot address the issues at the ministerial level. On a regular basis, the federal Minister of Finance, the federal Minister of Health and the federal Minister of Transport individually consult with the provinces in order to arrive at the best decision and we certainly have the trust of many of the provinces that I have had occasion to visit.

Business of Supply December 9th, 2013

Mr. Speaker, in my business experience, I have run corporations that had a few professionals up to 400. In looking at Canada's overall retirement system, it is a very balanced system and there are many options for employees to choose from. For example, first and foremost, there are capital gains on the principal house someone lives in, but it is not taxed on disposition as one retires. Second, there is CPP and for those who fall under the threshold, they are supplemented by GIS and so on. There is also the pooled registered pension plan and the registered retirement savings plan. These are elements for retirement benefits.

Business of Supply December 9th, 2013

Mr. Speaker, as I have listened to my hon. colleagues across the way, it has become clear to me that the opposition party has no understanding when it comes to the economy. New Democrats simply fail to understand the negative economic impact their proposal would have on families and communities from coast to coast to coast.

May I suggest to my NDP colleagues some background on the current state of the global economy and the risks that still exist that could derail Canada's recovery.

When the global recession hit in 2008, our government helped steer Canada through immensely challenging economic times. Indeed, Canada performed better than most countries during the recession and throughout the recovery. However, despite this relatively strong economic performance, global economic challenges remain, especially in Europe and the United States, our largest trading partners.

The NDP might be interested to know that global growth has been much weaker than expected. Growth in advanced economies, such as Canada, has stabilized at a relatively slow pace, while growth in emerging markets has slowed. The Euro area continues to grapple with a sovereign debt crisis that weighs on consumer and business confidence.

That is not all. Just south of the border, slower than expected growth, as well as uncertainty about the stability of the United States' finances, pose the greatest risk to the Canadian economy. It is not surprising that for this reason, the International Monetary Fund recently revised downward its outlook for real GDP growth in both advanced and emerging economies. Indeed, the IMF projects that growth in advanced economies will average just under 1.2% in 2013.

We all know that Canada is a trading country. We depend on a strong global economy for exports, especially to the United States and Europe. While economic growth in Canada has remained resilient, Canada is not immune to weaker economic performances beyond its borders. For this reason, it is not surprising that global economic weakness has weighed on demand for our exports, which has put downward pressure on Canada's real GDP growth. Furthermore, this weak global economy has depressed the prices of our exports. This, combined with low inflation at home, has resulted in weaker nominal GDP growth.

Let me clarify what this means. It means that despite Canada's relatively strong economic performance, there are a number of economic challenges that remain in the global economy. While the NDP might prefer that Canada become a protectionist country, the reality is that economic conditions beyond our borders have impacted Canada and will continue to. Simply put, we are not out of the woods yet. Canada's economy, while improving, remains fragile.

On this point, I can speak from my own personal business experience in private practice as a business owner for over two decades. The last thing employers and workers want during uncertain economic times is higher taxes. Higher taxes on employers will reduce their ability to grow their businesses by investing in more equipment and by hiring more workers. In the case of workers, higher taxes take more of their hard-earned money out of their pockets and can cause hardship for families trying to make ends meet during turbulent economic times.

While the members of the NDP may not realize this, CPP contributions are a payroll tax on employers. To increase payroll taxes on employers, when the economy is still recovering, would not only harm Canada's economy but would kill jobs, putting many Canadians out of work.

The NDP does not seem to understand that we cannot tax our way to prosperity. Not only do New Democrats not seem to understand this in the context of the Canada pension plan, they also do not seem to understand it in the context of business tax rates.

Just a couple of weeks ago, when I asked point blank if he would increase taxes on Canadian businesses, the leader of the NDP again confirmed that he would. Why, when other countries around the world are lowering their tax burden on job creation, would the leader of the NDP commit to increasing taxes?

I am not sure that the leader of the NDP, or anyone among the NDP ranks, understands how crippling a tax hike can be to businesses, especially when they are still trying to cope with a fragile economic recovery. It is clear that the NDP members do not, because if they did understand, they might grasp the economic consequences of their own proposal.

Indeed, the NDP wants to expand the CPP. This would effectively hike payroll taxes for employers and take money out of the pockets of hard-working Canadians. In fact, this radical plan would severely stunt economic growth. The NDP plan would force contribution rates to increase by an average of $1,600 per year per person. This means that a family with two workers at home could be forced to pay as much as $2,600 in additional taxes every year.

Not only would the NDP proposal cost Canadians their hard-earned money, but it would also cost them their jobs. The NDP plan could kill up to 70,000 in Canada. I would like to ask the members of the NDP how they feel about killing 70,000 Canadians jobs.

Not only that, I would like to know how the NDP members feel about doing something to which small business owners are strongly opposed.

I am going to share with the NDP what business owners think of its proposal. It might be interested to learn that a recent survey by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business revealed: 65% of businesses said that they would freeze or cut salaries if the Canada pension plan contribution was increased; 48% said they would reduce investment in their business; and 42% said they would decrease the number of employees.

Do not just take my word for this. I wish to quote from an economist of the Canadian Business magazine, Larry MacDonald, regarding how expanding the CPP would adversely affect businesses:

There doesn't seem to be a real need for it....A jump in CPP premiums makes it more expensive for businesses to maintain a workforce and could lead to job losses.

Not only would this put Canadians out of work, but it would also make things worse for those who stayed employed.

At the end of the day, the money to pay workers needs to come from somewhere. If more is being taken in the form of payroll taxes, then how are employers going to pay their employees?

According to Laura Jones, the executive vice-president of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, “small businesses report that a mandatory CPP increase would force many to lower wages and even reduce their workforce”. Why, at the time when the economy is starting to rebound, would the NDP want to slap down workers by cutting their wages?

How would this help Canadian families? The only thing this would do is make it more difficult for Canadians to meet their mortgage payments, enrol their children in after school activities or, even worse, afford the grocery bills.

The NDP needs to consider the ramifications of its proposal, because it seems pretty clear that it has not given this much thought as to how this would impact employers and employees.

Not only does this proposal make no economic sense, but it overlooks the fact that Canada currently has a retirement income system that is the envy of the world.

Since 2006, our government has introduced a number of measures that have enhanced the well-being of all seniors by providing them with the services and financial support they need.

It seems clear the NDP has not taken note of this, so I will take some time to explain Canada's retirement income system to it and, perhaps, it will see why it is the envy of the world.

Through the Canada pension plan, we are providing a secure, indexed, lifelong retirement benefit. To ensure the CPP remains on solid footing, it is regularly reviewed by the federal and provincial governments, which are the joint stewards of the plan.

The NDP may be interested to know that the last financial review of the CPP, completed in 2012 by federal, provincial and territorial ministers of finance, confirmed that the plan was sustainable for at least the next 75 years. This is at the current contribution rate of 9.9% of pensionable earnings. In other words, there is no need to increase the contribution rate at this time.

Canada's retirement income system also provides tax assisted private savings opportunities to help encourage Canadians to accumulate additional savings for their retirement.

I am also talking about retirement savings plans, like the registered pension plan and the registered retirement savings plan, both of which are very efficient vehicles in helping retirees.

The RPPs are sponsored by employers on a voluntary basis and can be either a defined contribution or a defined benefit with employers and, in many cases, employees responsible for making these contributions.

The RRSPs are voluntary, individual, defined contribution savings plans. Employers may provided a group RRSP for employees and may remit a share of contributions on behalf of their employees.

Contributions to RPPs and RRSPs are deductible from income for tax purposes and investment income earned in these plans is not subject to income tax until withdrawn.

The cost of the tax assistance provided on RPP and RRSP savings is currently estimated at approximately $24 billion per year in forgone revenue for the federal government.

However, that is not all.

In addition, the tax-free savings accounts, a flexible, tax assisted savings account that was introduced by our government in budget 2008, is a valuable tool to help Canadians of all ages meet their savings goal. The tax-free savings account helps all adult Canadians, including seniors, to meet their ongoing savings needs on a tax deferred basis. This includes those who are over the age of 71 who are required to begin withdrawing from registered savings plans like the RRSP.

However, that is not the only way our government is helping Canadians ensure they have more money available when they retire. Since 2006, our government has introduced a number of measures to assist seniors and pensioners. Together, these measures are providing about $2.7 billion in additional annual targeted tax relief to those Canadians.

Let me review some of these tax saving measures.

We introduced the pension income splitting with a spouse. We increased the age credit amount by $2,000. There was a doubling of the pension income credit by $2,000. We increased the amount of the guaranteed income supplement that GIS recipients could earn through employment without any reduction in GIS benefits. We increased the age limit for RRSP to RRIF mandatory withdrawal conversion to age 71 from 69. We introduced the largest GIS increase in over 25 years which gave eligible low-income seniors get additional benefits of up to $600 for single seniors and $840 for couples, helping more than 680,000 seniors across Canada.

Overall, this action has helped remove more than 380,000 seniors from the tax role. In fact, in 2013 a single senior can earn at least $19,800 and a senior couple at least $39,700 before paying federal income tax.

There is still more. Seniors also benefit substantially from the many tax reduction measures our government has introduced. For example, we have reduced the goods and services tax to 5% from 7%. We have reduced the lowest personal income tax rate to 15% from 16%. We have increased the basic personal amount that all Canadians can earn without paying federal income tax. We have increased the upper limit of the two lowest personal income tax brackets, ensuring that a greater proportion of income is taxed at a lower rate.

Clearly, our Conservative government has a strong record of supporting Canada's seniors.

However, not only is our government helping the seniors of today, but we are also introducing measures to help seniors of tomorrow. I refer to the pooled registered pension plan. While the New Democrats are advancing a proposal that we kill jobs and hurt Canada's economy, our government is working with the provinces to introduce this new pension option. The pooled registered pension plan, the PRPP, is a large scale, broad-based pension arrangement. By pooling pension savings, the costs of administering these pension plans will be spread over a large group of people which will allow plan members to benefit from lower investment management costs.

PRPPs will be available to employees with or without the participating employer as well as to the self-employed. This is significant as 60% of Canadians do not have access to a workplace pension. However, with the PRPP, these Canadians will now have access to a low cost workplace pension for the very first time. That means more money in the pockets of Canadians when they reach retirement age.

Not only do PRPPs benefit employees, they also mark a significant advance for small and medium-sized businesses. Small and medium-sized businesses have, until now, experienced significant barriers to being able to offer a pension plan to their employees. However, under a PRPP, most of the administrative and legal burdens associated with a pension plan will be borne by a qualified, licensed third party administrator. Indeed, just this past September Manulife Financial became the first to be issued a licence to administer a federal PRPP.

Here is what Sue Reibel, senior vice-president, had to say about this:

PRPPs have been designed to make it simple and easy for Canadian small businesses to provide a cost effective retirement savings plan to their employees....Today’s approval marks an important first step in enabling many more businesses to help their employees put money away for their retirement...

The PRPP is an effective pension option for millions of Canadians who currently do not have access to a workplace pension plan. That is why we are urging the provinces that have not yet brought forward legislation to implement the PRPP to do so in a timely manner.

If the New Democrats really care about retirement security, they will not be advocating a proposal to kill Canadian jobs. Rather they should be supporting our government's effort to have every province in Canada implement legislation, making PRPPs available all across Canada.

Unfortunately, the NDP does not appear to think that the retirement security of Canadians is important. Believe it or not, the NDP actually voted against our government's legislation that introduced the federal PRPP framework. Indeed, the New Democrats opposed this legislation every step of the way, representing the interests of union bosses rather than the interests of Canadians. They voted against a measure that would help millions of Canadians prepare for their retirement. They pretend to be concerned about retirement security by supporting a proposal that would put Canadians out of work or, at the very least, decrease their wages. This is shameful.

Thankfully, our government is committed to ensuring the ongoing strength of Canada's retirement income system. Not only are we working to introduce measures that would actually help Canadians save for their retirement, like the PRPP, but we understand that during a fragile economic recovery is not the time to increase payroll taxes on employees. Now is simply not the appropriate time to increase the premium for the Canada pension plan.

Hong Kong November 19th, 2013

Mr. Speaker, this morning I had the pleasure of attending a breakfast hosted by the Hong Kong Parliamentary Friendship Group. This event is another reminder of the importance of Canada's increasing economic ties with Asia. Canada's bilateral relations with Hong Kong reflect our long-standing and comprehensive political, commercial, and people-to-people relationship. In addition to deep-rooted historical ties, Canada and Hong Kong share common values, among them respect for the rule of law, human rights, and individual freedom.

It is important to note that Canada and Hong Kong share in a great friendship along with close business relations. Our continued dialogue will lead to the further enhancement of our bilateral trade agreement. Canadian enterprises continue to take advantage of the uniqueness of Hong Kong, with an understanding of the opportunities that are there to tap into as our gateway to China and the emerging markets beyond China. These fast-growing markets in mainland China and other parts of Asia offer tremendous opportunities to Canadian businesses.

With the implementation of the double-taxation avoidance agreement between Hong Kong and Canada, there will be increased incentives for greater trade and investment between the two countries. It is no wonder that the World Bank has recognized Hong Kong as the second-easiest place to do business. I know that we will continue to work together to advance our mutual interests. This is good news for Canada.