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Conservative MP for Oshawa (Ontario)
Won his last election, in 2015, with 38% of the vote.
Statements in the House
Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis February 21st, 2017
Madam Speaker, I want to start off my comments today by thanking not only the member for Humber River—Black Creek for bringing this issue forward but also my colleague from Dufferin—Caledon for raising awareness.
This is a devastating disease, affecting approximately 2,500 to 3,000 Canadians over the age of 18 who are currently living with ALS, and more than 200,000 individuals worldwide. These individuals experience a loss of mobility, a decline in breathing, difficulty eating and drinking, and slurred speech or sometimes even the complete loss of speech. While some suffering with this incurable disease may live longer than others, ALS is usually fatal within two to five years after diagnosis.
There is still so much work and research to be done to help reverse this disease. Ultimately, what we would all like to see is that a cure is found. I think I speak for most people when I say that the ALS ice bucket challenge in 2014 played a massive role in raising awareness about the disease. As a chiropractor, my first experience with ALS was in the early 1990s. I served with a friend at the St. Mary's Knights of Columbus. We shared an Irish background, so we had some good fellowship over the years. He married late in life, so he had a young family and a wife. When I heard about his being diagnosed with ALS, it really brought it home. We hear about Lou Gehrig's disease, but to see it first hand, and personally see how fast, how real, and how devastating the condition is, and the real effect it has on family and community, really brings it home.
Public awareness from the ice bucket challenge campaign went viral on social media, with celebrities, athletes, politicians, and all of our friends and neighbours taking part. I bring this up because prior to the 2014 ALS ice bucket challenge, the awareness of ALS really was quite limited. Those who did know about the disease referred to it as Lou Gehrig's disease, named after the famous New York Yankees player who came out publicly with his battle in 1939. The importance of raising awareness through social media proved effective because, following the ice bucket challenge, the ALS Association raised an additional $100 million, and the ALS Society of Canada raised an additional $26 million. This additional research funding has led to some extremely valuable research. As my colleague said, in the last five years it has been really accelerated. Recently, a third gene has been identified as a cause for the disease, which goes to show that, by raising public awareness and ensuring that funding is made available to researchers, progress can be made to find a cure.
In 2013, project MinE was initiated by two ALS patients. It is a research project that aims to map the full DNA profiles of approximately 15,000 individuals with ALS and 7,500 control subjects, with the hopes of identifying genes that are associated with ALS, ultimately leading to the development of a treatment. This large-scale genetic research is unprecedented and will require both public awareness and, of course, important funding. On January 10, 2017, Canada became the 17th country to join this research project.
The ALS Society of Canada is leading fundraising efforts and seeking to sequence up to 1,000 genomes, with four of Canada's leading ALS geneticists coming together in their first ever cross-country collaboration. Four other Canadian ALS clinics have also come together to collect and store blood samples being used for research, including the G.F. Strong Rehabilitation Centre's ALS centre in Vancouver, the Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre ALS clinic in Toronto, the ALS program at the Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital, and the ALS clinic at the CHU de Québec.
As of today, 7% of Canada's goal has been reached. While 62 DNA profiles are good for a month's work, it is vital that this important research initiative be discussed publicly so that more people, especially Canadians, can participate or donate. As for the status of the project as a whole, 7,963 DNA profiles have been collected so far, with the goal of collecting 22,500 DNA profiles.
There is still a lot of work to be done. However, as we can all see, countries around the world are coming together to find a cure.
I am happy to support Motion No. 105. I believe that we should be using our resources to help advance research for diseases such as ALS.
Our Conservative Party has always been a strong advocate for neurological research, and we have always supported the need for more ALS research. In 2011, Brain Canada was created, with the previous Conservative government investing $100 million over seven years. This includes $10 million to the ALS Society of Canada through Brain Canada to stimulate research relevant to ALS. I was so happy to see the Minister of Finance invest up to $20 million in additional matching funds to Brain Canada in budget 2016. I hope that it will continue to be a national non-profit organization that the government invests in.
We parliamentarians saw how rapidly this disease can progress. Our colleague, the late member for Ottawa—Vanier, was diagnosed with ALS in November 2015. We saw his courage. We saw him try to persevere and remain in the House of Commons as much as he could to represent his constituents. We saw him live out a day as Speaker of the House, a moment which I think brought us all closer. We saw this awful disease rapidly take over his body and his speech. I do not think there is a member in the House who would not agree that action needs to be taken to ensure that a cure for ALS is found.
There is hope. Living with ALS should not be the end. We know that progress has been made and is still being made every single day.
There are 400,000 people around the world who are affected by the disease, with more than 100,000 dying every single year. We need to understand that while millions have been raised for ALS, portions of these funds are allocated to help patients and their families who typically spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to care for a loved one, and this is a struggle for families. ALS Canada's provincial chapters use a portion of donations to help these families access care in their community and provide specialized equipment to ALS patients.
We must all remember that ALS does not just affect the individuals, but it affects the families and friends as well. There is nothing worse than watching a person one loves and cares about progressively get weaker, lose his or her speech, and eventually become immobilized.
Unfortunately, unlike many other diseases, there is no survivorship. There are currently no anniversaries to celebrate the day that an individual beats ALS. As Dr. Lorne Zinman, a neurologist who is the head of the ALS clinic at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto, stated:
...there are so many smart people working on this disease now and it has the necessary attention, and all the community is really excited about a breakthrough in the hopefully not too distant future.
The day for a cure is not an impossible expectation. We have seen breakthroughs with HIV/AIDS, cancer, and many other once-fatal diseases. These diseases have become manageable thanks to research, commitment, and government investment. I believe that researchers are on the right path. If we as a country continue to support projects, such as project MinE, and continue to support our researchers, I believe that ALS will be a disease of the past.
Nancy Diamond February 14th, 2017
Mr. Speaker, every city has citizens who are so dedicated to their community that their very name becomes synonymous with that community. In Oshawa, Nancy Diamond was one of those people.
If members were ever at an event in Oshawa, chances are, Nancy was there. With her signature smile and quick wit, she was always there to see our city and its residents succeed. The loss of Nancy at City Hall will be felt throughout our community
Nancy did it all, as a wife, as an active parent at her daughter's school, and as a supportive grandparent of two grandsons.
First elected to council in 1988, Nancy dedicated the next three decades of her life to the betterment of Oshawa. Working as a councillor, mayor, and community volunteer, Nancy was always looking for ways to make Oshawa a better place. She will be fondly remembered as one of the most compassionate, dedicated, and inclusive leaders in Oshawa's history. Her efforts to bring a university to Oshawa helped propel our city forward.
On behalf of everyone in Oshawa, I extend my heartfelt condolences. Our entire community joins together in mourning the loss of Nancy.
Controlled Drugs and Substances Act February 14th, 2017
Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague for his comments about the essential nature of prevention. One thing is sadly missed. I believe the member knows that the previous Conservative government set aside $500 million per year for an anti-drug strategy. That strategy was designed to keep needles out of the arms of addicts. The Liberal government cancelled that.
Could he explain how important it is to not only maintain prevention but to implement the funds for detoxification plans? However we feel about injection sites, witnesses at committee were very clear that this was a a stop gap measure, not a permanent measure.
Could he please comment on the necessity for the Liberal government to set aside appropriate funds? Where did that $500 million go? Should it not be put into treatment for addicts? There is treatment for this condition.
Controlled Drugs and Substances Act February 14th, 2017
Mr. Speaker, unfortunately, what my colleague from Saanich—Gulf Islands just said is hogwash. The Respect for Communities Act was compliant with what the Supreme Court said.
The member talked about the criteria. There were 26 criteria that needed to be fulfilled. Now what the Liberals would do is basically take away all of that. The consultation period would be non-existent. It used to be up to 90 days. The Liberals would get rid of that. Fundamentally, the minister could choose to have no consultation or give approval within a day. This is clearly unacceptable. If the member was paying attention in committee, it was quite clear from our experts that they need to have community support, so this is reasonable.
I made amendments in committee. The mayor of a community and the head of the police where one of these sites would be placed would likely want to have a bit of input as to where they would be located. These are only reasonable things we ask.
At the end of the day, all of us have to think about this entire situation in a compassionate way. We should be pressing the government for solutions instead of band-aid solutions that are really not getting rid of the cycle of repeat, repeat, and come back every single day. What does the member think the addicts are doing in the 24 hours if they are coming back to an injection site every day? We need to be compassionate and work for long-term solutions, not just these band-aid solutions. The current government wants to be seen to be doing something without really making a big change.
Controlled Drugs and Substances Act February 14th, 2017
Mr. Speaker, the reality is that under the Respect for Communities Act, there were certain criteria that had to be fulfilled, and one of the arguments to put this bill forward and change it was that it was impossible and onerous for these sites to be approved. What I am saying to my colleague is that obviously, that is incorrect.
We know that right now, as the member said, there are three sites in Montreal. It took a number of months to get them through the application process, but it allowed the mayor, the police, and community members to be involved in the process. When that happens, the likelihood of these things being successful is greatly improved.
The member talked about saving lives. He missed it in committee because he was not there yet, but we had a specialist come who said that addicts are dying. The witness said it was like being a lifeguard who saves someone in the water. As soon as the lifeguard gets that person breathing again, he or she does not throw the person back in.
I would ask the member and his colleagues to remember that we need proper detoxification treatment. This is not just about band-aid solutions, which is what many have called these injection sites. We would like to see the government take action and make sure that proper treatment is available for addicts, because this is a treatable condition. That is what we are all in favour of. We want to make sure that these injection sites, if they are put in a community, are wanted and have the greatest likelihood of success.
Controlled Drugs and Substances Act February 14th, 2017
Mr. Speaker, I have already had the opportunity to speak to Bill C-37, and I have made it clear that my colleagues on this side of the House and I are very much in favour of the majority of the bill. Saving lives and tackling the production, distribution, importation, and consumption of these dangerous and deadly drugs needs to be made a priority.
The bill seeks to allow the Canada Border Services Agency, CBSA, the authority to seize unregistered pill presses and allows CBSA to open suspicious packages weighing less than 30 grams. The bill also seeks to grant the Minister of Health more powers to quickly and temporarily class and schedule new synthetic and dangerous drugs. It also seeks to severely weaken the Respect for Communities Act, which has been called onerous on the applicant and impossible to meet the criteria. Yet just last week, three injection sites, I repeat, three injection sites, in Montreal were approved under the previous legislation, so I am not sure if “impossible” and “onerous” are the words that should be used here.
As stated, I have had the opportunity to speak to the bill already, but I have not had the chance to speak to how the government has pushed the bill through both the House of Commons and the health committee. I know that the response to this argument is that this needs to be pushed through in order to start saving lives. I could not agree more that saving lives is our priority and primary goal, but there are many Canadians who are worried that an injection site will appear in their neighbourhood without community support.
As parliamentarians, it is our job to listen to our constituents and ensure that we represent them in the House. That is why on February 1, 2017, I proposed splitting the bill. This would have allowed the majority of the bill to pass unanimously through the House and likely through the Senate. This would have granted the CBSA the authority and powers it has been asking for to combat the inflow of illegal substances and seize unregistered devices. This would have granted the minister the power she is seeking when classing new substances.
Splitting the bill would have also given members more opportunity to debate the importance of community engagement in the consultation process when applying and approving injection sites. Splitting the bill would have started to save lives immediately while allowing parliamentarians to do their job and represent Canadians.
Instead, the Liberals moved closure, with the support of the New Democrats, who had previously complained about the use of time allocation. They said Canadians want vivid debate, a government that actually listens to the improvements that can be made to the bill, and for their members of Parliament to have the ability to speak out. What this means is that the Liberals used a procedural device to ultimately bring debate on this very important issue to an end, and the NDP, unfortunately, agreed.
The NDP agreed to move closure and silence members of Parliament, which is surprising considering the NDP is the party which time and time again accused the previous Conservative government of stifling debate. Both the Liberals and the NDP silenced parliamentarians who were scheduled to speak and represent their communities.
Again, ministers are not following their mandate letters. The mandate letter to the Minister of Health clearly states the following:
As Minister, you will be held accountable for our commitment to bring a different style of leadership to government. This will include: close collaboration with your colleagues; meaningful engagement with Opposition Members of Parliament, Parliamentary Committees and the public service....
It says, “meaningful engagement with Opposition Members of Parliament“ and “close collaboration with your colleagues”. When it comes to Bill C-37, the Minister of Health has done anything but engage with opposition members and work collaboratively both in the House and committee.
Once debate was shut down in the House, the Liberals then moved to shut down debate in committee. Shutting down debate in committee meant that no witnesses could appear on Bill C-37 and suggest their own amendments. It meant opposition members did not have the chance the ask the Minister of Health, the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, or the Minister of Justice questions that their communities had for them.
The Liberals know there are concerns and questions from this side of the House when it comes to weakening community consultations with regard to injection sites, just as the Conservatives know that the Liberals' agenda includes harm reduction strategies.
That is why we proposed reasonable amendments at committee. We proposed two amendments. The first would ensure that there was at least a 45-day consultation period, which is in line with all the other consultations put in place by the government. The second would give the mayor and the head of police the right to be part of the application process by including their opposition or support for an injection site in their community. These amendments would not obstruct the minister's authority to approve the site; they would just ensure that the people who are ultimately responsible for the success of an injection site are properly consulted and informed. These amendments were reasonable.
It is disappointing that, unlike what the minister's mandate letter sets out, there was no chance for meaningful engagement with the government on making this bill stronger for all Canadians. That is why I am asking that clause 42 of Bill C-37 be deleted.
As the bill stands today, injection sites could be forced on communities that do not want or need them. My NDP colleague stated that the application process should be made easier for applicants, and it seems that the Liberals agree.
Again, I ask the minister why consultations for pipelines are entirely on the applicant, yet for injection sites, the application process should be made simpler? When it comes to pipelines, community consultation is the pillar of approval, yet for injection sites, the community does not matter. It is a double standard that I do not agree with, and it is another inconsistency within the government's policies.
I already know the Minister of Health's response. She will tell Canadians that these sites will save lives and perhaps that is true. However, truly saving a life is offering an alternative to committing crimes, getting high, and potentially overdosing. Saving a life is ensuring the option to get proper treatment is available the moment it is requested. We know the lack of detox treatment around the country is a huge problem and a huge discouragement for addicts looking to treat their treatable disease.
We also know that those who are overdosing from these dangerous drugs are not only injecting them, they are also snorting them and taking them orally. Not all those who have overdosed are struggling addicts. Some are recreational users.
This is a complex issue, an issue that all parties can agree needs to be addressed, and needs to be addressed immediately. That is why, as I stated earlier, I had proposed splitting the bill in two. We could have ensured the CBSA had the powers it has been asking for while clause 42 was further debated. This is entirely reasonable. We are not trying to play politics. We are not trying to be insensitive. In fact, I think all members are working hard to protect all Canadians.
I would ask the minister to reconsider clause 42 and take into consideration the importance of community consultation and, of course, community support, because we know that without community support, the chance of success is almost nil. I would ask the minister to further allow debate on injection sites before the bill gets passed as it.
I know I speak for many Canadians that injection sites do not belong in every single community. We know that the current process in place for the approval of injection sites is not impossible to meet, as three injection sites were recently approved by the Minister of Health.
For this reason, I ask all of my colleagues to agree to remove clause 42 and allow proper and full debate on the consultation process when approving a supervised injection site. That is what Canadians expect of us: to have full and proper debate.
Controlled Drugs and Substances Act February 14th, 2017
Motion No. 1
That Bill C-37 be amended by deleting Clause 42.
Mr. Speaker, I want to talk about Canada's place in the world. I was wondering if the member could comment on the concept of competitiveness. We have a Liberal government that, with this trade agreement, almost blew it. The Liberals put in policies such as raising taxes, a new carbon tax, and things along these lines.
Why are free trade agreements so important right now when we are looking at global competitiveness? Could the member mention the uniqueness now for Canada? With the North American free trade agreement, we have access to all of North America. We will be the only country in the world that has access to North America plus the European Union and potentially Asia, if that moves forward. Could the member talk about the importance to our competitiveness in that regard?
Canada-Ukraine Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act February 10th, 2017
Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with my colleague, the member for Beauport—Limoilou.
Today we are debating Bill C-31, An Act to implement the Free Trade Agreement between Canada and Ukraine. Well, it is about time.
This is something our previous Conservative government worked hard to successfully negotiate on July 14, 2015. No government has done more to support Ukraine during its crisis than the previous Conservative government. We were the first G7 country to visit Ukraine following the beginning of the crisis, and ensured the relationship continued to grow and to prosper.
I was very proud and happy to accompany former Prime Minister Harper on this visit to see first-hand the Maidan for myself, to see the area where those brave souls lost their life. It really cemented the need to continue our friendship and leadership with Ukraine in the world.
Now, because of the enormous security and economic challenges still facing the Ukrainian people today, Canada must remain a trusted partner during their time of need.
I come from Oshawa, and I am extremely proud of Mr. Harper and to have been part of the government. I know the impact Ukrainian Canadians have had on the development of Oshawa and our great nation. This is profoundly evident in my home community where Ukrainian Canadians have made immeasurably contributions to the vibrancy of my community.
Over the years, they have built several community halls in Oshawa, like the Dnipro, the LVIV, and Odessa. These are places where weddings, birthdays, and anniversaries are celebrated with all members of our community. These gathering places play an important role in Oshawa's annual fiesta week, for example. This is one of the largest multicultural festivals in Canada, and we have it right in Oshawa.
These are places to experience the Ukrainian culture, dance, and of course their food. There is also St. George the Great Martyr Ukrainian Catholic Church. In fact, if any of my colleagues are around this weekend, they can drop in by LVIV for St. George's annual trivia night this Saturday, February 11, 6:30 in the evening.
When the crisis and aggression began, I was proud to work with the Ukrainian leaders in my community. I was proud to work with my colleague, the hon. member for Selkirk—Interlake—Eastman on the Oshawa United for Ukraine fundraiser at LVIV just a few years ago, where we were able to announce legal aid services for the most vulnerable in Ukraine. I want to thank the community organizers, people like Walter Kish from the Durham Ukrainian Congress, and volunteers like Daria, Darka, and Darlene.
Oshawa has such a proud Ukrainian history. We were home to the first Ukrainian Canadian cabinet minister, Michael Starr, who also served as Oshawa's mayor. MP Starr is remembered by many for his efforts to make the national employment service more humane in its approach to the unemployed, extending unemployment insurance benefits to women and to seasonal workers.
There are many other amazing Ukrainian Canadian families in my riding. Take for example the Lysyk family. They came from Ukraine, and now are some of the most prominent landlords, dentists, chiropractors, and business owners in my community. They have truly worked to build Oshawa into the great city it is today.
As I mentioned, someone like Walter Kish, who works tirelessly to build the Ukrainian Canadian community and create direct links with Ukraine. Whether it is serving on the board of the national or local branch of Ukrainian Canadian Congress, or working to expand the Ukrainian Credit Union, Walter is always working for his community.
We cannot forget community leaders like Carol Shewchuk, who, thanks to her great efforts, raised awareness of the Holodomor and what happened in the past.
Canada truly has a great partnership and friendship with Ukraine. That is why it is so important that all parties are in support of this agreement. It will not only continue to improve our relationship and show our continued support for Ukraine, especially at this time, but will have many economic and social benefits for both our countries. This agreement will not only strengthen the Canada-Ukraine partnership in peace and prosperity, but it will immediately eliminate duties on 99.9% of respected current imports when this agreement comes into force in Canada.
This will also allow Ukraine to eliminate approximately 86% of tariffs on Canadian goods, including industrial products, fish and seafood, and agricultural goods.
In 2011 to 2015, the total bilateral merchandise trade between Canada and Ukraine averaged $289 million per year, and is expected to expand 19% as a result of this agreement.
Canada's GDP would increase $29.2 million under the Canada-Ukraine free trade agreement. Similarly, Ukraine's GDP would expand $18.6 million.
Our exports to Ukraine would increase $41.2 million, which would include gains in pork, machinery and equipment, transport equipment, other manufactured goods, motor vehicles and parts, and chemical products. Under our previous Conservative government, we were also able to export $35.5 million worth of agriculture and agrifood, and seafood products to Ukraine.
This agreement has substantial economic benefits for both Canada and Ukraine. The Canada-Ukraine free trade agreement would have numerous benefits, including preferential market access for Canadian exports, and increased visibility for other commercial opportunities. It would also facilitate enhanced co-operation, improve Canada's ability to resolve trade irritants, increase transparency in regulatory matters, and help to reduce transaction costs for businesses. This agreement also commits both Canada and Ukraine to respect and promote internationally recognized labour rights and principles.
This agreement is the fruition of our previous Conservative government's hard work. On July 14, 2015, Prime Minister Harper and Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk announced the successful conclusion of negotiations on CUFTA. This agreement reiterated the commitment of jobs, growth, and long-term prosperity, the key pillars of our economic action plan. Our party's pro free trade plan aims to diversify trade and enable companies to benefit from new opportunities abroad.
Having this agreement in place also gives us the opportunity for future business. I know that in my community of Oshawa there are many people in the energy business. We have had great leaders in the nuclear business. Ukraine and Canada also share vast resources, whether through natural gas or oil. In the future, we have a great opportunity for human resources in these technologies to go from one country to the other to learn and promote peaceful energy trade throughout the world.
I am proud to have been part of a government that worked hard to promote free trade in our country, and to be part of a party that believes in the importance of a strong relationship with Ukraine, both economically and socially.
I am proud to support this agreement, an agreement that our previous Conservative government ensured would bring prosperity and growth to both Canada and Ukraine.
Federal Framework on Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Act February 9th, 2017
Mr. Speaker, I know I only have a short period of time to express something that is a very proud day for me and for the House. I have listened to speeches from across the aisle from each and every party, and I want to thank my colleague from Cariboo—Prince George, but also all members of the House who participated in this debate, because tonight we have done something very special. We have talked about this in a way that anyone watching this debate will realize that this is a non-partisan issue. This is an issue which back in 2004 when I was first elected to the House, we did not know a lot about it. I do not think I had ever heard of post-traumatic stress disorder.
I look at the effect this is having in our communities on the people we ask to protect our families and communities every single day, hourly, over and over again. This is a piece of legislation that is needed. I know my colleague said that in Canada we can do better, but tonight we realize that we will do better.
After listening to the comments from around the House, I am very proud of the system we have in this country. As I said, I have been here since 2004, and sometimes we do not get the opportunity to express our thanks and to be very proud of the people who sit in the House across the aisle, colleagues who come here who do want to make a difference. Tonight we are going to be making a difference with this legislation which is sorely needed.