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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

Business of Supply May 18th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for her interest in this issue.

We are talking about $19 million over five years, less than $4 million a year, and that is a very small amount in relation to the needs out there and in relation to the entire budget.

I want to point out that the Conservative government provided leadership on this issue back in 2015-16, when we committed $2 million to get this initiative started. Now we are pulling back from a commitment that the Government of Canada made to this entire community and its families.

To me, it is unconscionable because, as my colleague has pointed out, I am convinced there is not one member in this House who can say he or she does not have a relative or a former schoolmate or a neighbour or someone else who has been impacted, and it is not just that one person who is impacted: there are ramifications and challenges faced as well by the families and communities who surround these individuals.

It is incumbent upon us to act and to act now. I hope that we can convince enough members on the opposite side to support this motion, because it is very worthy of support.

Business of Supply May 18th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, this question gets to the heart of the challenges that are faced by every MP every day. To stand behind or hide behind the argument that there may be some gaps or we cannot meet everyone's needs on all of the range of issues that we are faced with as parliamentarians is an easy way out. It is an easy way out of actually dealing with a problem that we have all recognized in this House for decades. We know that we need to do something, so I would urge my colleagues to please not hide behind the facade of saying, “Well, we cannot help everybody, so we are not going to help anybody.”

Others have heard the story of the young guy on the beach where starfish have been washed up on the shore and are stranded there. He walks along, throwing the starfish back into the ocean, and somebody comes along and says, “What you are doing is useless; you are not making any difference.” He picks up another one and says, “Well, I made a difference for that one.”

I know that story has been told hundreds of times, but it illustrates to me what I think the heart of this issue is and the response that is applicable for the member opposite.

Business of Supply May 18th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the hon. member for Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo.

I am honoured to speak to this motion today moved by my friend and colleague, the member for Edmonton—Wetaskiwin.

I remember so clearly when I was elected as a trustee to the Waterloo County board of education in 1978. When the superintendent mentioned the word “autism”, I have to be honest that I did not even know what the word “autism” meant. I remember, though, how our officials grappled to address the needs of the children and their families who were suffering with autism. Since that time, it is obvious we have come a long way in addressing this issue, but we still have a very long way to go.

The impacts of autism are wide ranging for individuals and families affected by the condition. Autism spectrum disorder, or ASD, can present lifelong challenges. For researchers, ASD is particularly complex, as it affects each individual differently. A great deal of valuable research has already been done to uncover the causes of ASD, as well as research into the most effective treatments and long-term implications of this disorder. However, further research is required in order to gain a more solid understanding of this very complex situation.

That is why today's motion is so important. Let me read the appeal that is in the motion. It states:

...the House call on the government to grant the $19 million over 5 years requested by the Canadian Autism Partnership working group, Self-Advocates advisory group, and the Canadian Autism Spectrum Disorders Alliance, in order to establish a Canadian Autism Partnership that would support families and address key issues such as information sharing and research, early detection, diagnosis and treatment.

Over the past few weeks, I have been contacted a number of times by a constituent in my riding with autism. Allow me to share a few of his words with the House. He said:

I am Autistic--on an extreme of the spectrum called Asperger syndrome. I have been incredibly blessed by the fact that I am high functioning Aspergers and have a great support group of family and friends, so I do not face the same challenges that most with Autism and Asperger syndrome face. While I face few of the challenges that many with Autism and Asperger syndrome do I have do have some idea of the challenges and therefore this is a big issue for me. I have been aware for a few weeks after the statements in the House of Commons by [the member for Edmonton—Wetaskiwin], that in the last budget the Liberal Government has not supplied funding to the Canadian Autism Partnership this bothers me tremendously. I don't like to see any loss of funding to groups that work on Autism planing, strategies and awareness. I have taken a lot of time to decide whether or not to say anything about this because it is a very important issue for me but also a very private one. This is not a question I suppose and I don't know what to do to bring this issue to the Federal governments attention. So this is just me expressing my frustration with the situation to make you aware of my concerns.

Economic action plan 2015, established by our former Conservative government, proposed to provide $2 million in 2015-16 to create a working group, led by the minister of health, to consult with stakeholders, including the Canadian Autism Spectrum Disorders Alliance, on the development of a Canadian autism partnership. Of the $2 million in funding, $1.5 million would be used to support stakeholder participation in the working group. The working group would be tasked with the development of a plan for the Canadian autism partnership that would address key issues, such as information sharing and research, early detection, diagnosis and treatment, and supporting families.

This is exactly what my constituent and thousands of Canadians are asking for. In fact, this young man, now a university student, states:

I was diagnosed as Aspergers on the Autism spectrum when I was nine years old....One of the biggest challenges I face is that my reading comprehension is very week, I read a level behind my year in grades one and two because of this. Now that I am in university this presents a major challenge because of all of the reading required for my classes....My short-term memory is not very strong but my long-term memory is very strong. As a combination of all of the above school work takes me twice as long as a normal person to complete, this means during school I do not sleep much at all. Some corrections can be made by using text-to-voice software to dictate all of my work, as well as using software to read my work back to me. This is very helpful when it comes to editing essays, and the software can also be used to read my readings to me, which reduces my work time somewhat. Challenges still exist in taking notes...as well as studying. There is really no way to correct the note taking problems, but studying can be addressed by studying aurally in a group. Many of the ways I can use to overcome or correct my challenges came from professionals and I would really hate for others younger than me not to have access to such services because of budgetary reasons.

The Canadian autism partnership is designed to rapidly drive policy improvement at all levels of government for Canadian families living with autism. Whatever the challenge related to autism, for example, early intervention, education, housing, or vocation, the CAP will bring together the top experts in the country to provide solid evidence-based advice to decision-makers.

As important as what the CAP is, is what it is not. It is not just another autism organization. Rather, it is a true partnership intended to represent the entire Canadian autism community speaking together with one voice on the many things on which the Canadian autism community largely agrees.

The following is taken directly from the Canadian autism partnership project's report “Better Together: The case for a Canadian Autism Partnership”:

With input received from 4,963 Canadians representing all ten provinces and three territories, it is clear that there is strong, positive support for the CAP model as presented in this business plan. In particular, stakeholders valued the opportunities that CAP would provide for collaboration and knowledge exchange. They saw the potential for achieving efficiencies in programming and service delivery and the benefits of a knowledge repository. Families and self-advocates were enthusiastic about the potential for being able to influence the research agenda, and recognized that although the proposed CAP may not necessarily address their immediate issues, its focus on addressing complex issues and systemic barriers was an essential part of moving towards improved outcomes for families and individuals and enhancing capacity in communities.

The development of a Canadian Autism Partnership provides a unique opportunity to harness the collective investment, innovation, knowledge and capacity of a nation to get behind one of the most pressing issues of our time by enabling governments, researchers and service leaders to work together to address those barriers that prevent Canadians with Autism from participating in the full experience of our Canadian society.

Individuals with autism and their families want what everyone else wants: to fulfill their aspirations and flourish with the support of their family, friends, and society as a whole. All too often, however, they and their families face a strong stigma and lack of understanding of the challenges they face and the support they need in order to reach their full potential. Families can feel that they are on their own. They might not know which way to turn or where to seek the best advice. However, through their personal advocacy efforts, individuals affected by autism and their families have shown us how resilient they are. People affected by this condition can and do succeed with the right support, as evidenced by the young man from my riding whom I quoted earlier.

It is important that these individuals and their families know that the federal government is working with its partners and other stakeholders to support the autism community by enhancing the evidence base and increasing awareness. This is why the Liberal government must approve this funding.

Many times over the past 11 years I have served here in Parliament and again today, my friend and colleague from Edmonton—Wetaskiwin has shared his very personal journey with the House. He has demonstrated how a family deals effectively with the enormous challenges faced by those dealing with autism. It has been a real honour for me and my colleagues on this side of the House especially, but for all members, to have met Jaden, to see the fantastic enjoyment that he gets from life, and to experience the joy that he gives to us as members.

I am amazed at the perseverance and tenacity that is needed by every family and community that deals with autism on a daily basis. It is clear that we need to do all that we can to raise awareness and work toward effective support solutions.

I hope that on this important non-partisan issue all members will support the motion put forward by my colleague from Edmonton—Wetaskiwin.

Health May 16th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, the Liberals continue to fail Canadian seniors and their families. On Friday, I asked why they are not making palliative care funding a priority. The parliamentary secretary's response was medical aid in dying. Really? Is the Liberal solution to an aging population assisted suicide?

When will the Liberals get serious about the issues facing Canadian seniors and help those in need of proper home care and palliative care?

Controlled Drugs and Substances Act May 15th, 2017

Madam Speaker, I think we all agree that we have to do something about the opioid crisis.

It is unfortunate that the government refused to break this bill into its two component parts. However, the most unfortunate part is that the Minister of Health has rejected the amendment that would allow citizen advisory committees to be instrumental in deciding where in their communities they would be located and if in fact they would be located there.

Why are they so adamant that communities should not have these citizen advisory committees to engage with the community so that the best decisions can be made for that community to actually address the crisis we are discussing today?

Controlled Drugs and Substances Act May 15th, 2017

Madam Speaker, I was listening intently to my colleague across the way describing the so-called safe injection site in Vancouver. He used the term “huge success”. I do not see how anyone could call that a huge success.

However, my question is this: why would the government refuse the amendment that dealt with the formation of citizen advisory committees when it is looking at possibly locating a site within their community, yet insist on more and more consultation to place public community mailboxes? The government seems to have its values completely upside down in that regard.

Health May 12th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, recent data released by Statistics Canada show that for the first time in history more seniors than children are living in Canada. Budget 2017 provides almost no help to seniors today, but instead delays palliative care funding for a decade. Seniors need help now.

When will the Liberals start taking this issue seriously by making the necessary investments in palliative care and home care?

Robert Dynerowicz May 4th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, this week, Canada mourns the loss of a generous, selfless soldier who died in a training accident at Canadian Forces Base Wainwright, Sergeant Robert Dynerowicz of Kitchener.

On Monday, I was privileged to attend the funeral service of Sergeant Dynerowicz, who served two tours in Afghanistan. The tributes given by his colleagues and family are a testament to Robert's dedication and commitment to Canada and to all Canadians. As we travelled from the funeral to the interment at Williamsburg Cemetery, children, parents, teachers, and workers lined the streets waving Canadian flags. As we stood in the pouring rain at the interment ceremony, I was reminded again of the sacrifices of our women and men in uniform as they serve in very dangerous and difficult settings. Then the Canadian flag which draped the coffin was carefully removed and folded by Canadian Forces personnel, each of them paying their respects to their fallen brother.

As the ceremony concluded, I had the honour of speaking with Robert's widow, his parents, and his sister. I was able to thank them on behalf of all Canadians for the service which Robert had given, and to assure them of our ongoing prayers. Lest we forget.

Armenia April 13th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, I rise today as vice-chair of the Canada–Armenia Parliamentary Friendship Group to remember the Armenian genocide of 1915. As we reflect on this tragedy of human history, we are reminded of the importance of protecting and promoting freedom, democracy, and the rule of law, values that we as Canadians value dearly. This first genocide of the 20th century was recognized by our Senate in 2002, by our Parliament in 2004, and by our Conservative government in 2006.

The Armenian-Canadian community has contributed positively in many ways to Canada's culture, economy, and spiritual life. The acknowledgement of the Armenian genocide should motivate each of us to do everything in our power to ensure that such a terrible tragedy never happens again and to build bridges of mutual respect.

As the Armenian community celebrates Easter, I extend to its members and to all Canadians my wishes for a happy Easter, in the words of one of their esteemed leaders, in the name of our risen and victorious Lord.

Ottawa River Watershed April 6th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, I am glad to rise today to speak to Motion No. 104, brought to this House by the member for Ottawa South. As a former chair of the environment committee, and having lived in a primarily rural area of Ontario all my life, this topic is of special interest to me. It is critically important that we do all we can to protect our water, our land, and our air.

While today we are discussing an amendment made to this draft motion, an amendment that was made by the Liberals themselves, I will first read the original motion. Motion No. 104 reads as follows:

That the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development be instructed to undertake a detailed study with regard to the creation of an Ottawa River Watershed Council, which would bring a comprehensive, inclusive, co-management approach to the Ottawa River Watershed, in order to foster ecological integrity, sustainable economic opportunities, and quality of life; in its study, the Committee shall examine (i) the council membership, which would include, but would not be limited to, federal, provincial, regional, and municipal governments, First Nations, industry groups, non-governmental organizations, and academic institutions, (ii) important indicators such as water quality, biodiversity, and shoreline integrity, in order to assist with the creation of a co-management plan and conservation strategy, (iii) the economic, cultural, heritage, and natural values within the Ottawa River Watershed; and that the Committee report its findings and recommendations to the House no later than December 2017.

The amendments that have been made to the motion are:

(a) replacing the words “the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development be instructed to” with the word “, in the opinion of the House, the government should”; (b) replacing the words “the Committee shall” with the words “the government should”; [and] (c) deleting all the words after the words “within the Ottawa River Watershed;”.

It is clear that the Liberals tabled this amendment to the motion because they did not support their member for Ottawa South in his original motion, as it was simply pandering to local stakeholders who are seeking an audience on a federal committee. Therefore, the purpose of this motion is now redundant and is a simple exercise to make sure that the member does not lose face within his own party; hence, the referral to the government for examination. This matter no longer requires valuable parliamentary time, as the member could simply have asked the responsible minister to evaluate whether her officials believe it would be worth establishing an Ottawa River watershed council similar to the Fraser Basin Council the member used as an example in his speech.

The Ottawa River received heritage status on July 15, 2016. This was granted by the environment minister, the member for Ottawa Centre. The Ottawa River, from Lake Timiskaming to East Hawkesbury, which is about 590 kilometres in length, now joins the Rideau Canal as Ottawa's second river to be classified under Canada's national river conservation program.

It is important to note that the Quebec side of the river is not subject to the heritage classification, as the Quebec government has repeatedly refused handing over control of this waterway to the federal government. In fact, the Quebec provincial government of the day, represented by the then provincial minister of the environment, the current federal member of Parliament for Outremont, took the position that the provincial government was not interested in participating in the designation process, as this could result in relinquishing provincial jurisdiction to the federal government.

The current Motion No. 104 is asking to set up a management plan for the Ottawa River watershed, with no authority to act in fully two-thirds of the Ottawa River watershed. The Province of Quebec has no interest in inviting the federal government to interfere in matters of provincial jurisdiction.

On December 2, 2016, the member of Parliament for Ottawa Centre tabled the motion we are debating today, calling for the House of Commons Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development “to undertake a...study with regard to the creation of an Ottawa River Watershed Council, which would bring a...co-management approach to the Ottawa River Watershed”. None of Canada's other 41 designated heritage rivers has been studied by a standing committee and tasked to determine members of a council.

As I stated earlier, I was chair of the environment committee, and as chair, I was proud to hear from Mr. Joe Farwell, the chief administrative officer of the Grand River Conservation Authority, in my riding. The Grand River, which runs through my riding, became the first river in a working landscape to be designated a Canadian heritage river, in 1994. There was no parliamentary committee created to appoint members to the conservation authority. I am proud of the work the Grand River Conservation Authority has done and continues to do today.

Let me share some facts about the Grand River watershed. It is made up of four other rivers that feed into the Grand: the Conestogo, the Nith, the Speed, and Eramosa. The combined length of all of the rivers and streams is about 11,000 kilometres. The watershed crosses four climate zones, Dundalk Upland, Huron Slopes, South Slopes, and Lake Erie counties, and crosses two forest zones, the Alleghanian and Carolinian.

The GRCA manages floods and keeps the rivers flowing in dry weather with a network of seven reservoirs. Eighty species at risk are found in the watershed. More than 90 species of fish are found in the river system, about half of all species in Canada. Close to 250 species of birds have been reported at Luther Marsh Wildlife Management Area. Forest cover in the watershed was as low as 5% in the early 1900s, but today forests cover about 19% of the land.

River flows, reservoir levels, weather, and water quality are all tracked in real time by a large network of gauges that feed their data to the GRCA website around the clock. Municipal water systems draw their water from wells and the river system in contrast to most major Ontario communities, which depend on the Great Lakes.

I have had the privilege to visit a number of the streams and tributaries that feed into the Grand River and to see the great work that the GRCA has done in protecting our waterways, by creating buffer zones so cattle and other wildlife cannot enter into the streams, to allow grass and trees to grow, and cooling the water so fish which were not able to survive in the hot water are now able to come upstream, surviving in much cooler water. I have seen the good work it does in wetland restoration, working in partnership with Ducks Unlimited and other partners.

Motion No. 104 asks for yet another study to join the multitude of studies that have already been done on the Ottawa River and its watershed. The motion then asks for a study to justify the expenditure of more taxpayer dollars to create a new layer of bureaucracy to interfere with the lives of people who call the Ottawa River watershed home.

It is also important to inform the House that the detailed study that this motion calls for has already recently been completed. A detailed study of the Ottawa River watershed was done in preparation for the designation of the Ottawa River as a Canadian heritage river, and that was not done in the distant past. Less than one year ago, on July 15, 2016, this river was designated. I would encourage all members interested in this motion to look at that report.

This is not the first case in the House where we have seen the Liberals make environmental decisions based on politics instead of on the environment. One of the first actions of the government was to allow the dumping of eight billion litres of raw sewage from Montreal into the St. Lawrence River. It is certainly not a good environmental decision.

As much as possible, it is ideal that while we recognize the right of the federal government to impose certain things like this, we always try to take advantage of existing mechanisms like an organization that is already in place and pass the authority and control over, as much as possible, to more local entities that can be more directly accountable and responsive. Again, the Grand River Conservation Authority comes to mind as a gold standard in this regard.

When we have motions like Motion No. 104, we are asking the House of Commons as a whole to pronounce on something that has a particular impact on a particular region. Giving authority to those closest to that region creates maximum responsiveness to the needs of that community and it also creates far better accountability.

The hon. member for Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke has done a phenomenal job in standing up for her constituents who stand to be greatly affected by what seems to be needless political decisions. The hon. member has stood up for those residents, specifically those in the rural parts of her riding, who will be asked to pay for this new level of bureaucracy being proposed in this motion. It will be those who live on the land who will be required to pay. She also did a great job of addressing the point of the negative aspects that the motion would create as it related to our relationship with the first nations people.

In light of all these items, I will not be supporting the motion. I encourage all my colleagues in this place not to support it either.