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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

Situation in Syria May 7th, 2013

Mr. Speaker, I rise tonight in response to the request by the member for Toronto Centre to debate the situation in Syria in accordance with Standing Order 52(9).

Our government, and indeed most Canadians, have been following the situation in Syria very closely for the last two years, and particularly in the last few months. All Canadians are extremely concerned about the loss of life, human rights abuses, the destruction of property and the destabilizing impact the civil war has had on the region.

I think all members of the House share the desire for the conflict to come to an end and to see the Assad regime toppled. Our government has expressed this sentiment consistently for the last 18 to 24 months.

In recent weeks, an already terrible situation seems to be spiralling towards the depths of barbarism. The potential use of chemical weapons is something the world must examine closely and carefully. This need for careful examination stems from the fact that the use of these weapons will likely lead to a serious response by Canada and our international allies.

By now we have likely all seen the disturbing images from Syria of patients in hospitals who appear to be suffering the effects of a chemical toxin. These weapons have the potential for mass destruction and death. They would certainly cause greater suffering for the people of Syria and wider panic and instability in the region, which will lead to a rise in the number of refugees in border states and will raise the risk level in an already unstable part of the world.

Syria is not a signatory to the Chemical Weapons Convention. Canada is a signatory to the convention and has a long track record of working with the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. Indeed, the United Nations and our allies in NATO have been watching the potential risk with respect to chemical weapons in Syria very closely.

The member for Toronto Centre has suggested in this debate tonight that there is some tension in the position of the government. In fact, the position of the government has been unequivocal. Assad must go, and the death and suffering needs to end.

The issue for our country and in this debate tonight is to determine what role Canada should play in the pursuit of these outcomes. In listening to the debate tonight, it is clear that the members of the House, including those from the Liberal Party, do not advocate direct military action.

Certainly, the Canadian Forces are one of the most highly trained and professional militaries in the world. However, a civilian protection mission would require boots on the ground. We are not prepared to do that.

Syrian air defence is considerably more developed than that in Libya. It is also more dense airspace, making any international multilateral military action extremely complicated and risky.

It also seems clear that most members of the House do not advocate providing arms or military assistance to the rebels. I read a quote from the NDP critic stating that this was not Canada's approach. Finally, it appears that most members acknowledge that the civil war is not clearly demarcated by a monolithic rebel force on one side and the Assad regime on the other. The rebels may very well be a coalition of various groups within Syria opposed to the regime for different reasons. Most importantly, the rebels do not appear to share aspirations for a post-Assad Syria.

With all these points of agreement in mind, I would expect that most members of the House would agree with the government's approach to the Syrian crisis. The Prime Minister and this government have advocated a strong multilateral approach, with the United Nations and our allies, to apply strong diplomatic pressure on the regime and to investigate seriously the possible use of chemical weapons.

On March 21, the Secretary-General of the United Nations launched an investigation into the alleged use of chemical weapons in Syria. Canada strongly supports this investigation. Any and all credible allegations, including potential incidents in Homs late last year, and more recently in Adra, will be pursued.

The UN has inspectors in Cyprus ready to conduct this investigation. These inspectors have been selected and trained and are ready to deploy on one day's notice. There just needs to be a cessation of hostilities or some form of security for this investigation to occur.

Canada was one of the first countries to pledge direct financial support for the United Nations investigation of the use of chemical weapons in Syria. Canada has also provided some direct unilateral assistance to neighbouring countries dealing with the threat posed by chemical weapons. Detection equipment and protective gear have been provided to the Jordanian armed forces to guard against a chemical weapons or biological incident arising from Syria.

Canada has also provided support to strengthen civilian capabilities to respond to chemical or other attacks affecting the people of Jordan. We have also pledged support for the establishment of a regional biological risk management training centre at the Jordanian university in co-operation with our allies, the U.K. and the U.S.

At the time of this debate in our House of Commons this evening, the UN-led investigation into chemical weapons use and the threat they pose is at an impasse. This is not acceptable. Canada supports the UN Secretary-General's repeated efforts to resolve the current impasse so that all credible allegations are investigated as soon as possible.

Like our UN and NATO allies, Canada continues to demand that Syrian authorities grant full and unfettered access to the United Nations investigation team immediately. In recent weeks there have been news reports and even statements by UN officials that suggest there is evidence of the use of chemical weapons like sarin gas by both the Assad regime and a section of rebel forces.

While the UN Commission of Inquiry on Syria quickly distanced itself from statements related to weapons use by the rebels, the commission did state that it “has not reached conclusive findings as to the use of chemical weapons in Syria by any parties to the conflict”.

The fog of war, the increased use of media as a tactical advantage and influence operations by parties in a modern conflict show the need for a UN-led investigation to provide clear answers. Canada is pursuing a clear but careful approach to Syria. We are working unilaterally with allies and with countries like Jordan in the region to address the threats caused by the conflict.

This government is also committed to our multilateral course of action with respect to Syria as well, working with the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and the United Nations. Canada has taken a principled and consistent stand on Syria. We will continue to work with our international partners to contain the threat caused by the situation in Syria, and we will continue to apply global pressure on the Assad regime.

These are very difficult times. This was a very good time for the House to revisit this issue and Canada's response. I think the careful and thoughtful deliberation by my colleagues tonight indicates that Canada cannot rush into an action engaging our military forces. We must keep this as a clear diplomatic effort on our part. We must clearly work with our allies, the United Nations, and NGOs working under the auspices of the United Nations, and our allies in NATO not only to assess the military threats on the region, but also to assess the real use of chemical weapons on the ground in Syria.

I appreciate the thoughtful comments from all sides of this debate, but I do think this government has pursued a very principled and rational approach. We are also dealing with the humanitarian crisis surrounding Syria, and we have heard tonight on all sides some acknowledgement that Canada has reacted with respect to refugees, particularly with regard to family reunification. I think even members on this side of the House have acknowledged we could do that perhaps faster and better, but it is clear from comments on the other side that those efforts are under way and that there is real and meaningful efforts by the minister to expedite family reunification, while also providing the appropriate oversight in relation to potential security risks that might be associated with widespread departures during a time of war.

New Democratic Party of Canada May 6th, 2013

Mr. Speaker, 25 days have passed since the leader of the NDP failed to retract his senior lieutenant's shocking and hurtful comments about Canadian veterans from the first world war. Unfortunately, his silence is leading to a disturbing trend. Just yesterday, a day honouring the Battle of the Atlantic, another senior NDP member from the federal riding for Québec slammed Canadian veterans by questioning the very need to remember their sacrifices.

We remember, because veterans fought for the Canadian values of peace, freedom, democracy and the rule of law. They gave so much in the face of unbelievable risks. In many ways, we owe our places in the House of Commons to the sacrifices of our veterans.

Enough is enough. Canadians and veterans are watching. One can only hope that it will not be another 25 days before the NDP stops slamming veterans and that hopefully the opposition leader starts standing up for them.

Rail Safety May 3rd, 2013

Mr. Speaker, Rail Safety Week is taking place this year from April 29 to May 5. It is a national celebration aimed at increasing awareness of the safety around railway operations and highlighting our government's commitment to making the rail system safer for all Canadians.

While Canada has one of the safest rail systems in the world, improvements can still be made.

On Monday we announced an investment of $9.3 million at 523 grade crossing projects across Canada through our grade crossing improvement program. This program will enhance safety for pedestrians and motorists and help to save lives. In my riding of Durham, grade crossings at Baseline Road and Maple Grove Road are part of this program.

To further improve rail safety, our government also made amendments to the Railway Safety Act. These amendments came into force on Wednesday.

These investments and legislative changes show our commitment to safe and efficient rail service in Canada.

Mental Health April 30th, 2013

Mr. Speaker, this morning I was pleased to join the Minister of National Defence, Bell Canada and the True Patriot Love Foundation at the announcement of a $1 million fund to deliver community-based mental health programming for military families.

Bell Canada's innovative Let's Talk program engages Canadians from across the country in an important discussion about mental health issues. Let's Talk helps remove the stigma associated with mental illness and allows Canadians to text or talk to help raise funds.

The Bell True Patriot Love fund is an extension of the Let's Talk program and will provide a series of grants to military family resource centres across Canada for programs related to improving access to mental health care for military families.

I am proud that Port Perry native George Cope has helped start this national dialogue on mental health issues as CEO of Bell Canada. He has also renewed Bell's century-long commitment to supporting the men and women of the Canadian Forces and their families.

I thank Bell Canada and True Patriot Love for their leadership.

Strengthening Military Justice in the Defence of Canada Act April 29th, 2013

Mr. Speaker, I have listened to a lot of this debate today and, as both a former member of the Canadian Forces and as a lawyer, I have been concerned. In fact the member for Ottawa South made some comments in his remarks about the Attorney General that I think are really below what a lawyer should be saying when discussing policy or law with another lawyer. It is conduct or language that is really beneath him, and in the legal profession it is called “sharp practice”.

My question to the member relates to the fact that we heard in debate today that a lot of the concerns being raised today were not raised at committee. Specifically, the Liberal Party likes to quote the charter at length but does not seem to understand that the charter would provide for this law in a fulsome way. Certainly, section 1 of the charter would provide for some differences to the legal structure for military personnel who give the ultimate sacrifice.

I would like the member's comments on charter provisions specifically.

Business of Supply April 25th, 2013

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member from the Liberal Party for her question and her well-researched and thoughtful remarks today. The Liberal Party's record is disastrous post-Kyoto, and in many ways she cannot take much of the blame because she was not in the House, but most of the other members were part of that government.

I would remind Canadians that the Liberal Party signed the Kyoto accord and then did nothing. There were announcements, consultations and one-tonne challenges. The reality is that greenhouse gas emissions went up and there was no meaningful consultation. The Liberal Party did not work collaboratively with industry, as our government is doing. The Liberals talked a good game on greenhouse gas reductions while doing nothing.

Our government is committed to the balance I spoke of in my remarks. That balance is having meaningful, achievable and helpful targets, while also making sure we do not cause more unemployment in this country. It is a balanced approach that is working—a 4.8% reduction, the first of any government in Canadian history—and we are going to build upon that.

Business of Supply April 25th, 2013

Mr. Speaker, with respect to my colleague's first question, the NDP likes to mock the reductions we have experienced in Canada. They are significant and meaningful reductions, almost 5% since 2005, and they happened while the economy has been growing. All members of the House would like to see the economy grow faster, and our government is committed to that. Our economic action plan is committed to that. We have been able to grow the economy while also reducing greenhouse gases. Our sector-by-sector industry consultation will help us achieve our goals in the future.

As per the member's statements on wind, it is the provincial Liberal government in Ontario that has essentially put a moratorium on local communities deciding. Canada is working with our international partners, and if those international partners want to invest in wind and we can help that through fast-track financing, we have done that.

Business of Supply April 25th, 2013

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for sharing his time with me.

I am very pleased to address one of the most important issues facing our country. I am extremely proud of the work our government has done to address climate change, both in Canada and internationally.

Climate change is a global challenge that first and foremost needs a global solution. I am also pleased to say that our government is the first Canadian government to actually reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This reduction, 4.8% lower emissions when compared to 2005, is significant and should be recognized as such, particularly because our economy has grown by 8.4% over the same period. This reduction is significant because a generation from now, Canadians will look back and see that it was our Prime Minister and our Minister of the Environment who ushered in a new era of pragmatic and effective greenhouse gas reduction.

This reduction will not satisfy our critics here today. I know first hand of the passion the member for Halifax has for the environment and for climate change in particular. I can respect that passion, but I am here to remind her today that what is critical for Canadians, and indeed the world, is to have a climate change strategy that is balanced. Any plan must be effective and achievable and the important balance to strike is to lower emissions, like our government has done since 2005, without disrupting our economy.

We have to work collaboratively with Canadian employers and Canadians themselves to achieve meaningful targets. We cannot be tempted to foist unachievable and potentially disruptive policies from Ottawa on employers across the country at a time when employment is tenuous in Canada and when families are worried of a job loss for mom or dad.

While the NDP have well-intentioned but incredibly naive plans with respect to climate change, I must also highlight the sorry track record of the Liberal Party with respect to this file. Although the last Liberal government liked to talk an incredibly good game with respect to climate change and the Kyoto protocol, the reality is that government did absolutely nothing to address greenhouse gas emissions, nothing.

The Liberal critic continues the strategy of talking a very good game. She claims her speech in the House today was well researched and free of hyperbole. She spoke with conviction about Liberal plans, strategies, one-tonne challenges, signings and announcements, but the reality is that nothing serious was done to lower emissions by the Liberal government. On the contrary, the Liberals talked as if they were doing something, they appeared very attentive to the issue and even named pets after Kyoto, but after we pushed aside the window dressing, their true record was on display. The record shows that the Liberal Party led Canada through one of the largest period of increasing greenhouse gas emissions.

I saw a new Liberal commercial for the Liberal leader and he said that he had been working hard in recent months to earn trust. I would invite him to also study hard, to study the record of his party when it comes to climate change. Studying the record on climate change would make a good lesson at Degrassi High or any school in Canada on the meaning of the term hypocrisy.

This government is also attempting to work actively and constructively with all of our international partners. The Prime Minister and the minister have consistently built solid and professional relationships with our trading partners on environmental issues. This stands in sharp contrast with the NDP, which is only too happy to travel to the United States to use Washington as a bully pulpit to attack its own country. Sadly, the New Democrats do not even seem to realize that this undermines their very credibility as a party that wants to lead Canada.

To be effective, an international climate change agreement must involve meaningful commitments by all major emitters. Countries involved in the ongoing negotiations under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change have now moved beyond the Kyoto protocol toward a new and comprehensive international climate change agreement that will include significant action to reduce greenhouse emissions by all the world's major economies.

Canada is part of this international movement. Under the 2009 Copenhagen accord, Canada made a solid commitment to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions by 17% from 2005 levels. The commitment set a goal of reaching these reductions by 2020. We stand by this commitment and are taking a sector-by-sector regulatory approach to reducing emissions, with a goal to meet this target.

Our approach also works with Canadian employers to help sectors achieve their targets, while providing that important balance to ensure our economy keeps moving forward and the men and women from across our country keep their jobs in these challenging economic times.

Our government has already expressed our intention to continue this work with our international partners in establishing a new post-2020 climate change agreement that would more effectively serve to meet global climate change goals. This is not to say that international action cannot take place until a new agreement is established. Indeed, Canada has been actively collaborating with international partners outside the United Nations' process for effective action that can be implemented now.

The Prime Minister and his ministers travel around the world to work collaboratively and effectively with our global community, while NDP politicians travel the world only to find new ways and new locations to score political points, weaken our reputation and denigrate Canadian employers.

We need only look back a few weeks to see Canadian leadership and collaboration in this regard. At the major economies forum, Canada took a leadership role to address short-lived climate pollutants. These include methane, hydrofluorocarbons and black carbon. It is estimated that these pollutants, whose lifetime in the atmosphere is shorter than long-lived gases like carbon dioxide, will contribute significantly to global warming in the coming decades. These short-lived climate pollutants are of particular concern to Arctic countries like Canada because they may be responsible for the more rapid warming we are currently experiencing in the far north, notably due to the effect of black carbon deposited on snow and ice.

Another long-standing initiative in this area is the global methane initiative. This March, Canada hosted the Methane Expo 2013 in Vancouver, an international meeting and technology forum. Addressing methane emissions can result in a range of benefits, including air quality, human health and sustainable development.

Canada has also been working to address these pollutants within the Arctic Council as a founding member and lead partner in the Climate and Clean Air Coalition established in early 2012. We have been very encouraged to see the coalition grow from 7 to over 56 partners. Canada was the first out of the gate on this critical initiative by donating $3 million to the coalition. The Minister of the Environment just announced this month that Canada would contribute a further $10 million.

In meeting and exceeding the joint developed country goal under the Copenhagen accord to mobilize fast-start financing in the period from 2010 to 2012, Canada and other industrialized countries have provided funding of over $33 billion to help strengthen the capacity of developing countries that are vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and contribute to global mitigation efforts. I would like to talk to some of these countries that we have been helping directly.

In Haiti, $4.5 million of fast-start financing helped build climate resilience through rehabilitating 253 kilometres of shoreline, planting 500,000 trees and the construction of nearly 15 kilometres of irrigation corridors.

In Lesotho, $1.2 million went to support an 18-month feasibility study for the development of two potential wind power projects with the combined potential of 900 megawatts.

In Honduras, $5 million in Canadian support is unlocking up to $50 million to allow a local bank to provide affordable financing for renewable energy and energy-efficiency improvements at small and medium-sized businesses.

The track record of this government is clear. We are working in reducing emissions at home and are taking a major role internationally to help developing countries address climate change impacts and grow sustainably. Our plan is balanced, collaborative and effective, both at home and abroad. Canadian employers can find solace in the fact that our government will work collaboratively with them, industry by industry, to reach achievable goals without disrupting our economy and potentially putting Canadians in a position of unemployment.

These are important times and our government has taken important steps to ensure we address the reduction of greenhouse gases.

Petitions April 24th, 2013

Mr. Speaker, the second petition, signed by 128 Canadians from our area, condemns sex selective abortion.

Petitions April 24th, 2013

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to present two petitions, signed by residents of my riding of Durham or neighbouring ridings.

The first petition, signed by 34 residents, asks the Government of Canada to strengthen animal transport regulations.