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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word is regard.

Conservative MP for Flamborough—Glanbrook (Ontario)

Won his last election, in 2015, with 44% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns June 18th, 2018

With regard to unescorted temporary absences for inmates in Correctional Service of Canada institutions, since November 4, 2015: (a) how many individuals serving an indeterminate sentence have been granted unescorted temporary absences; (b) for those individuals referred to in (a), what are the index offences for each individual who was granted an unescorted temporary absence; (c) for those individuals referred to in (a), what was the purpose and duration of each unescorted temporary absence; (d) for those individuals referred to in (a), how many individuals became unlawfully at large during the period of their unescorted temporary absence; (e) how many individuals serving life sentences have been granted unescorted temporary absences; (f) for those individuals referred to in (e), what are the index offences for each individual who was granted an unescorted temporary absence; (g) for those individuals referred to in (e), what was the purpose and duration of each unescorted temporary absence; (h) for those individuals referred to in (e), how many individuals became unlawfully at large during the period of their unescorted temporary absence; (i) how many individuals serving a sentence of 25 years or more have been granted unescorted temporary absences; (j) for those individuals referred to in (i), what are the index offences for each individual who was granted an unescorted temporary absence; (k) for those individuals referred to in (i), what was the purpose and duration of each unescorted temporary absence; (l) for those individuals referred to in (i), how many individuals became unlawfully at large during the period of their unescorted temporary absence; (m) how many individuals serving a sentence of ten years or more have been granted unescorted temporary absences; (n) for those individuals referred to in (m), what are the index offences for each individual who was granted an unescorted temporary absence; (o) for those individuals referred to in (m), what was the purpose and duration of each unescorted temporary absence; and (p) for those individuals referred to in (m), how many individuals became unlawfully at large during the period of their unescorted temporary absence?

Points of Order June 14th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, with the greatest of respect, I was wondering if I could ask you to review the tapes.

Earlier, the member for Vancouver Kingsway made a comment that was general to the Liberal bench, and you called him out for that. Just previous to that, the member for Fredericton made a very egregious remark, not through you, Mr. Speaker, but directly to the member for Thornhill. I feel if one is worthy of being called out, the other one should be as well.

With all due respect, Mr. Speaker, I wonder if you could review the video and peruse your decision there.

Latin American Heritage Month Act June 13th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to rise today in support of Bill S-218 and the establishment of a Latin American heritage month here in Canada.

I would be remiss if I did not begin by acknowledging the late Senator Enverga, who passed away last November. Senator Enverga, of course, was an immigrant to Canada from the Philippines, and was the first Filipino Canadian to be appointed to the Senate. He was a great parliamentarian and a passionate advocate and voice for Latin Americans here in Canada. He is sorely missed by everyone who had the opportunity to work with him.

This bill seeks to establish October of every year as Latin American heritage month in recognition of the substantial contributions that the Latin American community has made to the social, economic, and political fabric of our country. It seeks to recognize great Canadians like Dr. Ivar Mendez, a world renowned neurosurgeon whose research on Parkinson's Disease, and the use of remote presence robots for medical care in neurosurgery, has earned him international acclaim. Dr. Mendez is also an active humanitarian, having established neurosurgical units in several developing countries, and having founded the Ivar Mendez International Foundation, which provides health and educational assistance for students in Bolivia. He is a recipient of the Canadian Red Cross Humanitarian of the Year Award and the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal.

Alberto Guerrero is another Latin American who comes to mind, a great Chilean Canadian pianist who influenced several generations of Canadian musicians and who was widely considered one of, if not the pre-eminent music teacher in Canada, having taught historic musicians like Glenn Gould. His influence can be felt throughout Canadian music to this day. Mr. Guerrero is just one member of the Latin American Canadian community who has contributed to a rich Canadian literature and arts scene.

This community has also had a great impact on our national culture through sport. There are countless Latin American Canadian athletes, and I believe my colleague will name a number of them, in soccer, hockey, baseball, football, and other sports, who have made great contributions to Canadian culture. They are not only athletes, but they serve as role models for so many young Canadians from coast to coast to coast.

These are just some examples of the many individuals that Latin American heritage month will allow us to recognize and celebrate.

Equally as important is the fact that this bill allows us to celebrate the success of so many Latin American Canadians and the triumphs they have made despite such long odds, with many having come to Canada in search of a better life or fleeing poor conditions and human rights violations in their home countries.

Throughout the 42nd Parliament, the Subcommittee on International Human Rights has studied the human rights situation in Latin America on multiple occasions. In May of 2016, the subcommittee heard a delegation from the Venezuelan National Assembly, and the picture they painted was quite grim.

The Maduro regime has actively sought to delegitimize elected members of the National Assembly, and has issued prison sentences against assembly members to further its anti-democratic agenda. The average Venezuelan faces a severe lack of access to food and to medicine, with citizens only able to find two of 10 food staples and one in 10 medicines. The delegation highlighted that over the period from 2014 to 2016, poverty was projected to jump from 48% to above 80%.

In 2017, we received an update on the situation by Lilian Tintori, a Venezuelan democracy advocate and the wife of imprisoned opposition leader Leopoldo López, who was joined by the hon. Irwin Cotler, former Minister of Justice. They provided testimony on the deteriorating situation in Venezuela. The situation from the previous year had gotten even worse, with more prisoners of conscience being denied their very basic human rights, and the democratic process being undermined by a tyrannical regime reinforced by its stacked supreme court. These awful conditions have only gotten worse since then.

This heritage motion will help us to remember and advocate for all of those Venezuelans seeking the justice, democracy, and human rights that we enjoy.

In June 2016, we heard testimony concerning the situation in Honduras, where human rights are regularly challenged by insecurity and impunity. Officials from Global Affairs Canada briefed the subcommittee on issues of mass violence and corruption, particularly targeted at human rights defenders and activists.

Berta Cáceres and Nelson Garcia, indigenous human rights defenders, were both gunned down in separate incidents in March 2016. These murders provoked international responses, with our own government condemning the murders and urging the Honduran authorities to ensure justice.

As long as these challenges to human rights protections and law and order exist, long-term development is impossible, and the most vulnerable groups, namely women, children, and indigenous peoples, will continue to struggle. This heritage month bill will remind us of the Hondurans seeking the promise of peace, order, and good government that we enjoy.

The subcommittee also received an update in June 2017 on the situation in Guatemala from Luis García Monroy, the co-founder of Youth Organized in the Defense of Life. Mr. García Monroy told the committee that government corruption and acts of impunity have led to legal, physical, and political attacks on human rights activists. He told us that Guatemalan government forces forcibly displaced families and criminalized human rights defenders. These crimes are totally unacceptable under international human rights law and what is expected of a government with respect to protecting the rights of its citizens.

The countries and situations that I have just highlighted are only a few of the difficult situations in Latin America, the ones that our subcommittee has been able to study. While we have not had the opportunity to study the poor conditions facing people in Cuba, or in many regions of Mexico, this gives some context to just how much adversity so many have to overcome. In this light, thousands have come to Canada from Venezuela, Honduras, Guatemala, and numerous other countries across Latin America in search of a better life for themselves and their families.

Throughout our history, Canada has welcomed these thousands of migrants and refugees who have since become part of the very fabric of our communities across the country. Many of these fine Canadians are truly unsung heroes who contribute to our community on a daily basis. They are small business owners, volunteers, activists, and public servants. They have achieved so much and helped us build a better country despite the long odds and suffering that they may have faced in their birth countries. It is through these individuals and others that we have developed such a strong, multicultural society here in Canada. It is through celebrating these communities that we can continue to embrace that multicultural identity that we as Canadians enjoy and are so proud of.

This bill can also help to grow our relationship with these communities and celebrate the positive influence that Canada can have abroad. I highlight the positive influence on these countries that Canada can achieve, not just in accepting migrants but also in diplomacy, because diligent diplomacy can improve the human rights situation in developing countries. There is a perfect example from the previous Conservative government under Prime Minister Harper, which negotiated a free trade agreement with Colombia. Since then, Colombia is one of the only countries in the region where the human rights situation has gotten better.

This Latin American heritage month bill would only further grow these ties between Canada and Latin American communities, and hopefully spur positive relations and human rights development between our country and those in the Latin American region.

I will conclude by once again acknowledging the late Senator Enverga and thanking him for his dedication to Canada and his passion to serve. Latin American heritage month will truly be a lasting symbol of his legacy. May God bless Senator Enverga's family. May God bless Canada. May God bless Latin America.

Business of Supply June 11th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, I have more of a comment.

The Iranian regime of Ayatollah Khamenei is an extraordinarily tyrannical regime that is matchless in the world. Therefore, I would defend everything the member said by explaining that for the last 13 years, the Subcommittee on International Human Rights has never had more cases of human rights violations as we have had from Iran. In fact, we have Iran accountability week, which derived from our committee for that very reason.

This is a regime that kills its own citizens. It targets Baha'is, Ismailis, or anybody who has anything to say against the regime. It has a very intricate structure of terror as well, from people like those in the Basij, who are on the ground terrorizing people when they are protesting, and will use knives to cut ligaments in their legs, etc., to make sure they demoralize the crowd. The Revolutionary Guard Corps very handily exports terror, and grafts money from its citizens and exports it out of the country as well. We have a lot of evidence on that. I could go on and on.

However, the government often talks about our reputation on the world stage. By normalizing relations with a regime like Iran, it can do nothing but harm our reputation on the world stage. I defend my colleague's speech on making sure that does not happen.

Carbon Pricing June 11th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, last Thursday, Ontarians roundly rejected the Liberals' higher taxes and irresponsible spending of the Liberal government. They rejected years of Liberal mismanagement and scandal. Most of all, they rejected the Liberal carbon tax.

Last week the voters in this province spoke loudly and clearly. When will the Prime Minister start listening and stop forcing his destructive carbon tax on Canadians?

Infant Loss June 8th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, much has been said about the painful compounding of tragedy when government policy and legislation lack coherence as they pertain to the actual people they are intended to serve.

I would like to use my time to share with this chamber just how tragically things can unfold, and how helpless and devastated people may feel when faced with a tragedy and subsequently victimized by existing flawed legislation.

Before I do this, I would like to quote from the Good Book, a little passage from James 4:17, which says, “Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin.” In our case, if it is within our power to correct a great injustice and we fail to do it, how much more unjust are our actions?

My wife Almut and I were soulmates back in 1978, and this unbelievable love only grew. I still remember when my wife-to-be began walking down the aisle at our wedding on a September day in 1993. She was so radiantly beautiful that she took my very breath away. We could not wait to be married and grow in our love for each other, and extend that love beyond ourselves by having a good number of children. From natural birth and adoption, we have seven children.

The following June, we welcomed Christopher into the world, and our joy was overflowing. He was healthy, so was mom, and we were looking forward to being parents. He was a handful, but we were willing and quick learners.

I do not mind saying that with help from some of our great mentors, friends, and family, motherhood and fatherhood fit us like a glove. For Almut and me, next to our love for each other was the love for our children and the awesome quest to help them grow into principled, contributing, and ethical adults.

It was not too long thereafter that Almut became pregnant once more, and we were more excited than ever to greet the next addition to the Sweet family. We were a bit concerned, because Almut seemed to be growing at too fast a rate as her pregnancy progressed, but this was only marginally dampening our spirits compared to the opportunity of a new child.

She visited an obstetrician early, as suggested, and as referred to by our GP. Sure enough, through amniocentesis and ultrasound, she was diagnosed with polyhydramnios, which is too much amniotic fluid too early.

Of course, we were concerned, but the doctor comforted us that there was a low percentage of complication with such a condition, and that he would watch Almut and the new girl closely. We found out it was a girl due to the tests that were needed to determine the cause of the increased fluid production.

Knowing a girl was coming excited us even more, and we did the usual thing. We painted the red room pink and made sure we had all of the corresponding toys to welcome a female infant.

The following months involved a lot of appointments to continue to monitor Almut and the baby with the fluid buildup. It is my recollection that, other than these appointments, it did not seem like our health team was overly concerned, so we were not either. Consequently, our expectations grew and grew, as did our preparations.

I believe it was around two in the morning in the seventh month of the baby's term, although I must admit I am still hazy on the details, when I heard one of those screams that no one ever likes to hear, particularly if it comes from the person one loves the most. I ran in the direction of the scream. My wife was in the bathroom at that time. She was in shock, and I was quite shocked as well to see the feet of the baby exposed from her. Because of the abundance of amniotic fluid, her membrane had burst with such force that it forced our daughter, who had not turned yet, breeched into the birth canal. This was a terrifying predicament for young parents with little to no medical knowledge to find themselves in.

I did all I could to bring comfort to Almut and assure her that I would move heaven and earth to save our baby's life and to keep her safe as well.

Fortunately, my sister, who was staying with us at the time, ran in to see what was going on. She called an ambulance and got our obstetrician on the phone as well. The doctor was not calm. I had to reassure him to calm him down. Fortunately, he came around and began to give me instructions.

First, he said, I needed to reach up and unhook each arm. It felt like those little arms were going to come off at any moment. Nonetheless, I was able to free her left arm and then her right arm.

Immediately upon my releasing her right arm, her little body moved down so fast that it looked like it was going to blast out across the room it. Of course, it did not, because when a baby is breech, the jaw hangs up on the pelvic bone, which is why the baby needs to turn for a good, successful birth.

I said to the doctor, “There must be some kind of manipulation or process. What can I do now? I don't want to tear her fragile little head off of her body.” To my surprise, he hung up on me. To this day I do not know why. Maybe it was because he was afraid of some kind of responsibility, or maybe he panicked himself. However, I was there alone with my bride, who was panicking, and my young daughter, who was trapped in the birth canal and was beginning to suffocate.

There are a lot more details that I could share with respect to this story. The ambulance came. However, of course it was too late. My wife was in shock. Thank the Lord, she recovered completely, physically and psychologically, but all of our hopes and dreams for our daughter vanished. It was like we were in a very dark tunnel all alone. Though we had many friends to comfort us, the gut-wrenching emotional pain of the loss was so great that it was like we were in another dimension. We knew they were there, but we could hardly hear their voices. This heartbreaking, mind-numbing, strength-sapping emotion took a long time to begin to lift.

Today, Ruth Gisela Sweet rests in Meadowvale Cemetery in Brampton, Ontario. Thankfully, the faith that we live by assures us that we will be together again.

I share this painful story with the House not for any personal comfort or catharsis, but so all members may have a clear understanding what it is like when, annually, hundreds of Canadian mothers and fathers go through such an event as this. It is my hope that knowing this, there will not be any resistance to passing this motion that is before the House so that a great injustice can be corrected quickly, completely, and properly.

After going through this kind of trauma, no one should be faced with a form letter that advises them that on top of their immense pain, they will now have to face financial hardship as a result of being cut off from government benefits. How cruel and malevolent it must seem to people who have gone through such suffering to have to experience that as well.

Let us do all we can to quickly pass this motion, get the study started, and make recommendations in order to ensure this injustice comes to an end once and for all.

Foreign Affairs June 8th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, Iran's Khamenei regime regularly uses terror groups, such as Hamas and Hezbollah, to destabilize the Middle East and target Israel, our closest ally and the only stable democracy in the region. This week, Iran's so-called supreme leader tweeted, “Israel is a malignant cancerous tumor...that has to be removed and eradicated”. His ambassador to France revealed that they are funding the present violent protests in Gaza. Why do the Liberals continue to insist on normalizing relations with a country that is such an obvious threat to peace, security and democracy?

Budget Implementation Act, 2018, No. 1 June 5th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, I was awoken by this unbelievable analysis of how child benefits are delivered in Canada. I wonder why the member did not include in his characterization of the child benefit that the universal child care benefit went to everybody. For people with high incomes, it was neutralized by being taxed back.

He did not mention the arts credit that the Liberals removed. He did not mention the sports tax credit that the Liberals removed. He did not mention the transit tax credit that Liberals removed, which most families enjoyed. Amazingly, he did not mention income splitting for lower-income families, so that they could enjoy that as well.

All of this profoundly diminishes this current child benefit and puts families way behind where they were, including a family I know very well in Winnipeg, a stay-at-home mom with two kids. This family pays $1,500 more in tax because of this crazy policy.

Scleroderma Awareness Month June 1st, 2018

Madam Speaker, today is the beginning of June and it is also the beginning of Scleroderma Awareness Month.

Scleroderma is a progressive and chronic connective tissue disorder that can attack one's internal organs, literally shutting them down one by one, and can also cause weeping ulcers, skin deterioration, and Raynaud's disease, among other symptoms.

As many in the House already know, I had to watch my mother suffer the awful effects that scleroderma brings and that eventually took her life. It was one of the most heart-wrenching experiences of my life.

Unfortunately, my mother was just one of many women to be afflicted with scleroderma, as almost 80% of sufferers are women and most are diagnosed between the ages of 30 and 50.

We still are not sure what causes scleroderma, but what we do know is that the number of diagnoses is on the rise.

Research on new therapeutic measures has been promising, but much more is needed. We need more funding to drive this research to find a cure and stem the tide of this horrid disease.

We can and must assure the men and women suffering that the Government of Canada is in their corner.

Export and Import Permits Act May 30th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, with my colleague's comments on not only this bill but some of the rhetoric, I wonder if he has some concerns that the only thing we are hearing with regard to the environment is the reduction of greenhouse gases and climate change.

While those aspects are very important, we are not hearing anything about clean air, clean land, or clean water. There seems to be a total absence in that regard.

Let me just give one example of why that is important. We focused on noxious gases and particulate in the air because 6,000 to 8,000 Canadians die every year because of bad air. We had a significant reduction in particulate and in noxious and SOx gases, to the degree that when the member for Don Valley West was the president of the Asthma Society of Canada, he confided in me and said that our government was doing a very good job at reducing particulate.

I wonder if my colleague could comment on the one-sided aspect of the environment that the current government focuses on. We had to come in after 20 years and finally clean up the Sydney tar ponds and finally deal with the number one hotspot in the Great Lakes in Hamilton. We finally got the job done. I am just wondering if the member has a concern about a holistic approach to environment.