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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was heard.

Last in Parliament October 2019, as Liberal MP for Oakville (Ontario)

Won his last election, in 2015, with 49% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Paris Agreement October 5th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time today with the member for Mississauga East—Cooksville.

I rise today to speak in favour of the Paris agreement and the government's motion for Canada to participate in this global attempt to reduce climate change.

On December 12, 2015, Canada and 194 other countries reached the Paris agreement, an ambitious and balanced plan to fight climate change. The new agreement would strengthen efforts to limit the global average temperature rise to well below 2° Celsius and to pursue further efforts to limit the increase to 1.5° Celsius. In addition, the Paris agreement aims to foster climate resilience and to lower greenhouse gas development.

There has been much said in the House, on a national level, about the benefits and risks of the Paris agreement. I thought I would bring the discussion to a sub-national level and focus on the role of local municipal governments, the roles of public and private corporations, and the role of civil society using the lens of my community of Oakville. It will require all of us working together to achieve the aims of this agreement, and my community of Oakville is an exemplar of the co-operation that will be required.

Oakville's vision is to be the most livable town in Canada. The town's 2005 environmental strategic plan recognizes that our quality of life rests on the quality of our environment and on our respect for our natural and cultural heritage.

In 2015 the town achieved milestone 5 of the ICLEI Federation of Canadian Municipalities partners GHG reduction program. This capstone achievement reflected the town's accomplishment of the target of a 20% reduction in corporate GHG emissions by 2014 from 2004. Oakville is only one of 30 Canadian municipalities to have achieved a milestone 5 level.

Council has now reset the energy and GHG reduction targets to ensure that the town is continuing to achieve measurable results. An example of this plan is the i-Tree 2016 study of Oakville's urban forest. There are two million trees in Oakville. Oakville's urban forest canopy coverage is about 28%. In Oakville, the total value of annual home energy savings provided by the tree canopy is $1,800,000. As a result of these energy savings, about 2,200 tonnes of carbon emissions are avoided each year, with an annual carbon value of $172,000.

Oakville's trees sequester about 5,900 tonnes of carbon each year, with an associated annual carbon value of $460,000. Oakville's tree root systems store approximately 148,000 tonnes of carbon, with an associated carbon value of $11.5 million.

We can grow our tree canopy by 50% in years to come.

With over 185 kilometres of on- and off-road cycling paths, over 300 kilometres of trails, 1,420 hectares of parkland, 31 waterfront parks, and more than 200 parks with playgrounds and sports fields, Oakville has recreational opportunities for everyone.

While our local tree canopy expansion plan will contribute to Canada's Paris agreement commitments, it will also continue to provide a superb living environment for residents. These are win-win carbon reduction strategies.

Oakville council has confirmed its commitment to support efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions globally by harmonizing specific town reduction targets to match global targets.

The largest public corporation in Oakville is Halton Healthcare. The new Oakville Trafalgar Memorial Hospital is a thoughtfully designed, state-of-the-art centre of health care excellence. Although eight storeys tall and 1.6 million square feet in size, OTMH is highly energy efficient, incorporating many innovative technologies to reduce its carbon footprint. The energy efficient design measures put in place avoid electrical consumption of 16,700,000 kWh annually, enough energy to supply 1,850 homes in Oakville with electricity annually. It is saving dollars and reducing GHG emissions.

The new building, built to LEED® Silver standards, has been recognized by the high performance new construction incentive program for achieving a tier 3 level of more than 50% in energy savings. Construction of the new OTMH included a 500 kilowatt solar array, which was donated as a gift to the hospital by Hatch Industries.

To date Halton Healthcare has received energy payments totalling $154,000 while saving approximately 290 tonnes annually in GHG emissions compared to natural gas powered generation. These are win-win carbon reduction strategies.

The largest private corporation in Oakville is Ford of Canada. Ford is part of an automotive industry that is in active transition to a low-carbon economy. The auto manufacturing sector is a key driver for Canada's economy, contributing significantly to our nation's manufacturing GDP, and providing tens of thousands of direct and indirect high-paying jobs.

Auto manufacturing is highly energy efficient, emitting less than 1% of industrial GHG emissions in Ontario, and half of the GHG emissions per vehicle compared to European auto manufacturing, which is an important consideration as we move forward with globally competitive carbon-reduction targets.

Auto is one of the largest green-tech sectors in the world, investing more than $200 billion U.S. in fuel efficiency and green tech through to 2025. Another $100 billion U.S. is being invested in electric vehicle development. Many of the innovative energy-efficiency strategies are being designed and tested right here in Canada.

Through an unprecedented year-over-year improvement plan, the 2025 model year vehicles—our cars—are projected to consume 50% less fuel than the 2008 vehicles. Post-2011, this will result in an estimated cumulative reduction of 266 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions.

To assist the industry, policies that educate and increase consumer demand for these new vehicle technologies will be critical to ensure the adoption of alternative energy and electric vehicle choices.

As a cautionary note, as we push forward with the Paris agreement, let us remember that auto manufacturing is highly trade-exposed. That is why the design of the pan-Canada framework for climate change, avoiding layering of subnational regulations under federal regulations, is critically important to the competitiveness of Canada's auto manufacturing and, ultimately, the achievement of Canada's economic and environmental objectives.

Care must be taken to maintain and grow Canada's manufacturing footprint to avoid the migration of many thousands of jobs through carbon leakage to other jurisdictions that have weaker climate policy commitments. With care, this can be a win-win agreement for auto.

Finally, I will address the role of civil society.

In my community of Oakville, I found more than 40 environmental groups and agencies with which residents of Oakville are directly involved, most with a focus on climate change. Hundreds of Oakville residents are engaged in making a difference globally by making change happen locally.

At a climate change consultation I hosted in August, more than 150 Oakvillians came out to talk with me and their neighbours about their concerns. We had 10 table topics, including many specific to the Paris agreement, such as international co-operation and commitments, and carbon pricing. Attendees supported the Paris agreement. Some wished it went further, faster, and are prepared for disruptive economic consequences; others support the direction, but want to ensure that our economy and jobs transition smoothly to a less carbon-dependent economy. However, they all want positive action.

I believe every Oakvillian wants to ensure that we conserve our environment, to leave as rich and sustainable an environment for our children as we inherited from our predecessors. I believe, based on the decisions and commitments of our town council and our public and private enterprises, and based on Oakville residents' engagement with civic groups and feedback from my consultations, that the vast majority of Oakvillians support the Paris agreement and want this government and this House of Parliament to proceed to join in the global fight against climate change.

I do not think our children and grandchildren will be concerned with which political party we represented in 2016. They would want to know why we did not act when we could to guarantee them drinkable water, breathable air, and a living environment.

I will be supporting this agreement.

Paris Agreement October 3rd, 2016

Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the parliamentary secretary about carbon leakage, and the loss of manufacturing jobs to other jurisdictions with less rigorous carbon pricing, carbon costing. Does he have any suggestions on how the pan-Canadian framework could address carbon leakage?

Reports From Interparliamentary Delegations June 16th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 34(1), I have the honour to present to the House, in both official languages, the report of the Canadian delegation of the Canada-Europe Parliamentary Association respecting its participation at the second part of the 2016 ordinary session of the Council of Europe and its mission to the next country to hold the rotating presidency of the Council of the European Union held in Strasbourg, France, and Bratislava, Republic of Slovakia, from April 18 to April 28, 2016.

Criminal Code May 17th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, I never once suggested that it would be reflective of a failure of the palliative care system. In meeting the needs of Canadians at the end of life, an array of services and professional support are required. Palliative care is part of that, as are the provisions of Bill C-14, in an act of end of life if required.

With respect to natural death and palliative care, people are supported through it. Generally, pain is well managed, and many people opt for natural death, particularly when properly supported with palliative care. However, there will be circumstances where pain cannot be managed or where the loss of autonomy is so dramatic that the palliative care model is insufficient. We need to have the provisions of Bill C-14 available to assist people who wish to end their life as they approach the end of their life.

Criminal Code May 17th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, in terms of advance directives, it is my understanding that only one other jurisdiction offers advance directives. There is still a lot to understand. There are a lot of nuances, and before they can be built into an act, there needs to be a better understanding of it. Therefore, I support the recommendation as it has come back from the committee, that within 180 days of the bill being put into place, we begin to look again at what additional elements need to be brought to bear, including advance directives.

Criminal Code May 17th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, I think it is very important to state again that palliative care is not a substitute in all cases for end-of-life decisions as contemplated by Bill C-14. However, it is important that there is an effective health accord that is negotiated with the provinces and territories by the Minister of Health, which will take some time to ensure that there is consistent and uniform high-quality services available across Canada. I think those are the first initiatives that need to take place. However, monitoring and evaluating the effectiveness of the palliative care programs can come as we begin to get them in place.

Criminal Code May 17th, 2016

Madam Speaker, I am thankful for the opportunity to join the debate today on Bill C-14, which addresses medical assistance in dying. I would like to acknowledge the incredible respect and thoughtfulness expressed by members in this very delicate debate.

Before I begin, I would like to acknowledge the advice and insights I received from a former colleague, Dr. Lorne Martin, chief of staff at Halton Healthcare, on the medical ethics and physician perspectives that would be created by the legislation.

The bill has generated significant debate and feedback from my riding of Oakville, both from people who wrote or contacted me on their own initiative, as well as those who responded to the forums that were created to solicit feedback through local media and my interactive website, johnoliver.mp. I have read and carefully considered the many views and concerns that came from residents of Oakville and I would like to address those that are relevant to the act and the amendments proposed.

The community responses can be grouped into five categories. The first is from those who are opposed to any form of medically assisted death and want the law to respect and protect every human life from conception to natural death. These are individuals who put forward the principle that we must not take another's life. There were many submissions of this nature.

For people who hold these values, I believe it is important, once again, at this stage, to understand that the Supreme Court of Canada's unanimous decision in the Carter case was a declaration that the Criminal Code prohibitions on assisted dying were not in accordance with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Effective June 6, 2016, medically assisted death is legal in Canada whether the bill is passed or not.

Therefore, the issue before this legislature is not whether medically assisted death will be allowed. Rather, the issue is whether medically assisted death will be permitted in accordance with the parameters set out by the Carter ruling or under a legislative framework established by elected representatives. Accordingly, our decisions are how to safely implement this new practice, who should be eligible, what safeguards are needed to protect vulnerable individuals, what are the roles and responsibilities of medical professionals, and how do we create a monitoring regime to ensure accountability, transparency, and improvement in this area as we go forward.

The second category of responses from my community were in reaction to the special joint committee recommendations. Many Oakville residents wrote to me expressing their concern that the rights of vulnerable Canadians may be infringed upon as we protect the rights of those seeking autonomy in their end-of-life decisions. Specific concerns were raised in relation to including Canadians with psychiatric conditions, psychological suffering, and minors.

Bill C-14 and the proposed amendments are more restrictive than both the Carter decision and the committee recommendations, in part, for the reasons raised by these constituents. To protect the rights of the more vulnerable, the bill has not included these broader situations or circumstances in the eligibility criteria, thereby addressing the concerns raised by these residents.

The third category of responses were diametrically opposed to those previously stated. These residents spoke in favour of the Supreme Court decision and about their belief that the Charter of Rights and Freedoms should allow autonomy to the individual in end-of-life decisions. Several accompanied their statements with personal stories of difficult end-of-life experiences for loved ones or worries about their own unique circumstances.

They also expressed concerns that Bill C-14 is too restrictive and does not address all the circumstances that should be considered eligible under the act. In particular, the clause requiring that natural death be reasonably foreseeable was felt to exclude many Canadians that they felt should be allowed.

In addition, there were concerns raised about denying advance directives. Denying advance directives puts people who suffer from degenerative illnesses that will eventually affect their competency in the position of having to exercise their right to an end-of-life decision in advance of losing competency.

The fourth category of concerns surrounded the rights of medical practitioners and institutions to ensure that they would be able to have freedom of conscience and religion to decide whether to participate in a medically assisted death. Bill C-14 would not compel participation by health care providers and I feel it is sufficient.

The final category of responses were fewer in number, but supported the position put forward by Bill C-14 as a reasonable starting point to address the complex and competing values and rights created by the Carter decision.

Having now spent considerable time in understanding and researching the issues raised by my constituents, and after careful consideration and personal reflection, I will be supporting Bill C-14 as reported by the committee for the following reasons.

I committed upon entering the past election and during my campaign to uphold the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The Supreme Court ruling clearly found that the existing laws were not compliant with charter rights and freedoms and denied autonomy to a person seeking to end his or her life who clearly consents to the termination of life, and has a grievous and irremediable medical condition that causes enduring suffering that is intolerable to the individual. It is therefore morally incumbent, I believe, on this legislature to put legislation in place to protect this right and freedom, and I support that direction as carried out in the act.

We face, as a legislative body, the difficult task of balancing the competing social and moral values and interests surrounding this direction. For me, the protection of the vulnerable who may be individually or collectively disrespected or coerced to choose a premature death in the face of a too-permissive regime of assistance in dying must be balanced against those suffering from grievous and irremediable conditions.

As a first step in understanding the competing social and moral issues and the charter rights and freedoms of different groups, I believe Bill C-14, while not perfect, is an acceptable starting position for Canadians.

I would have preferred that Bill C-14 was more permissive for those where death is not reasonably foreseeable, and instead, built in protections for those who are vulnerable to the too-permissive language. While the bill's language is open to reasonable interpretation of foreseeable death, it does leave complex legal and ethical decisions with families and medical practitioners that will be open to court challenges and future charter appeals. This will add further stress and suffering to already untenable situations for many.

I do take some comfort from provisions within Bill C-14 to conduct further reviews after five years of eligibility criteria, and from the amendments coming back from the committee to review, after 180 days, other initiatives such as advance directives.

Another factor in my decision to support Bill C-14 is my belief that with properly offered health services, such as palliative care, most Canadians will not opt to use its provisions. Research from other countries suggests that most people prefer to enter into a palliative care program and experience natural death. While palliative care is not always a substitute for medically assisted death, it would be unacceptable to have people choosing medically assisted death as a result of inadequate palliative care services. I believe we can do more to ensure that palliative care programs are available and accessible across Canada, as proposed in some of the amendments.

The work of the Minister of Health in negotiating a new health accord agreement with the provinces and territories is fundamental to achieving these services, and I fully support her diligent efforts to achieve a new accord and ensure that all Canadians have access to high-quality sustainable care.

In discussion with doctors and other health care workers, there is general support and agreement with the bill, particularly the freedom given to caregivers to choose to participate in assisted death based on their own conscience and religious beliefs. I support the freedom that is put forward in the bill and do not feel an amendment is required.

Physicians today are already involved in substantive decisions regarding end of life, working with families or in accordance with advance directives. They often provide key clinical advice in the decision to end life support or to apply do not resuscitate orders. However, asking physicians to interpret and execute advance directives to end a life is ethically more challenging and places significant onus on them as individuals, particularly in hospital environments where they do not know the person or where there is not a family to consult.

Finally, my decision to support the bill arises from personal experiences and the loss of a loved family member who, as she requested, passed away at home in the presence of family. The final days of her life were marked with pain and suffering, which we were able to somewhat alleviate through oral morphine.

However it is allowed, appropriate care at the end of life needs to be available to people when required. I want my family members, fellow Oakvillians, and fellow Canadians to have autonomy in making end-of-life decisions as they have enjoyed autonomy in all of the major decisions in their lives.

I will be supporting Bill C-14 , and I urge all members of the House to support this important bill.

Ovarian Cancer Awareness May 3rd, 2016

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to welcome representatives from Ovarian Cancer Canada, including friends and neighbours, who are in Ottawa today to promote increased research to fight ovarian cancer.

There are 2,800 Canadian women diagnosed with ovarian cancer each year and 55% will die from the disease within five years. Without a screening test and with symptoms that are easily confused with other less serious conditions, ovarian cancer is usually detected at too late a stage.

The five-year survival rate for ovarian cancer is just 45%. If the cancer is found and treated before the cancer has spread, the five-year survival rate climbs dramatically to 92%. Research for early detection and treatment is critical.

On behalf of the many affected Canadian women, their families and friends, please join me in helping Ovarian Cancer Canada increase awareness for its cause by joining the fight this May 8 on World Ovarian Cancer Day.

Daffodil Month April 13th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to recognize the beginning of Daffodil Month 2016. Every April, thanks to the Canadian Cancer Society, Canadians come together to raise awareness about cancer by wearing daffodil pins.

In 1938, the Canadian Cancer Society began its fight to create a world where no Canadians would fear cancer. Since then, the charity has funded over $1.2 billion in cancer research. It has provided life-changing cancer information, as well as peer support, rides to cancer treatment, and prevention programs. If all of us have been touched negatively by cancer, then almost all of us have been touched positively by this society.

When people wear daffodil pins, it is a symbol of strength and courage in the fight against cancer. It shows our collective determination to one day defeat this disease. Please help the Canadian Cancer Society do more by joining the fight this April.

The Budget April 12th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, as was mentioned, this budget lowered taxes for nine million people. Nine out of ten Canadians are receiving on average $2,300 more in the Canada child benefit. This is how to grow the middle class, and with growth in the middle class, we are supporting the economy.

Therefore, I absolutely support the comments that were made by my colleague through his question. I believe we are setting Canada back on the right track for growth in the economy, growth in the middle class, and a fair and equitable country.