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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

Taxation May 4th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, it should come as no surprise that our Conservative government is the only one that stands up for middle-class families. Through our low-tax plan for families, our government is helping 100% of families with children receive the benefits they need so that they can put their hard-earned money towards their own priorities.

What do we hear from the other side of the House? We hear about new taxes, high debt and the removal of these benefits we brought forward for Canadian families. The leader of the Liberal Party is promising to raise taxes on families earning less than $60,000 who use tax-free savings accounts to save their money, and will raise taxes on millions of families who receive the universal child benefit.

We will make no apology for keeping more money in the pockets of Canadians.

Armenian Genocide April 24th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, today marks the 100th anniversary of the Armenian genocide, perpetrated by the Ottoman empire between 1915 and 1923. After 100 years, it is now widely accepted as the first genocide of the modern era.

In Canada, our Parliament, in 2004, acknowledged the Armenian genocide of 1915 and condemned this act as a crime against humanity. In 2006, the government affirmed this resolution that the 1.5 million Armenians who died during those years were in fact subjects of the genocide.

All across Canada today, and in my riding of Don Valley East, Canadian Armenians are holding commemoration ceremonies to mark this tragic event in history.

On this solemn anniversary, I recognize the great work of the Armenian Genocide Centennial Committee of Canada, an organization that unites Canadians and Armenians right across our great country.

Child Care April 20th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, our government knows that all families have different needs and different dynamics. That is why our universal child care benefit provides support for every single family with a child. Incredibly, the opposition members have attacked the universal child care benefit and have pledged to take it away from families. They just do not get it. They just do not understand how the UCCB is helping families.

To help the opposition members come to their senses, can the Minister of State for Social Development please inform this House how the universal child care benefit is helping families?

Canada-India Relations April 2nd, 2015

Mr. Speaker, on behalf of my constituents in Don Valley East, I look forward to welcoming the Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, on his first trip to Canada. As a Canadian of Indian origin, I am thrilled to see this important visit happen.

This is an example of the ever-expanding ties between our great countries. Canada and India are negotiating a free trade deal that will create jobs, grow our economy and create long-term prosperity. Right now, trade between Canada and India is expected to be valued at $15 billion by year's end. With this visit, we expect that our trade will continue to expand.

Canada and India have long-standing bilateral ties built upon shared values of democracy, pluralism and strong people-to-people links. I am sure that Prime Minister Modi's visit will be successful and that the relationship between Canada and India will continue to be strengthened.

World Tuberculosis Day March 24th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, today is World TB Day. On this day in 1882 the bacteria causing TB was discovered by Dr. Robert Koch.

We can be proud of the contributions that Canada has made to combat this horrible disease. The latest information we have says that every year, nine million people are infected with TB, and three million do not even get diagnosed by the health systems.

In Nunavut, the rates of TB are comparable to any sub-Saharan country. As of today, we do not have an effective vaccine against TB.

In many places TB has become a forgotten disease, resulting in new strains being developed. Canada has been a leader in its support to the global fund and TB REACH for their ongoing research to find new solutions.

I thank organizations such as Results Canada and Stop TB that have done great work to highlight this issue. Tonight there will be a reception in the speaker's lounge and I invite my colleagues to join me there.

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

Mr. Speaker, last time this bill was debated, the members of the official opposition kept saying that the bill would marginalize victims. The truth is that actual victims of these barbaric practices support the bill.

How does the opposition stick to the rhetoric when actual victims are coming up in support of this bill?

Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices Act March 12th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, part of the issue is that many of the polygamist situations that arise from immigration are based on rules that apply to their countries, not to our country. We get polygamy propagated here, with even young children being married. This provision would prevent that. We want to bring it up to the Canadian standard of law in terms of the age of consent, et cetera.

Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices Act March 12th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, the provocation provisions that currently exist actually allow people to use any excuse to say that they were provoked into doing what they did. This changes that by setting the standard at a much higher level, a level that would mean that most of these people would be prosecuted for what they have actually committed, which is murder, instead of trying to turn it into something less, with a lesser penalty. It is actually murder that has been committed.

It is important that we take that provision and make it much stronger. Under this legislation, an accused could only use a defence of provocation if the victim were committing an act of violence that would lead to an offence indictable by five years or more.

Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices Act March 12th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I guess the question can be reversed in the sense that almost all of these activities tend to be based on culture, and that is why it is in the title. It is not that the general public is actually implementing all of these things. Cultural practice is what this is all about, and that is why it is in the title.

Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices Act March 12th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with my colleague from Etobicoke Centre.

As an immigrant to Canada, I must say that the reason for coming to Canada was that this is such a glorious place. There is opportunity from every which way one wants. I am an example of that, having come to Canada some 25 years ago and having had the opportunity to be elected to Parliament. Unfortunately, many countries do not have the laws we have that give us the freedoms that make this country the best country in the world to live in.

Many countries have draconian laws related to the age of consent for marriage, the way women are treated, and many other things in those kinds of regimes. Canada is a magnet for many people who want to escape those systems, yet there are still some people who would like to continue those practices in Canada and change Canada. I am certainly against that, and therefore, I support Bill S-7, the zero tolerance for barbaric cultural practices act.

We should not and will not tolerate spousal abuse, so-called honour killings, and other gender-based violence in our Canadian society, and it is for this reason we are taking steps to strengthen our laws to help ensure that no young girl or woman in Canada, or proposing to come to Canada, becomes a victim of early forced marriage, polygamy, so-called honour-based violence, or any other harmful cultural practice. Our government is taking a strong stance against these practices and is leading international efforts to address them as a violation of basic human rights. Our government will continue to ensure that Canada is protected from harmful barbaric cultural practices and to protect Canadians vulnerable to these abuses.

As I have stated, we are not going to tolerate cultural traditions from other countries in Canada that deprive individuals of their human rights. Our government believes that subjugating a woman to repeated sexual assaults is indeed barbaric. Polygamy is also an affront to Canadian values and as such has been illegal in this country since 1890. This bill would provide immigration officers with the tools they need to render both temporary and permanent residents inadmissible for practising polygamy.

One of the things this bill also introduces is a different level for the defence of provocation. The defence of provocation is that someone was provoked into doing something violent against a woman, such as an honour killing. Now the threshold would be be changed by increasing the threshold for when an accused could plead provocation for a lesser conviction.

Our government is taking a strong stand against perpetrators of honour killings. Under this piece of legislation, an accused could only use the defence of provocation if the victim was committing an act of violence that would lead to an offence indictable by five years or more. Our government is ensuring that wearing a short skirt or dating someone one's family does not approve of would no longer be the excuse that could be used as provocation. As such, we have actually tried to educate some of the immigrants coming to Canada. However, unfortunately, as I said, many countries have different values, different laws, and different systems that allow some of these things to happen.

I relate back to my own province of Kerala in India. I relate to that, because it is one of the few provinces that actually has a literacy rate of almost 100% for men and women. That is not the case in many other countries. In many countries, women are considered chattel and therefore are not educated and are not literate.

CIC has special documentation and special language programs for immigrants and refugee women that are able to address some of the issues, such as family violence, spousal abuse, women's rights, legal rights, and health care, including bridging referrals to other available services in the community.

Through publications such as the Discover Canada and Welcome to Canada guides, we clearly communicate that Canada's openness and generosity do not extend to harmful cultural practices. As such, forced marriages and other forms of gender-based violence are not acceptable.

Through information for sponsored spouses or partners, we advise immigrant women that those who are subject to conditional PR and who are victims of abuse or neglect do not have to remain in an abusive situation. This brochure informs them how to contact CIC and others and where they can find help. This is great, but the problem is that many of them do not have literacy or language skills, even though we insist on some of those being in place before they can come to Canada. As such, it makes it very difficult for them to communicate and let people know what is happening to them in their circumstances and situations.

This is an important thing we are doing. Even though we are doing a lot to make sure that, from a Canadian cultural point of view, information is available to all immigrants, many of them do not get the opportunity to use it, because they are not literate and do not know the language. Some of these things are quite difficult when people come here.

Through the Department of Justice, our government has been holding sector specific workshops on forced marriage and honour-based violence with police, crowns, victims services, child protection officials, and shelter workers. These workshops will assist in front-line capacity building. The Department of Justice has also funded research papers on forced marriage and honour killing, including specific information on those forms of family violence in two public legal education pamphlets. One of these, Abuse is Wrong in any Language, is available in 12 languages. There are a variety of projects to prevent and respond to forced marriage and honour-based violence.

Unfortunately, as I said, many of these immigrants and victims of this violence may not actually even be able to read some of these documents, and because of their language skills, may not be able to contact those who can help them in any way.

Let me move on now to the action our government has taken to increase support for victims of crime, including through the victims bill of rights, which was passed, and the Safe Streets and Communities Act. Since 2007, a total of $2.8 million has been approved through Status of Women Canada for community-based projects that address harmful cultural practices, such as honour-based violence and forced marriage. The RCMP has developed online training on forced marriage and honour-based violence for RCMP officers and plans to make it available to municipal police and other agencies through the Canadian Police Knowledge Network in 2014.

Are we targeting any specific community? Our government is clearly not targeting any specific community. Our government has been clear on its stance against polygamy and other barbaric practices that constitute gender-based violence. This a victims rights issue rather than an issue based on ethnicity.

In August 2013, a report was released citing 219 cases of forced marriage in Ontario between 2010 and 2012. All the individuals in the survey who had been forced into marriages experienced violence. Most victims were young and from various cultures and religions. The majority of victims were unaware of their rights in the forced marriage situation.