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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was procedure.

Last in Parliament October 2015, as Conservative MP for Elgin—Middlesex—London (Ontario)

Won his last election, in 2011, with 58% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Removal of Imprisonment in Relation to Mandatory Surveys Act June 3rd, 2015

moved that the bill be read a third time and passed.

Mr. Speaker, it is a great honour to rise in the House on debate for the second time on my private member's bill, Bill C-625, an act to amend the Statistics Act. I am grateful for the opportunity to thank the hon. members for the unanimous support the bill has received so far.

The principles of this bill are simple and address two very important issues. First, the bill seeks to eliminate the threat of jail time for Canadians who refuse to complete the census or any mandatory survey questionnaire. Second, it would seek the consent of Canadians to publicly release all records obtained through the national household survey 92 years after each census or survey cycle.

With regard to the first issue, Bill C-625 would eliminate the threat of jail time for those who refuse to complete mandatory surveys or for those who choose not to provide access to administrative records. While we can all argue that the work of Statistics Canada is extremely important, threatening Canadians with jail time is simply inappropriate and unacceptable.

Regarding the second issue, access to census-related records, Bill C-625 would ensure that historians, genealogists, and future generations would have access not only to census records but to census-related records, such as those collected through the national household survey. Where permission has been granted, census-related records would be released 92 years after they were collected. Current generations would therefore have the unique opportunity to inform future generations and leave their mark in history.

With these changes to the Statistics Act, our government and I are delivering on the promises we made to the voters in my riding who asked for this. I am proud to play a role in helping to deliver on this commitment.

With the support this private member's bill has received, at the stages going forward I hope that the House will remain in favour of it and that all members will vote in favour of it.

Committees of the House May 27th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, if the House gives its consent, I move:

That the 37th report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs, presented to the House earlier today this day, be concurred in.

Committees of the House May 27th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Orders 104 and 114, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 37th report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs regarding membership of the committees of this House, and if the House gives its consent, I intend to move concurrence in the 37th report later today.

Safe and Accountable Rail Act May 7th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I will be more than able to reassure. I will be able to reassure the member opposite that constituents in my riding and across Canada have been putting their faith in this government and agree that a promise made is a promise kept.

In the sense of balancing a budget, and I thank the member for bringing that up. Back home that is a pretty significant piece. I thank the member for allowing me to advertise that a little here.

The legislation we are debating today is also a promise made. When the members opposite vote for it at the end of this level of debate, it will be another promise kept. We then can tell Canadians that rail safety matters, that rail safety is taken care of, that railways will be asked to carry a level of insurance. We will also be able to put together the consolidated fund for those larger incidents that may or may not happen.

I thank the member for pointing out the great work of this government in its budgeting, and balancing of it. I thank him for allowing me to talk a little more about it today.

Safe and Accountable Rail Act May 7th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, we have put in place what we think is belt and suspenders, in the way of being able to compensate. The railways are asked to carry a level of insurance based on the types of products they carry and the amount of business they do.

The second phase of that is a compensation fund that is available for the much larger accidents that would not be covered by insurance or might not be able to be covered by insurance, even though we have ensured that the railways carry that insurance.

The fund is created by $1.65 per tonne of oil, in this case oil carried. It is paid as the shipping happens so the fund is robust, is always complete, and it has money there. Over time, it will be able to handle any sort of accident that may happen, although we hope the fund is never used. All Canadians would hope that is the case.

As we continue to move dangerous products, like oil, by train, there is the opportunity that it might happen. Beyond the insurance of the companies involved, this will create a greater fund for those much larger and perhaps more dangerous situations.

Safe and Accountable Rail Act May 7th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of the safe and accountable rail act.

Following the tragic July 2013 accident at Lac-Mégantic, our government acted quickly to strengthen safety in Canada's rail and transport of dangerous goods systems. Our actions have been based on three fundamental elements of rail safety, which are prevention, preparedness and response, and liability and compensation. This bill relates to the third of those pillars, liability and compensation. Today, I would like to outline how this proposed legislation would strengthen our liability and compensation regime for federally regulated railways.

The events of Lac-Mégantic highlighted the importance of having a strong liability and compensation regime for rail, and adequate compensation available in the event of a major accident. In the 2013 Speech from the Throne, we committed to hold railways and shippers accountable. To act on this and to examine how to strengthen our regime, we undertook a comprehensive review, which included two rounds of extensive consultations with a wide range of stakeholders, including railways, shippers, provinces, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, and the insurance industry.

Our objective has been to ensure there are sufficient resources to adequately compensate potential victims and pay for cleanup costs. Our aim is also to make sure that the polluters pay, so that the taxpayers do not shoulder the financial burden in the event of an accident. These key principles are also central to the liability and compensation regimes that are currently being updated in other modes and sectors, such as offshore oil and gas, marine tankers, and pipelines. This proposed legislation would achieve these goals by sharing liability for rail accidents between railways and the shippers of crude oil, clarifying liability to benefit claimants, making more resources available for compensation, and ensuring compliance with the new regime.

What we are proposing is a two-tier system similar to the approach taken for marine oil tankers. The first tier would enhance insurance for federally regulated railways by imposing risk-based mandatory minimum insurance requirements. The second tier would share accountability for rail accidents with shippers of certain dangerous goods through a supplementary compensation fund.

Let me get into some of the specifics of the first tier, enhanced railway insurance. The responsibility for railway accidents rests first with the railway. The bill would establish minimum mandatory insurance levels that are explicitly linked to risk. The Canadian Transportation Agency would assign railways to a minimum insurance level based on the type and volume of the specific dangerous goods they carry. The minimum mandatory insurance requirements take into account the potential severity of accidents. The requirements range from $25 million for railways that carry few or no dangerous goods to $1 billion for railways that transport significant volumes of dangerous goods. Insurance would cover the damages involving third party injury or loss of life, third party property damage, and the risk associated with a leak, pollution, or contamination.

The bill would also clarify the railway's liability for accidents involving crude oil. Railways would automatically be liable up to their insurance limit without having to prove fault or negligence, and the railways would have to be operationally or physically involved in the accident in order to be held liable. This would give potential victims more certainty regarding their compensation claims, and it would protect taxpayers from having to cover the excess liability that we know can result from a catastrophic accident. For other accidents, liability would continue to be established through the courts, based on fault or negligence, as it is today.

I will turn to the second tier of the proposed new regime, which is the shipper-financed compensation fund. As I mentioned earlier, railway companies, through their insurance, would be the payers of the first resort for rail accidents. However, for accidents involving crude oil, any damages above the railway's liability limit would be covered by the fund. This fund would be financed by shippers through a levy of $1.65 per tonne of crude oil carried by the federally regulated railway and deposited into a special account of the consolidated revenue fund.

Our focus on crude oil for the fund responds first and foremost to the concerns that were expressed in relation to the Lac-Mégantic incident. Clearly, Canadians are concerned about the growing volumes of oil being transported by rail across long distances and through many communities, a trend that is expected to continue. Our approach recognizes that this is a new and significant phenomenon and we need to have adequate measures in place to hold the industry accountable. However, in the future some other dangerous goods could be scoped into the fund through regulation.

The combination of the enhanced insurance requirements and the supplementary fund would provide sufficient resources to cover the vast majority of potential accidents. The fund would be the payer of last resort in the rare event of damages from a rail accident involving crude oil surpassing the railway's insurance level. Furthermore, should an accident be of such a magnitude to deplete the resources held in the compensation fund, the consolidated revenue fund would be called upon to act as a backstop. This would ensure that all damages resulting from a rail accident involving crude oil would be covered.

It is important to emphasize that even in such an extreme situation the taxpayer should be protected. Any public money loaned to the compensation fund would be repayable with interest on terms set by the Minister of Finance through levies on the industry.

Another important part of establishing this compensation fund is putting in place an administrative body that can manage the fund effectively and in a cost efficient manner. To that end, we are modelling the fund's administration on that of the ship source oil pollution fund in the regime of marine tankers. A fund administrator would be responsible for establishing and paying out claims after the railway's liability limit was reached. As well as reporting on the management of the fund to Parliament through the minister of transport, after paying out claims, the fund administrator would be able to seek reimbursement from any at fault third parties through the courts.

The fund would achieve two important goals. First, it would ensure that shippers are held accountable for the liabilities associated with transporting their dangerous goods. This reflects the fact that shippers are a part of the polluter pays equation and that the nature of their products contribute to transportation risk. Second, the fund would provide added resources that could be called upon to compensate for damages, if required.

The benefits of this two-tiered regime that I have just described would only be felt if it operates as designed. That is why we have included enforcement mechanisms to ensure compliance. To ensure railways comply with the enhanced insurance requirements and collect and remit levies for the fund, monetary penalties of up to $100,000 per violation could be applied. Penalties would not be applied to shippers. Instead, to ensure that levies were paid, a railway's common carrier obligations to the shipper would be conditional on the shipper paying the required levy to the railway. In other words, the goods would not be shipped without payment of the levy.

A robust liability and compensation regime for rail complements our government's actions to further strengthen the safety of our rail system and the transportation of dangerous goods. Putting this legislation in place would ensure that should other rail accidents occur polluters would be held accountable and would provide the resources needed to compensate victims and to clean up the environment. I therefore urge all members to adopt the bill.

I come from an area of the country in southern Ontario, from a community that has been known as the railway capital of Canada. At different times, 36 different railways have run through St. Thomas, Ontario. It is quite proud of its railways heritage and its railway safety. As far as I know, we only had the one significant accident. In 1886, Jumbo the elephant was hit by a train in St. Thomas, Ontario. The largest elephant known to man, P.T. Barnum lost one of his greatest assets. I believe he would have wished this type of insurance plan was in place to have compensated him when Jumbo the elephant went down that day to the train in St. Thomas, Ontario.

National Strategy for Dementia Act May 6th, 2015

Certainly, Mr. Speaker. I will be voting against this.

Interparliamentary Delegations April 30th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 34(1), I have the honour to present, in both official languages, two reports of the Canadian delegation of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association.

The first report is respecting participation in the mid-year executive committee held in London, United Kingdom, April 28 to May 1.

The second report is respecting participation in the 60th Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference held in Yaoundé, Cameroon, from October 2 to10, 2014.

Committees of the House April 22nd, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 36th report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs. The committee advises that pursuant to Standing Order 91.1(2) the Subcommittee on Private Members' Business met to consider the items added to the order of precedent as a result of the replenishment on Monday, March 30 and recommended that the items listed herein, which it has determined should not be designated not votable, be considered by the House.

World War II Veterans April 22nd, 2015

Mr. Speaker, this past week, I took an amazing trip back in time while visiting with five of our World War II veterans. It was truly one of the highlights of my time as a member of Parliament.

The purpose of my visit was to thank these extraordinary men for their service and the sacrifice that they made during World War II: Edward Titchner, Francis Newland, Donald Monteith, Bernard Stankevich, and Gerald Russell. All were very young men when they left their homes during World War II, setting out with purpose in their heart to do what Canadians do when called upon: fight for what is right.

Talking with these gentlemen reaffirmed my belief that the greatness of our country is the character of its citizens. These men, so very humble about their contributions during the war, are proud of their community, proud of their sons and daughters, and proud of the country they helped build, Canada.

Edward, Francis, Donald, Bernard, and Gerald, I am proud to be their member of Parliament and again, on behalf of everyone in this place, I thank them.