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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word is colleague.

Conservative MP for Kitchener—Conestoga (Ontario)

Won his last election, in 2015, with 43% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Questions Passed as Orders for Return February 24th, 2017

With regard to government communications, for each announcement made by a minister or parliamentary secretary in the National Capital Region in a location other than the parliamentary precinct or the National Press Theatre, since November 4, 2015: (a) what was the (i) date, (ii) location, (iii) purpose or subject matter, (iv) name and portfolio of the minister or parliamentary secretary involved; and (b) what were the amounts and details of all expenses related to making each such announcement?

Questions Passed as Orders for Return February 24th, 2017

With regard to meetings between the government and the Cannabis Friendly Business Association, since November 4, 2015: what are the details of all meetings the government, including Ministers and their exempt staff Members, have had with the Association, including (i) date, (ii) location, (iii) attendees, (iv) topics discussed, (v) titles and file numbers of any related briefing notes or documents?

Business of Supply February 16th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for the question, because I was hoping to work that into my speech, but I ran out of time.

There are those who argue that atheism itself is a faith system. I mentioned Dr. Andrew Bennett. He made a statement on May 14, 2015, in which he clearly called out the discrimination and murder of an atheist blogger in Bangladesh. He said:

I am deeply troubled by the recent targeted killing of atheist blogger Ananta Bijoy Das in Bangladesh. Canada condemns this murder and calls on authorities to protect the rights and the lives of all Bangladeshis.

I could not agree more.

Business of Supply February 16th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, I was elected by the people of Kitchener—Conestoga to represent them. That happens to be a riding within Canada. I do not presume to tell other nations how they should direct their foreign policy.

I want to thank my colleague and his party for agreeing to support this very important motion, this inclusive motion, which would address the issue before us today. However, I would remind him that while I agree that we need to be at the forefront of this, which is precisely why our party brought this motion forward to the House of Commons today, we include all faith groups. They are all included here. No, they are not all named, but it says “other” religions. It includes them all.

Business of Supply February 16th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, the member, and all members in the House, know that there are many techniques used to get the passage of certain bills and issues in the House. He says that we voted unanimously for the motion, and that is technically correct. However, he will know that very few members were in the House that particular day.

I am not here to speak on behalf of other parts of this community. However, when we look at the term “Islamophobia”, today alone we have heard three different supposed definitions of it. There is no agreement on how to define that word.

The big eye-opener for me was about a week ago, when I attended a seminar put on by a group of Ahmadiyya Muslims here in Ottawa, in the parliamentary precinct. They pointed out to me that a Muslim sect in a Muslim community in Pakistan is under severe persecution. How in the world could the term “Islamophobia” honestly be used with integrity to describe a situation like that, where a Muslim government is persecuting its own Muslim minority within its own country?

The term “Islamophobia” is misleading. It is not well defined. It is important that we follow through with the motion our party has put forward today, because it includes all faith groups, including Muslims.

As has been pointed out today, and yesterday, when we were debating Motion No. 103, our job is to protect the faithful. The government's job is not to protect or promote a particular faith but to protect the faithful. That is our goal with this motion.

Business of Supply February 16th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, as someone whose faith is at the very core of who I am and influences all of what I do in this place, today's motion is of great importance to me. This is the same for many Canadians. Their faith shapes them, and it is very important to their everyday life.

Places of worship, traditionally seen as sanctuaries, are also places for peace, contemplation, and fellowship, all of which makes the heinous attacks that took place in Quebec City just a few weeks ago that much more disgusting. This is why it is important for members of the House to stand together in support of today's motion, which condemns such hatred in Canada and strives to work toward collectively fighting for the freedoms enshrined in our constitution.

I neglected to mention, Mr. Speaker, that I will be sharing my time with the member for South Surrey—White Rock.

The rights enshrined in our Constitution in section 2 of our charter clearly state that everyone has the following fundamental freedoms:

(a) freedom of conscience and religion;

(b) freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication;

(c) freedom of peaceful assembly; and

(d) freedom of association.

Whether it be the most recent attack on Muslims in Quebec City, the drawing of hateful images on Jewish synagogues in Ottawa, or the persecution of Christians in many regions of the world, these acts of hatred toward one another need to be stopped, and it is up to us as elected officials to stand up to this destructive climate.

It has long been stated that freedom of religion is one of the most basic freedoms a society can give to its citizens. The United Nations has enshrined this freedom in its Declaration of Human Rights. Article 18 states:

Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.

It is also important to note in the context of today's debate that article 19 goes on to state:

Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

I had the opportunity to visit Egypt and Tunisia with several colleagues from this chamber over the winter break. I was very encouraged to see the concerted effort that the president of Egypt, Mr. el-Sisi, a devout Muslim himself, was making to bring people of different faith communities together, and it is not just words. He is taking action to lead the way for his people.

It is particularly regrettable that the Liberal government chose not to extend the funding and strengthen the mandate of the ambassador and the Office of Religious Freedom in budget 2016. Canada's voice on issues of religious tolerance in an increasingly intolerant world is now severely diminished. It was our party that established the Office of Religious Freedom, under the leadership of Dr. Andrew Bennett, in 2013. The creation of this office was very important, and it was done in an Ahmadiyya Muslim mosque, a minority sect of Islam that is persecuted around the world.

Canada's commitment to religious freedom and tolerance both at home and abroad was advanced greatly by the previous government, particularly by the Office of Religious Freedom.

The mandate of the office had three broad components: first, defend religious communities and monitor religious freedom through country strategies and analysis, interventions in support of communities at risk, and strengthening the capacity to monitor and promote religious freedom through specialized training; second, promote religious freedom as a key objective of Canadian foreign policy through domestic advocacy and outreach, international advocacy and outreach, and whole-of-government coordination; and third, the Office of Religious Freedom led the way internationally to protect freedom of religion and belief as well as to promote Canadian values of tolerance and pluralism.

This office stood up for the rights of all people. Its external advisory committee included representation from many communities, such as atheists, Muslim, Sikh, Jewish, Hindu, and Baha'i. Its ability to work with others earned it great esteem internationally and within diaspora communities in Canada.

Though its mandate focused primarily on situations abroad, the office clearly had an effect at home, in Canada, with many minority communities that felt that this office was a beacon of hope to those who felt marginalized and persecuted.

Dr. Andrew Bennett recently appeared at the Senate Standing Committee on Human Rights, discussing some of the accomplishments that this office made during his time as ambassador. He said:

Under the office's Religious Freedom Fund, which represented $4.25 million of our annual $5 million envelope, we sponsored over 20 projects that supported activities, addressed some of the root causes of religious persecution and also helped those directly persecuted in over a dozen countries. We introduced training for Canadian diplomats on religious freedom and the role of religion in international affairs, a necessary component of our work.

We engaged our allies in defending religious freedom internationally through the United Nations, such as the Human Rights Council, through the Special Rapporteur on religious freedom and also through the Third Committee of the General Assembly, and through a unique initiative that the Office of Religious Freedom brought forward, and that is the International Contact Group on Freedom of Religion or Belief, which brought together over 20 like-minded governments committed to advancing religious freedom.

These were not just our traditional like-minded governments. We also reached out to other countries such as Jordan, Morocco, Tunisia, Cameroon, Senegal and Indonesia, who demonstrated a desire to improve the status of religious freedom in the world.

Let me share another quote from our former Ambassador Bennett, which I feel is at the very heart of today's motion and is powerful in combatting this growing hatred in Canada for people of all kinds of faiths and traditions. He said:

Freedom of religion, as indicated in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and in many other documents, is often placed as a first freedom, or we might say a foundational freedom. Why is this? I would argue that it comprehends that without recognizing the metaphysical need present in each of us to contemplate who am I, who am I in relationship to you, who am I in relationship to the world in which I live, and who am I in relation to God or to a particular philosophy I choose to follow, without recognizing that metaphysical need embedded within freedom of religion, we cannot then move on to give utterance to our beliefs — freedom of speech — gather with others to share those beliefs — freedom of assembly — or form groups of our fellow human beings who share similar beliefs so as to advance the common good.

I truly believe this is the end goal of every member in the House, to help advance the common good. I look forward to taking on this endeavour with colleagues from all parties.

Therefore, let me remind all members, indeed all Canadians who are watching today, of the inclusive nature of the motion before us today. Today's motion reads:

That the House: (a) recognize that Canadian society is not immune to the climate of hate and fear exemplified by the recent and senseless violent acts at a Quebec City mosque; (b) condemn all forms of systemic racism, religious intolerance, and discrimination of Muslims, Jews, Christians, Sikhs, Hindus, and other religious communities; and (c) instruct the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage to undertake a study on how the government could (i) develop a whole-of-government approach to reducing or eliminating all types of discrimination in Canada, while ensuring a community-centered focus with a holistic response through evidence-based policy-making...

The motion goes on, but I see my time is up. I urge all of my colleagues to support the motion. It is in the best interest of all Canadians, including all faith groups that are represented in Canada.

Controlled Drugs and Substances Act February 15th, 2017

Madam Speaker, certainly on this side of the House we have unanimous agreement that we need to work on this challenging problem.

A number of weeks ago in committee, our health critic offered to actually split this bill into two parts to deal with the crisis part and then to work on the issues that we might have some disagreement on. In fact, the parts of the bill that should be implemented could actually be law right now had the Liberal government agreed to do that.

My question has two parts. One, why did the Liberal government not agree to allow us to split the bill into two parts and facilitate the quick movement of this bill? Two, now that the bill is here, why did the Liberals limit debate on this bill for those of us in Parliament who have been elected by our constituents to represent them to be able to give their voice here in Parliament? Why did the Liberals limit debate by closing down debate?

Controlled Drugs and Substances Act February 15th, 2017

Madam Speaker, I want to thank my colleague, the Minister of Health, for her work on the health file. There is no question in my mind that she has the best interests of Canadians at heart. However, we may agree to disagree on a couple of facts.

First, we agree on this side of the House that the opioid crisis needs attention quickly and forcefully. There is no question about that. The other part of Bill C-37 refers to supervised injection sites. I think we would find on this side of the House, and, indeed, probably within each party, that there are differing opinions on that. In fact, some of the opinions are supported, clearly, by front-line police officers in terms of their safety and efficacy and public safety.

My question for the minister is this. Why did her party not allow the bill to be split into two component parts, which would have clearly allowed fulsome debate on both issues, and then, more importantly, why are Liberals shutting down debate and minimizing the amount of time that members of Parliament, who were elected to represent their communities here in the House, can debate this issue?

Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement Implementation Act February 13th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, if we look at the current situation in terms of our relationship with the U.S., I think all of us in this House would agree that if there were ever a point where it was important that we sign more free trade agreements with more countries and diversify our ability to trade, it is this point, when we may be under threat of not having the same access to the U.S. market that we have now.

We add to that the possibility of higher taxes in Canada. For companies that are looking to invest in Canada, if they suddenly have a tax advantage in a neighbouring country, we can see that the business decision would definitely be in favour of the country with lower taxes. Therefore, it is important that Canada's business taxes stay low and that we do not add a carbon tax, in total contrast to our neighbours to the south. This would further damage our Canadian economy, for sure.

Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement Implementation Act February 13th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, in terms of the uncertainty around Brexit and those particular issues, I do not, as a member of Parliament, speculate as to the outcome of not having Britain as part of the EU free trade agreement. I am still convinced that the free trade agreement with the EU, even without Britain being part of it, will be a major advantage for all Canadians.