House of Commons photo

Track Diane

Your Say


Crucial Fact

  • Her favourite word is liberals.

Conservative MP for Haldimand—Norfolk (Ontario)

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

Statements in the House

Taxation December 8th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, I would say that the Liberals are acting like Scrooges, except that Scrooge saved money and that is a foreign concept for this Liberal government. They seem to think it is fair to spend $2.2 million paying actors for their talent, but when it comes to small business owners, the Liberals do not think it is fair to tell them how the tax changes are going to affect them.

In the spirit of Christmas, will the minister tell them what to expect so that they can plan for the new year?

Taxation December 8th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, there are over 2,000 small businesses in my riding. Most of them are run by people with families and many of them live hand-to-mouth, depending on the vagaries of the federal tax system.

The Minister of Finance has said that he is changing the rules on January 1, but he refuses to provide any details. Just how does the minister think that giving these people less than 24 days to do their tax planning is fair, especially at Christmas?

Petitions December 1st, 2017

Mr. Speaker, the second petition is from constituents who are deeply concerned about clause 14 of Bill C-51. As it stands, clause 14 would remove the only provision in the Criminal Code that directly protects the rights of individuals to freely practise their religion, whatever that religion may be.

The petitioners call on the government to remove clause 14 from the legislation and to protect the religious freedom of all Canadians.

Petitions December 1st, 2017

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present two petitions on behalf of constituents in my riding of Haldimand—Norfolk.

The first petition is from constituents who are concerned about the insufficient amount of funding available for global education for girls. The petitioners call upon the government to increase Canada's funding on global education to $592 million by 2020.

Tobacco Act November 3rd, 2017

Mr. Speaker, my colleague has spent a lot of time on this issue. One of the things that she has learned is that there are a lot of different products out there.

Vaping products are not regulated at the federal level. Again, Canadians need and deserve to know what products they are consuming. They need to be educated about this, as has been described.

Other products exist on the market that are not addressed in this legislation, except that they are lumped in, in places they should not be. The government states that it wants to help people reduce harm from tobacco and nicotine products, and yet it will not allow any advertising of products that are good at harm reduction, that do help people quit smoking. Those companies will not be able to advertise those products to let Canadians know the benefits of them. That seems to be totally contradictory to what it says it wants to achieve.

It is really important that the government revisit this, and think about the implementation. It cannot just say, “Here is part of the rules.” That does not work. In thinking this through, the government has to recognize that the whole thing has to be there and that there are products on the market that are not covered. The legislation does not achieve what it sets out to do, according to the advertising section.

Tobacco Act November 3rd, 2017

Mr. Speaker, I apologize if I seem to be waffling about my position on this.

During my speech, I thought I had made it pretty clear that going to plain packaging, going to plain tubes with no branding whatsoever puts the customer, and indeed the retailer, in a very vulnerable position. They have no way to determine that what they are buying or, in the case of the retailer, selling, is the product that they think they are getting. There will be no way for law enforcement to determine whether these are legal products or not without extensive analysis, and even then it would be limited.

There would be no branding, so the government would be stripping away the intellectual property rights of companies. More importantly, it would be stripping away the rights of consumers to know that what they are buying is what they think they are buying and what they are paying for.

Generic packaging would lead to a dramatic surge in the contraband business. That is not in anyone's interest whatsoever, anyone who wants to be a law-abiding citizen or indeed a law-abiding government. There are a whole lot of reasons why contraband tobacco is a very dangerous thing, not just to the consumers but to the communities in which they operate.

Therefore, I have some terrible concerns about what the government is doing. If it really wants to give a gift to the contraband tobacco industry, this bill is the best thing it could ever hope to present.

Tobacco Act November 3rd, 2017

Mr. Speaker, there are a lot of products out there, and there is a lot of confusion with respect to many of them. E-cigarettes have been on the market for the last five or so years. There are some that contain nicotine, but many do not. They are being used. Those without nicotine are not regulated at all and those containing nicotine are much harder to find and come in a variety of forms. I think we always want to make sure that our young people are protected from any consumer product. They need and deserve to know what is in them and what the risks are. That is one of the problems with this bill, even with respect to regular cigarettes. Once the companies go to plain packaging and plain sticks, and with the other plans that have been discussed by the Liberal government, people will not know what they are getting in the product. We need to have consumer protection at all levels on all products.

Tobacco Act November 3rd, 2017

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to add my thoughts to this important discussion on Bill S-5, an act to amend the Tobacco Act and the Non-smokers’ Health Act and to make consequential amendments to other acts.

One of the most important roles of any government is to protect the health and the safety of its citizens. As Conservatives, we have always taken this very seriously.

The previous Conservative government took a number of steps to improve the health of Canadians by funding and implementing various programs to reduce the smoking rate in Canada. Some of these initiatives included tightening advertising restrictions, banning flavoured cigarettes, which were seen as attractive to children, and introducing regulations for larger and updated warning labels. In fact, under the previous Conservative government, smoking rates among youth aged 15 to 19 decreased to 11%, representing the lowest rate recorded for this age group since Health Canada first reported smoking prevalence.

We invested over $650 million to reduce the smoking rate across all ages and partnered with the Canadian Cancer Society, providing it $5 million in partnership to launch the “Break it Off” tobacco cessation campaign to encourage young adults to quit smoking. These were positive concrete steps that were taken to help Canadians lead healthier lives, but Bill S-5 goes in a totally different direction.

As it is currently written, Bill S-5 plans to make two key changes to the Tobacco Act. The first change is to introduce a framework into the Tobacco Act that would regulate vaping products. The second key change is to implement plain packaging requirements for tobacco products.

I understand the stated goal behind Bill S-5 is to protect the health and safety of Canadians and to reduce youth smoking. However, as I read it, the bill quite frankly could do much more harm than good.

As I mentioned, Bill S-5 plans to implement plain packaging regulations that will see the outside packaging for cigarettes standardized as well as the cigarette stick itself. That means there will be no branding whatsoever. As a result, people who choose to smoke will not be able to tell one brand from another, either from the package or from the cigarette. Nor, indeed, will they be able to tell whether they have bought a legal product. In fact, law enforcement agencies will not be able to tell the difference either.

The government claims that this is designed to make the cigarettes less attractive to young people. That will in turn lower the youth smoking rate. I am concerned, on a number of fronts, that this portion of the legislation in particular will have just the opposite result.

My first concern is the impact that the plain packaging regulations could have on the contraband tobacco market in Canada. The reason why this market is a concern is that it is unregulated, unlicensed, and untaxed. Not only does the government lose an estimated $2 billion a year in taxes from the sale of illegal cigarettes, but the money that is made off them is used to fund very highly organized crime in Canada and abroad.

There are parts of our great country where contraband tobacco is big business. In some areas, it is reliably estimated that as much as 80% of cigarettes smoked are contraband. I am not exaggerating in the least when I say that there are also areas where the illegal cross-border trade of cigarettes between Canada and the U.S. is a serious and sometimes even a deadly business. That is how big the stakes are.

What does plain packaging have to do with contraband tobacco? By having a generic package for all cigarettes, it will make it much easier for contraband producers both to counterfeit and also to sell their own product, with little chance of getting caught.

This leads me to a second issue surrounding the safety of Canadians and their right to know what they are ingesting.

As the contraband tobacco market is unregulated, there is no way to determine, much less control, the chemical make-up of its cigarettes. Because the packaging and the cigarette stick will be indistinguishable from one brand to the next, Canadians who choose to smoke will not only be unable to tell whether they are receiving their brand, but they will also be unable to determine whether they are receiving legal, counterfeit, or a contraband product. Since there is no way to control what chemicals are actually in these cigarettes, this could result in negative health impacts for Canadians and cause even more harm instead of reducing it. Believe me, some contraband cigarettes have been known to have some rather nasty stuff in them.

To get back to the government's stated goal of harm reduction, I also have a serious concern regarding the wording within the legislation that bans companies from saying that one product is less harmful than another. For example, the harmful chemicals that enter a person's body when smoking do so mostly once the cigarette is ignited. There are currently products available that simply heat the tobacco instead of igniting it, which significantly reduces exposure to much of the harmful chemicals. These products have been proven to be significant aids to quitting smoking. However, if this legislation passes, Canadians will not even get to know about these products.

The second half of this legislation deals with vaping products, which have also been deemed to be a less harmful alternative to smoking. However, as consumers, Canadians would be unable to know that these products are less harmful for them because of the advertising ban that would ensue if this legislation is passed.

For a bill that is focused on harm reduction, it seems illogical that companies or even Health Canada would not be allowed to educate Canadians if there are less harmful alternatives out there.

In addition, the government claims that switching to plain packaging will decrease the smoking rate. My concern here is twofold. Throughout my research, and through consultation with a number of stakeholders, I have been unable to find reliable statistics that prove that implementing plain packaging reduces the urge for youth to start smoking. In my experience, they do not try smoking because they see a package and think it looks cool. In many parts of Canada, they cannot see the package anyway because by law it is hidden from view in stores. Rather, they try it because their friends are doing it, or because it is easy to access.

We all want to go home for the weekend, so I will spare everyone from going into the litany of problems in this bill, and how it contrasts with what the Liberals are putting forward in their marijuana legislation.

Back to my second concern, which is if we implement plain packaging and end up fuelling the contraband market we could actually see an increase in the rate of youth smoking as a result of accessibility. One of the reasons why contraband tobacco continues to be popular is because of its low cost. In fact, in many areas where contraband tobacco is sold, a person can buy a Baggie of 200 cigarettes for about $10 compared to buying the legal product for well over $100 for the same quantity. People buy the cheaper product to save money.

A lot of young people do not have the means to purchase $100 worth of cigarettes, but they may have the means to purchase cigarettes at $10. Therefore, if the contraband market is allowed to flourish, youth could quite conceivably have even more access to cigarettes as a result of their low cost.

As I said earlier, I understand and I even support the stated goal, but I have very serious issues with the path that the Liberals are taking to get there.

In closing, I ask that the members of this House consider the very real and serious concerns that I have outlined today and take them into consideration when developing their own thoughts about the bill, and that they think of my speech when Bill S-5 is discussed at committee.

Tobacco and Vaping Products Act November 3rd, 2017

Mr. Speaker, this bill would require plain packaging for all cigarette products, not just the box in which it comes, but also the tube. There would be no identifiable markers as to who made the product or what brand it is. Consumers would have no idea what they were buying. There is nothing there for consumer protection so that consumers will know that what they are getting is what they are paying for and believe they are buying.

More importantly, it opens up what is already a very lucrative and extensive contraband market within this country. It is estimated that in some parts of the country up to 80% of cigarettes are already contraband.

Without any identifiers or branding, this market could balloon and consumers would have no protection. Could the parliamentary secretary comment on this in light of his background prior to arriving in this House?

Petitions October 30th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present a petition on behalf of constituents in my riding of Haldimand—Norfolk who are concerned about the lack of religious protection for medical professionals in Bill C-14, medical assistance in dying, and Bill C-51, clause 14. As it stands, clause 14 would remove the only provision in the Criminal Code that directly protects the rights of individuals to freely practise their religion, whatever that religion may be.

The petition calls on the government to enact a policy that would provide the review of any legislation, ensuring it does not impinge upon the religious rights of Christians.