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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was years.

Last in Parliament October 2019, as Conservative MP for Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry (Ontario)

Won his last election, in 2015, with 51% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Pipeline Safety Act January 26th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, diversity is, of course, a key to the success of our Canadian economy. Yes, I agree with the member opposite that we have to look at all alternatives for energy, but when we have a 99.999% success rate using pipelines to transport oil, it is incumbent on us to continue to look at this as a very viable option. With this new act, we would even improve on that record.

As long as we are going to use oil as an energy source, we need to do the best job we can in transporting it. Pipelines have one of the finest records so far, and this act will do nothing but improve that record.

Pipeline Safety Act January 26th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member from Saskatoon—Humboldt today.

Let me begin by saying I am very pleased to have the opportunity to speak to the pipeline safety act and its critical importance to all Canadians.

Most Canadians hardly think twice about the impact pipelines have on their day-to-day lives. These energy highways are essential for delivering energy that Canadians need to heat our homes, power industries, and fuel our vehicles. When Canadians turn up the thermostat, we hardly bat an eye. We tend not to consider where energy comes from. Like mine, most homes in Canada are heated with natural gas, all of which is delivered by pipelines, but Canadians do not need to give it a second thought, because it all happens so safely and seamlessly every single day.

Behind the scenes is a vast network of federally regulated pipelines. There are some 73,000 kilometres throughout Canada. These pipelines transport $100 billion worth of oil and natural gas each year. When we stop to think about it, energy fuels our daily lives and pipelines carry that energy. Pipelines are used to move oil from producers to refineries and on to customers right across the country. Whether we travel by car, bus, train, boat, or airplane, our journey is fuelled by energy that was most likely transported by pipelines at some point.

The oil and gas sector is tremendously important to Canada. It generates almost 8% of Canada's gross domestic product. As members know, energy is our leading export. Central to all of this economic activity are Canada's pipelines. In fact, 94% of all Canadian transportation is fuelled by energy from petroleum products moved by pipelines.

One thing is certain: pipelines are the cornerstone of Canada's oil and gas sector and are also an important national industry. In 2012, pipelines added nearly $9 billion to Canada's gross domestic product and over 6,800 jobs. They also account for between $40 billion and $55 billion in private sector investment each year. That is a lot of dollars being invested in the Canadian economy.

It seems that Canadians cannot pick up a newspaper or turn on the television these days without hearing about pipelines. Some Canadians have concerns about pipelines after a few recent incidents, but when it comes to safety, Canada's record is outstanding. In fact, our pipelines are among the safest in the world. Between 2008 and 2013, 99.999% of oil delivered through federally regulated pipelines arrived safely. As a result, our pipeline safety record easily tops that of Europe and the United States. What is more, during the last three years, 100% of the liquids spilled by these pipelines were completely recovered. Therefore, pipelines have proven to be one of the safest means of delivering the energy we all use.

Every day, Canadian pipeline companies move about three million barrels of oil. Moving the same amount of oil would require 15,000 tanker trucks or 4,200 railcars. Transporting oil through pipelines also consumes less energy and causes fewer greenhouse gas emissions.

However, we know we can always do better, and when it comes to the safety of Canadians and the safety of our environment, there is no second best. That is why new pipeline safety legislation is so important. With this legislation, the Government of Canada is building on its already impressive safety record through a suite of measures in the areas of prevention, preparedness and response, and liability and compensation. We are taking action to strengthen pipeline safety and modernize the National Energy Board Act.

This legislation proposes preventative measures that will clarify the rules and responsibilities of pipeline owners to prevent pipeline incidents, increase safety for Canadians, and better protect the environment. It will ensure that pipeline operators have the financial resources to respond in the unlikely event that an incident occurs. For example, major oil pipeline operators will be required to show proof of $1 billion in financial resources. In addition, they will be required to carry a certain portion of these resources as cash on hand in order to ensure an immediate response.

New regulations would also give the National Energy Board the power to directly administer tough new penalties that would address contraventions quickly so that larger issues would not arise in the future. We would enshrine the polluter pays principle in law so that polluters, not Canadian taxpayers, would be held financially responsible for the costs and damages they caused.

The bill also introduces absolute or no-fault liability. This means that pipeline operators would be held liable even when fault or negligence has not been proven. For companies operating major oil pipelines, the amount of absolute liability would be set at $1 billion. The pipeline safety act would also give the NEB authority to take control of incident response and cleanup if a company is unable or unwilling to do so. At the same time, it would expand the authority of the National Energy Board to recover costs from industry if the NEB ever steps in and takes charge.

Beyond the legislation itself, our government is taking a wider approach to pipeline safety and resource development. We are deeply committed to working directly with aboriginal peoples in all aspects of pipeline safety operations, including planning, monitoring, incident response, and related employment and business opportunities. We believe that aboriginal peoples must be partners in everything we do, from ensuring the safety of our pipeline system to protecting our marine environment from incidents to sharing in the benefits of developing our resources. That is why our Conservative government is working with aboriginal peoples to ensure the responsible development of our resources and the long-term prosperity of our communities for the benefit of all Canadians.

Taken together, these measures would ensure that Canada's pipeline safety system is world class and among the safest in the world. Building safe pipelines is something Canadians have done well for decades now; with the proposed legislation, we are making Canada's robust pipeline safety system even safer.

When it comes to the handling of oil and gas, our government should and will strive for the highest safety standards possible. Canadians expect and deserve nothing less. Canada's pipelines carry the products that fuel our economy, support the livelihoods of thousands of Canadians, and support our day-to-day high quality of life. I am a big promoter of continuing the great record we have.

Taxation December 1st, 2014

Mr. Speaker, families in my riding of Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry have to make decisions every day on how best to plan for their future, be it education for their children, retirement, or how to make ends meet. That is why our Conservative government continues to cut taxes for Canadian families.

Every family in my riding will stand to benefit from our latest tax breaks, including the increase and expansion of the universal child care benefit to nearly $2,000 per year for every child under the age of 6, and $720 for every child between the ages of 6 and 17. While we are giving benefits directly to families, the NDP and Liberals have said that they not only oppose these benefits but would also put the money into the hands of big government bureaucracies.

Our government trusts Canadians to spend and save their own earnings based on their own priorities. The Liberal leader has already pledged to reverse family tax cuts, forcing all families with children to pay more. That is his plan. Our plan is to help every family with children by putting more money into their pockets.

Young Women are Leaders October 9th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I rise today in the House to acknowledge the presence of a group of young female constituents from my riding who are visiting Ottawa today as part of the “Young Women are Leaders” program.

Recently, I was proud to announce funding on behalf of Status of Women Canada to fund a local leadership development program.

As we are all well aware, we need to provide support to young women in our great country to encourage and motivate them to step into more public and private sector leadership roles.

Female leaders bring so much to the table. I am grateful to the Eastern Ontario Training Board for leading this program, and most important, I am proud of the young women who are participating in the program.

I also want to take the opportunity to thank several of my female parliamentary colleagues who joined us to inspire them with their experiences in community leadership and public life.

After meeting with them today, I am very confident that our country is in great hands with these young women who are undoubtedly going to make a positive contribution to our future.

Afghanistan Veterans May 12th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I was honoured to join branch president Ken Heagle, members of the Cornwall Legion branch 297, and members of the public to honour the brave men and women who served in Afghanistan during Canada's 13-year mission.

Sergeant Marc Léger, one of the first casualties of the war, was a proud resident of Stormont—Dundas and South Glengarry until his unfortunate death in 2002. His loss and his contribution to our country will be forever remembered.

It was also a very moving experience to witness Libby Pelkey, a mother of two Afghanistan veterans, lay a wreath at the Cornwall cenotaph to honour her son Cody's four tours of duty and her other son Kyle's two tours of duty in Afghanistan.

May 9, 2014, certainly was a day of honour in Stormont—Dundas and South Glengarry. We will remember them.

Business of Supply May 7th, 2014

Mr. Chair, the minister mentioned a five-point plan. Could she elaborate a little on that five-point plan? Is it a tenable proposal to return Canada Post to fiscal responsibility?

Business of Supply May 7th, 2014

Mr. Chair, I apologize for my enthusiasm. I just could not wait to get started on this wonderful speech that I have for the House. It gives me a chance to offer congratulations on the minister's birthday a second time, so that is a good thing.

As I started out to say, I want to talk about Canada Post but I want to acknowledge at the outset that it is an arm's-length crown corporation.

First, let me deal with the financial situation at Canada Post. It is undeniable that the business of delivering mail has evolved at a remarkable rate, especially with the incredible popularity of electronic mail. But whether we talk about individuals, business, or governments, everybody has to live within their means. This is as true of me and my family as it is of the government or of Canada Post. Canadian families know they cannot continually spend more than they earn. Business and governments are no different. Canada Post will not receive government subsidies to operate in an unprofitable fashion. It must adapt, as we all have to.

That said, the throne speech highlighted our government's unwavering commitment to control spending while investing in Canadians' priorities to safeguard our economy. Year after year in budget after budget, we have put in place credible plans to achieve financial sustainability and set clear targets to bring our deficit down.

This was crucial as we dealt with the damaging effects of a worldwide recession, one of the worst in more than seven decades. We had to get our fiscal house in order to keep Canadians working and our economy growing. The proof of this commitment is in the results. I remind the House that one of minister Flaherty's greatest legacies will be a balanced budget in 2015.

More than just managing debt, our government is tackling spending. We are reducing the size and the cost of government to ensure taxpayers get good value for money. We are working hard to make government more efficient and responsive to the needs of Canadians. This is because of our overreaching goal to create the conditions for jobs, economic growth, and long-term prosperity for all Canadians.

We are the envy of the world. Three credit rating agencies, Moody's, Fitch, and Standard & Poor's, have reaffirmed their top ratings for Canada. Both the International Monetary Fund and the OECD expect Canada to be among the strongest growing economies in the G7 this year and next.

Reducing spending, lowering taxes, and paying down debt are enabling us to seize new economic opportunities as we promote free trade and innovation, the keys to job creation, economic growth, and prosperity. I lay out these facts to underline that these same truths apply just as much to Canada Post as it faces unprecedented challenges.

One need not be a learned scholar to judge the trends in the fiscal forecast of Canada Post to see where the trend leads. A 2013 report prepared by The Conference Board of Canada into the corporation's future projects that unless major changes are made, annual operating deficits will reach nearly $1 billion by 2020, that is $1 billion per year. That is certainly a deficit that requires significant and immediate attention.

While many Canadians will admit they use mail less and less, some are quick to point out the popularity of parcel delivery. Could this not be a promising area of business growth, they ask? Absolutely it can. The parcel market is increasing as more and more Canadians are making online purchases. E-commerce helped parcel volumes grow by about two million pieces in the first nine months of 2013 compared to the year earlier. Canada Post parcel revenue was up 11.2%, which amounts to $32 million from the third quarter of 2012. However, I believe the minister could confirm that parcel revenues are simply not enough to compensate for mail volume declines.

Consider that in 2012, total transaction mail revenue amounted to $3 billion or 51% of the corporation's operating revenues. Parcels on the other hand accounted for less than $1.3 billion or 22% of operating revenues. Even though parcel volume is projected to increase by 26% by 2020, it will not be enough to get Canada Post out of the red.

Quite simply, the corporation's current business model no longer allows it to earn sufficient revenues to offset its cost. Without changes, the future viability of the postal service is in question.

As the minister has highlighted in this place many times before, the challenges of Canada Post have arisen in part because of the global recession. The pace of postal decline has been accelerating in Canada and other developed countries for a number of years. However, it has accelerated after the global recession began in 2008.

Companies cut their mailing costs as part of overall cost reductions. Many opted to ship more billing statements and marketing online. At the same time, individual consumers began moving en masse from traditional to digital communications. Canadians are now more likely to send a text message or an email than to take the time to write a letter, post it and wait several days to be delivered.

As the minister has noted many times, mail volumes per address have dropped by nearly 25% between 2008 and 2012. In fact, more than one billion fewer pieces of letter mail were sent last year than in 2006.

The U.S. Postal Service has reduced service hours and the number of employees to address financial pressures, for instance, while the U.K. has privatized and significantly increased stamp prices. Not to mention, neither of these countries presents the same unique challenges that our northern communities presents.

The digital economy is not going away. Canada Post has no option but to find new ways of doing business to keep its operation sustainable. Canada Post must manage its business prudently. It has no choice. It has a mandate to operate on a self-sustaining financial basis. Financial responsibility is a legislated obligation.

The services currently provided by Canada Post are clearly no longer affordable. The corporation needs to spend within its means in the same way that individuals do as they manage their family budgets. More than that, change is essential if Canada Post is to keep pace with the choices Canadians are already making about the way they prefer to communicate.

Since delivery accounts for about 40% of Canada Post's operation costs, it is the most obvious place to start.

Door-to-door delivery is by far the most expensive mode of delivery. It costs between two and three times what it costs to deliver to a community mailbox. Compare $283 annually for home delivery versus $108 for community mailboxes. They are also cheaper than delivering to a rural mailbox, which rings in at $179 per year.

To be clear, we are talking about changes affecting only home delivery. Businesses with large volumes of mail or located in business zones will generally retain their door-to-door delivery. However, the remaining one-third of Canadians still will have door-to-door service. The minority of people in our country, I would add and I am one of them, will gradually shift over the next five years to community mailboxes instead. Community mailboxes provide secure mail storage in a convenient place close to home to receive parcels and packages.

Remember that Canada Post introduced community mailboxes back in 1981, so it has been successfully delivering mail and packages this way for a very long time.

The corporation is expected to reduce its workforce by between 6,000 and 8,000 positions by 2019 and this will be achieved largely through attrition, which will help reduce its overhead dramatically. Like most workplaces populated by baby boomers, many will leave the workforce in a few years' time.

In closing, I have a question that I would like to pose for the minister. I hate to present her with such a tough question, but although it is tough, it is fair. I was hoping that the minister would inform the House on the current crisis facing Canada Post and the government's commitment to ensuring that it does not become a burden on taxpayers, because the taxpayers are up to here with unnecessary costs. Please explain what we can expect the post office to do to rein in these costs?

Business of Supply May 7th, 2014

Mr. Chair, I would like to begin my comments by wishing the minister a happy birthday, although I find the way she decides to celebrate it passing strange. However, maybe a little later in the evening she will.

I would like to talk a little about Canada Post, acknowledging at the outset that it is an arm's-length crown corporation.

First, let us deal with the financial situation in Canada Post. It is undeniable that the business of delivering mail has evolved at a remarkable rate, especially with the incredible popularity of electronic mail. However, whether we talk about individuals, businesses, or governments, everyone—

Canada May 7th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, in less than two months Canada will be celebrating her 147th birthday.

For 147 years, Canadians from all walks of life have contributed to create a country that is the envy of the world.

This country was built on the backs of giants, the proud men and women who went before us.

The constituents of Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry are also very proud of this magnificent country, and we show it. For the past seven years, thousands and thousands of residents of SDSG have proudly displayed a Canadian flag at their homes each and every July 1. As a matter of fact, the riding of Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry has claimed the title of “Most Patriotic Riding in Canada” six out of the last seven years.

Every resident in my wonderful riding is truly proud to be a Canadian, and that is why I encourage each and every constituent of Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry to again proudly display our glorious maple leaf this July 1.

Service Club Council of Cornwall and District March 6th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I rise today in the House once again, so proud of the constituents in my riding of Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry. I would like to acknowledge the great work being done by a unique organization in my community, the Service Club Council of Cornwall and District.

The city of Cornwall is home to a wide array of service clubs that play a huge part in making our community a better place to live, work, and raise a family, but many of them face the same challenges: difficulty raising money, recruiting new volunteers, and getting the next generation of Canadians interested in volunteerism.

The Service Club Council of Cornwall and District has been active for nearly 70 years, working together on projects and annual events like the Santa Claus parade and the Children's Christmas Fund. Each year they have an annual dinner where the 14 member clubs gather to celebrate their successes. I have had the honour to attend several times.

Service clubs and volunteers are the backbone of a successful community. The Service Club Council of Cornwall and District is a perfect example of that statement.