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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was farmers.

Last in Parliament October 2015, as Liberal MP for Guelph (Ontario)

Won his last election, in 2011, with 43% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Business of Supply May 14th, 2009

Mr. Chair, if I said to the minister that those numbers are in association with another line item, contributions in support of those initiatives that contribute to the improvement, advancement and promotion of the federal inspection system, and that $136 million was the estimate for this year's budget, 2009-10, and the number $335 million is in association with last year's budget, 2008-09, would the minister agree with me that there is less being spent in this budget than the last budget in support of initiatives for the promotion of federal inspection?

Business of Supply May 14th, 2009

Mr. Chair, those numbers are in association with a single line item, food safety nutrition risks.

I would like to ask the minister, would he agree that the number $136 million is less than $335 million?

Business of Supply May 14th, 2009

Mr. Chair, I am reading those numbers in association with the estimates for Agriculture and Agri-Food under program by activities and those numbers are from the line item food safety and nutrition risks. That number $220,466,000 is in association with the budget estimate for 2009-10.

The number $236,848,000 is in association with the previous year's budget, 2008-09. So would the minister not agree that there is less money being budgeted for food safety and nutrition risks in this year's budget than last year's budget?

Business of Supply May 14th, 2009

Mr. Chair, sorry what was the answer?

Business of Supply May 14th, 2009

Mr. Chair, would the minister answer a few simple questions on the estimates.

First, is the number $220,466,000 less than the number $236,848,000, yes or no?

Business of Supply May 14th, 2009

Madam Chair, on a point of order.

Automotive Industry May 14th, 2009

Forgive me, Mr. Speaker, if I am skeptical, but the government is showing again that it says one thing and does nothing.

Does the minister not realize his scrappage program does the exact opposite of what he intends? Instead of buying cars, people are now holding tight to their old ones, with the possibility that maybe some day they will get more money for them.

This is yet another ill-deployed program of the Conservative government. Car shoppers and car dealers across Canada what to know this. When will Canada have a new scrappage program?

Automotive Industry May 14th, 2009

Mr. Speaker, the industry minister finally read the auto subcommittee report, filed a month and a half ago, and has recommended methods to stimulate car sales, including a new auto scrappage program. Unfortunately his delay and dithering on the file is yet again causing harm to the auto industry.

Does the minister not realize that his musings about a scrappage program will stop auto purchases by people who will now wait to see if they can get more money for their old cars? When will the scrappage program be introduced?

Competition Act May 11th, 2009

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to stand in the House today to share my thoughts on Bill C-273, An Act to amend the Competition Act and the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (right to repair).

I commend the member for Windsor West for bringing the bill before us today.

In short, the auto industry is being asked to make available to third party repair shops intellectual property information and diagnostic equipment, among other things, perceived by some to be exclusively available to auto dealerships.

This is a matter of utmost importance involving issues of vehicle safety and the protection of intellectual property rights of auto manufacturers on the one hand, and small business needs for information on the other.

Though a challenge in striking a balance between competing interests, it is one that can be met without the need for invasive legislation, the effect of which will lead to the complete erosion of intellectual property rights of auto manufacturers and manufacturers of other equipment whose IP rights will be threatened by this precedent setting legislation.

I would like to spend a moment to offer my specific concerns with regard to Bill C-273. We know that Canada's non-franchised, non-dealership repair facilities conduct the majority of parts and service business in Canada. Clearly the absence of this legislation will not be a threat to an already thriving industry.

Another important fact is that a significant amount of repair and diagnostic information is often already available to the independent mechanics in garages through third party information providers on line for a monthly fee.

Further, with the advent of new technology like powerful hybrid batteries requiring expensive tools, gloves and diagnostics, only the best equipped mechanics can manage the safety issues arising with specialized equipment.

Other than two or three very large national auto repair shops able to afford the training and equipment required to conduct such services, who are we really helping? Would we be passing legislation to accommodate only two or three national repair shops when they all otherwise have access to necessary information?

Manufacturers go to considerable expense to develop the technology that we see in automobiles today. They also go to considerable expense to develop the training, tools and diagnostic equipment dealers use to repair these cars.

We are all well aware of the significant challenges facing our auto industry today. I believe it would be counterintuitive to place additional demands and regulations on the struggling auto sector at this particular time.

General Motors alone is expected to close 300 dealerships across Canada as part of its restructuring. I am assured that the location of dealerships closed will be strategic so that access to dealer servicing will remain available.

This is not the time for Canada's sagging auto industry to be confronted with new challenges. At this time the industry is being hit by a tsunami of events: lack of credit, plant shutdowns and recession.

We are asking, demanding, that the auto sector restructure into a leaner, more agile industry. It is not the time to regulate the industry out of existence entirely by requiring it to give up intellectual property rights completely for the benefit of its competitors.

Frankly, this might be considered by some to be an affront to normal business ethics.

I was pleased to learn last week that the Association of International Automobile Manufacturers of Canada, the Canadian Vehicle Manufacturers' Association and the National Automotive Trade Association have committed to the creation of a voluntary framework on this very issue.

This co-operative effort will put in place a framework that would establish a voluntary system for the systematic dissemination of repair and diagnostic information; a positive first step toward the further dissemination of information.

Surely, successful voluntary efforts are preferable to yet more legislation. Imagine all the additional costs of passing the legislation, monitoring compliance, amending it and enforcing it; cost to the industry and government and in each case cost to the taxpayer.

Of particular interest to me is the national automotive service task force that exists in the United States. This voluntary task force is considered by the assembly industry, dealers, many in the auto service industry and consumers alike, to be common ground where the needs of consumers on the one hand and the safety concerns and intellectual property rights of manufacturers on the other are addressed satisfactorily.

The national automotive service task force is a voluntary, co-operative effort among the automotive service industry, the equipment and tool industry, and automotive manufacturers. The task force ensures that automotive service professionals have the information, training, and tools needed to properly diagnose and repair today's high-tech vehicles, assures the flow of relevant information, and includes a system to deal with complaints.

A Canadian version of this task force is what is ultimately proposed by the industry.

We will be told by some that the American voluntary system is legislated. In fact, only a very small part is, a part dealing with emissions. The vast majority remains, indeed, voluntary.

I have learned that the industry has already begun working groups, including manufacturers and after-market servicers, to develop the technical and non-technical provisions of a voluntary model, from tooling to training, with an estimated time of arrival no later than September 1, 2009.

Once fully implemented, the national permanent and voluntary Canadian agreement would create a framework to provide all Canadian after-market service and repair providers with the desired and agreed upon information from all Canadian manufacturers and distributors, in a similar fashion as in the U.S.

Canada's auto industry has a long and successful history of developing, implementing and enforcing voluntary memorandums of understanding. In fact, 14 voluntary memorandums of understanding have been signed to date and the industry has met or exceeded the terms of each one of them.

Legislating the forfeiture of the auto industry's IP rights is akin to demanding the forfeiture of a food retailer's secret recipe so smaller retailers can compete against the very creator of that secret recipe. This is not fair.

Indeed, in my discussions with multiple non-dealer repair shops, I have learned that in addition to already having access to necessary information online, often a simple call to the local dealer's parts and repair shop usually leads to a complete explanation of the necessary work to be done. The fact is that this legislation is described by many in the industry as a solution looking for a problem that does not now exist.

There is no doubt that should a voluntary framework fall short in Canada, we can then take the necessary steps to implement the requirements set out in the legislation before us today. However, we have the benefit of a successful voluntary framework project at work in our neighbour to the south. We can look to this model to guide us in developing a voluntary initiative in Canada.

I am not saying third-party repair shops should be denied access to required information. I ask this House, however, to look to the leadership and competence of the industry, and support a voluntary system for the dissemination of repair and diagnostic information rather than the proposal put forward by Bill C-273.

Automotive Industry May 6th, 2009

Mr. Speaker, the finance minister keeps saying that the yet to be seen secured credit facility will help auto industry sales.

We are on the edge of too little too late for this facility. Experts say that the BDC is ill-equipped to implement the leasing and loan facility. The government's stonewalling on the credit facility is hurting Canadians who cannot get a loan or a lease for a car, which is killing the auto industry, the very industry that now owes Canadians billions in loans.

The minister has failed to get the job done. Where is the credit facility that he promised for May 1.