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

Stratford Festival February 24th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, funding for the Canada Council for the Arts has not decreased. In fact, in 2006 there was quite a substantial increase to that arts council, somewhere around $50 million. Right now the Canada Council for the Arts gets around $180 million, which it disburses to its peers as it sees fit.

Stratford Festival February 24th, 2015


That the House recognize the Stratford Festival's distinct cultural and economic contributions to Stratford, southwestern Ontario and Canada since its inception in 1953.

Mr. Speaker, I am proud to rise in the House today to ask my colleagues to support my private member's Motion No. 545, that the House recognize the Stratford Festival's distinct cultural and economic contributions to Stratford, southwestern Ontario, and Canada since its inception in 1953.

As a lifelong supporter of the arts in Canada, I have seen first-hand how arts organizations not only enrich our culture but also contribute greatly to the economy of the communities in which they are present. It is with this lifelong support of the arts that I say how very proud I am to represent the riding that is home to the world's renowned Stratford Festival.

The Stratford Festival stages some of the most celebrated theatre productions in the world, and with its distinguished reputation, attracts a wealth of prominent actors, designers, and directors. While it originated as a Shakespeare festival, the modern Stratford Festival spans April to October of each year and presents a wide variety of repertory theatre ranging from Shakespearean tragedies to musicals to contemporary pieces. It truly offers something everyone can enjoy.

However, this theatre does much more than create great plays, as it also reaches out to the community and visitors by offering a wide variety of other opportunities to experience the arts in Canada. These types of activities include musical nights, backstage tours, forum events, educational workshops, and visits to the theatre's archives. These diverse experiences entertain and inform over 400,000 visitors every year.

The Government of Canada has a strong history of supporting the Stratford Festival. On October 1, 1981, Canadian Heritage designated the Stratford Festival archives part of the moveable cultural property program. Since 2007, the festival has received significant federal funding through programs such as the Canada cultural spaces fund, the marquee tourism and events program, and the Canadian arts and heritage sustainability program. Clearly, the Government of Canada believes in supporting the Stratford Festival because it is important, and I am asking the House to recognize that importance.

In addition to making a very significant contribution to Canada's rich culture, the Stratford Festival is also a dynamic economic force. It provides 3,000 people with full-time jobs. It attracts visitors from around the world, and the valuable tourist dollars brought into the region provide strength and prosperity to the retail, dining, and hospitality industries. In total, the Stratford Festival generates approximately $140 million in economic activity each year. The Stratford Festival is a tremendous contributor to the economy of southwestern Ontario.

All of the people involved in the successful execution of the festival each year, since the first performance in 1953, have taken part because of their immense love of the arts. Because of this passion, these people have and continue to be dedicated to presenting quality plays that allow them to share their love of the arts, and, above all else, to entertain all the people who attend the festival each year.

My riding of Perth—Wellington has been enriched by the presence of the Stratford Festival. Over the last decade, Stratford has consistently ranked as one of the cities in Canada with the highest quality of life. It has been ranked recently as one of the most intelligent communities in the world. The recent addition of the University of Waterloo digital media campus in Stratford may not have happened were it not for the presence of this world-class festival.

The fine people of Stratford and our surrounding communities have, over the decades, welcomed people from all over who have come to see the festival and who have decided to come again and again, or even to stay. This has allowed unique communities, cultures, and industries to develop. Neighbourhoods and neighbouring towns have been able to showcase, preserve, and enhance their own heritage and cultural offerings. People who have come to work in Stratford and live in the area have travelled all over the country spreading and strengthening our artistic communities and have exported our own theatrical know-how across the globe to various corners of the world.

The Birmingham Conservatory for Classical Theatre is one example of the Stratford Festival helping to strengthen the artistic community in Canada. The conservatory was started to help teach and prepare talented actors for the rigorous requirements of acting in classical theatre. Each year, selected graduates of the theatre training program are paid and offered contracts with the Stratford Festival following completion of their conservatory work.

Farther from home, the Stratford Festival has involved itself in the Sharing a Dream initiative, an international development project in Suchitoto, El Salvador. Suchitoto is a community and region marked by severe violence over the last several decades and lacking cultural spaces and infrastructure. The goal of the project has been to replicate the conditions that allowed the festival to flourish in Stratford over 60 years ago, helping the citizens of Suchitoto to develop and transform itself into a self-sufficient centre for the arts in Central America.

The Stratford Festival has inspired scores of people to launch their own community festivals, dramatic or otherwise. The festival has helped to teach Canadians everywhere that we can be cultural ambassadors and that we have important things to say. In 1952, when the Stratford Festival founder, Tom Patterson, proposed his idea to create a Shakespearean festival to Stratford City Council, he was given a $125 grant to seek artistic advice. Because of the hard work, dedication, and optimism of countless workers and volunteers, that $125 grant has resulted in a world-renowned cultural festival that creates and supports thousands of local jobs and contributes millions of dollars to the economy.

This motion is in recognition of the contributions, both economic and cultural, that Tom Patterson and each of the countless individuals involved in the Stratford Festival have made to Canada. However, passing this motion would also provide the festival with a very valuable promotional tool. Giving the Stratford Festival such a rare honour would allow festival organizers the opportunity to tell the world that it is of such cultural and economic importance to our country that it has been recognized by the Parliament of Canada.

For these reasons, I ask the House of Commons to officially recognize the Stratford Festival and to give it the special distinction it has long deserved. I strongly encourage all members of this House to support this motion.

Brian Ronald Macdonald December 5th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to pay my respects to a great Canadian who passed away last week. Brian Ronald Macdonald came to Stratford Festival in his early days, an inventive choreographer and director.

Born in Montreal, Brian travelled the world over with legendary ballet and theatre companies. A founding member of the National Ballet of Canada, he worked tirelessly on scores of projects from coast to coast. His work as a director of opera and musicals resonates in Stratford today.

A companion of the Order of Canada, Brian was recognized for his important contributions with numerous awards, including a Governor General's Performing Arts Award for Lifetime Artistic Achievement and the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal.

The arts are an important part of the Stratford and Canadian economy. We are fortunate to have had such a talented, dedicated artist in our country. Brian will be missed.

Veterans Affairs November 7th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, next week Remembrance Day ceremonies will take place from coast to coast to coast. Canadians are honoured and proud to commemorate our fallen heroes.

Can the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Veterans Affairs share with this House the exceptional role of our brave men and women in this time of conflict?

Amendments to Standing Orders October 31st, 2014

Well, that is just rude.

Amendments to Standing Orders October 31st, 2014

I can do that: thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Amendments to Standing Orders October 31st, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to participate in the debate on the private members' business motion brought forward by the member for Haute-Gaspésie—La Mitis—Matane—Matapédia.

This rather lengthy motion would amend the Standing Orders to provide the following. House leaders, deputy House leaders, whips, deputy whips, and caucus chairs would need to be endorsed or elected by an absolute majority of party or caucus members. Each opposition member would be entitled to one question in each question period per week, with rules established for the transfer of that entitlement to another member if desired. Committees would be expanded from 10 to 11 members, or 12, if an independent member wishes to sit on a committee.

Members would indicate their desired committee assignments, and taking into consideration the proportionality of the parties and caucuses represented in the House of Commons, the right to pick committee assignments would be based on the reverse order of the lottery of private members' business. In other words, the last person on the list for consideration for private members' business would have the first choice of committee assignment.

The 40th and 41st Parliaments have seen a number of proposals to reform the Standing Orders. There have been proposals to reform question period, the rules on time allocation and closure, the means for electing the Speaker of the House and the chairs of committees, and the system of petitions.

I would like to speak first to the motion's proposal to reform question period. On April 24, 2013, the House debated a Liberal opposition day motion concerning the reform of members' statements. The proposal would have changed the Standing Orders to require an alphabetical rotation, subject to an exchange mechanism respecting each party's share of members' statements.

The key points that were raised during the debate on the above-mentioned opposition day motion applied to the debate on the motion before the House today. First, the proposal appears to fetter the Speaker's authority and discretion to recognize members. At pages 594 and 595 of O'Brien and Bosc, it states:

There is no official order for the recognition of speakers laid down in the Standing Orders; the Chair relies on the practice and precedents of the House in this regard. The Standing Orders simply authorize the Speaker to recognize for debate any Member who seeks the floor by rising in his or her place. [...] Although the Whips of the various parties each provide the Chair with a list of Members wishing to speak, the Chair is not bound by these. [...] While the Speaker has complete discretion in recognizing Members, the Chair may follow such informal arrangements as may be made...

The motion seeks to establish rigid rules on the operation of question period. The vast majority of the rules for question period are not established in the Standing Orders but rather in other practices of the House. The rules governing question period have developed through traditional and practice, and occasionally have been clarified through a Speaker's ruling.

For example, the current practices for the length and order of questions were developed in 1997 after consultations between the Speaker of the House and House leaders of the recognized parties, and are renegotiated at the beginning of each Parliament. Specifically, the motion's proposal to reform question period would provide each opposition member with the right to ask at least one question per week, and members could exchange that right with another if they so desire.

The result would be considerably less control over question period by parties. It would thereby reduce an opposition party's flexibility to manage questions by its members as part of its role of holding the government to account, including limiting the central place of party leaders and critics in an opposition party's question period strategy. If adopted, the proposal could create an uncoordinated and possibly ineffective series of unrelated questions to the government, with little to no opportunity for supplementary questions.

Further, the motion does not contemplate any extension of question period beyond 45 minutes, as is the current allocation. This would have the effect of limiting or, worse, reducing the time allocated to party leaders and recognized parties more generally.

The proposal would appear to hamper each party's ability to manage its internal affairs and could potentially disrupt the effective functioning of the House of Commons. Of course, these points are directly applicable to the opposition parties, so I will be listening attentively to see what views they will be sharing on these matters after I sit down.

The first point to make with respect to the effect of this motion on the effective functioning of the House of Commons is that two hours of debate is not a lot of time to assess the implications of the motion. As we have seen with other private members' business motions concerning changes to the Standing Orders, those motions have called on the procedure and House affairs committee to study proposals.

Let me turn next to the portion of the motion related to the participation of independent MPs at our committees.

The Standing Orders provide that any member may participate in the public proceedings of any committee but may not vote, move motions, or be counted for the purpose of quorum. Moreover, independent members have had increased participation at committees. For example, each of our standing committees has adopted a motion that allows independent members to submit their recommended amendments for consideration during the clause-by-clause study of a bill at that committee.

Last year, when the procedure and House affairs committee was given an order of reference to study the role and mandate of the Board of Internal Economy and its potential for replacement, the House made special provisions to allow independent MPs to participate in that study, given that the changes to the arrangements for members' offices could have had an unforeseen impact on those MPs who do not sit in a recognized caucus.

Political parties have also made arrangements to accommodate independent members. For example, in the 39th and 40th Parliaments, the Conservative Party gave one of our committee spots to André Arthur, the then independent member for Portneuf—Jacques Cartier.

Motion No. 535 also provides, as mentioned earlier, that membership of committees should be determined by using the reverse order of the list for the consideration of private members' business. However, parliamentary secretaries are ineligible, by virtue of their offices, to move private members' business items for debate in the House, pursuant to Standing Order 87.1(a)(ii). As a result, Motion No. 535 appears to prevent parliamentary secretaries from being members of committees. Maybe that was not the mover's intention, but it seems to be the effect of his motion. If it was not his intention, that goes to my earlier point about major changes to our rules being proposed yet being subject to only a two-hour debate.

This seems odd, since parliamentary secretaries perform the important role of assisting ministers in the discharge of their parliamentary duties. They also serve as a key conduit for information from parliamentarians, especially opposition MPs, to the minister. Certainly the conversations between parliamentary secretaries and opposition critics, collectively the subject matter experts, help inform the conversations that take place among our House leaders.

Finally, speaking of House leaders, that brings me to the aspect of the proposal in the motion that would provide for the election of House leaders, whips and their deputies, and caucus chairs.

The member wrote to all members of the House to inform them of his motion and to seek their support for the motion. In the member's letter, he characterized this element of his proposal as an election. However, the way the amendment to the Standing Orders is worded, it is unclear that an actual election would be required. Specifically, the proposal would add a new standing order to require an absolute majority of party or caucus members to endorse the appointment of the party's House officers by co-signing a letter, with the party leader, to the Speaker naming that party's House officer.

Therefore, the election process contemplated in the motion would effectively provide a veto power to party or caucus members, as opposed to directly requiring an actual election. I would add that the election process for House officers would not prohibit parties from conducting elections if they wished.

I would like to draw to the attention of the members the situation that could arise through such an—

Wind Turbines September 29th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, Health Canada announced a study in 2012 to research the impact of wind turbines on the health of Canadians. The result of this study, expected later this year, may come too late for some. Though the study remains incomplete, windmills have been constructed at unprecedented levels.

While I applaud our government for launching such a study, I ask those responsible locally to reflect before prescribing a policy they would never want in their own cities and penthouse apartments.

Wind turbines continue to go up in many ridings throughout rural Ontario despite objections from countless community members. Wherever windmills go up in Ontario, so does the price of electricity, while neighbouring residents see their quality of life and property values lowered.

The people in rural Ontario are tired of having our communities ignored, our health jeopardized and our rights denied.

Petitions June 10th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, the second petition says that, whereas Canada is the only nation in the western world, in the company of China and North Korea, without any laws restricting abortion; therefore, the petitioners call upon the House of Commons and Parliament assembled to speedily enact legislation that restricts abortion to the greatest extent possible.

Petitions June 10th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present two petitions this morning. The first one calls on Parliament to refrain from making any changes to the Seeds Act or the Plant Breeders' Rights Act.