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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was ask.

Last in Parliament October 2015, as Conservative MP for London West (Ontario)

Lost his last election, in 2015, with 35% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Children's Bridge Foundation May 25th, 2009

Mr. Speaker, all around Parliament Hill lately, people have been buying and selling goats, yes, goats. It is all part of a fundraiser for the Children's Bridge Foundation in association with Embrace-an-Orphanage, which challenged parliamentarians to a goat selling contest.

Buying goats may seem humorous to us, but it is important to realize the role goats play in Ethiopian society. They are a source of healthy milk and cheese. They provide employment for herders and opportunities for families.

This Wednesday we gather to see which political party has accumulated the largest herd. I am pleased the talents of the government House leader have been put to good use heading the gathering of the Conservative herd of goats. The winning party will get to name the ceremonial goat for the following year.

Regardless of what party wins, the true winners are the orphaned and abandoned children in the Nazareth Children's Center in Ethiopia. Last year the foundation raised $100,000 for a nutrition and education program for 250 orphaned children. This year the fund will help 750 kids on the waiting list.

Let me thank all members for the difference they are making in the lives of children in difficult circumstances.

Corporate Social Responsibility and the Canadian Extractive Industry in Developing Countries April 29th, 2009

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to explain how the government's approach to corporate social responsibility, or CSR, is substantially better and ultimately would be more effective than what has been proposed by the opposition.

Let me first begin by thanking the dozens of Londoners who have written to me on this important issue. In London we are blessed with a great quality of life, but my constituents know this comes with responsibility. Our success cannot come at the expense of others. Their message to me on this has been heard loud and clear.

On March 26 the member for South Shore—St. Margaret's tabled in this House a new CSR strategy for the extractive sector that has placed Canada among the world's leaders in good CSR practice.

The opposition has tabled a variety of proposals in response to this complex issue seeking to ensure the behaviour of Canadian companies abroad is nothing short of exemplary. We share that goal, but I can assure members that the strategy we are implementing would be more comprehensive and more effective.

Our government's strategy encompasses many of the recommendations of the National Roundtables on Corporate Social Responsibility and the Canadian Extractive Sector in Developing Countries of 2006 and the report of the advisory group. It has been widely consulted and represents a balanced approach to the issues, taking into consideration the views of all stakeholders and the territorial limits of Canadian legislation.

Today I wish to elaborate on one of the most important aspects of the strategy and that will play a key role in encouraging Canadian companies overseas to implement CSR best practices. I am referring to the creation of the office of the extractive sector CSR counsellor.

I appreciate that Motion No. 283 being debated here today was tabled before the government announced its CSR strategy and that the hon. member for Pierrefonds—Dollard had the best intentions in its drafting. It is now clear, however, that this motion has become redundant. Allow me to explain.

This is not simply a question of whether “counsellor” or “ombudsman” is the right title for this role. In the government's strategy, the counsellor, upon receiving a complaint, would open channels of communication to all of the concerned parties, seeking to engage in an informal mediation process. If warranted, the counsellor may also engage in fact-finding activities, including travelling to any region specified in the complaint. Dispute resolution models must operate in a permissive environment on the principle of engagement; otherwise, the situation could become more aggravated, thus creating more conflict between the parties involved.

On the subject of parties to a dispute, the government's proposed course of action would not limit the scope of eligible requests for review by the counsellor to communities in developing countries. Requests for review may be submitted by anyone affected by the operations of a Canadian extractive company abroad or its legitimate representative.

It is important to note that the counsellor model proposed by the government would focus on dispute resolution and mediation between such parties; that is to say, the counsellor would endeavour to work with the company in question and those affected by its operations to make things better. Moreover, the counsellor's ability to focus on the issues themselves and not just the parties involved would enable a wider variety of complaints to be addressed.

While in some cases disputes arise as a result of the activities and policies of an extractive sector company operating in a particular location, it is frequently a lack of information and dialogue that prevents the resolution of the dispute. The extractive sector CSR counsellor proposed in the government's CSR strategy aims to address that fundamental problem.

By and large, Canadian companies have solid CSR reputations. The opposition has said as much, and I agree. Our companies recognize the benefits of early engagement with local communities, strong environmental assessments, good labour, health and safety protocols, and other forms of CSR best practice, including reporting. They know that this is the key to securing financing, access to sites and what is often called a social licence to operate. It makes good business sense and, to be clear, it is the right thing to do. When I was in Peru recently, I saw that firsthand, speaking to extractive companies in terms of their direction to make Peru better.

Nonetheless, we recognize through all of this that problems can occur. This is why the government has developed a comprehensive CSR strategy to help companies better anticipate and mitigate the risks associated with their operations abroad. Instead of abandoning a company in a crisis situation, the CSR counsellor will have the ability to approach that company and work with it to ensure that it has the necessary tools and information to either prevent or remedy the situation.

We are of the view that if a Canadian company is in difficulty, this is precisely the time when the Government of Canada can be most useful.

It may be the opposition's intent to simply make an example of our companies, but we believe that lasting resolutions require constructive engagement with all parties.

In the models proposed by the opposition, if one of the parties to the dispute refused to participate or failed to recognize the legitimacy of the proposed ombudsman, then there would be no dialogue. One can imagine that the problem would not only endure, but would worsen.

However, with the active engagement of all stakeholders, the CSR counsellor we have proposed would be able to ensure that the dialogue established is meaningful and that it contributes to the resolution of the dispute. It is this question of buy-in that is essential to any dispute resolution framework.

One model proposed by the opposition and recently referred to committee would actually do the opposite of what was recommended at the national round tables by embedding the dispute resolution function deep within the government. That particular model would certainly not contribute to the perceived neutrality of the process.

The CSR counsellor, on the other hand, would not be housed within the government but instead would operate at arm's length. To increase the transparency of the office, the CSR counsellor would publicly issue a statement after each complaint received, whether it proceeds to formal mediation or not, as well as table an annual report here in Parliament.

This kind of transparency can be a powerful force to compel co-operation and should not be underestimated. As a businessperson, this approach is prudent and effective.

Moreover, the CSR counsellor would be able to follow up with the parties to monitor progress in the adoption of any recommendations made.

In addition to the dispute resolution role I have just described, it is important to add that the counsellor as envisioned by this government can undertake research and be proactive in trying to resolve issues through informal discussions before any formal complaint has been laid. This goes back to the fact that the CSR counsellor would focus on resolving issues rather than simply deciding who is right and who is wrong, as if that were a simple decision to make.

The proactive nature of the government's proposed model also distinguishes it from other dispute resolution models as they remain, above all, reactive.

Last, the CSR counsellor we have put forward in our strategy would be more inclusive than any of the other models being proposed by the opposition. Engagement on the issue will be what counts.

In closing, it is clear that the CSR counsellor the government announced in its new CSR policy this past March is more effective, more transparent, more proactive and more inclusive as a tool for both the resolution of disputes and for the wider promotion and adoption of CSR best practices than anything yet to be proposed by the opposition.

The motion is now unnecessary, and I urge all my colleagues in the House to vote against it.

National Defence April 2nd, 2009

Mr. Speaker, London, Ontario is a long way from Canada's Arctic, but that does not mean we are not concerned about the issues of the north. In fact, the opposite is true.

The Conservative government's attention and focus on the Arctic is unprecedented. The Minister of National Defence has rightly praised our air force and Norad in protecting North American air space. Canada's Arctic, our true north strong and free, is vast.

Would the Minister of National Defence advise the House, what are the things Canada is doing to protect our Arctic sovereignty?

Women of Excellence Awards March 30th, 2009

Mr. Speaker, London, Ontario has produced many notable Canadians over time and the tradition continues.

This year the YMCA of Western Ontario is honouring several remarkable Londoners with Women of Excellence Awards. Each of these women has given of herself for the betterment of others in our London community in specific fields.

They include: Joy Warkentin for education, training and development; Karen Pincombe for arts, culture and heritage; Marlene McGrath for business professions and trades; Jean Wright for community, volunteerism and humanity; Sandra Cooper-Ryder for sport, fitness and recreation; and Dr. Sugantha Ganapathy for health, science and technology. Nicole Seymour was recognized as a young woman of excellence and Joan Francolini was awarded a lifetime achievement award.

These women make a positive difference in the lives of thousands of Londoners every day. To these women, on behalf of all Londoners whose lives they have touched and from the House of Commons, I sincerely thank them and congratulate them on their achievements. I thank them for caring.

Corporate Accountability of Mining, Oil and Gas Corporations in Developing Countries Act March 3rd, 2009

Madam Speaker, being newer to the House, I must tell you that four minutes seems like an eternity at one level.

It is my privilege to rise in the House today to speak to Canada's role in promoting effective corporate social responsibility and socially responsible investing. Also, as a new member of the House and a rookie in the international trade committee, I take seriously the role that corporations must accept in their capacity as positive contributing members.

Let me thank the hon. member for Scarborough—Guildwood for introducing Bill C-300 on February 9 and all the opposition parties for their continued dialogue on this important issue, because their contributions make this House better.

I would also like to take the opportunity to thank the many constituents of London West who have taken the time to send me their opinions on the subject. I have received many postcards and emails from constituents, many of whom I do not know, who have expressed a desire to see Canadian companies demonstrate more corporate responsibility.

We all know that London is a growing hub for international business and that corporate success comes from serious responsibilities. I know Londoners care and business cares. That is why they are concerned about issues like this.

I consider my role as past president of the London Chamber of Commerce, which provides a thoughtful perspective on corporate social responsibility with companies in my city which are world class, a very personal insight.

The Conservative Government of Canada already encourages and expects Canadian companies working internationally to respect all applicable laws and international standards to operate transparently and in consultation with host governments and local communities and to develop and implement corporate social responsibility practices.

My concern is that Bill C-300 would impose a rigid legal framework of corporate social responsibility standards that has not undergone the necessary degree of consultation and analysis. The framework would abandon the use of multilateral standards and instruments that create a unilateral corporate social responsibility regime against which the Government of Canada would assess the activities of Canadian companies operating abroad, raising concerns of both privacy and extraterritorial jurisdiction.

Moreover, this legislative framework would affect the ability of the government departments, agencies and crown corporations to fulfill their mandates, and its compulsory nature would entail a rigidity that would not be beneficial in today's economic climate.

Londoners believe we can, and should always, encourage greater efforts toward corporate social responsibility, but unfortunately, I believe this proposal falls somewhat short.

Bill C-300 specifically addresses how two crown corporations and one government department encourage Canadian companies to act in a socially responsible and sustainable manner. The bill proposes substantive changes to the legislation that establishes Export Development Canada, the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board and the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade without due consideration for the consequences, nature or enforceability of those changes. Those departments and agencies have already incorporated corporate social responsibility initiatives into their operations.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade actively promotes corporate social responsibility best practices to the companies it serves. As part of this commitment, trade commissioners in Canada and around the world work with companies to help improve their corporate social responsibility records.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade chairs Canada's national contact point for the OECD guidelines, an interdepartmental committee with representatives from a number of federal government departments whose role is to promote awareness of the guidelines and ensure their effective implementation.

At Export Development Canada, Canada's export credit agency, corporate social responsibility has become an integral part of the operations and risk management practices. It provides expertise to Canadian exporters and investors and its worldwide partners.

Export Development Canada recognizes that in the extractive industries, transparency and environmental responsibility are paramount to a project's sustainability.

Employment Insurance February 6th, 2009

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, one of my constituents, Christina, wrote to me because her husband has just been laid off. We know that those who are unemployed are losing faith. Unemployed Canadians are worried about their ability to put food on their tables, to keep their homes and provide for their families.

Would the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development inform Canadians and assure families like Christina's, who are experiencing unemployment, what our government is doing on behalf of them in these very difficult times?

Business of Supply February 5th, 2009

Madam Speaker, I thank the hon. member for the polite tone in which that question was asked. I am sure that in the future all of his questions will be equally polite. I am confident of that.

Even President Obama has been extremely clear that he is concerned about the protectionist measures that have been initially introduced in the U.S. Congress, which is why he will speak to the senate to try to amend that legislation.

What we have to be careful of is that when we establish protectionist policies, all we ultimately do is create a downward spiral to our business. In effect, what happens is we are no longer hewers of wood and drawers of water. We rely on trade to make this work for us.

It is not useful to have a protectionist policy such as buy Canada. In automobile trade, 80% of our automobiles go to the States. What would happen to this country if we could not export the cars we make to the United States? That would be devastating to this country and our economy. That would be brutal.

Business of Supply February 5th, 2009

Madam Speaker, I will say a couple of things. If we go back to 2007, when we showed surpluses, we reduced our national debt by almost $40 billion. We have reduced taxes for Canadians across the country.

As a past president of my London Chamber of Commerce, when one understands the impact that business has and the importance of a responsible government to reduce taxes and debt, it is no different than homeowners who have to reduce their debt and ensure that they take personal responsibility for themselves. I sincerely believe this government has taken personal responsibility. It is why we got into our economic crisis later than every other industrialized country in the free world and why I believe we will get out of it sooner.

Business of Supply February 5th, 2009

Madam Speaker, as the proud, recently elected member of Parliament for London West, it is with great pleasure that I contribute to this important debate.

Before I get to the topic at hand, I would like to make a few comments as this is my first speech in this magnificent chamber.

When one does a maiden speech, one of the appropriate things to do is to thank their family and I can be no different.

My wife Judite is a successful businesswoman in her own right. Her advertisement for the flower shop that she runs states that it is the oldest flower shop in Canada, started in 1869. My wife is an immigrant to this country, of proud Portuguese parents, born in Africa. She came to Canada just to find me. She has been a successful entrepreneur and past president of the Portuguese Business Professionals Association.

My daughter Claudia is also a successful businessperson. She is the owner of a Belgian chocolate shop called Chocolaterie Bernard Callebaut. She is married to a fellow named Cedo Ivanisevic, whose father came to our country from Croatia. He is of Serbian descent and he came to Canada for better opportunities. Cedo is a firefighter, and he and my daughter have given me two wonderful grandchildren, Maia and Katia.

I would like to tell the House a bit about my city if I may. London, for those who do not know, is the 10th largest city in Canada. We have a well balanced economy. We have an internationally respected health care system, with training hospitals throughout and major breakthroughs go on in London Health Sciences Centre regularly.

London is a major transportation hub. It is uniquely positioned within one hour of one major U.S. border point and within two hours of two other major U.S. border points.

London is uniquely positioned with three highways, Highway 401, Highway 402 and Highway 403, and literally in the centre of them. I tell the House this because as a transportation hub, the need for good road service is critical.

London has strong rail service with service by CN and CP.

Finally, we have London International Airport, which is one of Canada's busiest airports.

Through many of my experiences in life, I am reminded of a book written by Robert Fulghum entitled All I Ever Really Needed to Know I learned in Kindergarten.

Unfortunately, many people told me, when I was running for office, that I was just working hard to get into Canada's largest kindergarten class. While I can see sometimes why there is a sentiment out there like that, I think that generalization is inappropriate for the majority of members.

In my short time here I have quickly seen the efforts, the sacrifices and the energy members spend on behalf of their constituents, but I believe we can all do better.

Just as in kindergarten, we get further ahead in life by building up those around us rather than tearing them down. That is why my good friend of many years, the member opposite from London North Centre, and I established early that together we could achieve more than if we worked against each other. Our constituents have made it clear that they appreciate our positive, co-operative style more than the destructive partisanship that often prevails. We could all achieve more if we worked this way. I sincerely hope that will happen more often in the House.

I am not hesitant to say that the member for York South—Weston has contributed to this debate in a thoughtful way, with dialogue that is positive and well-intended. I am sure this has been noticed and I believe his constituents have seen that as well.

In kindergarten we learn our manners. We learn that when people are speaking, we wait our turn and listen to what they have to say. Members will not find me heckling in question period or debate because no matter how much I disagree, or agree, with what a colleague is saying, if it is their turn to speak, then they deserve that respect. I hope members of the House feel the same.

In kindergarten we learn to say “thank you” as well. I want to acknowledge and thank Sue Barnes, the former member of Parliament for London West, for her many years of service. Her family made many sacrifices for her to do that and I thank them as well.

Perhaps one of the big things we learn after kindergarten is that we all get older and what we did back then forms us into who we are today. When I leave this place, as we all will some day, I hope to be able to look back and say I learned a lot, that in some fashion I made a contribution and, most important, that I helped make the lives of others a little better.

I ask the indulgence of the House for one more analogy and then I will speak directly to the topic at hand.

Today we are talking about trade, but this too we learned about in kindergarten. We learned that sharing toys, sharing resources made us all better off. We could hoard our toys, but we did not. My granddaughters sometimes do though.

We did not hoard our resources then because it did not make sense and it does not make sense when we are adults either. I firmly believe that trade has made us better off, richer as a society, and to tear down those relationships now would be a tragic step backward.

That is why I welcome this opportunity to discuss how much trade means to the Canadian economy and, most relevant to this discussion, how much the North American Free Trade Agreement has contributed to Canada's prosperity. I bring this up in our dialogue around the European Free Trade Agreement because it is important to understand how this agreement has enhanced Canada's economy and how future trade deals will continue to secure a positive economic future for Canadians.

I bring this up in our dialogue around the European Free Trade Agreement because it is important to understand how this agreement has enhanced Canada's economy and how future trade deals will continue to secure a positive economic future for Canadians.

Canada's history is founded on trade. Canada is and must be a trading nation. We have an extremely well-educated innovative and progressive population. However, our domestic market is relatively small and therefore Canada is not considered a major player on the world stage. Well, that is our reality.

Our market is only about one-tenth the size of the United States. Therefore, Canada needs the opportunities which international trade provides if we to realize our enormous potential. In these difficult economic times, international trade will continue to be a major contributor to our success in overcoming the challenges we are facing.

How much do we depend on trade? In 2007 Canada's international trade was equivalent in value to more than two-thirds of our economy. An extraordinarily high number of Canadian jobs are linked to trade. In 2007 the value of our trade with the United States was equivalent to more than 46% of Canada's gross domestic product. This could not be more important than in cities like London, Ontario, where we see thousands of tonnes of goods travel between Canada and the United States every day by truck, rail and air.

Healthy trade is vital to the survival of cities like mine. This trade represents a lot of economic activity and a lot of Canadian jobs, jobs that depend upon open borders and the preservation of international rules to keep them open.

That is why the Conservative government supports an ambitious trade agenda in the World Trade Organization. It is why we value our trading relationship. It is why we are continuing to expand Canadian opportunities by negotiating new trade agreements, such as those with EFTA and Peru and Colombia. It is also why this government is working so hard to maintain the free flow of trade within North American markets at this time of economic crisis.

No matter how much we diversify, North American trade will always loom large within our international trade priorities. Trilateral merchandise trade among the NAFTA partners has more than tripled since the agreement entered into effect and reached almost $1 billion in 2007.

In terms of Canada-U.S. trade, about one-third is now said to be intra-firm, which means that it takes place across borders, but within the same company. No great deal more of Canada-U.S. trade involves building things together, different companies on different sides of the border contributing expertise, goods and labour to the manufacturing process.

London is filled with multinational companies. These companies use our local expertise for parts of their operations and we rely on the expertise of their foreign branches for job stability. They cannot do it alone, nor can we.

Look at General Dynamics Land Systems and Trojan Technologies, to name just two, that export significant products throughout the world. Without international trade, London could not survive. I would suggest that most cities across the country could not survive and prosper without free trade.

Let us not forget that NAFTA has opened doors between Canada and Mexico as well. Since signing onto NAFTA, our merchandise trade with Mexico has almost quintupled.

Let us take a look at investment levels, which have seen a dramatic rise. In 2007 foreign direct investment in Canada reached just over $500 billion and almost 58% of this investment came from our NAFTA partners. In other words, about $6 out of every $10 in foreign direct investment in Canada, investment in communities across the country, came from NAFTA. Investors view Canada not only as an important market in its own right, but as a gateway to North America.

NAFTA also contributes to Canada's success on the world stage and is a valuable platform that Canada uses to reach the rest of the world.

It is why we are pleased, as well, that the London International Airport has been approved for the cargo trans-shipment program. It opens up huge opportunities for all Canadian companies, but especially those in London.

There are many benefits that Canada enjoys by being a partner in NAFTA, and it is not just large corporations. In fact, 94% of Canadian exporters are companies with fewer than 200 employees, 73% have fewer than 50 employees. These small businesses rely heavily on doing business within the North American marketplace. They rely on this government to provide the right conditions for them to succeed and to prosper, and this government will continue to deliver.

For a country the size of Canada, which needs access to world markets to guarantee prosperity, it would be worse than naive to think that closing our borders to trade would boost the Canadian economy. In fact, the opposite is true. Any jobs created by turning inward would be vastly overshadowed by the jobs lost if our ability to export were curtailed. We would be naive to close our own markets, and we would be grossly negligent if we stood by while our trading partners closed theirs. We intend to do neither.

I have shown how Canadians have benefited from the NAFTA experience. I hope people realize, in talking about the importance of trade to Canada and the economic gains and job creation and spinoff effects for all of Canadian society, that NAFTA has mattered in a positive way. These are important reasons why our government will continue to defend against protectionism and ensure that we make the most of our current trade agreements and continue to seek ways to enhance Canada's trading position on the global stage.

Finally, it is a sincere privilege for me as the member for London West to sit in the House. I look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues.

Canadian Forces February 5th, 2009

Mr. Speaker, on January 19, 2009 Londoner, Private Andrew Knisley of the Royal Canadian Regiment, was seriously wounded in Afghanistan. Private Knisley is now back in Canada and recovering with the unwavering support of his father Ken, his mother Heather, his sister Ruth, his friends and his military family.

We appreciate and admire those who risk their lives and their health in defence of Canada and the values we represent.

Private Knisley is one of many seriously injured soldiers. Their sacrifice is a daily struggle and they deserve our unqualified support. They exemplify the brave Canadian soldier who heads to foreign lands to improve the lives of complete strangers.

Unfortunately, like those he helped, Private Knisley will wear the scars of war for the rest of his life.

Soldiers do not quit. They face adversity and use it to focus on what matters. It is who they are.

We wish Private Knisley a quick recovery. We admire the brave soldiers who serve our country abroad.

May God bless Andrew. He has this Canadian's sincerest gratitude.