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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was colleague.

Last in Parliament October 2019, as Conservative MP for Kitchener—Conestoga (Ontario)

Lost his last election, in 2019, with 39% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Juvenile Arthritis September 27th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, I want to highlight the story of Samantha Whiteside. Samantha was diagnosed with juvenile arthritis at the age of two, yet in spite of a very challenging early childhood, Sam has persevered.

Fourteen years of rehabilitation later and despite overwhelming odds, Sam set out to become the fastest woman to cross Lake Ontario. Sam did not swim across Lake Ontario simply to put her name in the record books, but to achieve a far more noble purpose: to raise awareness and money for juvenile arthritis research.

I was there on August 8. I watched her swim from Niagara-on-the-Lake to Toronto in 15 hours and 11 minutes, a journey of 52 kilometres, most of those hours in the dark. She raised over $20,000 for juvenile arthritis research.

We all salute Samantha Whiteside. She is an inspiration to all of us. Her perseverance, personal sacrifice and dedication to a very worthy cause make every one of us proud.

Kitchener--Conestoga is home to a Canadian national hero, and we say way to go, Sam.

Afghanistan September 25th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, when Afghanistan's president, Hamid Karzai, addressed Parliament last Friday, he noted improvements in his country in the past five years, including the repatriation of over 4.5 million Afghans, the 6 million boys and girls now attending school and a growing economy.

In addition to other developmental efforts, could the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Cooperation tell the House what the government is doing to help economic development in Afghanistan?

Petitions September 22nd, 2006

Mr. Speaker, it is a privilege to rise in the House to present a petition on behalf of the constituents of Kitchener—Conestoga and the surrounding Kitchener--Waterloo area.

The more than 200 people who signed the petition are asking the Government of Canada to take all steps necessary to protect our children by raising the age of consent from 14 years of age to 16 years of age.

Petitions June 21st, 2006

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to rise in the House today to present a petition on behalf of the people of Kitchener--Conestoga in the greater Kitchener-Waterloo area. The petitioners are asking Parliament to use all possible legislative and administrative measures, including invoking section 33 of the charter if necessary, to preserve and protect the traditional definition of marriage as between one man and one woman.

Business of Supply June 19th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, if I in any way indicated lack of respect, it would be the opposite. I was trying to point out the fact that our budget initiatives were available to all Canadians, including aboriginal people. That was my intent.

Business of Supply June 19th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, many of the previous speakers on this side of the House have addressed the issues of the on reserve aboriginal people. It was my intent in my address to highlight that in the Kelowna accord many of the off reserve aboriginal people's needs were ignored. Many times when aboriginal people move off reserve or move from remote communities into urban centres, they are often lost within the system. They do not have the structural props to hold them up and help them survive and thrive within an urban community.

The Friendship Centres are designed so that people who move off reserve, from remote communities to urban centres where they are facing a whole new world, are given the resources to cope with life and avoid the despair and hopelessness many of them would find if they were left there on their own.

Business of Supply June 19th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, it is important to focus on all aboriginal peoples, which is what our government intends to do. As I said, we have committed $3.7 billion to reach the needs of aboriginal people, $450 million of that for improving water and housing on reserves, and $300 million to the provinces and territories for off reserve and aboriginal housing. Along with that, we have committed another $300 million for the territories for northern housing. Much of that money will be available to our aboriginal peoples, including the Métis.

I would also like to mention that all of our Métis, aboriginal, Inuit and first nations people will benefit from the other measures in our budget that were announced recently, including dropping the GST, the tax exemption for students and the apprenticeship grants for those who wish to take advantage of those.

All our aboriginal peoples are well cared for in the approaches that our government is taking as we move forward.

Business of Supply June 19th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, I am happy to have the opportunity to speak to the motion from the hon. member for Winnipeg South Centre. I serve with the member for Winnipeg South Centre on the aboriginal affairs committee and I am very aware of her commitment and her desire to see the living conditions of aboriginal peoples all across Canada improved.

Even prior to my appointment to serve on this committee, I have had a strong desire and commitment to see the needs of our aboriginal Canadian brothers and sisters more adequately addressed. However, since my appointment to this committee, having met many more aboriginal Canadians and having read many reports dealing with a wide variety of issues facing them, I can only say that my resolve to be more involved in moving forward on these issues has increased. I am committed to seeing the gaps closed and my colleagues on this side of the House are committed to seeing those gaps closed as well.

Improving the lives of aboriginal Canadians is something this government takes very seriously. The former Liberal government spoke about aboriginal issues but failed to provide any action or results. In fact, living conditions for aboriginals have steadily become worse over the past 13 years. First nations, Inuit and Métis Canadians have far too often been the subject of too many broken Liberal promises.

On the other hand, our government has begun taking action immediately, and we are just getting started. We are providing real action and real funds, and we will make real changes.

On May 18 the Government of Canada reaffirmed the importance of Friendship Centres by announcing that it was establishing a new long term approach to their funding with a four year, $77 million contribution agreement. This agreement will provide stability to the 116 Friendship Centres across Canada that support the needs of aboriginal peoples in urban settings.

The Minister for Canadian Heritage and Status of Women said, “Friendship Centres have played a pivotal role in the delivery of community focused programs and services for aboriginal Canadians. This agreement will help build strong aboriginal communities and maintain vibrant aboriginal cultures in Canada”.

Stable funding is an important start but we must all work together to develop options to address the long term sustainability of Friendship Centres.

As I have said , the government is committed to improving opportunities and the quality of life for all Canadians, including first nations, Inuit and Métis in concrete and practical ways. However, any effort to improve opportunities and the quality of life must take into account the changing demographics of aboriginal peoples in Canada.

Over the past 30 years, the first nation, Inuit and Métis population in Canada has grown rapidly and now over 70% of aboriginal peoples live off reserve and 50% of aboriginal people live in urban centres. Aboriginal peoples are the fastest growing segment of Canada's urban population. The aboriginal population is also a young population, with a median age of 24.7 years. That is 13 years younger than the non-aboriginal population of Canada.

Recognizing these changing demographics, the government is working with the National Association of Friendship Centres to continue monitoring, managing and delivering programming for aboriginal people who live in urban centres. This is especially important for aboriginal youth programs, such as the Urban Multipurpose Aboriginal Youth Centres and Young Canada Works for Aboriginal urban Youth.

Friendship Centres, through a strong community focus and by providing targeted programs and services, contribute to improving the lives and socio-economic conditions of aboriginal people living in urban centres.

The Friendship Centres continue to develop innovative and appropriate solutions to the social, cultural, economic and other obstacles that could impede the ability of first nations people, Inuit and Métis living in urban areas to fully participate in Canadian society.

Friendship Centres make a tangible impact on the lives of aboriginal peoples on a daily basis. They play a vital role in assisting aboriginal individuals and families as they integrate into urban communities after relocating from rural, remote or reserve life.

Friendship Centres provide assistance with education, skills training, employment, housing, health care programs and services and serve as a reciprocal link to other community organizations.

Friendship Centres are recognized by local service agencies as an important part of the safety net for aboriginal urban peoples. They provide a culturally appropriate environment through which hundreds of urban aboriginal youth can develop leadership skills and improve their lives.

Friendship Centres support the needs of aboriginal peoples to access programs and services, to participate in activities in their own language, to feel connected to their community within safe, supportive and culturally appropriate environments and to feel connected to the non-aboriginal community.

The government recognizes that first nations, Inuit and Métis are distinct peoples with diverse histories and cultures and they have different needs and requirements. We also recognizes that they live in different conditions and situations. They live on and off reserves. They live in Inuit and Métis settlements. They live in remote and rural settings throughout the provinces and territories. They also live in towns and cities all across Canada. This recognition is critical to achieving success in improving the lives of all aboriginal peoples in Canada.

We have shown our commitment to all aboriginals regardless of where they live, through our budget of $300 million for off reserve housing. This is in addition to $300 million for northern housing where a majority of aboriginals reside.

The Liberals had 13 years to make a difference in the lives of our aboriginal Canadians and yet the result was, in Gerard Kennedy's own words, “a devastating record”.

Our government has already taken action in ways that really make a difference to the lives of first nations, Métis and Inuit peoples. In the days, weeks and years to come we will continue to do so.

Business of Supply June 19th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, I as well want to thank my colleague for her comments regarding aboriginal issues. I certainly believe that she has a real desire to have aboriginal issues advanced and to have addressed those issues that are concerning us.

One of my concerns with her speech was that she seemed to focus most heavily on the issue of communities. Right now, roughly 80% of aboriginal people live off reserve. I wonder if she could address how we could address those issues for the aboriginal people who are not on reserve so that we do not let them fall between the cracks. My understanding is that right now roughly $8 is spent for every aboriginal person on reserve compared to $1 for those off reserve. We find aboriginal people dealing with poverty and despair living in urban centres. Could she address that?

Kelowna Accord Implementation Act June 2nd, 2006

Mr. Speaker, even prior to my appointment to serve on the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development, I had a strong desire and commitment to see the needs of our aboriginal Canadian brothers and sisters more adequately addressed. However, since my appointment to that committee, having met many more aboriginal Canadians and having read many reports dealing with the wide variety of issues facing them, I can only say that my resolve to be more involved in moving forward on these issues has increased. I am committed to seeing the gaps close, as are my colleagues on this side of the House.

I commend the right hon. member for LaSalle—Émard for providing members with another opportunity to discuss and consider an issue of importance to all Canadians, aboriginal and non-aboriginal alike.

Although I welcome this occasion to speak to this pressing matter and listen to the contributions of other members, I cannot support this legislation. My opposition to Bill C-292 is rooted in two main objections.

First, the bill is poorly conceived. It is not a precise, detailed policy blueprint, but simply is a series of broad political commitments. Furthermore, it purports to extend statutory recognition to a one time political event and create a legal obligation to fulfill a series of wide-ranging commitments, a dubious proposition at best and certainly one which is unforeseeable.

In addition, Bill C-292 provides members with absolutely no idea what obligations it would impose on government, nor whether these obligations would also apply to the provinces and territories.

This is an important issue for many of my colleagues in this chamber. Until members are provided with clear details of the nature of these programs and the related accountability measures, and until a long time sustainable financial plan to fund these programs has been approved by Parliament, I cannot see how the House can support Bill C-292.

My second objection to Bill C-292 is that the government has taken concrete steps to develop real solutions to the problems facing aboriginal people in Canada. Indeed, in a few short months as government, we have moved swiftly to implement carefully structured targeted investments that will reduce levels of aboriginal poverty and bring about tangible, measurable results.

Since taking office, the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development has met with aboriginal leaders. These ongoing discussions will set the stage for programs that will address key aboriginal issues. Backing our words with necessary resources, this government put forward a federal budget that allocates $3.7 billion to fund programs and initiatives to improve the quality of life of aboriginal people living both on and off reserve.

There have been other significant achievements. On March 9 an agreement in principle was signed with the Yale First Nation in the province of British Columbia to complete a treaty.

Mr. Speaker, I will complete my speech at another time.