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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was appreciate.

Last in Parliament October 2019, as Liberal MP for Newmarket—Aurora (Ontario)

Won his last election, in 2015, with 45% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Main Estimates, 2018-19 June 14th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, the point is that we have done our best. We have a marked improvement in the estimates and budgetary process. It is, in fact, the best it has ever been in Canada. There are countries that do it better. Australia, we all know, is the gold standard. However, like many convicts from Great Britain centuries ago, we cannot get to Australia in one try. Therefore, we have to keep working toward the ultimate goal.

I am glad to be a small player in the process that has become getting to the goal of parliamentarians and, by extension, Canadians, knowing where taxpayer dollars are going. It certainly is the fundamental role of parliamentarians, and we have a lot of work to do.

Some have complained about the fact that items in budget 2018 do not appear in the departmental plans for this year. However, that is no different from previous years. The budget items appeared in the supplementary estimates a few months after the departmental plans were released. Consequently, the budget initiatives were not in the departmental plans until the following year.

Likewise, this year, the budget initiatives do not appear in the departmental plans, but they will be incorporated into the plans for the following year, so there is no loss of transparency here.

That is the point, and I will return to my mother tongue for the moment to ensure everybody understands what I am saying.

Vote 40, in my estimation, in fact in any objective person's estimation, is a clear and direct step toward transparency. It is a clear and direct step toward openness. It is a fundamental step toward the ultimate goal which we all share. I hope we can all agree to make Canadians aware of where their taxpayers are going. This is important not only for that process. I am sure my friends on either side of the aisle would agree that once Canadians know where their taxpayer dollars are going, they will share my conclusion that they are getting value for their dollars, and that this Canadian government serves all Canadians well.

We will do so during the estimates process, during the budget process, and throughout the year. I urge everyone to support vote 40.

Main Estimates, 2018-19 June 14th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, it is always an honour to rise in the House with the ability to speak to whatever the topic may be, but today's topic is particularly germane and pertinent to our role as members of Parliament. Our role here is manifold, but prime among our role as members of Parliament and representatives of our constituents, of Canadians is to oversee the expenditures of the government.

This has been a key characteristic of the Westminster model since its inception. I do not have to give you, Mr. Speaker, this historical lesson, but others in the House may benefit from it.

There is no role I take more seriously or spend more time on than reviewing the proposed expenditures of the government. Not only do I have the honour and privilege to speak tonight to this topic, I also have the honour to serve on the Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates. Every member of that committee takes his or her role seriously, feels honoured to have it, and knows the important work we do for Canadians and for the budgetary process.

That is why this year I was absolutely thrilled to be part of a groundbreaking process, a game changing process, almost an earth-shattering process in which we had the estimates presented before the budget. Imagine something as bold as that in the Parliament of Canada. We have corrected the errors of the past.

This is a process that needs to be developed. It is not the end of the line; it is the first step. Improvements need to be made, and we all agree with that. I find it very odd that we have the most open and transparent process of budgets and estimates since Confederation, and we are here, probably spending the most time voting on the process. I find it almost ironic, and it would be funny and humorous, that we are all here voting on these items instead of spending time in our ridings and with our loved ones. It is almost like we have to examine everything because how could this possibly be fair? How could this possibly be just? Because it is open and transparent.

The Parliamentary Budget Officer has agreed. We now know what money will be spent before it is spent. We do not get the dollar signs after the budget is approved. Each of dollar of the $7 billion has been itemized. At the government operations committee, 12 departments and their officials were asked about the the expenses. With respect, I asked more questions about the expenses than the members from the party opposite. They wanted to play games and somehow pretend that this was an affront to democracy, an affront to the role of parliamentarians. How could they possibly approve money when they did not know what every dollar would do?

Every year each member of Parliament gets a budget for his or her office. We are not asked where every dollar goes. We get an amount of dollars for the year and next year account for what we have spent. Why is that okay for every member opposite, but not okay for the government at large?

Where was the member for Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan when he received his office budget? Did he say he could not possibly hire any staff or pay any rent because the numbers were not itemized, that he would not take the money? No, he did not and he used every staff member to research every point of history to give his eloquent speeches. Every week he gives a speech. He is not doing the research himself. His staff members are being paid to do that. We do not know how much they are being paid until the year is done. Does he say he does not want their services anymore, or does not want to speak in the House anymore?

Does he say he wants to sit quietly, that he does not want to give the colleague from Winnipeg a run for his money on the number of words spoken? He proudly says, “all my staff work on researching my speeches”. They are not working for free. He has the audacity to pretend that he is here, above the rest of us, and that he will not take any money unless he knows what every dime is spent on.

My points may have been exaggerated, but it proves, in my submission, the folly of their argument. That folly is that there is no merit to the argument whatsoever. It is partisan grandstanding. It is end of session games. It is let us see who can think of the best things to do to ensure the session drags on as long as possible.

I take my role very seriously, as every member here knows. Every member here also takes their roles—

Main Estimates, 2018-19 June 14th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, does the member think we are still on the opposition day motion or does she think the speech was supposed to be directed toward the main estimates?

Inclusivity Award June 7th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, I am proud to rise today to pay tribute to a champion for accessibility, Tyler Barker. Tyler was recently awarded the Town of Aurora's 2018 inclusivity award. He has long been a tireless advocate for issues of accessibility, not just in Aurora but across York region. He has dedicated his life to breaking down barriers.

He serves as chair of Aurora's Accessibility Advisory Committee and has been instrumental in ensuring that accessibility is top of mind for all, whether it be where we shop, in our library, or in helping to create the first fully accessible park in Aurora. Tyler would be the first to tell us that more needs to be done. His inspiring leadership, passion, and commitment will ensure that progress continues.

I thank Tyler for his dedication to our community. He has helped make it a place for all. I congratulate him on the award and encourage him to keep up the great work.

Business of Supply May 22nd, 2018

Mr. Chair, I am pleased to have this opportunity to address the committee. Tonight I would like to take my time to raise an issue that I personally find especially important: reconciliation with indigenous peoples. I propose to allocate my time with remarks of about 10 minutes, to save some time for questions and answers.

The government is committed to reconciliation with indigenous peoples, and we have backed up this commitment with important action. In our time in office, our government has taken real and concrete steps to advance reconciliation, improve the quality of life of indigenous peoples, and promote skills and opportunities that will empower first nations, Inuit, and the Métis nation. Together, Canada and indigenous peoples are forging a new relationship, a relationship based on trust, respect, and a true spirit of co-operation.

The first step toward this new relationship began with budget 2016, which included investments of close to $8.5 billion over five years to expand opportunities for indigenous people, to improve the socio-economic conditions in communities, and to bring about real transformational change. Budget 2016 helped turn the page. With our first budget, we offered investments to better support indigenous children in achieving futures as bright and as prosperous as every other child's future in Canada. The 2016 investments in education, infrastructure, training, and other programs are contributing to a better quality of life for all indigenous peoples and to helping build a stronger and better Canada.

Our government did not stop there. Budget 2017 created even more opportunities for indigenous peoples, with another $3.4 billion over five years to increase access to post-secondary education, support better health services, and improve community infrastructure. The latest budget, tabled in February, builds on these significant investments. It takes further steps towards reconciliation by investing in priority areas that were identified by first nation, Inuit, and Métis nation partners. Yes, partners.

Through budget 2018, the government will help remove barriers to indigenous peoples' success by supporting them as they build and refine their skills, by helping them have access to high-quality education, and by enabling them to fully participate in the economy, leading to more prosperous communities. By increasing the contribution of first nations, Inuit, and Métis to the Canadian economy, the 2018 budget will help narrow the gap in the quality of life of indigenous and non-indigenous Canadians.

We know that our latest budget will have an impact, because we can already see results from our past investments. For example, since we came into office in November 2015, more than 60 long-term drinking water advisories for public water systems on reserves have been lifted.

To understand why it is necessary to act, we all must be aware of the extent of the work that has yet to be done. I would like to put things in context.

First, no one in Canada should be afraid to drink the water that comes out of their taps. As I just said, over 60 drinking water advisories have been lifted, but a lot of work remains. About 75 long-term advisories are still in place on public systems on reserves. The government is committed to ending all those long-term drinking water advisories by March 2021. To this end, budget 2018 provides an additional $173 million to ensure this happens more quickly in many communities.

Second, no Canadian should be forced to live in overcrowded and unsafe housing. Unfortunately, one in five indigenous people live in a house that is in need of major repairs. One in five also live in housing that is overcrowded. Access to adequate and affordable housing is a particular challenge for indigenous women. Budget 2018 included funding to support distinctions-based housing strategies for first nations, Inuit, and the Métis nation.

Third, there is no greater priority than ensuring the safety, security and well-being of children. Indigenous children under the age of 14 make up less than 8% of all children in Canada, but they represent more than half of those in foster care. To help address this, budget 2018 included more than $1.4 billion in new funding for first nations child and family services.

We cannot ignore the significant gaps in health outcomes between indigenous and non-indigenous people. Compared to the Canadian population, infant mortality rates of first nations and Inuit children are up to three times higher. Diabetes rates are up to four times higher. Suicide rates among first nations youth is up to seven times higher. This is unacceptable, as I am sure members will agree.

Then there is the issue of tuberculosis. This disease was once the leading cause of death in Canada, back at the end of the 19th century. Thanks to medicine and antibiotics developed in the 1950s, this disease is now eradicated. However, among Inuit, the reported rate of active tuberculosis in 2015 was over 270 times higher than the rate among the Canadian-born non-indigenous population. That is 270 times higher, in Canada, in the 21st century. This is unacceptable.

Budget 2018 provides $1.5 billion over five years to keep indigenous families healthy. This will help end tuberculosis in Inuit communities, enhance the delivery of culturally appropriate health services in first nations communities with high needs, develop a health strategy with the Métis nation, and close the gaps in health outcomes between indigenous and non-indigenous peoples.

Renewing the relationship with indigenous peoples also involves recognizing that members of the first nations, the Inuit and the Métis nation have an important role to play in Canada's economic prosperity. Indigenous peoples are less likely to be employed than non-indigenous people, and those who work typically earn less. This is another gap that must be closed. It is the right thing to do.

That is why it is so important that budget 2018 provides $2 billion over five years for the creation of an enhanced skills and employment training program for indigenous peoples. It is the right thing to do for indigenous people in Canada and it is the smart thing to do for Canada's economy.

These investments are good investments. The government is taking action so that all indigenous communities have access to clean drinking water, so that delivery of culturally appropriate health care services for first nations continues, and so that jobs continue to be created for indigenous people. All Canadians should be proud of budget 2018 for these measures alone.

The government's investments are enabling first nations, Inuit, and Métis nations to have a better future. Too many generations of indigenous people have suffered and lived in subpar conditions for too long. It is clear that actions were needed to ensure a better quality of life for indigenous people and to promote their skills and opportunities. Work remains to be done but a lot has already been accomplished.

It is true that the last three budgets addressed areas of critical need in indigenous communities. The recent announcement to connect 16 remote first nations in northwestern Ontario is another example of an investment that will improve the quality of life for indigenous communities.

I wonder if the Minister of Finance could elaborate on how much progress is being made in regards to self-determination and self-government agreements between Canada and indigenous people. This is also an important aspect.

I think we all agree that the recognition and implementation of rights is another essential part of advancing reconciliation. However, the pace of progress has been uneven and many indigenous communities are forced to take on debt in order to participate. This is probably not the best way to facilitate agreements.

Could the minister explain the government's plans to shorten the time it takes to successfully conclude these treaties, to lower costs to all parties, and to support the recognition and implementation of rights and self-determination?

Social Development May 11th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, digital government can enable and empower people while improving service delivery to citizens. In Newmarket—Aurora, people are looking for services from the government that are safe, secure, and easy to use.

Could the President of the Treasury Board please update this House on the government's work to harness world-leading digital technology to benefit all Canadians?

Official Languages May 11th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, Canada is fortunate to have two official languages: French and English.

Every day, young people and adults from all across the country are learning a second official language. I am happy to be learning French. I am also proud to represent the many francophones in the Newmarket and Aurora regions here, in Ottawa.

Last month I had the pleasure of meeting Nancy McKeraghan, founder of the York region immersion association. She is the national chair of Canadian Parents for French, a fantastic organization that promotes bilingualism. I want to thank Nancy for her excellent work and encourage all Canadians to learn their second official language.

Jim Nuttall April 26th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to pay tribute to Jim Nuttall, a community hero in Newmarket—Aurora. Mr. Nuttall passed away peacefully on April 16 at the age of 84. He is survived by his sister Mary, his nephew Jonas, and his niece Nicole.

Jim was a pillar of Newmarket, always lending a helping hand to improve the lives of others. He embodied the spirit of volunteerism that is at the core of our town and dedicated his life to his community and to our country.

Jim was a Scoutmaster for 60 years, a lifetime member of the Salvation Army, and a recipient of the Diamond Jubilee Medal and the Canada 150 medal for volunteer service. In 1995 he was honoured as Newmarket's Citizen of the Year, and in 2012 he was the Senior Citizen of the Year for Ontario.

Jim loved Newmarket and Newmarket loved Jim. He helped countless people and his legacy will live on in all of us. Jim will be missed. May he rest in peace.

2018 Winter Olympics February 15th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, this past Sunday was a golden day for Canada. Thousands of people in Newmarket—Aurora cheered on Team Canada's figure skaters as they danced their way to gold in the team event.

When all was said and done, Newmarket's very own Gabrielle Daleman stood atop the podium alongside her golden teammates.

Gabby is a two-time Canadian champion, and can now add Olympic gold medalist to her name, all by the age of 20. Gabby's performance was absolutely spectacular, the twists, the turns, the spins, and the impressive triple-toe jumps. Her performance made us all #hometownproud.

Gabby will next take to the ice on February 20, when the ladies single skating competition gets under way. Gabby can be sure that all of Newmarket—Aurora will be cheering her on as we watch live from the Newmarket Riverwalk Commons at 8 p.m.

I congratulate Gabby and wish her good luck. She makes all of us proud. Go, Gabby, go.

Business of Supply February 8th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, like the hon. member for Saanich—Gulf Islands, I studied law at Dalhousie and actually studied, for a small part of it, tax law. I agree that a progressive tax system is the best way to share wealth in a country. It is the best way to distribute growth evenly. There will be arguments, and there have been historically, about what that best way looks like. There will be disagreements, for sure, and that is part of the process.

I do not disagree with the premise of the member's submission that a progressive tax system is a good way to develop growth. Our tax code over the years has become, in my opinion, overly convoluted and complicated. Much can be done to improve it, but that is perhaps an argument for another day or another week, or another month. However, I appreciate the hon. member's position.