House of Commons photo


Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was going.

Last in Parliament October 2019, as Conservative MP for Chatham-Kent—Leamington (Ontario)

Won his last election, in 2015, with 42% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Criminal Code December 13th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, I too was led down the garden path. This too is the first time I have misstepped in this direction. I certainly hope this will not develop a pattern, but I intend to vote against the motion.

Industry December 6th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, in my region in southwestern Ontario, greenhouse growers use large amounts of electricity. As hydro rates continue to soar, businesses are leaving Canada, killing jobs across the country. The latest, Mucci Farms in Kingsville, is paying three times more for hydro in Ontario than across the border. Guess what. They are expanding, not in Canada but in the U.S.

How can the Liberals justify imposing a carbon tax on job creators, when our sky-high hydro rates are already driving them out of the country?

Budget Implementation Act, 2016, No. 2 December 5th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, I wish I had more time. I think it was Patrick Henry who spoke about having another life to give, but I wish I had another hour to give; we could talk about those things, but the long and the short of it is this. I would be the first to say that I am not an economist, but I am a businessman. I would say there are a lot of folks here who are not economists and yet they have learned to balance their own chequebook. When we do those things, we know that what is coming in had better be equal to what is going out. We always like to make one a little more than the other. However, it is just common sense that we cannot spend our way to prosperity. There are times when governments have invested. We use that word so freely and everything seems to be an investment nowadays. Nevertheless when we go to the bank and we borrow money, we have made a loan and we have to pay back that loan.

Budget Implementation Act, 2016, No. 2 December 5th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, I have to be honest. I have kids with kids. They tell me it is neat to get that cheque. However, I remind them that they have to pay it back and their kids will have to pay it back too. Had the Liberal government been honest with the Canadian public and said it was going to really increase this but it would cost them, that it was not going to pay for it, but it was going to charge it, I wonder if Canadians would have had the same response.

I repeat, when it is Christmastime and mom and dad come home with piles and piles of presents, the kids will be delighted, but in the same breath if they tell the kids that they charged it and the kids will have to pay for it, it would really make for a crummy Christmas.

Budget Implementation Act, 2016, No. 2 December 5th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, it is a privilege to rise to speak to the budget bill, but I do it with a heavy heart because I am concerned about the direction the government is taking. I want to talk about the government's record first, and I want to contrast the two records that we have seen in the House lately as well as over the past few years.

Take for instance the Conservative record, with a balanced budget in 2015. Contrast that today to the Liberal budget with a $30 billion deficit.

In terms of the economy, we saw a modest growth over the last number of years, and I will get to that with a little history lesson later, whereas we have seen no growth with the Liberal government in the past year. There has just been stagnation.

Speaking of employment, during the time of the great recession, the Conservative government saw the growth of 1.5 million new jobs, most of them full-time jobs. Members will notice that I did not say we created those jobs; far from it. Far be it from any one of us to say that we create jobs. The only jobs governments create are ones in the public sector. We are talking about jobs that were grown in the private sector. Contrast that to today's Liberal government, where we see no new jobs being created. Full-time jobs have been lost and the only added job numbers are part-time jobs.

I want to talk about deficits, but first of all I am going to give a little history lesson. I want to take members back to when the Conservative government was elected in 2006. Those were pretty good days. We saw something that we do not see a lot of now, and that is surpluses in government. During the years 2006, 2007, and partially into 2008, the Conservative government saw fit to tackle the deficit. It was not a great deficit, but any deficit is not a good thing. The Conservative government had the good sense to fight the deficit, to bring the deficit down.

Our Conservative government did that while at the same time lowering the GST by two points. We also lowered other areas of government revenue and paid down the deficit by $37 billion. Contrast that to the 2015 budget. When our Conservative government delivered the budget to the Liberals, we delivered it with the lowest tax rate in 50 years. The typical family was paying $7,000 less in taxes. It was the best record in the G7.

In 2015 the Liberals were elected. They told the electorate that they had a better way of doing things. Did Harper say? They said it was not true, and it almost sounded like a biblical story. The Liberals introduced a new concept of spending more, and they told folks that if they spent more money they could grow the economy. Canadians were used to lower taxes and lower deficits. They had been promised a balanced budget by the Conservatives and that is what they received, and the Liberals were introducing this whole new concept of spending money to improve our lives. This was suspect. The Liberals did say the deficit would be only $10 billion, but that modest deficit ballooned to $30 billion, and it did not stimulate the economy or create any new jobs; no new jobs, no growth.

I want to go back to the deficit and ask a simple question. Why would somebody go into a deficit position? I would suspect possibly Gerald Butts, the Prime Minister's chief of staff and also the former chief of staff to Dalton McGuinty. There seems to be a pattern here. The Ontario government did the same thing. It said, if it spent more money, that it could do a lot of great things, that it could grow the economy.

It is interesting to note that the Prime Minister's first trip was to Davos, Switzerland. It is an obscure little town in Europe, but it is the seat of the world banking system, which is interesting. These folks had heard that the Prime Minister was going to spend money and go into a deficit situation.

On his second trip, he made great friends with the President of the United States, Mr. Obama. Mr. Obama was well versed in that kind of ideology too. As a matter of fact, he doubled the deficit in the United States. It went up from $9 trillion to $18 trillion. I remember the first time we started talking about a trillion dollars, and I had to get my mind around that. I just know it is an awful lot of money. The Prime Minister went to Mr. Obama and they became great friends.

I have to give the Liberals credit. I went over their record on their candidates and team, and I just wanted to introduce myself to the team. However, I have never seen more doctors, more lawyers, more Ph.D.s, or Rhodes scholar. I feel a little intimated, because I am just a farm boy. I think we have more commoners on this side of the room.

I can tell members that I am just a farm boy who had some modest success in the auto industry. However, in 1993, I had a lesson in debt. The banks came around and they pulled my line of credit. It brought me to my knees, but it taught me a valuable lesson. I learned that I would never be indebted to a bank again.

Members can ask most business people if they would rather have a huge debt or no debt at all. I do not think there is a person in the House who would not say the latter. That lesson was something I needed to learn, because it helped me become a better businessman. Yet, the current government is telling us that debt is not a bad thing, and that we can borrow our way to success. I am here to tell members that it will not happen and it will not work.

Now, central banks are a whole different subject. Maybe I will have the opportunity to talk about central banks at some point. They know there is no better customer than a nation, especially a rich nation. Do members know why? It is because they will always pay their bills. They have a method of payment that is unequalled on the planet, and it is called taxes. They will just tax their citizens. Members should understand that there is no other means for a government, for a country, to raise revenue. It is just taxes.

Members might ask what about borrowing money. Well, that is just deferring the inevitable. Eventually, we are going to pay the piper, and banks know this. Banks know that they are always going to get their two points, whatever that is. The bank rate is at 3%, but they will get 5%. We like to say that if bank rates are at 0%, then that is a whole different discussion. I know that one day we are going to have that discussion, because it is a non-reality. However, if we assume that is the rate, banks will always get their 2%.

God help us if we ever go to traditional rates. Can members imagine, if we are paying at this point about $35 billion on an interest rate at 2%, if that were to spike to 4%, 6%, or 8%? Some of the younger folks here are surprised at 8%. I remember mortgages when we thought we were getting a real good deal when we paid 12.75%.

The Speaker is telling me I do not have much time left, but I do not think the current government has much time left either if the Liberals continue on this trajectory. If they continue this avenue of free spending and they continue to put this country, the people, and especially our children into a position where they are indebted and they can no longer pay that debt. I do not want to paint a picture that is unreal. Far be it from me to do that.

I will close by saying that the idea of spending money to get richer is foolhardy at best, and it is a mistake for the government to continue in that direction. I would ask that the Liberals look again at the direction they are going and reverse this terrible direction.

Canada Pension Plan November 29th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, respectfully, I will ask a question in response. What jobs? We have not seen any jobs. It has been a year. We have seen massive spending by the government, $30 billion, and it continues to grow. I am waiting for the jobs. I am waiting for the announcements in my riding. The former government was very active in that respect.

With respect, I am not hearing any announcements. I do not see that money being spent. I certainly do not see the result of whatever is happening in jobs.

Canada Pension Plan November 29th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, I am really puzzled by the question. We are talking about $24,000 for every woman and man. This is just a suggestion, but I am showing there is a real possibility. That is compared to $12,000. Let us not forget that this legislation will not come into effect for about 40 years. If we really want to do something, this is the direction we should be going. We could provide relief and help the poor in a real and positive way.

Canada Pension Plan November 29th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member says that the poor voted, and that could be.

I mentioned electricity because I remember, after the election, the two leaders dancing on the stage in glee. I am talking about the leader in the province of Ontario who implemented this. If the Prime Minister has any influence, I would ask him to beg the premier to stop this madness.

The other thing I want to add, talking about the poor, is that the government has a habit, which is getting worse and worse, of borrowing money. This is money that the poor will pay for in years to come, and it is going to get a whole lot worse. Therefore, the member should not talk to me about how the government has helped the poor. What the Liberals are doing, in essence, is giving them a death notice.

Canada Pension Plan November 29th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, thank you for this opportunity. It is a great honour to speak to initiatives that are very close to a lot of our hearts. I know it is close to mine. We are talking about the proposed changes in Bill C-26.

I think it should be noted again that these changes will not take full effect until 40 years have passed and will take money out of the paycheques of hardworking Canadians and put thousands of jobs at risk.

It needs to be re-stated that these changes will not provide relief to our seniors. If we want to give relief to our seniors we could start with the high cost of electricity in the province of Ontario and the failed policies that have resulted in those things. Those are the real issues that are causing poverty among our seniors today.

We are going in a little different direction. I have not heard this said yet, so I will talk about someone else the bill will hurt. We know it will hurt employers. Employers are the ones that do the hiring. They are the ones who make those higher CPP payments. It will hurt employees, because they will not longer be employed. They will not get those job opportunities. The one group of people who will really hurt the worst is the the poor. I have not heard that discussed by the opposite side, and surprisingly by the other party on the left.

What about the poor? The poor are the ones who need jobs. We talk so much about how we need to help the poor today, but if we want to help a poor man or a poor woman, give them a job. This particular legislation puts a death knell to that.

We have a good organization in my riding of Chatham-Kent—Leamington, the Chatham-Kent Workforce Planning Board. We had a meeting with them. They are involved in job creation and are doing their part. We heard some encouraging statistics, because the rate of unemployment is dropping in Chatham-Kent—Leamington.

In a former life I had a business. I was a car dealer. I got to work for who I think is probably the smartest guy I have ever met in the car business. He is an actuary. He was a graduate of the University of Toronto. He used to tell me that it is all in the numbers and that I should check the numbers. Subsequently, I have kind of been a number miner.

When I looked at the Chatham-Kent workforce statistics, they showed first of all that we had the large employers and the small and medium-sized businesses. There were some really discouraging statistics. First, we have only two employers who employ over 500 people in the riding of Chatham-Kent—Leamington. The other group is shrinking too.

However, we all know who does the hiring. It is small business. There was a group of businesses with zero to 100 employees. Which group was the largest? Let me just clarify this so members can understand my question. Of that group of businesses that employ from zero to 100 people, which segment was the largest hiring group? I have asked this question of a number of people and we get some varying answers. Some went as low as three employees. Do members know what it is? It is the segment with zero employees.

I was shocked when I saw those numbers, but I am not that shocked when I see legislation like this, because an employer will hire someone when he does a good job. If an individual is a finishing carpenter and the demand is such that the business is getting more work and it makes sense to hire another employee, then they have a whole lot more managing to do, but they will pay that employee what he is worth.

Oftentimes, those people who are at the entry level do not have that value yet. Members can check the statistics for themselves. It is shocking to see that more and more people are doing it on their own. They are not going out and hiring. Who does that affect? It affects the poor, the disenfranchised, the ones we often call the generational poor. It is generational poverty.

My wife and I love parades. When we go down King Street and get into the east end in our home town of Chatham, we get the marginalized people. These people oftentimes do not have the privileges we have. Life is a bit tougher. A lot of them do not have jobs or have not had jobs for a long time. It is those people who will be affected. It is those people who will not be hired. The sad thing is that this continues on generationally.

If the cost of hiring an employee was such that it made sense for that carpenter, plumber, electrician, or whoever to hire, they would. The economy is growing, but the problem is that we put these restrictions on people and we do not realize who it is hurting.

We hear so much in the House about the middle class. I am part of the middle class too. However, we should be talking about the poor. The poor do not necessarily vote for me. However, we should be talking about those people. They are the people who have no voice. Those are the people who look for jobs and cannot find them, or just give up. If we talked about those people, if we have a heart for the people who do not necessarily have a chance, I think we would be talking about something else when it comes to CPP.

I have an idea. Let us have a universal pension plan. I have talked about this with a number of people. We have universal health care. Imagine talking to our neighbours or other people in our home towns who need knee replacements. However, because they do not have a universal pension plan, it will be two years until they can get their knee fixed. However, for us, it would be two weeks. We do the same thing in our pensions. If we really wanted to make change and affect the economy, we should talk about a universal pension plan.

Years ago I had the privilege of working on the finance committee and I got to know a man by the name of Bill Tufts. He is involved in an organization called Fair Pensions for All. Bill and I talked about what would happen if we took all the CPP, OAS, GIS contributions and all of the government's contributions to pension plans, threw it in a big pot, and divided it among all the people who were retired. Every woman and man in our country would get $24,000 when they retired. There is a real solution. If we really wanted to help the poor, if we really wanted to make some changes, there is a universal pension plan right there.

I know that might be a pipe dream, but I am concerned that this legislation would further exacerbate the hiring abilities of employers today. Although that is tough and although it is going to make it rough on employers, it is especially going to make it rough on the poor.

I fear that for the coming generation, more and more it will be impossible for us to hire those who need the jobs, those who will move from their poor status to a higher status, to the middle class, the one we all talk about so much in the House.

I hope members on the other side, because ultimately this will go vote, will consider the damage this will do to our economy, the damage it will do to that group, and ask their government to make the changes and not let the bill before us pass.

Medal of Bravery November 28th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, on May 7, while responding to a fire alarm, Constable Fraser Curtis and his partner were told by bystanders that there may be someone still in the burning building.

He entered the building, without protection and at great risk to his own life, crawled through thick smoke and fire, located the victim, whom he heard coughing, and although the victim was disorientated, belligerent, covered in soot, and intoxicated, he carried him out of the building.

On Thursday, November 24, Lieutenant Governor Elizabeth Dowdeswell awarded Fraser Curtis with the Medal of Bravery. Chatham—Kent Police Chief Gary Conn stated, “All our officers are heroes amongst us, but clearly Constable Curtis' actions went beyond the call of duty in saving this individuals life. His actions further support and exemplify why we chose to become police officers and enter into such an honourable vocation.”

Thank you, Fraser.