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Track Harold

Your Say


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

Canada Pension Plan October 25th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, again, he hits directly on the implication of our debate today. I think most people, when they hear about potential increases in Canada pension plan benefits, assume that it will happen now or in the very near future. We are going to increase the CPP. That is a great thing. We all agree that we would like to see CPP benefits improve.

However, what the average Canadian may not know is that before this move is actually fully implemented, 40 years will have passed. My colleague across the way who asked the question earlier and many of my colleagues who are beyond 50 will not benefit from this change in the CPP. I think that is the downside of what we are doing today. We are talking about increasing CPP benefits, but these benefits will not actually be realized in my lifetime, in all likelihood.

The other thing I would like to point out is that at different times we hear that the provinces and the federal government have all come to an agreement, so we should just approve what they are doing and get on with it. However, not everyone feels that way. I conducted a round table in my riding just a few weeks ago, and to a person, these owners of small and medium-sized businesses are very concerned about the impact the increase in the CPP premium will have on their ability to expand and hire new workers.

I just want to quote Mr. Dan Kelly:

It's tremendously disappointing to see that finance ministers are putting Canadian wages, hours and jobs in jeopardy and willfully moving to make an already shaky economy even worse.

I could go on, but I see that I am out of time.

Canada Pension Plan October 25th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, I think my colleague hits exactly the point I was trying to make in my speech, and that is that my concern is for our youth. It is for our young people.

If we go through with the changes suggested in this bill, as I pointed out, it will result in people not expanding their businesses. Small and medium-sized companies across Canada are faced with really tough choices. When we increase the payroll tax, we end up possibly reducing the likelihood of an increase in wages, or, at worst, we my run the real risk of a layoff or not getting a job.

Yes, I hope our young people have the ability to start off their careers, because they have to start those careers if they are going to actually be able to pay into the CPP and then someday benefit from the CPP.

Canada Pension Plan October 25th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, it is my privilege to speak to Bill C-26, an act to amend the Canada Pension Plan, the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board Act and the Income Tax Act.

While I believe that the Liberal government has good intentions, it has failed to recognize the negative impact this legislation will have on the overall economy.

As many of my colleagues have already pointed out during this debate and in previous debates, what we see in this legislation is a fundamental difference between the Conservative Party of Canada and the other parties in this chamber. In this party, we believe that Canadians are in the best position to make their own decisions, and this includes decisions relating to their retirement.

Let me be perfectly clear. We in the Conservative Party are not against the CPP. We are not against helping Canadians save more for their retirement. We are certainly not happy to see seniors struggling to live out their retirement in comfort. We do believe that government policy should provide opportunities and avenues to save and to reduce taxes so that Canadians can save more of their own money when it is within their means to do so.

We strongly believe in the right of each Canadian to make his or her own choices. Canadians know what is best for them and for their families.

On the other hand, Liberals and New Democrats believe that government knows what is best for Canadians, and they do not trust Canadians to prepare for their own retirement. They seem to believe that the only way Canadians can save for retirement is through a mandatory increase in CPP contributions by both employers and employees.

We saw this ideology from the Liberal government in its first few weeks, when it slashed the tax-free savings account contribution limit by half. The Liberals made this cut even though the TFSA is a popular means of saving for Canadians at all income levels.

Individuals with annual incomes of less than $80,000 accounted for more than 80% of all TFSA holders and about 75% of TFSA assets as of the end of 2013. About half of TFSA holders had annual incomes of less than $42,000. At the end of 2013, about 1.9 million Canadians had contributed the maximum amount to their TFSAs. About 46% of these individuals were seniors, and more than 70% were age 55 or older. Furthermore, about 60% of the individuals contributing the maximum amount to their TFSAs had incomes of less than $60,000 in 2013.

The tax-free savings account is an avenue for saving that all Canadians should take advantage of. It is an opportunity to have their investment grow at a far higher rate than they would see with the CPP. The money they deposit is readily available in case of an emergency or to make a lump sum payment to pay down their mortgage more quickly. Opposition parties have scoffed at this idea, because they believe that Canadians do not have disposable income to put in a TFSA. If that is true, how can the government justify siphoning off more money from Canadians' paycheques and holding it until they retire?

Canada is heading toward a large increase in the number of Canadians who will be entering retirement over the next decade. This is not the time to be limiting the amount of savings that would benefit these Canadians the most.

The CPP hike will take 40 years to be fully implemented, so none of these new benefits will go to seniors who need it today, or even in the next few years.

This increase will not only not benefit Canadians entering retirement soon, it will directly negatively impact the way families, students, and young employees invest their money now. A CPP increase will take money away from their paycheques, money that could have been invested or spent on immediate needs. I am talking here about new graduates wanting to pay off their student loans, or families saving for their children's education, or a middle-aged couple making a lump sum mortgage payment to reduce overall interest payments. With this plan, some households will be paying up to $2,200 more per year in payroll taxes. That is $2,200 per year that is not available to positively impact our Canadian economy.

As I said at the beginning of my remarks, I believe that the Liberals have the best interests of Canadians in mind, and their intention to help Canadians in retirement is good, but it is clear that they are going about it in the completely wrong way.

Let us not forget the impact these policies will have on job creators. Canadians cannot contribute anything to the CPP if they do not have jobs, and the introduction of this increase will result in job losses across Canada.

At a time when the Canadian economy is losing jobs and struggling to create new jobs, and when we see low growth across the board, we simply cannot impose more expenses on business in Canada. This will mean that companies will not hire that extra worker, not create that new position budgeted for, and not expand into new sectors. In some cases, they will actually have to lay off employees.

In 2015, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business studied a CPP tax hike and found that it would eliminate up to 110,000 jobs and permanently lower wages by nearly 1%. Simon Gaudreault, chief economist at the CFIB, tells us that this agreement will have serious negative impacts on workers and the Canadian economy. The announced changes, including increased contributions, may put Canadian wages, hours, and jobs in jeopardy.

Hendrik Brakel, senior director, economic, financial and tax policy at the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, also notes that increases will have many effects on the Canadian economy. He said:

...we’re worried a big tax increase is headed for the middle class like an elbow to the chest....

This comes at the worst possible time—an economy reeling from weak commodity prices and slower consumer spending will be lucky to eke out growth of 1.5% next year. It’s difficult to stimulate the economy while pulling money out of the pockets of Canadians.

It is not just directors and chief economists who are speaking out against this increase. This past summer, a young woman who manages the payroll for a number of small and medium-sized businesses in her area told me that she could not believe that the Liberal government would be increasing this mandatory contribution. She assured me that this would mean layoffs, decreased investment, and postponement of expansion. In other words, no new jobs.

We have heard from experts and ordinary Canadians that Bill C-26 will have negative consequences and will hurt, more than help, our young people and seniors.

Last, I would like to quote Mr. Fred Vettese, chief actuary at Morneau Shepell and co-author, with our current finance minister, of The Real Retirement. He wrote in the Financial Post, on June 5, that:

Whatever the reason might be to expand the CPP, it is not to eliminate poverty. The poverty rate among seniors is now as close to zero as we can get. Yes, a little over five per cent of seniors today still have income below the poverty line....

Canada has a world-class retirement system, and the numbers support that, with 83% of Canadian households on track to maintain their current living standard in retirement, according to a study by McKinsey & Company. In addition to that, according to Statistics Canada, the share of Canadian seniors living on low income has dropped from 29% in 1970 to 3.7% today, which is among the lowest in the world.

I would like to quote Finance Canada, from June 2015:

Overall, Canada's retirement income system is performing well. Canadian retirees achieve relatively high levels of income in retirement, and compare well to retirees in other Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development countries. With support from all three pillars of the retirement income system, the median Canadian senior earns about 91 per cent as much as the median Canadian--well above the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development average of 84 per cent. Internationally, Canada has one of the lowest low-income rates for seniors.

I agree with the broad intentions of the Liberal government as it approaches this legislation. We, as members of Parliament, should strive toward the goal of having every single Canadian senior retire in comfort. However, as I have outlined throughout my remarks, I believe that the Liberals have not considered the many negative impacts this policy change will have on Canadians.

I cannot support Bill C-26, as the negative consequences are far too crucial for me to ignore.

Canada Pension Plan October 25th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, I want to underline a point my colleague made toward the end of his response, and that is the impact on small business. This summer I had the privilege of talking to an accountant who does payroll for a number of small businesses. When she heard about this proposed increase from 9% to 11%, she was astonished. She said that this was going to hurt the small businesses she worked for. Some of them will not be able to hire and some of them will have to lay someone off.

At the very least, this is a huge blow to small and medium-size business. We all agree, and the Minister of Small Business repeats it often, that small business is the backbone of our Canadian economy. How will a punitive payroll tax on small business improve the lives of Canadians who are looking for a job? It is fine to get a 33% CPP benefit when people retire, but they need to have had a job to do that. If there are no jobs available, this is not a productive way to go.

Canada Pension Plan October 25th, 2016

Madam Speaker, in my colleague's remarks, she referenced the implementation of CPP in 1964. In fact, Judy LaMarsh, the Liberal minister who was responsible for establishing CPP in 1964, had this to say, “It”, referring to CPP, “is not intended to provide all the retirement income which many Canadians wish to have. This is a matter of individual choice and, in the government’s view, should properly be left to personal savings and private pension plans”.

Finance Canada, in 2015, stated:

Overall, Canada's retirement income system is performing well. Canadian retirees achieve relatively high levels of income in retirement, and compare well to retirees in other Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development countries. With support from all three pillars of the retirement income system, the median Canadian senior earns about 91 per cent as much as the median Canadian—well above the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development average of 84 per cent.

It is 84% in OECD countries and Canada's is 91%. Therefore, internationally, Canada has one of the lowest low-income rates for seniors.

My question is this. Where is the panic? Even if there were one in terms of poverty, this is not going to be implemented fully for 40 years, so how would it help seniors?

Canada Pension Plan October 25th, 2016

Madam Speaker, twice now we have heard people from the other side say that this is an issue that would address seniors' poverty. There are those who disagree with that. In fact, I would like to quote from someone we all know, and I will tell you who that is in a minute.

Whatever the reason might be to expand the CPP, it is not to eliminate poverty. The poverty rate among seniors is now as close to zero as we can get. Yes, a little over five per cent of seniors today still have income below the poverty line....

This is according to the chief actuary of Morneau Shepell; and his co-author is our current Minister of Finance.

Even if the question is about poverty, these changes that we are proposing today will not be fully implemented for 40 years, so how can we honestly say that this is addressing seniors' poverty?

Canada Pension Plan October 25th, 2016

Madam Speaker, this summer I had the privilege of talking to an accountant who manages the payroll of a number of small and medium-sized companies. When she heard about this proposed CPP increase she was very concerned that not only would it not allow firms to hire new people, but it might also, in some cases, require the layoff of some people because of the increased CPP premiums over time.

Therefore, how can it possibly be of benefit to have a few seniors earning a few more dollars in retirement when there are hundreds of thousands of jobs being lost across the country as a result by people who really need the jobs now?

Business of Supply October 20th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, I could not agree more. In fact I said during my remarks that actions speak louder than words. I said that we need to walk the talk.

I applaud the resettlement of the refugees who have come here from Syria, but my question to my colleague is this. Why do we have a cap on the private sponsorship as it relates to the Iraqi and the Yazidis in Iraq? Under our government, there was no cap.

My family has had the privilege and the honour of helping refugees settle here in Canada. We have hosted them in our home. They lived with us until they were able to find accommodation. We helped them with their logistical needs, getting OHIP coverage, finding a place to live, and all of the things that go with that.

However, this method of resettling refugees is one of the most effective there is. Private sponsorship, where a family can actually walk alongside a refugee family or a refugee person for at least a year to help them get settled here in this great country, is what we need.

Business of Supply October 20th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, I have had the honour in the past 10 years that I have served in this House to stand up many times for vulnerable groups. It has been said that a government can be judged best by how it treats its most vulnerable.

Today, I rise in the House to stand up for one of the most vulnerable people groups in our world today. I have had the opportunity to meet several Yazidi people. They are a very brave and courageous people. Yazidis have experienced things that we could not even begin to imagine, and here they are asking, in fact they are pleading for us to step forward, and for Canada to provide the assistance that we are more than capable of providing in this very devastating time in their lives.

Time is running out for the Yazidis. Canada must act now. The Minister of Immigration cannot start a new study or hold consultations on this topic. The Yazidi people are on the brink of extinction, and their time is almost up.

Concentrated in northern Iraq, the Yazidi people, a religious minority, is made up of around 700,000 people. They practice one of the oldest religions in the Middle East, dating back 6,000 years. If this genocide, being committed by ISIS, is successful, thousands and thousands of years of culture, language, and history will be wiped off the face of the earth. We must do everything we can to preserve this distinct and unique culture, and ensure that their lives and way of life are protected.

On June 15, 2016, the United Nations Human Rights Council issued its report, “They Came to Destroy: ISIS Crimes Against the Yazidis”, which declared Yazidis are victims of genocide, and outlined a number of recommendations for the international community.

With respect to the motion put forward today by my hon. colleague, the member of Parliament for Calgary Nose Hill, we are calling on the government to take immediate action on sections 210, 212, and 213.

I will not read all of the sections in their entirety, but will point out a number of crucial actions that are called for in each of the recommendations:

210. The Commission recommends that parties fighting against ISIS in Syria and Iraq:

(a) Strongly consider rescue plans targeted at Yazidi captives;

(b) Ensure coordination between local and international armed forces where military operations target ISIS controlled regions where Yazidi captives are held;

(c) Use all means available to ensure Yazidis held captive by ISIS in Syria are rescued during on-going military operations; and

(d) Put in place a protocol for the care and treatment of Yazidis rescued as areas are seized from ISIS.

212. The Commission recommends to the international community:

(a) Recognize ISIS’s commission of the crime of genocide against the Yazidis of Sinjar;

(b) For those States that are contracting Parties to the Genocide Convention, engage with Article 8 of the Convention, and call upon the competent organs of the United Nations, including the Security Council, to take such action under the Charter of the United Nations to prevent and suppress acts of genocide;

(c) Provide expertise, on request, to assist in the preservation and documentation of mass grave sites;

(d) Provide further funding for psychosocial support programmes, with increased emphasis on trauma therapy for children, noting that Yazidi children suffered different violations depending on their sex.

213. The Commission recommends that States and organizations involved in the care of Yazidi refugees and asylum-seekers:

(a) Ensure that Yazidi victims of genocide, including but not limited to sexual violence, are identified and treated as a vulnerable group for the purposes of housing, psychosocial support, and with regard to the asylum process.

I cannot say it enough, the time for action is now. The NDP and the Conservative Party have unanimously moved forward on this topic. It was the Liberal Party that did not support our previous motion on June 9, more than four months ago. No action.

The motion was as follows:

That the House agree that ISIS is responsible for: (a) crimes against humanity aimed at groups such as Christians, Yazidis, and Shia Muslims, as well as other religious and ethnic minorities in Syria and Iraq; (b) utilizing rape and sexual violence as a weapon of war and enslaving women and girls; and (c) targeting gays and lesbians who have been tortured and murdered; and, as a consequence, that the House strongly condemn these atrocities and declare that these crimes constitute genocide.

At that time, we were asking for an acknowledgement that a genocide was occurring, but the Liberals did not support our motion. In fact, they defeated it. Imagine, not even an admission that a genocide was occurring.

Only two days after the motion was defeated in the House, the United Nations issued a report that proclaimed what we already knew, that Yazidis in Iraq and Syria were, in fact, facing systemic extermination. The UN named these crimes against the Yazidis for what they were, genocide. Only then did the government finally choose to call it a genocide. So much for Canada being back. So much for Canada actually leading.

In any event, I am glad the government finally made the change and recognized this as a genocide. However, words are not enough. We need action. We need to walk the talk. Let us see some action today.

One of the disturbing accounts we heard was that of a UN goodwill ambassador, Nadia Murad, a young Yazidi of 22 years of age. At the Standing Committee of Citizenship and Immigration she gave her testimony about the genocide and sexual slavery. She shared the very real and personal account of her story.

Ms. Murad described how her normal life of studying, friends, and peaceful coexistence with other religions was shattered when ISIS attacked her village in Sinjar, northern Iraq, on August 3, 2014. According to Ms. Murad, after 12 days under siege, ISIS gathered the villagers at the school, separating men from women. The men were shot, more than 700, in a matter of two hours. Young girls and women were taken to Mosul, Iraq, where they were held captive, forcibly converted, raped, and sold into slavery.

This is only one account of the atrocities that are currently happening in that region. In its recent report on the genocide of the Yazidi people in Sinjar, Iraq, the United Nations documented that thousands of men and boys were slaughtered in the streets, shot in the head, or even beheaded. In some cases, family members were forced to witness these killings.

The UN reports witness accounts of roads littered with corpses, the bodies of Yazidis who had refused to convert to Islam. For those Yazidis who are still in that region, rape, torture, and murder are everyday experiences. However, an audit of the Syrian refugee camps found that only three identified as Yazidi. The executive of the advocacy group Yazda has called this process flawed, unfair, and unacceptable. He has called on Canada to impose a quota of 5,000 to 10,000 Yazidi refugees, targeting the most vulnerable survivors of the genocide.

However, we know that immigration is not the only avenue through which we can help this vulnerable group. An article in The Washington Post, written by Ameena Saeed Hasan and Khaleel Aldakhi, outlines the need for military involvement. The article states:

We save as many victims as we can and provide care to help rehabilitate them. Thus far, however, we’ve been able to help only a small number of the 3,700 who are enslaved. We believe most are in Mosul, which is Iraq’s second-largest city, the Islamic State’s most important stronghold...and the largest urban center under the Islamic State’s control. So intense is the suffering of these women and girls that they tell us that they want the United States and other countries to attack Mosul....

Let us remember the cause of this crisis is ISIS. It was shameful to see how one of the first acts the government took was to withdraw Canada and our CF-18s out of the fight against ISIS. Canada's men and women in uniform serve our country with great distinction. When called upon, the Canadian Armed Forces have played a leading role on the world stage, protecting and promoting the Canadian values of freedom, democracy, and the rule of law.

Our military personnel, under the previous government, provided strategic airlift support for military supplies to Iraq. We provided $10 million in non-lethal security assistance to Iraq, including equipment like helmets, body armour, and logistical support for vehicles. We also contributed critical humanitarian aid to directly benefit the people of Iraq who are impacted by the ongoing conflict.

In conclusion, I would plead with the Liberal government that it immediately expedite the asylum claims of the Yazidi people to Canada and take immediate action upon all the recommendations that I listed above under the UN report titled “'They came to destroy': ISIS Crimes Against the Yazidis”.

I call on my colleagues to pass the motion tabled by my colleague from Calgary Nose Hill. The time to act is now.

Suicide Prevention October 20th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, today I wish to acknowledge an incredible individual whom I have had the privilege of working alongside for many of my 10 years as a member of Parliament. I am speaking of Tana Nash, executive director of the Waterloo Region Suicide Prevention Council.

I thank Tana for sharing her personal story of grief and loss and for turning her loss into something so positive. Her personal warmth, coupled with her vast knowledge, make a difference for so many Canadians. In addition to her work in establishing world suicide prevention day and other initiatives in the Waterloo region, I want to recognize her work as executive director for the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention.

As she focuses her efforts locally, once again I thank her on behalf of all residents of Waterloo region for her tireless dedication to suicide prevention across Canada and the great example she sets in the community. Tana is a hero to many, including me.

As the government prepares to report back to Canadians on progress regarding a national framework for suicide prevention, I look forward to working with her to offer hope to all Canadians.

I thank Tana.