House of Commons photo

Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was economy.

Last in Parliament October 2015, as Conservative MP for Nipissing—Timiskaming (Ontario)

Lost his last election, in 2015, with 29% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices Act March 23rd, 2015

Mr. Speaker, in the title, “cultural” does not refer to any one individual culture. In fact, many of the issues that we are concerned about are clearly present in a number of different cultures. A number of people who have been accused of these horrible and barbaric practices tell the courts how they treat women or how they treat their daughters as part of their culture. It is important to point out exactly what this is.

Furthermore, this question comes from a member whose party leader does not want to call these practices “barbaric”. We say exactly what they are. They are barbaric cultural practices and they have no place in Canada.

Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices Act March 23rd, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I do not understand why the NDP does not get it. This is very simple. For the purposes of this initiative, the term “barbaric cultural practices” encompasses forms of gender-based family violence, early, forced and polygamous marriage, female genital mutilation and honour based violence. There is nothing racist about that. It is very simple, and I do not understand why the NDP is against the measures that we would put in place to stem these practices.

Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices Act March 23rd, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity today to speak to Bill S-7, the zero tolerance for barbaric cultural practices act. The bill strengthens Canada's commitment to preventing and responding to early and forced marriage, and other barbaric cultural practices both at home and abroad.

As a member of the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration, I am pleased to see that our government is taking action in protecting young women and girls. Last year, the committee undertook a study, “Strengthening the Protection of Women In Our Immigration System”, and I am pleased to see that some of the recommendations and comments from witnesses were taken into account when creating the bill.

I am proud to say that Canada has made ending child, early, and forced marriages a priority. In October 2013, Canada announced $5 million in new money to address the causes and consequences of early and forced marriages around the world. These funds were used for programs in Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Ghana, Somalia, and Zimbabwe. More recently, in July 2014, the Minister of Foreign Affairs announced that Canada is contributing $20 million over two years to UNICEF toward ending child, early, and forced marriage. The UNICEF project aims to accelerate the movement to end child marriage in Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Ghana, Yemen, and Zambia by supporting efforts in these countries to strengthen both programming and political support to end the practice.

Canada also played an important role in bringing world attention and action to this issue of child, early, and forced marriage, through actions such as spearheading the initiative to establish the International Day of the Girl Child, and co-leading with Zambia a United Nations General Assembly resolution on child, early, and forced marriage.

These barbaric practices predominantly affect women and girls and impair their rights and ability to fully participate in society. Equality of men and women under the law is a fundamental Canadian value that shapes Canadian policy and actions both in the international and domestic areas. Free and healthy societies require the full participation of women. Sadly, in many countries around the world, millions of women and girls continue to be prevented from full participation because of violence, including through inhumane practices of early and forced marriage.

It is both the reality and the strength of our country that Canadians of very different origins live and work side by side together. New Canadians work hard to learn our languages, our values, and our traditions, and in turn are welcome as equal members of the Canadian family. The languages, cultures, and traditions of new Canadians add to the diversity of Canada, which enriches our lives. At the same time, harmful cultural practices that go against Canadian values and are in violation of Canada's international human rights commitments will not be tolerated in Canada.

Our government is aware of the cases of Canadian children being taken abroad for early forced marriage. Canada is committed to protecting and defending those who are vulnerable to these practices, both domestically and internationally.

This summer, the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration participated in several consultations on these issues across the country. Participants told the minister that early and forced marriages are still a harsh reality in Canada.

Our Conservative government has demonstrated its leadership in this area by introducing the bill and also continuing to work with our international partners and community members to find ways to end such harmful practices, which tragically are happening each and every day around the world.

Bill S-7 will strengthen Canadian marriage laws by establishing a new national minimum age for marriage of 16 years. Currently, only in Quebec is the minimum age of marriage set at 16 years. This is because specific federal laws apply only in Quebec. In other parts of Canada, the common law applies. The bill will now set 16 years as the minimum age for marriage across Canada. Some may query why the bill has not raised the minimum age to marry to the age of 18.

The approach in the bill seeks to balance the protections for children against flexibility to reflect the choices of mature minors between the ages of 16 and 18 who make a commitment to one another, such as those who have a child together. It also aligns with the approaches taken in other like-minded countries.

Bill S-7 also contains measures that would amend the Criminal Code to criminalize certain conduct related to underage and forced marriage ceremonies by knowingly officiating or knowingly and actively participating at an underage or forced marriage. For example, these offences may apply to individuals who engage in conduct specifically intended to facilitate the marriage ceremony, such as acting as a legal witness, knowing that one of the parties is under the age of 16 or marrying against their will. These proposed new offences will be punishable by a maximum of five years imprisonment.

Proposed amendments will also criminalize removing a minor from Canada for a forced or underage marriage. This is done by adding the new offences in relation to underage and forced marriage in the existing offence of removing a child from Canada to commit female genital mutilation or sexual offences. This offence is punishable by a maximum of five years imprisonment. Bill S-7 maintains this penalty. Countries such as Australia and Norway have similar criminal measures which Canada has looked to in the development of this bill.

Other proposed amendments in this bill are prevention measures that will provide courts with the authority to issue peace bonds and conditions on an individual when there are reasonable grounds to believe that a forced marriage or an underage marriage will otherwise occur. As part of the conditions that would be available, a court could order a defendant to avoid making any plans or arrangements for a marriage, whether inside or outside Canada, to surrender travel documents or to participate in a family violence counselling program.

The creation of specific forced or underage marriage peace bonds to prevent someone from being taken abroad for the purposes of early or forced marriage is similar to forced marriage civil protection orders in the United Kingdom. In addition, Bill S-7 would amend the Criminal Code to ensure that the defence of provocation would not apply in so-called honour killings and many spousal homicides. Currently, any conduct by the victim, including insults and other forms of offensive behaviour that are lawful, can potentially qualify as provocation if it is found to be sufficient to cause an ordinary person to lose self-control, the accused was not expecting it and the killing was sudden.

The proposed amendment will limit the defence of provocation so that lawful conduct by the victim that might be perceived by the accused as an insult, or offend that person or their sense of family honour or reputation, cannot excuse murder. Only conduct by the victim that amounts to a relatively serious criminal offence, such as an offence under the Criminal Code punishable by at least five years in prison, could be argued to be provocation for the purposes of the defence.

The provocation defence has either been abolished or restricted in almost every common law jurisdiction like Canada, such as most Australian states, New Zealand and the United Kingdom.

Finally, to better prevent polygamy from occurring on Canadian soil, Bill S-7 would create a new ground of inadmissibility in the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act for practising polygamy. A criminal conviction or finding of misrepresentation is currently required before polygamists can be found inadmissible.

The bill would make amendments to the IRPA so polygamist permanent residents or foreign nationals who are or will be physically present in Canada with any of their spouses would be considered to be practising polygamy in Canada. The permanent resident or foreign national could be found inadmissible on that basis alone, without requiring evidence that the person misrepresented their situation or has a criminal conviction.

I have discussed some of the very important aspects of this bill, which sends a strong message that Canada condemns barbaric cultural practices not only domestically but internationally as well.

Canada has and will continue to be seen as an independent leader on these important international rights. While the opposition refuses to even call these practices “barbaric”, it is clear that our government is taking action to prevent these barbaric practices from occurring on Canadian soil.

I hope all hon. members of the House will support this important legislation that will protect victims, predominately women and girls, from such intolerable and inhumane practices.

Taxation March 11th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, it should come as no surprise that our Conservative government is the only one that stands up for middle-class Canadian families.

Through our low-tax plan for families, our government is helping 100% of families with children receive the benefits they need so they can put their hard-earned money toward their own priorities We have doubled the children's fitness tax credit, enhanced the universal child care benefit and now have implemented the family tax cut. All parents, including single parents, will benefit from these measures. That is over four million families and over seven million parents.

Clearly, the idea of the Liberals and the New Democrats for Canadians is high taxes and high debt. They will take away our benefits and implement a job-killing carbon tax that will raise the price of everything.

The facts are crystal clear. Only our Conservative government can be trusted to keep money in the pockets of Canadian families.

Petitions March 9th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present to the House a petition from petitioners in Nipissing—Timiskaming who are asking for respect for the right of small-scale family farmers to preserve, exchange, and use seeds.

Specifically, the petitioners ask the Government of Canada and the House of Commons to commit to adopting international aid policies that support small family farmers, especially women; to recognize their vital role in the fight against hunger and poverty; and to ensure that Canadian policies and programs are developed in consultation with small family farmers and protect the rights of small family farmers in the global south to preserve, use, and freely exchange seeds.

Pipeline Safety Act February 26th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, as I mentioned, in our country we have world-class pipeline facilities. I want to give the hon. member an inkling of what that means. Between 2000 and 2011, federally regulated pipelines in this country had a safety record of 99.999%. The rate of spills in Canada was 57% lower than in Europe and 60% lower than in the United States for the 2000 to 2011 decade period.

As a government, we cannot designate or legislate laws that would account for an absurd occurrence. We live our lives as best we can and we account for as much as we can, but we do not plan on the absurd occurrence. That is what we have to do in this case.

Pipeline Safety Act February 26th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, just to put this into perspective, I would like to give the hon. member some background as to why the figure of $1 billion was chosen.

The $1 billion figure was chosen based on an analysis of historical examples demonstrating this level of absolute liability, and the financial capacity provides this world-class coverage. Major pipeline spills in North America have resulted in clean-up costs in the range of $20 million to $50 million. That is well below $1 billion. That is the average cost. Therefore, it is needless to say that most of these spills are well below the $1 billion, which raises the bar very high to ensure that taxpayers will not carry the liability for these spills.

Pipeline Safety Act February 26th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I welcome the opportunity to further acquaint my hon. colleagues with Bill C-46, the pipeline safety act.

Bill C-46 represents another important step in realizing our government's commitment to assuring Canadians that our country's abundant natural resources are developed and transported in a safe and responsible manner. This commitment is the foundation of our plan for responsible resource development. No major project will proceed unless rigorous environmental and regulatory reviews have demonstrated that it is safe for Canadians and safe for our environment. This is essential if we are to continue to enjoy the benefits these industries have provided to generations of Canadians, and the benefits are many.

Given Canada's wealth of natural resources, experience and expertise of the industry in our country, we can be confident that the long-term prospects for natural resources development are there and will benefit us all as Canadians. It is a fact that natural resource development offers particular opportunity for aboriginal people in Canada.

Many of the existing or proposed energy and other natural resource and infrastructure projects are located near aboriginal communities. We have a duty to consult these communities and we will work to ensure they are fully engaged throughout the life cycle of resource development projects. It is a pillar of our plan for responsible resource development to pursue development in collaboration with aboriginal people in a way that protects the local environment, that respects aboriginal and treaty rights and that enables aboriginal people to participate in the economic opportunities that resource development can provide, opportunities that contribute to stronger, healthier and more self-sufficient communities.

We are taking concrete action to fulfill this commitment to consult and engage aboriginal communities in a truly meaningful way, including in the safety of existing pipelines and the potential development of new pipeline infrastructure. The pipeline safety act would provide for a series of new measures that would provide Canadians with the assurance of a truly world-class pipeline safety regime, strengthening incident prevention, preparedness and response, and liability and compensation.

Prevention, of course, is the first priority and the goal will always be zero incidents.

Bill C-46 would give the National Energy Board the ability to guide pipeline builders and operators in the use of the best available technologies in federally regulated pipeline projects, from materials and construction methods to emergency response techniques. To assure preparedness and effective response to incidents, pipeline companies would be required to show they would have ready access to a minimum amount of cash or cash equivalent so there would be no delays.

In the event a company is not able to mount an immediate, effective response, Bill C-46 would provide the National Energy Board with the authority to step in and lead the response. Where liability is concerned, Bill C-46 would impose absolute liability in the amount of $1 billion on the pipeline company. In other words, regardless of who or what caused an incident, the company would be liable for up to $1 billion in damages, period.

Of course, there would be no limit on liability should the company be found at fault or it were proven that it had acted negligently and caused the incident. The National Energy Board would have the authority to order the company to reimburse in full, even above the $1 billion mark in absolute liability, any and all cleanup costs incurred by any federal, provincial, municipal or aboriginal government body, or any person. As with the energy safety and security act, which is currently in the Senate, the pipeline safety act would include a firm statement of the principle of polluter pays. Taxpayers would not be left holding the bag. Companies would bear the full cost of cleanup and compensation.

I want to emphasize that our government recognizes and is supporting the important role aboriginal communities can play in ensuring pipeline safety, and we continue to move forward with new initiatives to ensure aboriginal communities are fully involved.

There is another way the government is responding to the work of the Prime Minister's special representative on west coast energy infrastructure, Mr. Douglas Eyford. Based on Mr. Eyford's report, Forging Partnerships, Building Relationships, we are proposing the development of a strategy to bring together aboriginal communities, the Minister of Natural Resources, and project proponents in establishing objectives and actions to enhance aboriginal participation in pipeline safety.

The goal is to integrate aboriginal communities into the overall process of pipeline safety. The government would work with industry, provinces and territories, community colleges, and aboriginal communities themselves to develop and promote training on pipeline monitoring and emergency response.

This collaborative approach would also focus on developing industry guidelines for community involvement in the preparation of emergency response plans, including who should be engaged and how they should be engaged, as well as the specific content of response plans.

A further objective is identification of employment and business opportunities that aboriginal engagement in pipeline safety may offer to all communities. Pipeline monitoring could be an example.

These new initiatives would build on earlier actions our government has taken to advance reconciliation through constructive engagement and collaboration. In May 2014, for example, our government announced a series of measures to strengthen the engagement with first nations where resource development is concerned. These included establishing the Major Projects Management Office–West, a single window for the Government of Canada to coordinate activities on energy infrastructure development with British Columbia first nations and industry in British Columbia and Alberta.

In July 2014, in response to other key recommendations in the Eyford report, we initiated action to promote reconciliation in advance of and outside the formal treaty process. These measures range from engaging on a new version of the guidelines on consultation for federal officials to new guidance for industry, including an overall public statement to clarify roles and responsibilities.

We have committed to entering into more consultation protocols with aboriginal groups, which would support more efficient consultations in key priority areas such as resource development. We are also acting to ensure aboriginal communities have the resources they need to participate in consultations in a meaningful way. In economic action plan 2014, for example, we provided $13.6 million over two years for that very purpose.

With the pipeline safety act, our government is again providing a commitment to respect the interests of aboriginal people. I encourage all members of this House to support Bill C-46.

Taxation February 26th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, under the leadership of our Prime Minister, our government will balance the budget and put money back where it belongs: in the pockets of hard-working Canadians.

Our family tax credit and enhanced universal child care benefit will give 100% of families with kids an average of more than $1,100 per year to spend on their priorities. Families in Nipissing—Timiskaming and across Canada will receive nearly $2,000 per year for every child under six and $720 per year for every child between six and 17.

The Liberal leader will reverse our tax cuts and will do exactly what the Liberal elites always do: raise taxes for ordinary Canadians while handing that money over to bureaucrats. Moms and dads do not need to be told how to spend their money.

Our Conservative government is the only party Canadian families can trust. With our family tax cut and benefits, we are proud to be standing up for their future.

North Bay Community Leader February 25th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, this February, our government celebrated the 50th anniversary of our flag by recognizing 50 outstanding individuals and organizations for their tremendous contribution to Canada. I had the privilege of recognizing one of my own constituents, Bruce Goulet, who was included in that prestigious group.

Bruce Goulet has led a remarkable life as a World War II veteran, an entrepreneur, a Rotarian, and a civic leader. He has devoted much of his strength, integrity, and passion to his community and his country. He served as mayor, president of the Chamber of Commerce, and director of the Rotary Club.

In his visionary leadership, he helped the North Bay waterfront develop into what it is today. He continues to believe in the power of one individual to make a difference. He is a powerful inspiration and a role model for Canadians.

Colleagues, please join me in recognizing our Bruce Goulet as an extraordinary community worker and a great Canadian.