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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was citizenship.

Last in Parliament October 2015, as Conservative MP for Calgary Northeast (Alberta)

Lost his last election, in 2015, with 40% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Canadian Citizenship March 6th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I was pleased to join our hard-working Minister of Citizenship and Immigration in Toronto and Calgary a few weeks ago to announce our Conservative government's Bill C-24, the strengthening Canadian citizenship act, which will strengthen the immense value of Canadian citizenship and ensure that a Canadian passport remains highly regarded around the world.

I also want to personally thank the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration for working with me and transferring the contents of my private member's bill, Bill C-425, into his new act. Once this bill becomes law, Canada will fall into line with virtually every other western democratic nation. It will have the ability to strip the citizenship of convicted terrorists. According to a national poll, this measure has the support of over 85% of Canadians from across Canada, including 80% of NDP supporters, 87% of Liberal supporters, and 83% of those who immigrated to Canada.

I call upon the opposition to represent the will of their constituents and support this bill.

Business of Supply December 9th, 2013

Mr. Speaker, I would remind the member that in 2012, the most recent review of the CPP confirmed that it is sustainable at the current contribution rate of 9.9% and it is sustainable for at least 75 years.

The member opposite is well aware that the global economic environment remains fragile. She also knows that global growth has been weaker than expected, with growth in advanced economies stabilizing at a relatively slow pace, while growth in emerging markets has slowed. In light of so many factors, it is not surprising that the International Monetary Fund recently revised downward its outlook for real GDP growth in both advanced and emerging economies.

Coming back to my consultations with my constituents, this is what Daljit Randhawa, from Best Buy Furniture, had to say:

Currently, we have 16 employees, so an increase of $1,130 per employee would mean an additional $17,600 in payroll costs for our business.

I will share this also. In my own law firm, the first thing my partner does is ask my wife, Neetu Shory, to look into how much it would actually cost to hire another employee in our law firm. That is the basis for new employees.

Business of Supply December 9th, 2013

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for an intelligent question. I agree with him that some of the provinces have shown their concerns. For the record, let me quote what Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil said:

We have some issues about what that will mean to small business owners in this province, and what is the impact on low-income Nova Scotians and Canadians.

Talking about the quotes, I have consulted some small business owners in my own riding in Calgary Northeast. Romi Sidhu has nine employees. He owns an insurance agency. He said that an increase in the CPP employer contribution would mean that he would need to reconsider the expansion plans that he has for his insurance agency.

On top of that, another employer, Bobby Kular from Kular Enterprises Ltd., said he has seven employees and he agrees with Romi Sidhu.

Business of Supply December 9th, 2013

Mr. Speaker, in 2012, the most recent review of the CPP confirmed that it is sustainable at the current contribution rate of 9.9% of pensionable income for at least 75 years.

Expanding the CPP is not supported by everyone. In a recent study by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, 65% of businesses said they would freeze or cut salaries; 48% said they would reduce investments in their businesses; and 42% said they would decrease the number of their employees.

Even Liberal Premier Wynne admits there are different perspectives on whether Canadians and businesses can afford to increase their contributions to the CPP in a fragile economy.

Business of Supply December 9th, 2013

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from the other side. I was in the House this morning when he made his opening speech. Let me quote what he said this morning.

He stated, “How can people be expected to voluntarily save when Canadians already have the highest household debt rate in history? To suggest people should voluntarily save, and that will do the trick, ignores the reality that most working people and an increasingly large number of middle-class Canadians as well are not able to save. [...] why take a chance on a voluntary program?”

I welcomed these words from the hon. member for Victoria, whose motion we are discussing today. I think it cuts to the core of what we are really talking about.

The NDP is suggesting to increase the CPP contributions on the very people it admits cannot afford these increases. The NDP would have middle and lower income Canadians choose between rent, groceries and heat for their children, in order to satisfy its own social agenda.

Business of Supply December 9th, 2013

Mr. Speaker, before I begin, I would like to express heartfelt condolences from the Shory family and from the constituents of Calgary Northeast to the family and friends of Nelson Mandela and the nation of South Africa. Mandela's long walk to freedom left a lasting legacy for his people, leading to them to peace, not retribution.

Mandela once said:

When a man has done what he considers to be his duty to his people and his country, he can rest in peace.

Indeed, he can rest in peace now.

Today, I appreciate the opportunity to respond to the hon. member's motion for debate on expanding the Canada pension plan. Let me be clear. Our Conservative government is focused on what matters to Canadians: growing the economy and helping to create jobs.

Since 2006, we have taken responsible actions to ensure that Canada's economy is well positioned for long-term prosperity. We are on the right track. Thanks to the economic action plan, we have created over one million net new jobs since the end of the recession, nearly 90% of which are full-time positions and more than 80% are in the private sector. This is the best job creation record in the G7 by far. What is more, Statistics Canada recently announced that 21,600 net new jobs were added in November, with the unemployment rate remaining at 6.9%. This is a record of which my constituents of Calgary Northeast and all Canadians can be proud.

However, we know that Canada is not immune to the challenges beyond its borders. The global economy remains fragile, especially in the U.S. and Europe, both among our largest trading partners. Indeed, the sovereign debt crisis in Europe continues to weigh on the confidence of consumers and businesses. Closer to home, a slow recovery in the U.S., as well as uncertainty surrounding the sustainability of its finances, poses the greatest risk to the Canadian economy.

In light of these factors, not surprisingly, the International Monetary Fund recently revised its outlook downward for the real GDP growth in both advanced and emerging economies. In fact, the IMF now projects that growth in advanced economies will average just 1.2% in 2013, down from its previous projection of 1.4%.

With significant risks still remaining in the global economy, Canada must remain well positioned to withstand any shocks arising from beyond its borders. However, for some reason, it is in this challenging economic environment that the NDP unilaterally demands that we expand the Canada pension plan.

While CPP reforms continue to be examined by ourselves and the provinces, we share the concerns of small businesses and their workers of increasing costs in a fragile global recovery. I would like to offer the House some examples of what people think about expanding the CPP at this time.

First, here is what the Canadian Federation of Independent Business had to say:

Small firms believe that the economy cannot manage a significant increase in payroll taxes...Thousands of workers could find themselves with reduced hours or out of a job as a result of employers having to react to higher payroll costs

Similarly, the Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association had the following concern:

The restaurant industry is one of the country’s largest employers and the number one place where Canadians get their first-job experience. Increasing CPP premiums puts these opportunities at risk.

There is still more. Writing for Canadian Business magazine, here is what Larry MacDonald had to say:

There doesn't seem to be a real need for it...A jump in CPP premiums makes it more expensive for businesses to maintain a workforce and could lead to job losses.

I could go on and on. There is just so much opposition to this short-sighted NDP proposal to potentially double the CPP.

Why does the NDP want to increase payroll taxes on small businesses? Does the NDP not recognize the vital role that small businesses play in Canada's economy? Does the NDP not recognize that they are essential in creating jobs and economic growth?

Fortunately, our Conservative government understands that small businesses are the cornerstone of Canada's economy. Indeed, that is why since 2006 our government has lowered the small business tax bill by over $28,000. We have achieved this through such measures as reducing the small business tax rate from 12% to 11%, increasing the amount of income eligible to lower the small business tax rate from $300,000 to $500,000 and introducing the job-creating small business hiring tax credit. It is measures like these that have left Canada's entrepreneurs with more money to grow their businesses and create more jobs.

Indeed, we are taking further action to support Canada's job creators.

Through economic action plan 2013, we are extending and expanding the hiring credit for small businesses, which will benefit an estimated 560,000 employers and provide close to $225 million in tax relief in 2013. We are also freezing employment insurance premiums to provide predictability and stability for small businesses. This action will keep $660 million in the pockets of job creators in 2014 alone to be spent on hiring more employees, improving wages and growing their businesses. This is how a responsible government supports job creation. Unlike the opposition, we will not attack job creators with massive tax hikes.

Unfortunately, while we are supporting this vital sector of our economy, the NDP is putting forward proposals that will hurt small businesses. As if a $20 billion carbon tax was not enough, now the NDP is demanding that our government double the CPP, which is a proposal that would kill up to 70,000 Canadians jobs. Once more, the NDP plan would force contributions raised on average by over $1,600 per year. A family with two workers could be forced to pay as much as $2,600 every year. Where does the NDP want the family to find this money? I know that it does not grow on trees. Families may be forced to cut on rent payments, heating or grocery bills.

The NDP is out of touch with the concerns of Canadian families and it has not listened to the concerns of the provinces either.

The NDP claims that a CPP expansion has the support of the provinces. As hon. members should be aware, any expansion of the Canada pension plan would require the support of two-thirds of provinces representing two-thirds of the Canadian population. Had the member done his research, he would have learned that a number of provinces have clearly expressed concerns about the economic impact of higher payroll dedications on workers and their employers at a time when the global economy remains uncertain.

Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall has already said that now is not the time for contribution changes or increases.

Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil has said, “some issues about what that will mean to small business owners in this province, and what is the impact on low-income Nova Scotians and Canadians”.

New Brunswick Finance Minister Blaine Higgs stated, “We don't think it's the right time to put on additional costs to business owners and employees”.

Talking for British Columbia, the finance department has said, “B.C. believes pension reforms should not be undertaken before the economy has recovered from the impacts of the recent recession”.

We share these concerns. Why do we share these basic concerns? Because the basic truth that the opposition does not understand is that for many Canadians there is no good retirement plan if they have no job.

That is not to say that the opposition motion is completely without merit. It is actually quite useful in offering us a prime example of how not to go about improving retirement security for Canadians.

The NDP wants to derail our economic recovery, and it wants to raise payroll taxes. It could not care less about the concerns raised by the provinces and small businesses.

In addition, it ignores the fact that Canada's retirement system is already recognized as among the strongest in the world, thanks in large portion to the action plan taken by this Conservative government. Indeed, this is a record of which we are justifiably proud.

Our Conservative government has delivered positive results and offered innovative new options to Canadians working and planning for retirement as well as those who are already in retirement. Our actions have resulted in a very low rate of poverty among seniors.

I would like to take some time to highlight the three pillars of Canada's retirement income system and show the opposition how this system is helping Canadian seniors.

The first pillar, comprising old age security and the guaranteed income supplement program, provide a basic minimum income for seniors, which is funded out of the federal government's revenues. Indeed, the old age security and the guaranteed income supplement are important toward reducing poverty and ensuring basic income support in retirement. That is why our government implemented a new guaranteed income supplement top-up benefit for Canada's most vulnerable seniors. As a result of our changes, more than 680,000 low-income seniors are now receiving additional annual benefits of up to $620 for a single senior and $865 for couples.

Currently the federal government provides approximately $40 billion in OAS/GIS benefits per year to more than 5.2 million Canadians. Given the sheer size of this program and its importance to our retirement system, we recently took steps to ensure that OAS remains on a sustainable path over the long term. We did so because the OAS program was designed for a different time. In the 1970s, there were seven workers for every one person over the age 65; in 20 years, there will be only two. In 1970, life expectancy was age 69 for men and 76 for women; today, it is 79 for men and 83 for women. At the same time, Canada's birth rate is falling.

Canadians are living longer and healthier lives, which, of course, is a good thing. Our changes would ensure OAS is put on a sustainable path so it is there when the next generation of Canadians need it. That is responsible economic leadership.

The Canada pension plan is the second pillar in Canada's retirement income system. It is one where we have already made improvements. Working with the provinces, we modernized the Canada pension plan to make it more flexible for those transitioning out of the workforce, to better reflect the way Canadians currently live, work and retire.

The CPP and Quebec pension plan currently provide approximately $45 billion per year in benefits to about 6.6 million individuals, financed by contributions from workers and employers. I am happy to inform this House that the most recent actuarial report on the CPP by the Chief Actuary, tabled in Parliament on December 3, confirmed that the plan is sustainable at the current contribution rate of 9.9% of pensionable earnings for at least the next 75 years. In other words, the CPP is in good shape and has a great future.

I would like to turn now to the third and final pillar of Canada's retirement income system. The government has provided various tax-assisted private savings opportunities to help Canadians save for their retirement. These include registered pension plans and registered retirement savings plans.

Contributions to RPPs and RRSPs are deductible from income for tax purposes, and investment income earned in these plans is not subject to income tax. The federal tax cost associated with RPP and RRSP savings is significant and currently estimated at approximately $24 billion per year.

Given their importance, we have enhanced the incentives for private savings in a number of ways. In 2009, for example, we consulted Canadians from coast to coast to coast and introduced a number of changes to the framework for federally regulated registered pension plans.

These improvements require the plan sponsors to fund any deficiency that exists at the date the pension plan is terminated. They also provide sponsors of the defined benefit pension plans with more funding flexibility, making them less sensitive to market volatility.

In budget 2008, our government introduced the tax-free savings account, which became available in 2009. The TFSAs are flexible, general purpose, tax-assisted savings accounts that may be used for any purpose, including retirement savings. The TFSA provides greater savings incentives for low and modest income individuals, since neither TFSA investment income nor withdrawals affect eligibility for federal income tested benefits and credits, such as OAS and GIS benefits.

Initially allowing Canadians to save tax free on up to $5,000 each year, our government recently increased the amount by $500. As a result of this action, since 2013 Canadians have been able to benefit from an overall annual tax-free savings contribution limit of $5,500 from TFSAs.

That is not all. Our government has also taken concrete actions to help address what has been identified as a gap on the voluntary side of Canada's retirement income system. While participation in retirement savings vehicles like RPPs and RRSPs is reasonably high for middle and high income earners, some Canadians may not be taking full advantage of these personal retirement savings opportunities. In particular, research has shown that some modest and middle income households may not be saving enough for retirement.

Indeed, more than an estimated 60% of Canadians do not have access to a workplace pension plan. Our government does not believe this is right. This is precisely why we have introduced pooled registered pension plans, or PRPPs. PRPPs will significantly help small and medium-sized businesses and their employees, who until now have not had access to a large-scale, low-cost private pension option. PRPPs will be low cost. By pooling pension savings, the cost of administering these pension funds will be spread over a larger group of people. As a result, plan members will benefit from lower investment management costs.

I would like to remind my NDP friends that unlike CPP expansion, there was federal, provincial and territorial consensus to proceed with PRPPs. Despite this consensus, the NDP felt they did not want to work toward strengthening Canada's retirement income system and they voted against our government's legislation. This legislation ultimately established the federal framework for PRPPs.

In conclusion, our government will continue to work co-operatively with the provinces to explore potential reforms to CPP. That being said, we will not support any course of action that endangers Canadian jobs, including the NDP's risky and ill-advised proposal to double the CPP contributions. We know that the best retirement plan for tomorrow is a job today. The NDP may claim that that it is serous about job creation and economic growth, but it continues to push forward radical policies that Canadians cannot afford.

Indeed, when it comes managing the economy, Canadians can rest assured that our Conservative government will support initiatives that stimulate job creation and economic growth, not measures that will kill jobs and hurt our economy.

Unfortunately, today's motion from the hon. member for Victoria shows that the same cannot be said for the NDP.

Citizenship and Immigration December 9th, 2013

Mr. Speaker, I would like to pay tribute to the late Nelson Mandela. I strongly believe in what he said, which is “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world”.

The House will adjourn for the winter break this week. I am thankful to Canadians across the country and across partisan lines for their support of my initiative to strip convicted terrorists of the privilege of Canadian citizenship.

I encourage the members opposite to use this break time to reflect upon what Canadians think about this issue and to decide to do what is right: represent the wishes of their constituents and respect the immense value of Canadian citizenship.

I wish my colleagues from all parties a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah and a happy new year.

I would ask that during the season we also remember those serving us at home and around the world, promoting and protecting our Canadian values that we enjoy day in and day out.

Consumer Protection December 5th, 2013

Mr. Speaker, supporting and protecting Canadian families is a priority for our government, and that is why we have taken measures to protect Canadian consumers from harmful knock-off products by introducing the combating counterfeit products act.

Canadians should feel confident that the brands they buy are the real deal, not a wheel and deal. Can the Minister of Industry please tell this House what our government is doing to help protect Canadian families from counterfeit products that could be harmful to their health and safety?

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2 December 3rd, 2013

Mr. Speaker, it is surprising that the member opposite was listening to my closing remarks. I urge her to listen to what Catherine Swift, president and chief executive officer of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, said:

In a poll of the CFIB's members, the tax credit was chosen as the most popular measure from the last budget.... Everybody looks at that and says, “Well, a thousand bucks isn't much, but every little bit helps.” We know it was meaningful.

Hopefully my colleague from the other side has heard that.

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2 December 3rd, 2013

Mr. Speaker, my colleague has already answered the question, in a way.

In Calgary Northeast and in the city of Calgary itself, it is very well received that this is the government that took decisive action. This is the government that made this gas tax fund permanent, and this is the government that indexed the gas tax to inflation. This government believes that the real people on the ground are the municipalities and councillors who know the issues and where the bucks should go. We are making the gas tax permanent so that they can make their long-term plans.