House of Commons photo

Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was veterans.

Last in Parliament August 2023, as Conservative MP for Durham (Ontario)

Won his last election, in 2021, with 46% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Main Estimates 2013-14 June 5th, 2013

Mr. Speaker, clearly the hon. member is both someone who takes his role as a parliamentarian seriously and one who has truly elevated the debate here tonight by bringing in the historic tone.

That elevation has been important because we are all working late in the chamber. I was disappointed by the earlier remarks from my law school colleague, the member for Halifax, in trying to dance around some of the twin absurd motions we have before Parliament that are clearly unconstitutional and clearly ultra vires.

I would like to ask the member for Wellington—Halton Hills to talk about how both of the motions we have seen tonight, from the member for Pontiac and the member for Winnipeg Centre, are unconstitutional at their core and distract from the real debate of Senate reform that our government has been advancing.

Main Estimates 2013-14 June 5th, 2013

Mr. Speaker, I listened to my friend's remarks with a mixture of amusement and serious concern about the content of his remarks and the purpose of his motion.

Like many members, I was in this House on March 7 when the member for Winnipeg Centre rose in this House on a question of privilege in relation to laws, bills or motions before this House potentially being unconstitutional. It offended his privilege. Yet we are debating a motion brought by the same member today that is clearly unconstitutional and ultra vires.

Leaving aside the personal slights and slagging the member has done here, I would like him to reflect on his point of privilege from March 7 and ask if his motion today is not violating the very privilege he raised on March 7.

National Defence June 5th, 2013

Mr. Speaker, tomorrow is the anniversary of D-Day. Canada's armed forces played a critical role in ensuring the liberation of Europe. We fought on the water, we fought in the skies and we fought on the ground against the tyranny of Nazism. We will always remember the sacrifices of our men and women who died fighting in Canada's name for freedom.

Today, the Canadian Forces continue that proud tradition. We know that HMCS Toronto is doing incredible work in the international fight against terrorism. Can the Associate Minister of National Defence update this House on the efforts of our brave men and women sailing aboard HMCS Toronto?

Bullying June 3rd, 2013

Mr. Speaker, in the past few years, communities across the country have been deeply affected by tragedies related to bullying, cyber-bullying and intimidation. There have been far too many tragedies.

We know that the heartbreaking headlines do not begin to tell the full story. Reports that one in three adolescent Canadian students say that they have been bullied are extremely troubling. Could the Minister of Canadian Heritage please update the House on our government's support for an important project that will help youth take action against bullying?

Fair Rail Freight Service Act May 30th, 2013

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague from Elgin—Middlesex—London for his history lesson on St. Thomas.

I would like him to address the real elephant in the room, which is the fact that our friends in the NDP are telling us that they are going to support the bill, yet they are challenging it tonight and suggesting our government should interfere more in the commercial marketplace. Could the hon. member please comment on the elephant in the room?

Last Post Fund May 27th, 2013

Mr. Speaker, I am proud to rise today to reaffirm our government's full support for a program that is so important to Canadian veterans and their families.

I am proud to rise today to reiterate our government's support for this program, which is so important to veterans and their families.

I am also rising in the House today with some serious concerns about the use of the last post burial fund and, ultimately, the motion brought to the House by the member for Random—Burin—St. George's.

On one level, as a veteran, I am very happy whenever parliamentarians express pride and support for our veterans and current-serving Canadian Forces. Part of me believes that the hon. member has that intent with this motion. She has served on the Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs and I believe that she has respect for our veterans. However, I also have some serious concerns about the circumstances giving rise to the raising of this issue by the member. This has led me to believe that her intentions have not been quite as noble as she likes to represent.

To explain my concern, some important context is needed. I had the honour of joining the House after a by-election six months ago yesterday. By-elections for three vacant seats were called on October 21, 2012, which resulted in the fact that the campaigns would be taking place during remembrance week. I see my friend, the member for Parliament for Victoria, in the House and I congratulate him on his six-month milestone.

On November 6, the member called for an independent task force on the Last Post Fund and sent out a press release on this issue that she claimed she was promoting along with her Liberal colleagues. I have consulted Hansard and the member for Random—Burin—St. George's had not raised this issue previously in the House, nor had she raised it during her time in committee, from what I could find in my research.

The very next day, on November 7, the Liberal Party candidate in Durham, my by-election riding, raised the same issue as the member for Random—Burin—St. George's and launched a website under the banner This website had the appearance of being a grassroots third-party website in Durham at first glance, but closer examination showed that it was actually a misleading website used by the Liberal Party to raise funds for its political campaign in Durham.

The same day, just one day after the member issued her release on this subject, the Liberal Party rolled out election signs in Durham that featured an image of a soldier and further promoted the Durham4Vets website that was actually a front for raising money for that campaign. The Liberal Veterans Affairs critic, the member for Charlottetown, travelled to Durham to support this Liberal campaign strategy.

Worse still, a few days later, on Remembrance Day, the Liberal campaign laid political wreaths at cenotaphs in the small towns across my riding of Durham. These wreaths featured a slogan from the Liberal Party's website and its political campaign. In between the Brownies, Cub Scouts, schools and community groups from Durham showing their respect for veterans by laying a wreath at the local cenotaph, there was the Liberal Party of Canada and its shameful campaign.

Needless to say, veterans in Durham and, indeed, across southern Ontario were outraged by this conduct and the shameful use of remembrance week as a political tool by the Liberals. Not only were veterans disgusted by this campaign, but the Durham Liberal riding president himself actually removed the Liberal sign from his lawn. People in my riding saw this campaign for what it was: the politicization of a solemn week in our country.

Accordingly, I can never be sure whether the issue the member for Random—Burin—St. George's first raised on November 6, which ultimately led to this motion before the House, was brought out of genuine concern or part of a disconcerting political campaign orchestrated by the Liberal Party.

It is also important to note that the shameful campaign in Durham was run by Quito Maggi, a paid Liberal organizer, who is now advising the new Liberal leader. That leader, the member for Papineau, came to Durham as part of this deceitful campaign. While there, he did not disavow the tactics being used by his party, even in the face of heavy criticism from my community.

With my concerns about the underlying motive for the motion on the table, in my remaining minutes I would like to address the key issues related to the Last Post Fund, particularly because the entire funeral and burial issue being discussed is just one aspect of the fund and because it is either not well understood by many in the Liberal Party or is purposely glossed over when people are discussing this fund.

To begin with, Canadians need to be reassured that all veterans who pass away as a result of a service injury will have their funeral and burial costs covered by their country, full stop. That is an obligation Canada owes to the men and women we place in harm's way. It is an obligation that transcends politics and one that has been met by our government and, indeed, by previous governments.

The motion on the Last Post Fund then boils down to two things: first, the cost of the funeral and burial services covered by the program; and second, the means test applied to determine which veterans are in need of assistance from the fund.

Economic action plan 2013 increased the coverage of funerals from $3,600 to $7,376. This is being done at the same time that we are covering the actual cost of the burial. This level had not been adjusted in many years. The minister listened to veterans groups on this issue, it was examined by the department and the amount was doubled in the budget.

Therefore, the central thrust of the member's motion has been addressed. The issue of the means test is one the Liberals try to gloss over, as it was their government that established the present means test. In fairness to the member for Random—Burin—St. George's, she was not part of that Liberal government, nor was their current veterans affairs critic. It is critical to note, however, that many members of their caucus were part of the team that put this in place. This must be remembered amid the feigned outrage from their caucus.

The Last Post Fund was established decades ago to help the families of indigent veterans with the costs associated with the funeral and burial. That is exactly what the program does. Veterans of all conflicts are proud Canadians, and in so many ways our World War II and Korean veterans built the tremendous Canada we have today. They want their impoverished comrades and their brothers in arms who died from their injuries to be taken care of, but they do not expect this special fund to apply to all veterans. This was not the objective of the Last Post Fund funeral and burial program.

It is also important to remind Canadians that the Last Post Fund also directs other important initiatives to honour our fallen and our veterans. I would like to thank them in the House for all the work the Last Post Fund does for Canada. It manages the National Field of Honour in Pointe-Claire, Québec, a national historic site. This cemetery opened in 1930 and is a sombre reminder of the cost of war and Canada's commitment to the world.

The Last Post Fund also runs the unmarked grave program to mark the place where some of our fallen have been laid to rest. This is important work, particularly as we approach the centennial of World War I.

As someone who served in uniform, I am proud to be part of a government that supports the men and women of the Canadian Forces and our veterans. Amid very challenging economic times, our government has identified veterans as a key priority.

In the coming year alone, as outlined in our latest main estimates, the Government of Canada is planning to spend almost $785 million more in veterans affairs compared to when we took office, which was the last year before the new veterans charter was implemented.

In closing, I would like to thank the legion branches in my riding that have steadfastly worked to support our veterans and that raise constructive input on funerals and burials, much like they do on a range of issues.

I also hope that my concerns about the origin of the motion are incorrect and that the member for Random—Burin—St. George's was not part of a shameful Liberal Party campaign strategy from last fall. Maybe she did not know about the campaign signs. Maybe she did not know about the misleading website. Maybe she did not know about the political wreaths at cenotaphs in Durham and the timing of raising this issue in that campaign. There is a lot of maybes there.

If that was the case, I would ask her to work with her colleague, the member for Charlottetown, to urge their new leader to abandon such tactics in the future. All of us in the House need to support our veterans. We do not need to use remembrance week as a tool to further political interests on either side of the House.

Al Strike May 23rd, 2013

Mr. Speaker, I rise today with a mixture of sorrow but also of celebration of a life well lived. This morning lifelong Bowmanville resident Al Strike died.

Al was the leader of a multi-generational law firm in Bowmanville that bore the Strike name for three generations. He was known for supporting local business with his intellect and service, but, more importantly, he was known for serving our community.

Without Al Strike, there would not be arenas or pools built. He helped with Community Care Durham, served on the board of Durham College and helped Valleys 2000. Al and his wife Anna, for over 50 years, supported the Lakeridge Health Bowmanville. He was a 60-year Rotarian, and two years ago he inspired me and others to help build a fish bypass with Valleys 2000 on the Bowmanville Creek.

His was a life well lived, Mr. Speaker, and our community is better for it.

My deepest condolences go to his wife Anna, and to his family and friends. The “silver fox” has passed, but his legacy on Bowmanville Creek will continue.

Canadian Museum of History Act May 22nd, 2013

Mr. Speaker, I would like to applaud the minister for his thoughtful comments, particularly the focus on the national network of history. I know the Bowmanville Museum, the Scugog Shores Museum and the Lucy Maud Montgomery museum in Uxbridge would be happy to be part of this national network to share our stories as a country.

My question to the member for Longueuil—Pierre-Boucher is this. There is a museum in or around his riding called Musée de la Femme. What is he going to say to the board members of that museum when he tells them that he does not feel it is important to share their stories in Ottawa and to share some of our artifacts that are in storage in Longueuil? I would suggest it is a narrow vision and I would like to hear what he will tell that museum.

Situation in Syria May 7th, 2013

Mr. Chair, I thank the leader of the Green Party for her nice remarks in welcoming me. Certainly we have shared some time at Dalhousie Law School together, although not at the same time.

Her questions are good ones. We are working with other states in the region to address the refugee crisis caused by the Syrian civil war in the last two years. Members on this side have expressed that we need to do more and to particularly watch how that evolves.

There is also security ramifications caused by a refugee exodus under these circumstances. Importantly, I have also heard some discussion in the chamber tonight about NGOs and actions by non-state actors on the ground in Syria, and I think we have to express some words of caution.

We are not even at the halfway point in 2013. I would remind this House that Syria is in a state of war, and as I said in my remarks, with very hard to identify teams within that war. There is certainly a united front against a regime, and then there is the regime. There have been five journalists killed this year in Syria, and we are only days past Press Freedom Day. Last month, two archbishops were abducted. It is a country with which we have to proceed cautiously, even with non-state actors on the ground.

Situation in Syria May 7th, 2013

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague on the opposite side for her passion, and evidently her knowledge of the subject.

I would refer to my remarks where I highlighted not only Canada's unilateral effort, which is direct country to country, but our efforts multilaterally, through the United Nations and through work with our allies in NATO and around the world.

Importantly, she referenced the Security Council. The Security Council, which can authorize UN-sanctioned force in certain circumstances, has clearly already articulated that will not happen. There are two permanent members of that Security Council that will not allow the council to pursue a UN-sanctioned military effort.

This is an area where the UN is one important part of Canada's diplomatic statecraft in this effort, alongside unilateral relations and alongside direct visits by the minister to the region. There is a whole plethora of things that Canada is doing to apply pressure. The UN is one important part of that.

I would suggest to the hon. member that even a seat at the Security Council these days would not change what is coming from that.