House of Commons photo


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

Come From Away May 9th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, on June 11, I hope everyone in the House will be watching the Tony Awards to cheer on Come From Away, the blockbuster musical now on Broadway that has been nominated for seven Tony Awards.

This phenomenal hit was developed and produced in my riding of Oakville at Sheridan College. The idea for the musical originated with Michael Rubinoff, Sheridan's associate dean of visual and performing arts, and was developed through Sheridan's Canadian music theatre project.

Only five Canadian musicals have made it to Broadway. Sheridan is the first post-secondary institution to have a Tony Award nomination for best musical to its name. I am proud of the hard work and dedication that the faculty and students of Sheridan have put toward making Come From Away the immense success it is today.

I also stand with my colleagues from Newfoundland in honouring the generosity of the people of Gander who were there in a time of need.

Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 1 May 4th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, infrastructure is a very important investment for Canadians. Whether it is in transit or green tech, it is a critical part of how we are going to be moving forward. Infrastructure creates jobs while we are making the investments, and it builds for the future so that future generations benefit from the infrastructure investments we make today.

There is an incredible, almost record-breaking investment in infrastructure through this budget and through the commitments in budget 2016. I believe that every Canadian will see the benefit of those investments as they go forward. Whether it is transit, sewage and water systems, or better protection during the storms we are starting to experience, it is a very solid direction for Canadians.

Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 1 May 4th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, our government is committed to open and transparent policy and budget-setting. We are absolutely supporting the parliamentary budget officer and the work being done. Having the Speaker, who represents all of us in Parliament, have a say and involvement with the budget officer is a good direction for us.

Our government is committed to open and transparent policy, and I am glad and proud to be representing that here in Parliament.

Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 1 May 4th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, it is a balancing act. Just as we believe one can improve the economy while at the same time protecting the environment, it is a balancing act governments have to work through.

I believe that the right investments are being made. People in communities and at the provincial level will see where funds are being targeted. The investments we need to create jobs to give Canadians confidence in the economy and to get growth happening again in Canada would happen through the budget. We are going to see tremendous growth coming to Canada, thanks to the work of budget 2017.

Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 1 May 4th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Scarborough—Rouge Park.

I am proud to speak today to budget 2017, the next step in our government's ambitious plan to create jobs, grow our economy, and provide more opportunities for Canadians. I would like to highlight a few aspects of the budget that I know are important to people in my riding of Oakville. Budget 2017 puts Canada's skilled, talented, and creative people at the heart of a more innovative economy, one that would create middle-class jobs today and tomorrow for all Canadians.

Of particular importance to me, as chair of the Liberal auto caucus and MP for the riding that is home to Ford Canada and the Oakville assembly plant, are investments in the automotive industry to help manufacturers such as Ford Canada commit to long-term growth and development. The automotive sector is a key enabler for good-quality, well-paying middle-class jobs.

I would like to particularly point out that budget 2017 would create a $1.26 billion, five-year strategic innovation fund to consolidate and simplify the strategic aerospace and defence initiative, the technology demonstration program, the automotive innovation fund, and the automotive supplier innovation program. The strategic innovation fund would attract and support new high-quality business investments and would continue to help aerospace and automotive firms while also expanding its support to other dynamic and emerging sectors such as clean technology and agrifood. For example, with the support from AIF of $102 million, the connectivity and innovation centres created across Ontario by Ford Canada, including in my riding of Oakville, would both create 800 jobs and ensure that Canadians are part of creating the connected and energy-efficient vehicles of the future.

I know from round table discussions that the Oakville business community will be pleased to see the budget would establish a venture capital catalyst of up to $400 million over three years to increase late-stage venture capital available to Canadian entrepreneurs.

In addition to helping bridge the gap between innovation and manufacturing, budget 2017 proposes to launch a new procurement program. A portion of funding from federal departments and agencies would be allocated to help Canadian innovators find the first customers to test and validate their technologies.

As I hear from people at their doors in Oakville, the demand for home care services in Canada continues to grow. Approximately 15% of hospital beds are occupied by people who could receive their care at home or in community-based settings. Meanwhile, many families caring for loved ones at home are struggling with the stresses and pressures that come from not having enough home support. In both cases, these people and these families need more help. Budget 2017 proposes to invest $6 billion over 10 years to provide Canadians with improved access to home, community, and palliative care services as well as more support for informal caregivers. This means that more people would get the care they need in their homes and that more families would be getting increased support.

For those who receive care at home, an increased burden is put on family members. Balancing work and family caregiving responsibilities can be a real challenge. Things can be especially difficult when a family member is suffering from a serious illness. To give eligible caregivers a well-deserved break, budget 2017 proposes to create a new employment insurance caregiving benefit, which would give eligible caregivers up to 15 weeks of EI benefits while they are temporarily away from work to support or care for a critically ill or injured family member. Budget 2017 recognizes that people make enormous sacrifices to care for loved ones and would help ease that burden by giving people time to be caregivers.

An overwhelming number of Canadian families are affected by mental illness at some point in their lives. In any given year, one in five people in Canada experience a mental health problem or illness. While great strides have been made to improve our understanding of mental illness and its impact on people's lives, wait times to see a mental health specialist in certain regions of our country can range up to 18 months. In Oakville, I have heard from residents about the challenges of accessing mental health services in our community. Our government recognizes that this is not good enough, and that is why the budget proposes to invest $5 billion over 10 years to support mental health services. It would also help approximately half a million young Canadians who are currently unable to receive even the most basic mental health care. Clinical evidence has shown that it is absolutely essential for those struggling with mental illness to have access to timely and appropriate mental health services. Improved access to mental health supports would result in improved health outcomes and shorter wait times for hundreds of thousands of Canadians.

Canada's opioid crisis has led to devastating consequences for individuals, families, and communities. The effect of this crisis is being felt in my riding of Oakville. I have met with a number of local health groups, including the Halton Equitable Drug Strategy and ADAPT, a treatment program, about their role in supporting harm-reduction initiatives to save lives. I have heard about the challenges some residents are facing as they try to access the treatment and support they need.

The budget supports the Canadian drug and substances strategy with a total of $100 million over five years for Health Canada, the Public Health Agency of Canada, and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. I want the residents of my riding of Oakville and all Canadians to be protected from the opioid crisis and illicit fentanyl distribution. This plan would provide invaluable resources for treatment, prevention, and enforcement measures.

Oakville is a commuter town, and I know just how important it is for residents to have reliable and safe public transit. After a long day spent working hard, we should expect clean, efficient public transit to get us home on time. To support the next phase of public transit projects, our government is investing $20.1 billion to support urban public transit networks and service extensions. This investment would make it possible for Canadian communities like Oakville to build new urban transit networks and service extensions that will transform the way we live, move, and work. It would mean new transit lines, more buses, more reliable services, and fewer cars on the road. To get it right, the government is working closely with provinces and municipalities as reflected in the most recent funding of nearly $5 million for the Oakville transit, thanks to the public transit infrastructure fund.

A clean environment and a strong economy are connected. Canadians know this, and our government agrees. Budget 2017 lays out our government's plan to invest $21.9 billion over 11 years to support green infrastructure. This investment prioritizes projects that reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, help deliver clean air and safe water systems, and promote renewable sources of power.

Oakville clean tech companies have already received over $7 million from our government, underlying the potential for innovation we have in my community and across Canada. Through these investments, Canada has positioned itself as a global leader in clean growth, illustrating to the world that a clean environment and a strong economy can go hand in hand.

Canada's vast expanses of protected natural areas, our magnificent natural scenery, and our wealth of wildlife are a point of pride for all Canadians. The residents of Oakville enjoy their close connection to nature. The natural and cultural heritage we enjoy as Canadians enriches our communities and creates jobs by spurring economic growth through tourism. There is perhaps no better example of Canada's natural beauty than our national parks. Recognized around the world and loved by those who visit and work in them, our 47 national parks and four national marine conservation areas are a source of real pride for Canadians. Our national parks are part of our Canadian identity. They allow more Canadians to learn about the environment and connect directly with nature.

To ensure we are able to enjoy our national parks for years to come, budget 2017 provides up to $364 million to the Parks Canada Agency to protect and preserve our national parks. To make it more affordable for more Canadian families to visit and appreciate the outdoors in Canada's 150th year, admission to all national parks, national marine conservation areas, and national historic sites will be free for all of 2017. I am looking forward to using my pass to visit some of these parks with my family.

With a strong focus on innovation, skills, partnerships, and health, budget 2017 takes the next steps in securing a more prosperous future for all Canadians.

Our government's plan is focused on ensuring immediate help to those who need it most and providing everyone with a real and fair chance of success.

Budget 2017 has some great news for Canadians and some great news for the people of my riding of Oakville. I will be supporting it.

Petitions April 10th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present a petition today signed by hundreds of Canadians requesting that the Government of Canada spell veteran with a capital “V” in official government communications.

Ms. Kristin Courtney, whose father fought in the Normandy invasion and was on Juno Beach on D-Day, is the driving force behind this petition.

To honour and recognize those who went through military service and who have made and continue to make sacrifices for our country, the petition asks the government to always capitalize the word “Veteran” in official government communications. I fully support this petition.

Automotive Industry April 3rd, 2017

Mr. Speaker, Canada's automotive sector produces a vehicle every 14 seconds. That is 2.3 million vehicles a year. It contributes $18 billion to our GDP and creates employment for over half a million Canadians.

My question is for the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development. Could you please expand on how the government plans to ensure that Canada's automotive sector will continue to be at the forefront of innovation and create those good-paying jobs for Canadians?

Controlled Drugs and Substances Act April 3rd, 2017

Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak to private member's Bill C-307, an act to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. However, before I address the issues, it is a very special day for me. My son, Alexander Oliver, and his very good friend, Tiana Prince, have joined me in Ottawa. It is great to have them in our capital city with me for a few days.

The intent of Bill C-307 is to enable the federal Minister of Health to require prescription medicine, specifically opioids, to have abuse-deterrent formulations or tamper-proof, tamper-resistant properties. By doing so, it will make these drugs more difficult to crush, snort, or inject, reduce their potential for misuse, abuse, and diversion to our streets.

I strongly agree with the sponsor of the bill when he said that this issue was about public health, about saving lives and doing the right thing. Canadians are the second-highest consumers of prescription opioids in the world. Fifteen per cent of Canadians aged 15 years and older report using prescription opioids in 2013. It is estimated that about 10% of patients prescribed opioids for chronic pain become addicted. Furthermore, the increased availability of prescription opioids in households has meant that Canadian youth have begun using them for recreational purposes. Six per cent of youth aged 15 to 19 years indicated they abused opioid pain relievers in the past year.

These trends result in significant harms. In Ontario, one in eight deaths of individuals aged 25 to 34 years was found to be opiate-related in 2010. Similarly, there has been a substantial increase in the number of opioid-related deaths in Quebec, reaching almost three deaths per 100,000 persons in 2012.

The response to the crisis by the government has been rapid, and I am pleased to see an evidence-based, health centric focus on harm reduction return to our health policy and legislation.

The Minister of Health has already responded to the crisis through a five-point action plan that includes better informing Canadians about the risks of opioids; supporting better prescribing practices; reducing easy access to unnecessary opioids; supporting better treatment options for patients; and improving the evidence base and data collection. The minister also convened a two-day pan-Canadian conference on opioid abuse in November 2016, which generated many of the changes that were introduced to the House in Bill C-37.

Further, the Standing Committee on Health, which I am proud to be a member of, issued a comprehensive report and recommendations on the opioid crisis on December 12, 2016. In the committee study, the issue of tamper-resistant technologies did not emerge as a preventive strategy. During the course of its study, the committee held five meetings, in which it heard from a range of stakeholders, including federal and provincial government representatives, health care professionals, addiction experts, emergency front-line responders, representatives of first nations communities, and individuals with lived experience in substance abuse and addiction. These witnesses outlined specific ways to address the opioid crisis and implored the committee to make recommendations that would lead to concrete action.

The 38 recommendations focused on harm reduction; prevention, including training for physicians in prescribing practices and public education; treatment, including addiction treatment and improved access to mental health services; and law enforcement and border security changes. Tamper-resistance formulations were never documented in witness testimonies as an effective strategy.

Let me expand on this point.

One of the debate points over the proposed change to the law in Bill C-307 is about whether an explicit legislative authority is needed to require certain drugs to have tamper-resistant formulations. The government's position is that the current regulation-making authorities under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act are sufficient already to develop regulations should the evidence demonstrate a need for them in the future. From this point of view, Bill C-307 is unnecessary.

Further, nothing in Bill C-307 would speed up that regulation-making process. The sponsor of Bill C-307 outlined many tamper-resistance technologies currently under development. The government strongly supports opioid manufacturers who wish to take proactive measures to make their medications harder to abuse. That is why it recently published guidance to drug manufacturers on what evidence was required to demonstrate tamper-resistant properties for prescription drugs.

It is also clearly the sponsor's view that the technology has been sufficiently developed in the area of tamper resistance and there is enough real-life evidence of positive outcomes to move forward with regulations. I would disagree.

First, tamper resistance has not been shown to reduce the rate of addiction, overdose, and death related to opioid misuse. Remember, a tamper-resistant opioid is still an opioid. Based on current evidence it is no less dangerous and no less addictive. Data from the United States and Ontario shows that opioid-related deaths continued to increase even after the introduction of reformulated OxyContin to the market. Further, as I stated earlier, this strategy was not recommended by the many experts from whom the health committee heard testimony.

Second, only a small number of people who misuse OxyContin pills crush them or dissolve them; most simply swallow them. Roughly a quarter of those who were misusing OxyContin before the tamper-resistant version was marketed continued to do so after its introduction. They did so by moving from inhaling or injecting the drug to, again, simply swallowing them. A sizeable population defeated the tamper-resistant properties, with information on how to do this available on the internet. Of course, those who misused by swallowing OxyContin continued to swallow reformulated OxyContin. Tamper resistance does not mean tamper-proof.

Third, tamper-resistant technology is not sufficiently developed to cover the entire class of opioids, some of which come in the forms of patches, sprays, or injectable liquids.

Fourth, and perhaps most important to me, the introduction of tamper-resistant technology seems to only reduce the abuse of one type of drug in exchange for another. The most common response to the introduction of reformulated OxyContin in the United States was migration to other drugs, including heroin and fentanyl. In the case of tamper resistance, it can result in a substitution or balloon effect. Studies already have found that prescriptions for hydromorphone and fentanyl increased in Ontario after the province restricted access to OxyContin, suggesting a substitution effect could been happening in Canada already.

Members are, of course, all aware of the deadly impacts of the current surge in fentanyl-related overdose deaths in Canadians. Because of the high demand for this drug, organized crime groups began importing illegal fentanyl as analogs from China. These are then transformed into tablet forms in clandestine labs in Canada, using pill presses and disguised as other opioids, such as OxyContin. The unknown potency of illegal fentanyl and other synthetic opioids, coupled with the fact the users are often unaware that they are taking illegally manufactured pills, has resulted in a dramatic increase in illicit drug deaths in Canada.

British Columbia has become the epicentre of the crisis. The percentage of drug deaths involving fentanyl increased from 5% in 2012 to 60%. In 2016, with the involvement of fentanyl doubling the rates of drugs in the province, British Columbia experienced approximately 60 deaths a month by August 2016 from illicit drug use.

We do not want to make uninformed policy decisions that could increase the substitution of OxyContin to illegal fentanyl. The substitution effect can also lead to higher risks of administration, such as injection, which is associated with the spread of hepatitis and increased risk of overdose.

I want the residents of my riding of Oakville to be protected from the opioid crisis and illicit fentanyl distribution. I want all Canadians to be protected from misuse of opioids. I have been meeting to discuss addiction and prevention with key agencies in Oakville, including the medical officer of health, service providers at the Halton Alcohol Drug And Gambling Assessment Prevention and Treatment Services, ADAPT, and, most recently, with the Halton chief of police, Steve Tanner. Tamper-proof has not come up.

I applaud the sponsor of Bill C-307 for the attempt to help address this crisis, but for the reasons stated above, I do not believe the bill would change the government's ability to respond to the crisis. Nor do I believe evidence-based research supports the underlying position taken by the bill.

Finally, I do not think the bill would help the vulnerable and at-risk people in Oakville.

For these reasons, I will not be supporting Bill C-307.

Religious Discrimination March 23rd, 2017

Mr. Speaker, I would like to read some lines from a poem written by a young Muslim woman from Oakville, Amal Ahmed Albaz. It is about fighting discrimination. It is called Unmet Friends.

Fear happens when people fail to see,
That you're actually just like me.
We have to see each other for who we are,
We eat the same food, drive the same car.
We both have kids who drive us crazy,
We all have weekends when we're lazy.
We follow the same shows on our TV,
We like reading a book beneath a tree.
We dread shovelling when the snow hits hard,
We have barbecues in the backyard.
You see, you and I, we're a lot alike.
I may be Mohammed, you may be Mike.
Our lives are more similar than you think,
Our humanity is our common link.
We have the same pleasures and the same fears,
The same things make us happy, the same things bring us tears.
So no, I am not a security threat,
We're just friends we haven't met, at least not yet.

I thank Amal.

Preclearance Act, 2016 February 24th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague for dealing with some of the questions and myths that are circulating. I want to come back to one she mentioned. In my riding of Oakville, the issue of voluntarily withdrawing from the pre-clearance area and the belief that people could be detained and held and put through various searches have come up.

As I believe the member across has said, people would be able to withdraw from the pre-clearance area. The pre-clearance officer would be prohibited from imposing unreasonable delays. However, if the officers suspected that the person was probing to look for weaknesses at the border, they would be able to ask for ID and a reason for the withdrawal. I wonder if the member could elaborate on that point a bit and touch again on some of the myths that are circulating that are not true and that are weakening a very good bill.