House of Commons photo

Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was medals.

Last in Parliament October 2015, as Conservative MP for Perth—Wellington (Ontario)

Won his last election, in 2011, with 55% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Committees of the House May 13th, 2008

moved that the seventh report of the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage (recommendation not to proceed further with Bill C-327, An Act to amend the Broadcasting Act (reduction of violence in television broadcasts)), presented on Wednesday, April 9, be concurred in.

Doping in Sport May 7th, 2008

Mr. Speaker, as debate on Motion No. 466 comes to a close, I would like to thank my colleagues from all parties who have spoken to this motion. Motion No. 466 calls on the government to continue to engage in the anti-doping movement and to encourage the ratification of the UNESCO International Convention against Doping in Sport.

I would like to thank all those who spoke for their strong support of this motion. It is imperative that we continue to participate in the worldwide anti-doping movement. Canada's participation in the fight against doping in sport means action both at home and abroad.

At home, it is up to Canadians to keep our sports clean. This will take involvement from governments, regulatory bodies, sports organizations, volunteers, coaches and athletes. By continuing to fight against performance enhancing drug use in sport and by partnering with our national sports organizations, we can secure a clean future for sport in this country.

I have spoken previously about one organization in my riding that is doing its part to secure a drug free future in sport. The Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum will again welcome young people this summer to its Kids on Deck summer ball camp in St. Marys, Ontario, where they will be exposed to a positive message encouraging healthy living and drug free competition. I should mention that in my hamlet of Sebringville, Ontario, the softball program has grown from 44 participants to 244 participants in just three years. I can assure this House that all the activities are drug free.

Athletes deserve a level playing surface. Canadian fans expect and deserve fair competition. Canadians should be able to have confidence in the integrity of amateur and professional sport. By continuing to engage in the anti-doping movement here in Canada, we can help Canadians look forward to a clean and fair Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games in Vancouver just two years from now.

Of course the anti-doping movement is an international one and Canada is committed to playing our part on the international stage. That is why we are proud to host the World Anti-Doping Agency headquarters in Montreal. Recently our government announced that Canada's commitment to hosting the World Anti-Doping Agency headquarters will be extended for another 10 years, meaning that Montreal will be its home until at least 2021.

What is more, Canada was the second member state to table its acceptance of the UNESCO International Convention against Doping in Sport. The UNESCO International Convention against Doping in Sport is a remarkable international consensus document. It lays out a common framework for discussions regarding the anti-doping movement. It calls on governments to involve athletes and sport organizations in the anti-doping movement. It sets out an agreed list of unacceptable performance enhancing substances.

The international convention is a strong document and it is no surprise that it was unanimously adopted by member states. There is more work to do, as the next step is to have member states ratify this document. Already 79 states have done so. The motion we have before us today calls on Canada to encourage the remaining states that are a party to UNESCO to take this next step and ratify the International Convention against Doping in Sport.

I thank once again the members who have participated in this debate. I encourage all members to support this motion.

Committees of the House May 7th, 2008

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the eighth report of the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage in relation to the maintenance of a basic level of information services by conventional television.

Committees of the House April 9th, 2008

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the seventh report of the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage in relation to Bill C-327, An Act to amend the Broadcasting Act (reduction of violence in television broadcasts).

Doping in Sport April 8th, 2008


That, in the opinion of the House, the government should continue to engage in the anti–doping movement, encouraging national governments to follow Canada’s lead and ratify the UNESCO International Convention against Doping in Sport.

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to participate in the debate on Motion No. 466 which asks the government to continue to engage in the anti-doping movement and encourage other nations to ratify the UNESCO International Convention against Doping in Sport.

When I was younger, I participated in a lot of sports myself. I was never a Wayne Gretzky of my sport but I always played for fun and for the love of the game. I played hockey, baseball, curling and football at various times in my life. I played hockey with players who went on to play in the original six NHL. I played baseball with players who went on to compete at a very high level in their sport.

When I was participating as an athlete, the furthest thing from anyone's mind was doping. None of the excellent athletes I competed with or against ever dreamed of using performance enhancing drugs to give themselves an advantage. However, since then, times have changed dramatically.

In 1988, the world watched, Canadians were ashamed and a great athlete's career was ruined as a Canadian sprinter ran the 100 metre dash in world record time, only to later test positive for steroids and have his gold medal taken from him. This event brought shame to our great country and it highlighted the need for a coordinated global front in the fight against performance enhancing drugs in sport.

Eventually there was vindication for Canada, and Canadians from coast to coast to coast swelled with pride in 1996 when our own Donovan Bailey became the fastest man in the world, running the 100 metres in world record time and doing it cleanly.

As we look forward to an Olympic Games this summer, and especially as we look forward to the 2010 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games in Vancouver, we owe it to Canadians to keep up the fight against performance enhancing drugs so that Canadians can enjoy clean games and so all athletes will have a fair chance to compete and win.

The Government of Canada stands firm in its commitment to be among the global leaders of the anti-doping movement and to the work of the international community to apply an internationally recognized framework against doping in sport.

In the Speech from the Throne, our government's five priorities were outlined: strengthening Canada's sovereignty and place in the world; strengthening the Federation and democratic institutions; providing effective economic leadership for a prosperous future; tackling crime and strengthening the security of Canadians; and improving the environment and health of Canadians.

The government's continued support to engage in the anti-doping movement is aligned with those priorities, focusing on the broader context of strengthening Canada's place in the world and by working in policy areas related to the health and well-being of Canadians involved in sport and their impact upon youth.

The UNESCO International Convention against Doping in Sport provides a mechanism through which governments can engage in the anti-doping movement, including support for the World Anti-Doping Agency and the world anti-doping code and international standards which aim to harmonize anti-doping policies and programs.

As a country, Canada played a leadership role in the development and adoption of the UNESCO International Convention against Doping in Sport. Canada chaired a committee of international experts which drafted the convention. Canada was the second member state in the world to table its acceptance of the UNESCO International Convention against Doping in Sport.

In the future, in order for the UNESCO convention to have worldwide reach and strength, we must be sure that we continue to encourage other governments to follow our lead and ratify the UNESCO International Convention against Doping in Sport. Significant progress has been made as 79 UNESCO member states have ratified it to date, but much more work can and should be done.

Before I speak further about the Convention Against Doping in Sport, I would like to talk briefly about what an extraordinary organization in my riding is doing to educate young people about the dangers of performance enhancing drugs.

The Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in St. Marys, Ontario, reaches out to young people who are interested in the game of baseball. It takes every opportunity, through a variety of youth programming, to use baseball as a medium to preach the message of staying off drugs. This message is communicated in varying forms through the dynamic Kids on Deck summer baseball program, which involves week long camps for boys and girls.

The Hall of Fame is currently fundraising for the construction of a baseball academy, a dormitory style theme-roomed complex that will significantly increase the number of participants in the Kids on Deck program. This will help the Hall of Fame take an even stronger role in promoting the benefits of healthy living and staying off drugs.

Any time that young people visit the Hall of Fame, there is always significant time inside the curriculum to address the drug problem.

With 226 Canadians having played in the major leagues, including more than a dozen presently making a strong impact in their clubs, with the Toronto Blue Jays turning the page and seemingly headed for a glorious year, with Canada recently qualifying for one of the eight berths in the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, and Toronto hosting one of the four world classic regionals in March 2009, baseball has a bright horizon in Canada.

Given the circumstances, I believe that the message of the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame to stay off drugs is going to reach more youth.

Given the importance of community actors and non-governmental institutions in fighting drug use in sport, I would like to take this moment to publicly recognize and thank the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame, under the direction of President and CEO Tom Valcke, for everything it is doing to promote a message of healthy living and clean sport.

I would like to thank all sports organizations across this country that are doing their part to help keep sports clean.

Of course, as the government, there is a lot more to our commitment to sport than just fighting drug use. Our larger strategy is one that promotes healthy outcomes for Canadians of all ages.

Recently, our government made an exciting announcement. We have re-launched the immensely popular ParticipACTION program. ParticipACTION was founded in 1971. It is a charitable, non-profit organization that promoted physical fitness activity throughout the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s.

Unfortunately, under the previous government, ParticipACTION had its partnership with the federal government ended in 2001. There is no better time to renew that partnership than now. Our government is providing $5 million over two years to renew our fruitful partnership with ParticipACTION.

According to Statistics Canada, 36% of Canadians are overweight, of which 23% are obese. Among children and adolescents aged 2 to 17, 26% are overweight, of which 8% are obese. Over the past 25 years, the overweight and obesity rate among adolescents aged 12 to 17 has more than doubled and the obesity rate has tripled.

The time for action is now. We can help fight this obesity epidemic by promoting healthy lifestyles for Canadians. That is why we are proud to partner once again with ParticipACTION.

Our government has done so much more though. We believe that an effective way to promote active lifestyles for children is to provide incentives for their parents who want to enrol them in sports activities. Therefore, our government has instituted the $500 child fitness tax credit. For each child, parents or guardians can claim a tax credit of up to $500 against the cost of registering their children in sports or fitness activities.

Canadians should consult Revenue Canada to learn which sport and fitness activities are eligible for this tax credit. A good rule of thumb is that anything that makes kids sweat is probably eligible. From soccer and hockey, to dance lessons, to basketball or volleyball, or karate lessons, this new initiative from our government will make it easier for young people to get involved, be active and get healthy.

Really, when it comes to physical fitness, sport and healthy activity, our government is going above and beyond. We are providing annual funding of more than $140 million to support participation and excellence in sport from the playground to the podium.

Let us not forget our contribution of $552 million to the Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. These are just some of the many things we are doing to promote sport in Canada, not the least of which is our fight against performance enhancing drugs and our support for the UNESCO International Convention against Doping in Sport.

State parties to the UNESCO International Convention against Doping in Sport have agreed to undertake measures such as legislation, regulation, policies or administrative practices to fight doping in sport. The Canadian policy against doping in sport and the Canadian anti-doping program is consistent with the objectives of the UNESCO convention.

We must also ensure that we, as a state party, uphold our ongoing commitment to the UNESCO convention and the anti-doping movement. As such, governments that have deposited their instruments of acceptance have committed to restrict the availability of prohibited substances to facilitate doping controls and to support the UNESCO convention's provision with respect to education.

State parties to the UNESCO International Convention against Doping in Sport agree that education programs should aim to provide updated and accurate information on such matters as the harm of doping, the ethical values of sport, and the health consequences of doping for athletes.

A voluntary fund for the elimination of doping in sport was created as well to assist some state parties who lack resources and expertise to fully develop and implement anti-doping activities consistent with the UNESCO International Convention against Doping in Sport.

The principle underlying the fund for the elimination of doping in sport, in general, is that more developed countries should assist less developed countries through the provision of funds and expertise. Canada subscribes to that principle. The fund for the elimination of doping in sport, in turn, is vital so that we can build anti-doping capacity globally. The fight against doping in sport will be at its strongest as we will build a network of capable governments throughout the world.

At the first conference of parties to the UNESCO International Convention against Doping in Sport, held in Paris in 2007, Canada was proud to be the first country to contribute to the fund for the elimination of doping in sport. This provided the impetus for others to come forward.

As a demonstration of our firm commitment to the continuing success and strength of the UNESCO International Convention against Doping in Sport, the Department of Canadian Heritage made contributions of close to $150,000 in the last two years to the fund for the elimination of doping in sport.

Canada's contribution to the voluntary fund will help strengthen worldwide anti-doping activities focused on education, capacity building, and coordination in developed countries and those less developed. Clearly, governments are taking the initiative seriously as 13 governments following Canada's initial commitment have already contributed over $1.2 million U.S. to the fund for the elimination of doping in sport.

The entry into force of the UNESCO International Convention against Doping in Sport marks a new phase in the anti-doping movement where all of the governments could come together to end the scourge of doping in sport. The UNESCO International Convention against Doping in Sport provides a framework for this goal to take place. However, it needs a forceful application by governments worldwide to ensure that these are not simply words without action.

The Government of Canada has been working and will continue to work hard to encourage national governments that have not already done so to ratify and implement the UNESCO International Convention against Doping in Sport so that future generations are able to enjoy and excel in doping-free sport.

Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame April 1st, 2008

Mr. Speaker, baseball is a great Canadian pastime. For 25 years, the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in St. Marys, Ontario has been telling the story of great Canadian teams and Canadians in baseball, encouraging the game at all levels in Canada.

I believe that one of the best things we can do for our young people is help them become involved in minor sports. That is why our government has introduced the $500 child fitness tax credit. The Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame has been doing its part through its exceptional programs such as the Kids on Deck summer camps.

As 2008 is the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame's 25th regular season, I encourage everyone to head down to St. Marys, Ontario, especially on June 28, when Tony Fernandez, Billy Harris, Gladwyn Scott and Peter Widdrington will be inducted as the hall of fame's class of 2008.

The Budget March 4th, 2008

Mr. Speaker, I have been attempting to speak for quite some time. My question is not necessarily on what the minister talked about. The automotive policy he has introduced today is fantastic.

I would like to respond to one of the Bloc members who said there was nothing in the budget for agriculture. Betty Jean Crews, vice-president of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture said:

Farmers traditionally turn to budgets for word of what governments have in store for them financially. This time the federal government introduced a change to that tradition.

Finance Minister...presented Ottawa's 2008 budget on Tuesday, February 26th, but the day before Agriculture and Agri-Food Minister...had his own announcement for agriculture. It was welcome news for the country's struggling livestock producers as it increased the maximum available as an emergency advance payment to 400 thousand dollars from 25 thousand per producers.

The OFA and our partners at the Canadian Federation of Agriculture right across the country are really pleased with the Minister of Agriculture and the budget, the way it has been presented.

Committees of the House February 28th, 2008

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the sixth report of the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage entitled “CBC/Radio-Canada: Defining Distinctiveness in the Changing Media Landscape”.

Over the past year the committee has been meeting and hearing from a wide spectrum of stakeholders and residents in every region of the country. Committee members thank everyone who took part in its proceedings. They were impressed by the keen interest shown by the many individuals who attended and participated in the committee's hearings in Ottawa and elsewhere to voice their opinions and their feelings about the future of our national public broadcaster.

Judging by this and by the hundreds of letters it received, the committee is convinced that Canadians are firmly committed to having a strong national public broadcaster that faithfully reflects our population from one end of the country to the other.

Income Tax Act February 25th, 2008

Mr. Speaker, I am privileged to join in today's debate on Bill C-219, if for no other reason than to spend a moment talking about what emergency service volunteers, especially our volunteer firefighters, mean to communities across Canada.

I do not believe that anyone in the House would argue the notion that we as a society tend to have an elevated view, and rightly so, of those among us who don the uniform of the firefighter, if not for the risks they take, then for the noble purpose for which they take them in the service of others and their communities.

It is little wonder that Edward F. Croker, a New York City fire department chief in the early 1900s and a pioneer in the movement to safeguard against fire hazards, once remarked:

When a man becomes a fireman his greatest act of bravery has been accomplished. What he does after that is all in the line of work.

That sentiment of gratitude and respect is especially true in smaller communities and towns in Canada, places where, amazingly to many of us, firefighters serve voluntarily in addition to their regular 7 to 3, 3 to 11 or 11 to 7 work duties. Or he or she may be a small business owner.

These men and women are ready to serve their communities at any hour, night or day. They serve in circumstances of grave danger to their own personal safety. As Mike Walsh, past president of the Canadian Volunteer Fire Services Association, noted:

Volunteer firefighters are the first-line defenders against many domestic threats involving fire, medical emergencies, hazardous materials, motor vehicle accidents and rescues....

With every call and every fire, these brave men and women face consequences that we would rather not contemplate, because our heroes are not supposed to die.

But they do. They are heroes like Gary Bryant. Mr. Bryant was a member of the 24-person Wolfe Island volunteer fire department in the Kingston, Ontario area. A few years back, Mr. Bryant tragically passed away in the line of duty. His colleagues and friends remembered him as a human being who put his community before himself. As one close friend noted, “To Gary, everybody came before him”.

Wolfe Island volunteer fire chief James White recalled a man who was very eager to join the fire department because he wanted to “give back to the community”, a community for which he would make the ultimate sacrifice, a sacrifice few of us have the inner strength to even consider. That is why, as Chief White sombrely remarked, we should “be proud of him because he died as a hero to us”, a hero to us in life and in death. And so we honour and thank them all.

As legislators, though, we can and do thank them with more than mere words. We can thank them by supporting their efforts. That is why I was so pleased when my government's last budget included an important measure to assist firefighters to ensure they have the training they need to safely and effectively react to emergencies.

A key part of that means helping them deal with hazardous materials, including chemical and biological emergencies. Do members know that volunteer firefighters are an integral part of our emergency measures plans all across Canada? That is why budget 2007 provided $1 million to the Canadian arm of the International Association of Fire Fighters to help put in place a hazardous materials training program, which is available to all first responders such as firefighters.

IAFF general president Harold Schaitberger hailed that announcement as a major advance for public and first responder safety in Canada and expressed his gratitude to the government for “listening to the IAFF and acting decisively on this issue”.

Local fire departments also welcomed the announcement. Bruce Carpenter, a firefighter in St. Catharines, Ontario, and the IAFF's 13th District vice-president for Ontario and Manitoba, said:

With the announcement in Budget 2007 to fund the IAFF's training programs in Canada, the Conservative government has demonstrated that it's serious about public safety and about protecting Canadians and Canadian first responders from the aftermath of a haz-mat or CBRN incident.

The income tax system also includes measures to support our emergency service volunteers. Presently under the current Income Tax Act rules, volunteers can receive honoraria from a public authority of up to $1,000 exempt from income tax, meaning they pay no tax on the first $1,000 they receive from a public authority.

That brings us to the measure under debate today, one that is very similar to two unsuccessful ones proposed and previously debated in the 37th and 38th Parliaments, one of which, in fact, was voted against by the Liberal member sponsoring this bill.

This proposal, somewhat like the previous two, seeks to establish a tax deduction for emergency service volunteers who do not qualify for the existing $1,000 income tax exemption. More precisely, the proposed bill would allow qualifying emergency service volunteers to deduct from their income tax between $1,000 and $2,000 depending upon the number of hours volunteered.

However, as we move forward, we must recall that very similar proposals have been defeated twice after concerns were raised by members of this House and at the Standing Committee on Finance, concerns ranging from equity, physical cost and complexity to the definitional issues and effectiveness.

For example, some people have suggested that such a proposal would provide no relief for volunteers with little or no taxable income. Others contend that it will only add administrative complexity for both the volunteer organizations and the volunteers themselves, while yet others feel that it fails to clearly define who should be considered an emergency service volunteer. These concerns and many others were raised by the all party Standing Committee on Finance when it recommended that the House not proceed with a nearly identical piece of legislation in 2005.

What is surprising, considering that a Liberal member has sponsored this legislation, is the degree to which some of his current colleagues have been critical of similar legislation in the past and the tenor of that criticism.

Let us consider that his Liberal colleague from Richmond Hill once stated that such a measure:

--would hardly be fair or reasonable from the perspective of other persons who also contribute to society.

For instance, consider the plight of a single parent of young children working at a fast food restaurant. This person probably has little time to devote to volunteer activities and thus could not gain access to the deduction because he or she is raising young children, and yet the worker's income is fully subject to taxation.

Or what about his Liberal colleague from Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, who scorned such a proposal, remarking that it would be “difficult to justify to other Canadians who work at low wage jobs” and that it would “put a value on one type of volunteerism as opposed to others”.

As well, the Liberal member for Halifax West dismissed a similar bill by simply saying:

I do not see that this bill is going to make it more likely that we will have more volunteers in our society.

Plainly as we move forward there will be certain questions that must be addressed when undertaking a thorough examination of the issues surrounding such a proposal, but what cannot and will not be questioned is our unresolved gratitude and admiration for those brave men and women who give of themselves so selflessly, heroes like Gary Bryant.

Committees of the House February 15th, 2008

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the fourth report of the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage, requesting an extension of 30 sitting days to consider Bill C-327, An Act to amend the Broadcasting Act (reduction of violence in television broadcasts).

I am also pleased to present the fifth report of the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage with respect to copyright legislation.