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Conservative MP for Flamborough—Glanbrook (Ontario)
Won his last election, in 2015, with 44% of the vote.
Statements in the House
Taxation February 23rd, 2017
Mr. Speaker, on the week that my constituents celebrated Family Day, I rise to voice serious concern that the increasing tax burden the Liberal government is placing on our families has reached a breaking point.
In Flamborough—Glanbrook, young families are the largest and fastest growing demographic. Young couples and parents are working hard in pursuit of their dream to own a home, to make a better life for themselves. We should be rewarding their hard work and not punishing it with new taxes.
When the Prime Minister travels to European galas to lecture others on middle-class angst, he needs to first look at his own actions, because actions speak louder than words: actions like the carbon tax and CPP hike, actions like the cancellation of tax credits families relied on for sports and arts programs for their children, actions taken by the government.
Here is my challenge to the members opposite who talk a big game on reconnecting with the middle class. Long before next Family Day, they should actually go to a local Tim Hortons or a breakfast diner and hear the increasing frustrations of young families before contemplating more taxes to fund the free-spending way of the Liberal government.
Justice February 22nd, 2017
Mr. Speaker, we will try another question for the justice minister.
Women and children are disproportionately the victims of human trafficking and are most commonly exploited for sex, yet the Liberals introduced Bill C-38, which would remove the requirement for human trafficking sentences to be served consecutively.
If the Prime Minister wants to have any credibility as a feminist, then he should start protecting the rights of human trafficking victims over the rights of perpetrators. Why is he giving human traffickers a break and turning his back on their victims?
Business of Supply February 16th, 2017
Mr. Speaker, I take it that my colleague was not inferring or putting words in my mouth or in the mouths of any of my colleagues, in regard to the words I said.
I had just quoted a Canadian Muslim journalist who mentioned that she had concerns regarding the word “Islamophobia”. I was not talking about any Conservative, any member from the Liberal benches or any member from the NDP. I was talking about somebody from that community. That is the concern about the lack of specificity.
I should also let the House know that I did have a direct meeting with the member who sponsored Motion No. 103. I told her I would be glad to be a champion of that motion within my caucus if she changed the term “Islamophobia”, with which even some of the Muslim community has a problem with, to “hatred toward Muslims”. That is very clear.
We stand against it. We will always stand against it and make sure we protect our Muslim community. That would have been the best course. That would have been best way to unify this chamber, and unfortunately she would not accept that amendment.
Business of Supply February 16th, 2017
Mr. Speaker, I have a couple of items that I would like to put on the record.
One is from a well-known journalist, Raheel Raza, who is a member of the Canadian Muslim community and published an op-ed just recently. Her words are, “If M-103 is passed, it will silence positive criticism and widen the gulf between Muslim and non-Muslim Canadians. This is unacceptable”. This is a voice from the Muslim community.
Why we would call anti-Semitism anti-Semitism is because that term has been around since 1879, it has endured academic rigour, it has endured history; it is recognized by the United Nations; it was strengthened by the EUMC in 2005 and by a voluntary group of parliamentarians here in Parliament, called the Canadian Parliamentary Coalition to Combat Antisemitism, in a report in 2010.
When the term Islamophobia stands up to that level of rigour, then I am convinced that the Canadian public will accept that word as meaning hatred toward Muslims. We condemn all hatred toward Muslims and any other group and I am convinced that they will be comfortable with it. However, until then, this is the concern that Conservatives have.
Business of Supply February 16th, 2017
Mr. Speaker, it is an honour for me to rise today to speak regarding a principle which I value greatly and which I think most people in the world value greatly and that is religious freedom. The only dark part of today is that one of our members has been the receiver of so much hate over social media and that I sincerely regret. I work with that particular member on the Subcommittee on International Human Rights and nobody should have to endure that.
Arguably, religious freedom is one of the most important freedoms for from it cascades the freedoms of assembly, of conscience, of worship, of speech.
The member for Cypress Hills—Grasslands deserves our sincerest thanks for his tireless work with respect to human rights and religious freedom and for moving the motion that we are debating today.
The member's motion asks the House of Commons to agree on three points: first, that we recognize Canadian society as not immune to a climate of hate and fear that leads to violence; second, that we condemn all forms of systematic racism, religious intolerance, and discrimination; and third, that the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage undertake a study on how the government can reduce or eliminate all types of discrimination in Canada and table its recommendations in the House. The motion is succinct, inclusive, comprehensive, and timely in the light of recent events.
On January 29, Canadians were shocked to learn of the hateful shooting in a Quebec City mosque that targeted Muslims who had gathered there to pray. Killing someone when the individual is in the submissive position of prayer adds to the heinousness of this act of terror. The lives of six men were taken that day, leaving their families without husbands and fathers and without brothers and uncles. A total of 15 children were left fatherless. Many of the other victims are still suffering today and struggling with their wounds.
From what has been reported, all of this pain and suffering comes because of the hatred within one man for one particular community of faith, in this case Muslims, which was allowed to fester and grow to the point of violence. This murderous act was an affront to the values we hold dear as Canadians. Hatred and violence against anyone, be they Muslim, Christian, Jew, Baha'i, Sikh, Hindu, Zoroastrian, Buddhist, or any other is reprehensible and unacceptable.
Prime Minister John Diefenbaker perfectly articulated the freedoms we cherish and provided those freedoms with legal protection in his signature piece of legislation called the Canadian Bill of Rights. The words enshrined within the Bill of Rights have stood the test of time. For the purposes of today's debate, it is appropriate to read some of Diefenbaker's text into the record:
In Canada there have existed and shall continue to exist without discrimination by reason of race, national origin, colour, religion or sex, the following human rights and fundamental freedoms, namely,
(a) the right of the individual to life, liberty, security of the person and enjoyment of property, and the right not to be deprived thereof except by due process of law;
(b) the right of the individual to equality before the law and the protection of the law;
(c) freedom of religion;
(d) freedom of speech;
(e) freedom of assembly and association; and
(f) freedom of the press.
While these freedoms have been enduring, we must continue to be vigilant to protect them.
I have served on the Subcommittee on International Human Rights for more than a decade. During those years I have heard troubling testimony of grave human rights abuses, be they acts of genocide, terror, sexual slavery, rape as a weapon of war or torture, just to name some. More often than not, these actions are perpetrated deliberately and systematically against minority, ethnic, or religious groups.
While we have been blessed in Canada where hateful violence often does not take these extreme forms, we need to recognize that we are not immune to this type of hate, as evidenced by the travesty in Quebec City.
I do not need to look any further than my city of Hamilton for further examples of acts that threaten our religious freedom. It is unacceptable that Jewish students at McMaster University would feel threatened on campus. It is reprehensible that swastikas were painted on garage doors in Dundas. The Jewish community should not have to feel the need to have police cruisers provide security at synagogues during high holidays in Hamilton.
In the riding I represent, Flamborough—Glanbrook, in the wake of the terrorist attacks of September 11, a Hindu temple was mistaken for a mosque and was firebombed. Fortunately, this attack at the Hindu Samaj Temple led to the creation of several dialogue groups and organizations to increase peace and understanding among our diverse religious and ethnic communities. Yet, recently a mosque in downtown Hamilton had a fire purposely set at its door which fortunately did not consume the building. Still, this crime shows us that more work needs to be done.
In fact, people from across the country, from a variety of faith backgrounds, have reported discrimination of some kind within the last year. This is a disturbing trend that must be stopped.
I have had the opportunity on several occasions now to visit Yad Vashem, the Holocaust museum in Israel. People who go there enter the building that shows the timeline of anti-Semitism, how it grew, how it became socially acceptable, how that paved the way to allow the Nazis to take over Germany, and come up with what they called the final solution. Visiting this museum serves as a reminder to me that hate must be rooted out before it can be allowed to grow. It should serve as a reminder to us, as legislators, that we must enact policies and even the fashion of our dialogue in the chamber should be such that it breeds tolerance, acceptance, and respect for rights of all people.
The previous Conservative government created the office of religious freedom. The office existed so that Canada could have a dedicated voice on issues of religious freedom, a voice that stood out in an increasingly intolerant world. Sadly, one of the first changes of the Liberal government made on the foreign affairs file was to eliminate the office of religious freedom, thus diminishing the voice of principle we once offered.
I attended with the Right Hon. Stephen Harper when he made the announcement about the opening of the office of religious freedom in a mosque in Toronto. He did so with the support of many faith groups across the country. In contrast, the Liberals closed the office coldly in the form of a budget cut in last year's budget. Perhaps, when considering a whole-of-government approach on these issues, this political and ideological decision could be reviewed.
With the overwhelming number of Canadians ascribing to some religion, it is important that the government, although desirous of maintaining a secular nature of governance, understands that those it governs are religious and desire an understanding of religious life from their representatives. I had the honour to serve as the chair of the All Party Interfaith Friendship Group for five years. This group, made up of Muslims, Sikhs, Jews, Christians, Hindus, Baha'is, Zoroastrians, and others, were always ready to provide parliamentarians with education regarding their respective communities.
As I reflect on their advice to us as members, the following themes emerge. First, all Canadians expect to live in communities free of hatred, persecution, prejudice, or violence in any form, against anyone, for any reason. Next, Canada prides itself on being a nation where peoples of any faith can and do live peaceably beside peoples of other faiths. Canadians desire legitimate and dignified debate with respect to peace, order, and good government that should include transparent and open discussion about the meaning of significant and important words. It is my hope that as this debate continues, these themes will provide a framework for the discussion of how the government can continue the work of eliminating racism, religious intolerance, and discrimination.
To conclude my remarks, let me once again quote Prime Minister Diefenbaker. He said:
I am a Canadian...free to speak without fear, free to worship in my own way, free to stand for what I think right, free to oppose what I believe wrong, or free to choose those who shall govern my country. This heritage of freedom I pledge to uphold for myself and all mankind.
I encourage members from all parties to support this motion and, in so doing, the House will give fresh life and meaning to these words.
Human Trafficking February 6th, 2017
Mr. Speaker, victims of human trafficking, mostly women and girls, are coerced into providing sexual services while their perpetrators profit.
The Harper government implemented a national action plan to combat human trafficking focused on prevention, the protection of victims, and the prosecution of offenders. The Liberals have allowed this plan to end without as much as a whimper. Now the Liberals are preparing to remove much needed safeguards by repealing the Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act.
How can the Prime Minister claim to be a feminist while considering legislation that would lead to the exploitation of the most vulnerable? The Liberals should not be thinking of repealing legislation that protects vulnerable women, but should be giving law enforcement across the country more tools for apprehension and conviction. Victim services need more resources, and the government needs to fund safe houses and long-term restoration if it really wants to demonstrate that it cares for these victimized women and girls.
Criminal Code February 2nd, 2017
Mr. Speaker, everybody has alluded to the tragic terrorist event that happened in Quebec City just days ago. I hope that you and all of my colleagues in the chamber will allow me this opportunity to mention the names of those people who are no longer with us: Khaled Belkacemi, Azzedine Soufiane, Aboubaker Thabti, Abdelkrim Hassane, Ibrahima Barry, and Mamadou Tanou Barry.
It is also important to note that five of these six men were fathers. According to the research, which I hope is accurate, and we have done all we can to find that out, 15 children have now been left without fathers. Therefore, it is poignant that we are debating this bill tonight.
Out the outset of my remarks on Bill C-305, I would like to remind the House of the words of Martin Luther King Jr., who said, “Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that”.
Bill C-305 seeks to amend the section of the Criminal Code that applies to hate crimes. As we debate the merits of this bill, we should bear in mind that the antidote for hate is not merely legislation. Indeed, it is love. However, as members of Parliament, we cannot legislate that citizens love one another, although as leaders we often have the opportunity to encourage our constituents to be tolerant, accepting, and compassionate. Furthermore, it is our responsibility to ensure that the legal framework is in place so that those who commit acts motivated by hate are held to proper account.
Last weekend we marked International Holocaust Remembrance Day as we remembered the six million Jews who died in what the Jewish people call the Shoah. I was reminded of my recent visit to Israel, where I toured Yad Vashem, the museum of the Holocaust. If we were to go there, we would enter a building that shows the timeline of anti-Semitism, how it grew, how it became socially acceptable, and how that paved the way to allow the Nazis to take over Germany and to come up with what they called the “final solution”.
As we look back at this time in our collective history, it is clear that any kind of racism, when allowed to brew, when allowed to fester, when allowed to grow, can turn into these kinds of atrocities that all of us despise and all of us would condemn. It is incumbent upon us to enact legislation that would help extinguish hate before it metastasizes into a more virulent form, which is what this bill seeks to address.
In the wake of the terrorist attack on Sept. 11, 2001, misinformed individuals firebombed the Hindu Samaj temple located in my riding, a temple meant for worship and prayer. This destructive act was meant to send a message of hate to Muslims, although it actually hurt the innocent Hindu community that gathers there. This is the type of act we should seek to avert before it happens by teaching and demonstrating tolerance while ensuring that measures in the Criminal Code are in place that could target the early signs of this type of behaviour.
Before I delve into the details of the bill before us, I would like to offer one further reflection.
I have been afforded the opportunity to serve as a member of the Subcommittee on International Human Rights for almost 11 years. This role has opened my eyes to what hate looks like unchecked when taken to its extreme. Hate has ravaged lives in the Middle East, South America, Africa, and virtually every corner of the globe. It has taken the form of genocide, sexual slavery, torture, kidnapping, and other horrific acts. In Canada, hate does not often take these extreme forms, but these tragic events abroad should also serve as a stark reminder that hate must not be allowed to take root. In fact, it must be given no oxygen whatsoever in the public square.
With these reflections in mind, I would like to thank the member for Nepean for bringing this bill forward. He has identified a gap in our statutes respecting hate crimes and has proposed Bill C-305 in response.
Presently, the Criminal Code provides for a penalty of up to 10 years for mischief related to religious property based on bias or prejudice against a certain race, religion, or some other identifiable group. In legal terms, “mischief” broadly refers to destroying, disfiguring, or damaging property or rendering property dangerous or of no use. In plain language, houses of worship are legally protected from damage or disfiguring brought about by hate.
In contrast, if a similar act of hate is committed against a university, a day care centre, a community centre, or a seniors' residence, charges would be laid under the general mischief section of the Criminal Code, but would only carry a sentence of up to two years.
Bill C-305 seeks to close this gap by extending the legal protection afforded to houses of worship to a wide variety of other property critical to our community lives.
It is my view that the Criminal Code should be consistent and tough as it relates to hate crimes. If a person inflicts damage upon a building to propagate a message of hate, such offenders should bear the weight of our criminal justice system, wherever it is.
For this reason, Bill C-305 is deserving of our support at second reading in order to send it to committee where it should receive due consideration, including a robust inquiry of witnesses and a thorough examination to ensure that any unintended consequences are avoided.
This work should also be done in a timely fashion in light of the recent events. The horrific attack at the mosque in Quebec City this past weekend is the latest example that hate still plagues our nation. On Monday, many members of the House gathered by the centennial flame in honour of the victims and to stand in solidarity with the Muslim community. These events should serve as a reminder to us as legislators that we ought to re-double our efforts to root out hate.
Additionally, at the end of 2016 in Ottawa, three synagogues, a mosque, and a church were spray-painted with racist graffiti.
I have every confidence that these actions and others like them are being met with the vigilance of our law enforcement officials. Meanwhile, we must ensure the law responds to these acts appropriately, no matter where they take place, be it a university campus, a high school, or seniors' home. This bill would give our police forces the tools they need to combat hate in all of its forms, everywhere.
Indeed, if we support Bill C-305, we will send the message that hate will not be tolerated in Canada. I look forward to supporting the bill when it comes up for a vote.
Business of Supply February 2nd, 2017
Mr. Speaker, I do not think my colleague was around when these measures were actually taken, but the previous government under Prime Minister Harper initiated the largest single increase in the GIS for seniors in 25 years. We increased the age exemption twice. We increased the personal exemption three times. We introduced pension income splitting. The late Jim Flaherty introduced the shared pension plan, which somebody could voluntarily opt into in order to have a secondary source of pension income. As well, of course, there was the TFSA which was the single greatest enhancement of pension income since the RRSP.
With all of that said, the initiative that the Liberal government is taking is to increase the deficit by 300% more than what it said it would. Who does the member think is going to pay for that when that debt finally becomes due? Does the member realize that the youth who are growing up right now are the ones who eventually will pay for that?
Questions Passed as Orders for Return January 30th, 2017
With regard to Pre-Budget Consultations: who has met with the Minister of Finance for Pre-Budget Consultations in advance of the 2017 Budget, and for each meeting, (i) what are the names of individuals and organizations representated, (ii) what is the date of the meeting, (iii) what are the details of the meeting agenda, (iv) what are the details of any presentations or briefing materials provided?
Questions Passed as Orders for Return January 30th, 2017
With regard to the government`s commitment to implement all 94 calls to action in the final report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, broken down by call to action: (a) what specific steps has the government undertaken towards implementation; (b) what are the next steps that the government will take towards implementation; (c) what is the projected implementation date; (d) what are the details of the costs to date; and (e) what are the projected costs to fully implement?