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

Veterans Affairs February 26th, 2013

Mr. Speaker, our government knows that veterans' mental health can be either a gateway or a barrier to transitioning back to civilian life. Those Canadians who have served our country and are dealing with mental health issues need our support if those issues arise as a result of their service.

Could the Minister of Veterans Affairs please inform the House about a new tool that will soon be available to help our veterans?

March to the Top February 14th, 2013

Mr. Speaker, it was my honour last night to attend the world premier of the documentary March to the Top, a film that documents the personal stories of service and sacrifice of 12 injured Canadian veterans as they form an expedition team to climb the gruelling 20,305-foot summit of Island Peak, a mountain south of Mount Everest. Despite serious physical and emotional challenges, these veterans served one more mission for Canada, a mission to inspire other wounded veterans and a mission that reminds all of us that the values of courage, duty and valour are not confined to the battlefield.

I want to salute these outstanding Canadians: Roseanna Mandy, Matthew Nilson, Chris Drewes, David MacDonald, Michelle Hickey, Brian Hyland, Neal Carman, Craig Tourangeau, Corey Hatt, Peter Burcew, François Dupéré, and Carl Keenan. I also want to thank the True Patriot Love Foundation: team leader, Ray Joseph, expedition leader, Ben Webster and also Bruce Cowley for seeing the value of this inspiring Canadian story. All Canadians should watch March to the Top on CBC-TV on Monday, February 18.

Ethics February 11th, 2013

Mr. Speaker, members of Parliament have the extraordinary privilege of unfettered free speech in this chamber. However, they also have the important obligation to speak responsibly when they leave the House of Commons.

The hon. member for Winnipeg Centre is well aware of this responsibility, which is why it is troubling that the member created a legal defence fund to solicit donations to help offset the costs of a defamation lawsuit brought against him for his comments outside of the House. The media has reported that the member received a $10,000 donation to the fund from a union, and the website soliciting donations bears all the hallmarks of a political fundraising website.

Canadians need to know that donations from corporations and unions, which are precluded by the Canada Elections Act, cannot be funnelled into a fund used to defray the costs of a legal matter involving a politician. Canadians also deserve to know the source or amounts of these donations.

Accordingly, I have asked the ethics commissioner to examine this practice and the methods employed by the member for Winnipeg Centre.

The Economy February 5th, 2013

Mr. Speaker, while the NDP calls for job-killing taxes on business, our government is getting results for the economy, creating over 900,000 net new jobs created since the worst of the recession, with 90% of them full-time. Our economic action plan leaves more money in the hands of entrepreneurs to hire more Canadians and grow their businesses, not tax them out of business like the NDP.

In recent weeks, many Canadian retailers have announced their intentions to expand, something that the NDP has not bothered to mention. Can the world's best finance minister update the House on these good news announcements?

Canada Labour Code February 4th, 2013

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak today to Bill C-464.

Any child is a gift. I would like to congratulate the hon. member for Winnipeg North on the birth of his first grandchild. That is certainly a momentous occasion.

Any child is a blessing. I would also like to call out in the House the birth of Aurélie and Clémentine Smith, twins born at Christmas to very good friends of mine, Paul Smith and Gillian Hewitt Smith. Children are blessings that should be recognized in our communities and today in the House.

First, the bill would amend the Employment Insurance Act to double the maximum number of weeks of parental benefits for new parents who are blessed with multiple children from a single pregnancy or those who adopt more than one child at the same time. Second, the bill would amend the Canada Labour Code to protect the jobs of these parents for 72 weeks in federally regulated workplaces.

Unfortunately, the government cannot support Bill C-464. While we understand the good intentions of the hon. member, her bill would be economically challenging and would run contrary to the structure and ideals of our EI system.

This government more than any previous government understands the importance of family. The families of Durham certainly understand that and I understand that as the proud father of Mollie and Jack, our two children. My wife, Rebecca, and I have had to make decisions in relation to child care and who works in our household.

However, the bill that is presently before the House would not be financially responsible at this time and would undermine the insurance-based principle of the EI system. It was estimated by the member of Parliament for Verchères—Les Patriotes that the extension of parental benefits proposed through her bill would cost $27 million. However, the government estimates that program costs alone could be closer to $100 million, not mentioning possible administrative costs. Therefore the financial implications on the EI program could be four times the hon. member's estimate.

Apart from the costs of the legislation, which as I said would approach $100 million, the NDP has proposed over $3.8 billion of new EI spending per year. That is $3.8 billion that would need to be contributed by workers and employers through increased premiums to pay for these benefits. In these fragile economic times, when the EI account is still in a deficit situation, this would not be economically or financially prudent.

These premium increases would come from the pockets of hard-working Canadians who would have less money to bring home to support their families. Employers would also have to spend more money on premiums, which in some cases could be the difference between a business thriving, surviving or going bankrupt.

Just this weekend I met with Scott Delong, a small business owner in the Durham area who is already being squeezed by provincial changes to WSIB. He cannot afford yet another burden, such as the one the NDP is proposing. While our government introduced a new rate setting mechanism to ensure stability and predictability for EI premiums, the NDP is proposing measures that would see EI premiums rise over 16% in a single year.

Allow me to speak for a moment to the insurance-based principles of EI.

First and foremost, we have a good system currently in place that supports parents while providing flexibility so that they can decide what works best for their families. Under the Canada Labour Code parents welcoming a new child into their home can legally take 37 weeks off work to care for that child following the birth or adoption. They are also entitled to 35 weeks of parental benefits under the employment insurance program. The EI parental benefit is designed to temporarily replace income lost while caring for a child. It makes it easier for parents to stay home and care for their newborn or newly adopted child. It is also flexible, allowing parents to share the 35 weeks as they see fit.

The legislation is clear. The EI parental benefit is not tied to the number of children born or adopted at any one time. In fact, no jurisdiction in Canada currently provides additional leave under its employment standards legislation for parents of multiple newborns or multiple adopted children.

The EI program is an insurance program. It is not a social welfare program where the financial needs or circumstances of each individual are considered or measured when determining eligibility, entitlement and the rate of weekly benefits. To put it another way, EI special benefits are meant to replace a portion of an individual's income while they are away from work. What is being insured is the loss of wages, not the personal circumstance of the claimant. To support the bill would fundamentally change the approach to EI special benefits, which is not something the government could support.

Let me also briefly touch on a federal court of appeal decision from January 24, 2013, just weeks ago, which deals with the subject matter we are discussing today. A brief summary of the case is that a Canadian couple was fighting for 35 weeks of EI benefits for each parent because they had given birth to twins. The federal court of appeal was clear in its decision that the act allows for 35 weeks of parental leave for each pregnancy, not for each child resulting from a pregnancy or adoption. The court also found that it did not constitute discrimination, nor inequality under the charter.

Canadian families are a key priority for our government. We have proven our commitment by assisting families with dedicated initiatives, such as the Canada child tax benefit, the national child benefit supplement and the universal child care benefit. Over 1.5 million families benefit from the universal child care benefit each year. It is a program that was created by our government to provide parents a choice in how they will manage their families. Also, 3.3 million parents claimed the child tax benefit. The average Canadian family is now saving $3,000 per year in taxes from what they paid before our government was elected. In my recent byelection in Durham hundreds of parents told me how much they appreciate the choice and assistance these family-centred policies provide.

The child tax benefit and the universal child care benefit are in addition to the 15 weeks of maternity leave granted to mothers, as well as the 35 weeks of parental leave currently offered under EI. As the Prime Minister said previously, we believe that families are the building blocks of our society. Our government has reduced taxes and increased benefits so that parents will have flexibility when it comes to how they raise their children. This is because we believe parents are best suited to decide how to raise their children.

In conclusion, the government cannot support a bill that would increase the cost to the EI account of up to $100 million per year. We also cannot support a bill that would change the fundamental nature of a national program that has already proven to be flexible and adaptable to the needs of families. Therefore, I ask all members of the House to join me in supporting our current robust EI system by voting against Bill C-464.

Canada Labour Code February 4th, 2013

Mr. Speaker, my question relates to the cost of the bill.

In my colleague's remarks she mentioned that experts estimated the cost of the bill at $27 million, the Parliamentary Budget Officer estimated an $80 million cost and department estimates go up as high as $100 million. I would like the hon. member to take the House through how those costs were calculated for the $27 million in her bill and tell the House what specific experts were called upon to come to that number.

Durham January 28th, 2013

Mr. Speaker, it is with great excitement and a profound sense of duty that I stand today to thank the people of Durham for their confidence in me as their member of Parliament.

In many ways, the small communities of Clarington, Scugog and Uxbridge perfectly represent the small towns, villages and people that built our country. In Newcastle, the visionary Massey family first built farm machinery to till our soil, and eventually Massey Ferguson tilled the fields of Canada. In Uxbridge, Lucy Maude Montgomery penned most of her Anne of Green Gables novels, telling one of the first quintessentially Canadian stories. Port Perry grew up alongside the Mississaugas of Scugog Island First Nation. At the centre of this community is the idyllic and popular Lake Scugog, which some say took its name from the Mississaugas' word for “waves leap over a canoe”.

From the past to the present, Durham remains a proud and important part of Canada. I am indebted to the people of Durham, and particularly to my wife Rebecca and children Mollie and Jack, for providing me with the support and confidence to join this House of Commons.

Veterans Affairs December 12th, 2012

Mr. Speaker, I have met hundreds of veterans throughout Durham and Canada, and I know that they are some of the hardest working and most talented people around. They have an incredible training expertise and the best work ethic of any Canadian. Because of the strong fiscal management of this government, Canadian businesses are hiring.

Will the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Veterans Affairs please update the House on what our government is doing to encourage more Canadian industries to hire our veterans?