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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
Questions Passed as Orders for Returns June 17th, 2016
With regard to the renting of venues or properties for executive retreats or meetings outside of a government department, agency, or Crown corporation’s own offices, for all government departments, agencies and Crown corporations, and for the period of November 4, 2015, to April 22, 2016: (a) what was the total cost of the rental of these venues, broken down by department, agency, and Crown corporation; (b) how many times were venues or properties contracted for or rented, broken down by department, agency and Crown corporation; and (c) in each case, (i) what was the name and location of the venue or property, (ii) what was the purpose of the venue or property rental, (iii) how many people attended the retreat or meeting, (iv) what was the overall cost of the rental of the venue?
Questions Passed as Orders for Returns June 17th, 2016
With regard to the Prime Minister’s Office, ministerial exempt staff, and Ministers, for the period of November 4, 2015, to April 22, 2016, what is the total amount incurred for airline change fees, as well as the details of each change fee incurred including the date, amount, and reason for change?
Questions on the Order Paper June 17th, 2016
With regard to changes to government advertising policies, and as of April 22, 2016, what are the details of any changes made during the prior six-month period?
Taxpayer Bill of Rights June 15th, 2016
Madam Speaker, it is always an honour and a privilege to speak in the chamber. I would like to thank my colleague, the member for Calgary Rocky Ridge for the motion. I believe my colleague tabled the motion with the best of intentions and great practicality.
I would like to say up front that I am profoundly disappointed by the tone of the last two speeches that were partisan in nature rather than realistic about what actually happens in our constituency offices. All the members in the House, once they have had just a few months of experience, know, although there might be some differences, that one of the number one areas that all of us deal with are constituents who have concerns with the Canada Revenue Agency. Those concerns end up being very emotional for them. It is very emotional for anyone whenever there are concerns with their bank account and their pocketbook. The member for Calgary Rocky Ridge is simply trying to do the best he can in a motion to the finance committee to ensure that some of those concerns are addressed.
In the multitude of concerns that come into our constituency offices, fortunately, with a couple of phone calls, sometimes with faxes, these situations can be cleared up. We actually have to use a fax machine in order to communicate with Canada Revenue Agency. My colleague over here seems to think we cannot have any improvements. We are still using a fax machine to communicate with the Canada Revenue Agency, so there are some improvements we could make. Fortunately, most of the time, with a couple of faxes and some phone calls, most of the situations are cleared up.
However, as the hon. member for Calgary Rocky Ridge illustrated so well on April 18 with the stories of Irv from British Columbia, Doug from Alberta, and Janet from Ontario, there are times when the Canada Revenue Agency has wronged Canadians and stubbornly refuses to correct its errors. Even worse, it causes significant financial and emotional strain on Canadian taxpayers. It is true it does not happen often, but when we look at the details and circumstances of the stories illustrated by Irv, Doug, and Janet, our goal should be that it should never happen. This is why we have a taxpayers' ombudsman and a taxpayers' bill of rights. On that we can all agree, and for good reasons.
What Motion No. 43 is seeking to do is simply ask the Standing Committee on Finance to study ways to establish an enforceable duty of care from CRA to all Canadians by taking five very reasonable steps. One would think that is fair enough.
As Canada Day approaches, we know Canadians are mindful that we are all indeed very blessed and fortunate to live in this great land. It is a privilege that was hard won by the courageous young women and men who defended our values in two world wars, Korea, Afghanistan, and many peacekeeping missions. It is a privilege that continues to be earned today by our women and men in uniform.
With the privilege of citizenship comes the duty to pay taxes so that our society can function in the caring, compassionate way we all want it to function. I do not believe Canadians object to paying taxes when they believe they are fair and instituted democratically and when governments of any level respect the hard work that provided those tax dollars, and spend the money wisely according to that respect.
Fair is fair. Canadians are known around the world for fairness and compassion. That is why I take exception, along with my colleagues, to the comments made by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Revenue in debate of this motion on April 18. The parliamentary secretary noted the $185-million investment in telephone technology and easier-to-understand correspondence at CRA. We accept that as good, but we do not accept that as enough. Those are well-meaning and reasonable improvements, but they are not mutually exclusive with exploring ways the taxpayers' bill of rights can be enhanced with an enforceable duty of care.
Further, the parliamentary secretary levelled a familiar accusation our way, stating that the Conservatives are smearing public servants again. We heard that here again tonight. Well, that is just a bunch of balderdash. The vast majority of our federal officials are dedicated to serving Canadians. I have mentioned this on innumerable occasions, and so have my colleagues. We have also said all along that the vast majority of Canadians file and dutifully pay their taxes without incident. However, that does not preclude a study of continuous improvement. That is all we are asking for here. That is not anti-public servant. That is pro-taxpayer. Perhaps most arrogantly, he said this is a solution in search of a problem that does not exist.
Well, I think he needs to visit some of our offices more often. Canadian taxpayers who have survived ordeals with CRA that have impacted their health, their finances, and their homes would disagree vehemently.
I reject the notion that CRA, or any other government body, is beyond reproach, unable to make a mistake, or above the law. When someone is wronged, is it unreasonable to expect a dignified and expedient resolution? When many individual taxpayers, citizens, and permanent residents provide tens of thousands of dollars in revenue to the Government of Canada, should they not expect more?
Let us look at what the hon. member for Calgary Rocky Ridge is asking the Standing Committee on Finance to do over the next 18 months and put it in perspective.
All of us here have had some interaction with the health care system in Canada during the course of our lifetimes, and hopefully most here, and the majority of Canadians, have been blessed not to have had too much interaction with the system. While there are always concerns and issues, we know that the public health care system is a source of pride for Canadians.
For the purpose of illustration, let me compare what we are asking for in this motion to a critically ill patient in a Canadian hospital asking the same of the hospital's ombudsperson.
We are asking for an enforceable duty of care between the CRA and individual taxpayers. Most hospitals already have such a code, and certainly the professionals who run them, the doctors and nurses, absolutely do. This is very reasonable.
We are asking for the insertion of reasonable and necessary steps to avoid vexatious, malicious, and grossly negligent actions. In health care, this is a called good bedside manner, quality administration, and avoiding malpractice. These are all good, reasonable things to do, especially when it is a matter of life and death.
We are asking to empower the Taxpayers' Ombudsman. By comparison, in a health care setting, a patient ombudsman is automatically respected and is given the deference she or he is due. In more serious situations, where there is medical power of attorney, it is enforceable by law.
We are asking for service matters to be dealt with in a timely manner. In medicine, time is always of the essence, and again, that is not unreasonable.
These are just four comparisons. However, I believe that all members can see the point. This is not a solution in search of a problem, as the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Revenue so arrogantly put it. This is as reasonable a code for taxpayers as it is for patients, and we should aspire to and embrace this level of care.
The Standing Committee on Finance would have 18 months to study best practices, consider the best approach, and consult with experts, which is entirely doable in 18 months. All we need is the political will to stand up for taxpayers.
That is why I urge all members who believe in serving and representing their constituents who have come to see them in regard to CRA members, who believe in the best nature of Canadians who pay their taxes in support of the privilege and honour of citizenship, and who also believe in fairness for taxpayers to vote yes to this motion.
This motion would give the Standing Committee on Finance the mandate to support good customer service and accountability. That is what we are asking for. It is a reasonable request that this motion be approved by the House so that the standing committee can do the work and make good and reasonable improvements to the Canada Revenue Agency for all Canadians.
Petitions June 3rd, 2016
The second petition is a large petition that calls upon Parliament and government to pass a resolution to establish measures to stop the Chinese Communist regime's crime of systematically murdering Falun Gong practitioners for their organs, to amend Canadian legislation to combat forced organ harvesting, and to publicly call for an end to the persecution of Falun Gong practitioners in China.
Petitions June 3rd, 2016
Madam Speaker, I have two separate petitions on two different subjects.
The first petition calls upon the Government of Canada to maintain the listing of the Islamic Republic of Iran as a state supporter of terrorism, pursuant to section 6.1 of the State Immunity Act, for as long as the Iranian regime continues to sponsor terrorism.
Points of Order June 3rd, 2016
Mr. Speaker, I think you would find the chamber distressed today that we did not hear a report on “free the beer”, and I think if you seek it you would find unanimous consent to hear a report on “free the beer” so that we could have great interprovincial trade and make sure that all Canadians have access to their beer.
Foreign Affairs June 3rd, 2016
Mr. Speaker, for decades the Baha'i community has been the most persecuted peoples in Iran, but in the past few weeks the ruling Mullahs have orchestrated an increasingly hostile and systematic attack on the Baha'i Iranians. The situation is surely grim for the Baha'i.
The eyes of the world are on Iran, and much of the international community is speaking out and putting the appropriate pressure on Iran. Why have the Liberals been so silent in denouncing the latest wave of hatred? Why are they not speaking out and pressuring the Iranian regime to stop the attack on the Baha'i people?
Foreign Affairs June 1st, 2016
Mr. Speaker, I thank the parliamentary secretary for her reply. I take her words and sentiment as most sincere and genuine, and I believe that she and her colleagues share a steadfast belief in the values of freedom, tolerance, and respect.
I would remind members of the House of the difference between just words and action. With the motion on February 18, we took action by recognizing the actual threat and loudly condemning it, and I would ask members to do that at every opportunity in the future.
As a member of the panel of inquiry of the Canadian Parliamentary Coalition to Combat Anti-Semitism in 2010 and 2011, along with other members of the House, I heard more than enough testimony from witnesses about anti-Semitic deeds taking place in Canada, and we are still very concerned today.
I would like to ask the parliamentary secretary, in the absence of substantive evidence that the motion was divisive, to confirm for the House and all Canadians that the government will abide by the motion, will be clear and unequivocal in its condemnation of the BDS movement, and at every opportunity will educate Canadians on the error of the BDS movement. Will she do that tonight?
Foreign Affairs June 1st, 2016
Mr. Speaker, I rise to discuss the question I asked the Minister of Foreign Affairs on February 19 regarding the boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement against Israel, also known by abbreviation as the BDS movement.
My question came the day after a motion put forward by my colleague the hon. member for Parry Sound—Muskoka condemning the BDS movement and calling it what it is, an effort to demonize and de-legitimize the state of Israel and thereby single out the Jewish people.
The motion, which was passed by this chamber on February 22, is emblematic of the values that unite us as Canadians: tolerance, respect, peace, and friendship. It condemned any and all attempts by Canadian groups to promote the BDS agenda, which is, quite frankly, symptomatic of the new kind of anti-Semitism that we must not let fester here in Canada.
The motion made a powerful statement in its categorical rejection of hate. Hate on the basis of race, creed, colour, or religion is appalling to all Canadians, and its strong rejection unites us. Indeed, it united the vast majority of the members of the House.
That is why it was so disturbing that the very next day after the debate, when I asked the minister if he and the cabinet would be clear and unequivocal in condemning the BDS movement, the minister attempted to score cheap political points by questioning our motives and labelling the motion an attempt at division. He admitted that he had reservations.
With one cavalier comment, the minister took defence for the principles and values that unite all Canadians and made them a partisan issue. This is offensive to me, and I suspect it is offensive to many of the 229 members of the House who voted in favour of the motion. It is also offensive to Canadians of Jewish descent who were reassured by the greater symbolism of the motion: a coming together of parliamentarians to confront a serious public societal and safety issue.
I know family members of Holocaust victims in my community who have attended rallies organized by the BDS movement on campuses, and they tell me that they have been concerned for their safety in these circumstances. I have heard the same from Jewish students at the local university in the riding I formerly represented, McMaster University.
Sadly and alarmingly, in my own city, swastikas have been painted on garage doors of Jewish homes, and synagogues have felt compelled to increase security measures in recent years.
If there is any doubt that a new kind of anti-Semitism exists on our shores, let there be none.
If there is any doubt that the ideology and views espoused by the BDS movement are a dangerous and slippery slope that should gravely concern all peoples who love freedom and tolerance, let there be none.
If there are reservations that Canada's Parliament speaking in a unifying voice against hate directed at Israel and Jews is somehow just partisanship, let there be none.
Here is my question for the minister. Will he recant his unfounded and disingenuous comment that the motion was divisive, or can he produce substantive evidence that would lend any legitimacy to his statement that a motion that stands up for the values that unite us as Canadians is somehow divisive?