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  • His favourite word is liberals.

Conservative MP for Oshawa (Ontario)

Won his last election, in 2015, with 38% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Criminal Code May 29th, 2017

Madam Speaker, I want to let my colleague know that I agree with him 100%. For the Conservative government, the health and safety of Canadians was always the priority, and he is bang on when he says the science is not there.

With all due respect to my colleague across the way, when we look at the science that is out there, it is new. It really has not been tested. It has been tested in very few jurisdictions. When we look at something as complicated as driving while impaired, the tests just do not live up to what Canadians are expecting for maintaining safety. Parents have asked me about school bus drivers. Union members have talked to me about heavy equipment.

We know that for alcohol, the tests cost pennies per test. So far, we know a marijuana swab is going to cost somewhere between $20 and $35, and then there will be a cost on top of that for the blood test.

I want to ask my colleague to tell us who is going to pay for these costs. Who is going to pay for the training of the officers, for the toxicology, for the tests? My community is worried that these costs are going to be downloaded to the provinces and municipalities.

Business of Supply May 18th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, my colleague from Hochelaga has pointed out something that many people with autism are facing, which is the issue of housing.

Do I think we should focus specifically on it? No, I do not, but it is part of the picture.

People with autism want to be able to afford their own rent. People with autism want to be employed. She mentioned the percentage of autistic people who are unemployed. There is no need for that.

One of the things that I am really proud of with respect to the initiatives we have seen over the last few years is that there are programs out there that are matching employers with people who have autism, and they are contributing. They are a part of our everyday lives. We see them in our own communities, in the grocery stores we go to or when we are out and about doing our daily affairs. We need to be part of that and continue it.

Business of Supply May 18th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his comments because I am very proud of my son. I am proud of all of my three kids, but this was the first time that I told his story in this House, and I did ask him, so I thank him for that.

The work that has been done by the autism community is invaluable. When I look at the amount of awareness, the opportunities, and the options that are coming forth, I can see that we have some momentum. That is what is really saddening for me. This group has worked across partisan lines and does have momentum.

As I said, I have been very fortunate, but there are families out there right now who are struggling. When we are looking at the future of Canada, we can see that autistic Canadians are one of the untapped resources that we can reach out to. We can get them more involved. Many people with autism are not as engaged as they could be. I know that with the bit more of an edge that could be provided if we keep this momentum going, these people will contribute and will continue to contribute to make Canada great. All they need is continued support. Therefore, I ask all members of this House to please support this motion.

Business of Supply May 18th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with my colleague, the member for Richmond—Arthabaska.

Mr. Speaker, today we are debating a motion brought forth by my colleague and dear friend, the member for Edmonton—Wetaskiwin, and I want to thank him very much for this. I am surprised that we are actually debating this. I am shocked that the government has not signalled that it will be supporting this.

Autism spectrum disorder is widely considered the fastest-growing neurological disorder in Canada, affecting one in 68 kids, including my own son. Before I get into my personal experience with the disorder, I would like to discuss autism and raise more awareness about what it is exactly.

In the past, in the early days, autism was recognized as distinct subtypes, including autistic disorder; childhood disintegrative disorder; pervasive developmental disorder, not otherwise specified; and Asperger syndrome. In May 2016, they were merged into one diagnosis, and that is what we are calling autism spectrum disorder.

ASD is a lifelong diagnosis that affects those who have autism in many different ways. The symptoms can include social impairment, restricted and repetitive behaviour, intellectual disability, and motor and attention difficulties, just to name a few.

However, those who have autism, including my own son, can also excel in certain areas, such as music—for example, my son can play three instruments—languages—he can speak a couple of languages really well, and I cannot even speak English or French properly—art, and even visual skills. This is one of the wonderful things about individuals with autism. Each individual is unique.

Forty per cent of those on the spectrum, like my own son, have above average academic and intellectual abilities, and about 25% are non-verbal. However, they can learn to communicate using other means. We just need to give them those resources.

Signs of autism usually tend to emerge around the ages of two or three, but more needs to be done to raise awareness about the signs to help families detect autism early on.

The motion brought forward by my colleague addresses an issue he knows all too well and for which he has been a great champion for many years. It calls on the government to grant $19 million over five years, which has been requested by the Canadian autism partnership working group, the self-advocates advisory group, and the Canadian Autism Spectrum Disorders Alliance.

Unfortunately, this funding was nowhere to be found in budget 2017. The Liberals do not seem to realize that this funding is needed to help establish a Canadian autism partnership program that would support families and address key issues, such as research, early detection, diagnosis, and treatment.

In contrast, in the 2015 budget, under the previous Conservative government, the Canadian Autism Partnership Project, CAPP, was established. It is worth noting that many Liberals supported that idea, such as senator Jim Munson, a Liberal senator.

The national ASD group, led by the Minister of Health and some of Canada's leading autism experts, was established to guide the work of CAPP, which received $2 million in funding to explore a partnership concept through broad-based engagement that would address all the issues I have raised.

Our 2015 election platform also promised:

...we'll continue to support the Autism Spectrum Disorder Working Group's work to develop a Canadian autism partnership. We'll be read to support the initiative in areas of federal jurisdiction once the development work is complete.

As we have all heard, this should not be a partisan issue. This is a matter that needs to be addressed at the federal level but has, unfortunately, been ignored by the Liberal government.

It is disappointing to hear and see that Liberal MPs would rather hand out millions of dollars to Bombardier executives so they can reward themselves with big bonuses over providing necessary funding for issues such as autism spectrum disorder.

My friend, the member for Carleton, put it into perspective. One bonus to one Bombardier millionaire executive would pay for the entire autism commitment.

I want to share my family's own experience with autism spectrum disorder. It is not something I share very often, but I assure members that I have received permission. Since this is an important issue, and we need to raise as much awareness as possible, I spoke with my son last night and I got his permission.

My son was diagnosed with Asperger's, which was one of the previously separate subtypes of autism that I mentioned earlier in my speech.

Those who are diagnosed with Asperger's are considered to be at the high-functioning end of the spectrum. However, he, like many others who are eventually diagnosed with Asperger's, had difficulty with social interactions.

Without a doubt, we faced many challenges. There was growing frustration with the school system and the medical system, since he was poorly diagnosed.

There was frustration with the system then and, unfortunately, there is still frustration for many families now. My son was very fortunate, because, unlike many Canadian families facing the same and sometimes more difficult circumstances, we had the means to put him into a private school so that he could get the attention he needed due to the challenges he faced. We held him back a year, which was very controversial, but he was able to get some wins: he raised his self-esteem and confidence. Achieving all of this took many years of hard work, because it was hard work for him. He worked hard on his social interaction skills so that he could start to read social cues. He actually had to intentionally make eye contact while having conversations with another person.

After years of frustration, misdiagnoses, and hard work, I am extremely proud to say that in spite of all of his challenges, my son has just finished his second year of medical school and is one of the youngest kids in his class. People who meet my son today would never know that he faced these challenges when he was younger. Some people would know, and my colleague from Edmonton—Wetaskiwin probably would know, but because of his gift, he had to work harder, and we as a family had to work harder. We had to educate ourselves and the people around us. Today, I can honestly say that he is one of the best communicators I know, and I am more proud of him and his accomplishments than ever.

As I said, my family was fortunate enough to have the means to ensure the best care and education was available to my son, and this is not the case for all Canadians. We still lack public awareness, especially in our school systems. We lack research and treatment, and most importantly, we still lack proper and early diagnoses.

The Liberals cannot ignore this issue any longer. Yesterday, the Minister of Health chose to ignore questions from my colleagues about autism spectrum disorder funding. She kind of skirted the question. Today she was asked again, and she again refused to answer. The reality is that she is failing hundreds of thousands of Canadians who are living with autism spectrum disorder. I am not just talking about the kids; I am talking the moms and dads, the sisters and brothers, and the people in the community.

This is the Minister of Health's and the Liberal government's opportunity to do the right thing. This is $3.8 million, which is a rounding error in comparison to what the government is spending around the world on other kinds of initiatives. In fact, this is a smart and responsible investment that can make the lives of many Canadians better. I encourage all members of the House to vote in favour of this motion so that proper funding can be allocated to this very important issue.

I want to speak a little more about my son, because he is an example of this. Because he was able to get the help he needed, he is going to help other Canadians, with a perspective that very few of us have. One of his frustrations, but also one of his gifts, is that kids with Asperger's can focus like a laser. If they are interested in something, they can do it, and they can achieve it better than many other ordinary Canadians. If we look back in history, we could name numerous people with autism: Temple Grandin, who many people know is on the speaking circuit now; Charles Darwin had autism; Albert Einstein; Jerry Seinfeld thinks he's on the spectrum; Isaac Asimov; Susan Boyle, the singer; Dan Aykroyd, the Canadian comedian. All of these people achieved wonderful things in spite of the challenges they faced.

It is so important for us in the House to know that we can make a difference. When I look at the ask my colleague has made of the House and also at the big picture, it is a small investment for such a large return that will affect Canadians. This group has worked hard since I have been in the House. As I said earlier, Mr. Speaker, you and I were both elected in 2004 and there was not much out there, but today there is. By making this very small investment, the government can make a huge difference not only to Canadians affected by autism spectrum disorder but to all Canadians, because when these kids get the help they need, they can achieve anything. I believe that. Let us vote for this motion today and support my colleague from Edmonton—Wetaskiwin.

Business of Supply May 18th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member for Windsor—Tecumseh and also the previous speaker for the NDP, the member for Vancouver Kingsway, who has been a huge supporter of autism initiatives throughout the years.

The member made a great argument. As she stated, autism really should not be a partisan issue. One of the things she said, though, really concerned me, and I wanted to ask her about it. I have heard that one of the reasons the Liberals do not want to support this is that it was brought forward by the previous Conservative government. At the time, we got a lot of support from all parties.

This was an initiative that over the years has gotten stronger and better. What we are asking for, and what my colleague is asking for, is 10¢ per Canadian for this initiative that is affecting literally hundreds of thousands of Canadians.

Is there any good reason the member can think of for not supporting the motion? When she said that it is because it was from the Conservative government, is that something she really feels in her heart to be true?

Business of Supply May 18th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, I do realize my colleague is new in the House. I just want to remind him what we are talking about today. We are talking about a $19 million investment over five years, which was requested by the Canadian autism partnership working group.

To give him a little bit of history, when I came to the House in 2004, this group was entirely ignored. One of the champions was a friend of mine and a friend of this House, Senator Jim Munson, a Liberal Senator, and he really tried to focus and sharpen the pencil so that we could get some action with autism, because there was nothing out there.

Over the years, with my colleagues in the House and everybody across the hall, we worked hard to see what we could do to make a difference, because this is not just kids with autism, but it is their families, their friends, and everyone involved. The sad thing is that it was working really well.

What this motion is asking for is just to allow the continuation of that good work and expansion, because when we see something in research and see something in practical application that is working, at the federal level, it is worthwhile to continue with that.

I know the member is talking about all people with disabilities, and I respect that very much, but this is not either/or. The government makes different investments. This is something that has really worked, and all we are asking for really is a very small investment. As my colleague from Carleton constantly says, this would be less than the bonus of one Bombardier executive in order to meet this commitment to our autistic partners.

All I want to ask is whether the member would please consider supporting this great initiative.

Hemochromatosis Awareness Month May 17th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, I am happy to stand in the House and recognize May as Hemochromatosis Awareness Month.

For those who do not know, hemochromatosis causes the body to absorb too much iron from foods eaten. This excess iron is then stored in people's organs, which can lead to life-threatening conditions, such as liver disease, heart problems, and diabetes. An estimated one in 300 Canadians are affected with this disorder, meaning that approximately 80,000 Canadians have type 1 hemochromatosis.

The Canadian Hemochromatosis Society is a small but energetic charity, with very limited resources, that punches well above its weight in raising awareness about this important disorder. However, it needs all of our help in raising awareness.

I encourage all my colleagues to let their constituents know about hemochromatosis and its warning signs by sharing the link www.toomuchiron.ca on their Facebook page and to attend a reception hosted by the CHS tonight from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.

We could make a huge difference in someone's life.

Controlled Drugs and Substances Act May 15th, 2017

Madam Speaker, that was a great speech by my colleague. The government prides itself when it says it is doing all kinds of consultations, but what is quite interesting, when we are looking at injection sites, is that the Liberals seem to not want to do that. Even with Canada Post, a government organization, they will ask municipalities where they want these placed. They have an ombudsman, if there is a problem in the community and people want to make improvements. However, with the bill, there is absolutely nothing.

Why does the hon. member think that the Liberals do not want to consult and not want to have committees that are able to give them advice on how that is working in their community? We heard in committee that it is only if these sites have local support that they are actually effective.

Controlled Drugs and Substances Act May 15th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, the Liberals are selling these injection sites and billing them as a way to reintroduce health care and treatment for addicts. However, voting against the Senate amendment to offer a legal alternative to addicts goes against basic standards for delivering health care.

Liberals are not telling Canadians that addicts show up not with legal substances but actually with illegal substances made in basements. They are poisons made by criminal organizations. This puts addicts in danger and the public in danger.

If Liberals really want to help addicts start on the road to recovery, they should be offering addicts a legal alternative to these illegal substances. This would help develop a medical relationship between addicts and clinics instead of between addicts and drug dealers.

Addicts would not have to commit crimes and would not have to worry about overdoses from illegal poisons being shot into their arms. The public would not have to worry about being victims of crimes committed by addicts to support their habit.

This Senate amendment would place the options for care between addicts and a medical practitioner, not between addicts and their dealers.

Addicts who present to these clinics are desperate for help, and they should be offered a legal, safer standard of care, not a dangerous criminally produced poison. Why will the Liberals not offer addicts the same standard of care and legal alternatives as other Canadians who have treatable conditions?

Foreign Affairs May 12th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, May 22 is the World Health Organization's 70th World Health Assembly. This is a meeting where vital issues of health and disease control are discussed. Over the past decade, Taiwan has been an important contributor, but there was no invitation this year because the WHO bowed to pressure from China.

Has the Minister of Health done anything to advocate for the inclusion of Taiwan, or is she too afraid of offending the Liberals' friends in Beijing?