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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was actually.

Last in Parliament October 2015, as Conservative MP for Don Valley East (Ontario)

Lost his last election, in 2015, with 38% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing Act October 17th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak today in support of Bill C-13, keeping Canada's economy and jobs growing act, as introduced by my colleague, the Minister of Finance.

Since the last federal election, I have heard a common message from constituents, business owners and community leaders alike. They have said again and again that they want our government to continue to focus on strengthening the economy and creating jobs for Canadians.

Through the economic action plan, our Conservative government delivered a record $60 billion in investments across Canada to aid Canadians and businesses during the worst global recession since the Great Depression. Through these investments and the leadership shown by our Prime Minister, Canada has seen seven straight quarters of economic growth, one of the strongest fiscal positions among the world's top performing and advanced economies.

However, more important, Canada has seen a record of 600,000-plus jobs created since July 2009, with over 80% of them being full-time jobs. Clearly, our economic action plan is working and it is putting Canadians back into the jobs they want and need.

The good news does not stop there. On October 7, Statistics Canada further reinforced that our action plan was working. In September of this year, Canada saw employment rise by 61,000 new jobs, almost all of which were full-time jobs. This increase pushed our national unemployment rate to the lowest it has been since December 2008, down to 7.1%. These jobs were spread across a number of industries, such as education services, accommodation services, natural resources and public administration, all of which provide meaningful employment opportunities to Canadians.

The good news does not stop there. Last Friday, our good friends at Statistics Canada further reinforced that the action plan was delivering to Canadians the way our Prime Minister and ministers had envisioned. In August of this year, manufacturing sales rose by 1.4%, to $47.6 billion, which is the highest level we have seen since October 2008.

Despite this good news, I find it ironic that the “new voice of Quebec”, as they call themselves, the official opposition, has and continues to vote against every economic measure the government makes. After all, it was Quebec that saw one of the highest increases in manufacturing sales of 3.5% to be exact, to $11.8 billion.

For every realist in the House, we know that magnificent increase is due to the stimulus this government made in industries, such as manufacturing, as well as industries in our markets and our economy, and yet the opposition members continues to vote against our economic plan. When good news like this is released they are the first to claim how they did this or they attempt to take credit for it.

We must not be fooled. The facts are there. The economic action plan is working and we need to stay the course to ensure that we continue to lead our G7 and G20 colleagues in coming out of this economic recession. Why will the opposition not see that and join us in building a more vibrant, stronger and better economy by supporting this bill?

Our government tabled the economic action plan which has seen enhancements in a vast array of sectors: the economy, the programs and services that the Government of Canada delivers to its citizens, and the leadership our country has taken on the global financial stage. Whether it is extending programs to help businesses keep workers on the job and gainfully employed or enhancing benefits to seniors in our country, Canadians know they can count on this Conservative government to deliver for Canadians.

Supporting job creation, families, communities and investing in innovation and education will continue to be important pillars of our government's economic plan. Even with all these continued investments to help Canadians most in need, the Minister of Finance is still on track to balance Canada's budget. Is it a miracle? I think not.

It is clearly the result of sound fiscal management, expenditure review and proper economic management by the government, our ministers and the Prime Minister.

As stated a few moments ago, supporting job creation has been and will continue to be the top priority of our government.

From providing a one-time credit of up to $1,000 to small businesses to encourage additional hiring to enhancing and extending successful programs such as the work-sharing program and the wage earner protection program, our Conservative government is focusing on sustaining and creating jobs across this nation while improving government services and programs so that they are delivered efficiently, effectively and affordably to Canadians.

Our great initiatives do not stop there. We have invested hundreds of millions of dollars in economic sectors that are important to our country and our economic recovery. From innovation, agriculture, energy and manufacturing to forestry and tourism, Canadian businesses know that they can count on our government to deliver the best balance to keep their doors open and business flowing, and to aid them in hiring Canadians.

That is what it is all about: building our economy to create new jobs for Canadians, young and old alike.

However, our focus has not only been on business; we are focused on two other things that are also important to Canadians: their families and their communities. That is why the government has put into law the permanent investment, annually, of $2 billion in gas tax funding for cities to support the infrastructure programs and projects that matter most to them.

In my riding of Don Valley East, this has enabled the City of Toronto to plan and prioritize local projects because they know they will have stable funding to better our city and our local community's infrastructure.

Building strong and more vibrant communities has been a priority of our government. In Don Valley East, I am confident to say it is evident. In addition, it was our government that introduced a new children's arts tax credit that enables parents to claim up to $500 for programs associated with arts, culture, recreation and development. We did this because we know that a child's education and intellectual growth happens not only inside the four walls of a classroom but also in the extracurricular activities that they do in the mornings, after school or on weekends.

Just as important is what we did for the most needy seniors--over 680,000 of them, to be exact. In the budget, we took action to enhance the guaranteed income supplement to enable seniors to receive additional annual benefits of up to $600 for single seniors and up to $840 for couples.

Our parents and grandparents worked hard for many years to build Canada into the great nation it is today, and when it comes to keeping their money where it belongs, in their pocket, they know they can count on the Conservative government to deliver without the reckless spending that the opposition proposes.

I think one of the most important investments our government has made in Bill C-13 is the new family caregiver tax credit, which alleviates the financial burden on families who have loved ones who are not well. As someone with parents who are seniors, I find it reassuring to know that if a family member has to take care of them, the government will recognize their sacrifice by providing them with a tax credit when they have to file their returns with the government.

As we all know, families should always come first, and I believe the government and the ministers have made that clear in this budget and through all the programs and services we have created or enhanced. As a former professor at Centennial and Seneca Colleges in Toronto, I strongly support the investments in innovation, education and training that Bill C-13 makes.

After speaking with former colleagues of mine, I know they too applaud the government's investment and commitment to education, innovation and research. As we all know, education and training provide our young citizens with bright, vibrant and encompassing opportunities for their future.

Small Business October 7th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I am delighted to stand before the House today to report that the government's economic plan is working, and in particular, for small businesses.

I am pleased to announce that on October 19 of this month a new business will be opening in my riding. Despite the global economic turmoil, Canada is still the best place for small businesses. On October 19, owner Bani Azan will be opening a Cora franchise on York Mills Road in Don Valley East. This will create a number of new jobs in my riding.

The actions that the government is taking to help small businesses will give this business a good start in establishing itself and securing its long-term future.

I congratulate Bani Azan and Cora on opening this business and wish them the very best for the future.

This government's small-business initiatives will create new businesses, new jobs and growth in existing businesses.

Business of Supply September 29th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, the NDP and the Conservative government clearly disagree on the issues of taxes. The NDP supports higher taxes on Canadians while we believe that lower taxes should be in place.

This was demonstrated when our Conservative government lowered the GST, twice, from 7% to 6% and then to 5%, providing tax relief for all Canadian families. The NDP voted against both these GST reductions. In fact, it is proud of it. Here is what the current NDP finance critic said, “Cuts to the GST...take us in the wrong direction. I am very proud that our caucus stood opposed to that--”.

Is the NDP still proud that it voted against lowering the GST? Does the NDP think that the GST reduction is still wrong?

Resumption and Continuation of Postal Services Legislation June 23rd, 2011

Madam Speaker, the answer is relatively straightforward. As a result of the rotating strikes, a business cannot run successfully. As such, it might as well be closed down while it is negotiating.

Resumption and Continuation of Postal Services Legislation June 23rd, 2011

Madam Speaker, clearly the offer that is on the table is in line with the rest of the public sector that we are working with. There is absolutely no need to have it removed from the legislation.

Resumption and Continuation of Postal Services Legislation June 23rd, 2011

Madam Speaker, clearly the whole business started with the strikes which started with the workers. Eventually, a business cannot be run when these sorts of strikes occur.

The lockout is also part of Canada Post's requirement to get things going. In a way, it pushes us to make some decisions and help businesses get going again.

Resumption and Continuation of Postal Services Legislation June 23rd, 2011

Mr. Speaker, certainly I have received numerous emails from people in my riding who support the action the government is taking to relieve the tension on not just small businesses but workers as well.

I have had a call from one company that has had to close its doors because it has not received the cheques to pay its workers. The effects have been much wider than just the things that are going on.

Resumption and Continuation of Postal Services Legislation June 23rd, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I do not think there is any point where it is an acceptable position to go on strike. Clearly, the mandate is to negotiate a settlement between disputing parties. In this particular case, Canada Post actually has $6.6 billion of business in this country and it affects our GDP directly. A situation affecting Canada Post will directly affect what we are doing.

Resumption and Continuation of Postal Services Legislation June 23rd, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the comments by my colleague.

Clearly, part of the agreement will take care of the pensions, but it also protects Canadian taxpayers from increased tax liabilities. The legislation also includes guiding principles on providing direction to the arbitrator such as the desire of the government to see no increase in the unfunded portion of the Canada Post pension plan.

Our government's desire is to ensure that Canadian taxpayers are not left with the bill for Canada Post's pension plan.

Resumption and Continuation of Postal Services Legislation June 23rd, 2011

Mr. Speaker, after 12 days of rotating strikes, Canada Post initiated a lockout. This work stoppage comes after many rounds of collective bargaining, during which Canada Post and the postal workers union failed to close a gap between the positions and reach a settlement.

For many months now, federal mediators have worked with the two sides to find a solution. Unfortunately, the employer and the union have been unable to finalize a new collective agreement. Accordingly the government has decided to take action and tabled legislation that would bring an end to the work stoppage. The motion before us will give the House a chance to consider the labour minister's bill in an expeditious fashion.

As all members know, the procedures before us are reserved for special urgent situations. This is the case with the current work stoppage at Canada Post. Just when our economy is in the early stages of recovery, and in view of the serious consequences of paralyzing the postal service, the country can ill-afford a work stoppage. This legislation, once enacted, will bring to an end to the lockout at Canada Post.

What is at stake is our economic recovery. Right now, our country has reason to be optimistic. Our country has experienced the strongest economic growth among the G7 countries since mid-2009. All the job losses incurred during the global economic recession have been recovered. Now is not the time to jeopardize our momentum.

Our government has a responsibility, nay a duty, to act on behalf of all Canadians.

It is always better when the two parties can reach a collective agreement at the bargaining table, without the need for parliamentary intervention. The best solution in any labour dispute is one where the parties resolve the differences themselves. In this case, unfortunately, the parties are too far apart.

We could let the situation deteriorate and see businesses fail, unemployment increase and our economy falter, or the government could take decisive action on behalf of all Canadians. That is what we have done. We have taken decisive action which is in the best interests of the country and the Canadian public.

The bill would impose a four year contract and new pay rate increases. That would mean a 1.75% increase as of February 1, 2011, 1.5% increase as of February 2012, another 2% as of February 2013 and as of February 2014, 2%. It also provides for final offer selection, a binding mechanism on all outstanding matters. Furthermore, in making the selection of a final offer the arbitrator is to be guided by the need for terms and conditions of employment that are consistent with those in comparable postal industries.

The arbitrator will also provide the necessary degree of flexibility to ensure the short-term and long-term economic viability and competitiveness of the Canada Post Corporation, maintain the health and safety of its workers and ensure the sustainability of its pension plan.

The terms and conditions of employment must also take into account: (a) that the solvency ratio of the pension plan must not decline as a result of the new collective agreement; and (b) that the Canada Post Corporation must, without recourse to undue increases in postal rates, operate efficiently, improve productivity and meet acceptable standards of service.

Let us remember that the last postal strike happened in 1997 and it lasted for 15 days. Since then, reliance on postal service has experienced a decline in personal mail due to the growth in the use of the Internet, email, electronic billing and electronic funds transfer.

However, small and mid-sized businesses still rely heavily on the postal service for direct marketing, billing and filling orders.

Business owners, seniors and other constituents of mine have contacted my office and have expressed their support for this motion and the need for the service to resume as soon as possible.

Small and medium-sized business owners are feeling the pinch. Their businesses are being affected. Business is slowing and the cost of shipping is starting to soar.

The people of Don Valley East elected me to be their voice in Parliament. Today, I am doing that by rising and speaking in favour of this motion.

Canada Post is a crown corporation. It is one of the largest employers in Canada. It employs more than 70,000 full-time and part-time employees. Every business day, Canada Post delivers about 40 million items and provides services to 14 million addresses. Canada Post, like any commercial enterprise, has to offer dependable service, generate revenue, control costs and maintain an efficient operation.

By the same token, the Canadian Union of Postal Workers is trying to gain the best salary and working conditions for its members.

The labour dispute between Canada Post and CUPW relates to the renewal of collective agreements covering some 50,000 workers, including plant and retail employees, letter carriers and mail service couriers.

We have a process in place to deal with these labour conflicts in the federal domain. It is called the Canada Labour Code. It has been followed each step of the way in this conflict.

Let me take a moment to outline the steps in this collective bargaining process, which has brought us to the situation we are faced with today.

Collective agreements covering CUPW and Canada Post expired in January 2011. Both parties had been bargaining since October 2010. When those talks reached an impasse, a conciliation officer was appointed and the conciliation period was extended until early May. During that time, the conciliation officer met with the parties. Throughout the month of May, a mediator from the labour program's Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service met frequently with the parties.

Despite all these efforts in mediation and conciliation and the Minister of Labour meeting with both party leaders, CUPW announced, on May 30, its intent to strike. On June 3 the Canadian Union of Postal Workers walked off the job. On June 15 the employer declared a lockout.

To recap, the postal workers have now been without a contract since January 2011, despite many rounds of bargaining. In fact, the parties have been bargaining for eight months.

Sometimes collective bargaining hits an impasse. It is unfortunate when the employer and the union cannot hammer out a mutually agreeable collective agreement. Unfortunately this is the situation facing the government today. When that happens, the parties can request the Minister of Labour to appoint an arbitrator.

Under normal circumstances, the Government of Canada does not intervene in labour disputes. Our government respects the right to free collective bargaining, which includes the right to strike and/or lockout. Parliament will not intervene if there is no serious harm to the national economy or public health and safety. However, when employers and unions choose a course of action that would have a negative effect on the economy and the country as a whole, then Parliament has the right to step in and protect the economic interests of the country and public interest as a whole.

What would be the effect of a prolonged postal disruption? Canada Post is a major employer across the country. It spends about $3 billion in goods and services. It contributes $6.6 billion to the country's GDP. Canada Post's direct marketing sector accounts for $14 billion in its revenue. During the recent economic recession, this sector suffered financial losses.

Canadian retailers depend on Canada Post to reach their customers. The Canadian magazine industry relies on Canada Post for most of its distribution.

Charities depend on Canada Post to receive donations and the funding to assist them to work. In fact, the National Institute for the Blind is now facing an estimated loss of $250,000 in funding because more than half of its regular donations are received through the mail service.

Canada Post also offers an essential lifeline to Canadians in rural and remote areas. Often the Canada Post offices are the centre of a community's daily life. While rural letter carriers are not part of the current bargaining dispute, rural communities have been affected because sorting has ceased operations.

People with disabilities have transportation and accessibility barriers that may well effect their ability to receive goods and services.

Are we going to stand by and see some of these most vulnerable sectors of our economy affected by a prolonged work stoppage by Canada Post? What would be the effect on Canada Post as a viable business? As we recover from this economic downturn, it is more important than ever that we encourage co-operative and productive workplaces.

Let us support Canadians who have recently gone through a recession and are hoping to make some gains for their families. Let us support a back to work legislation. Let us keep our economy working. Let us look to the future.

I ask my honourable colleagues to join me in supporting this bill.