House of Commons photo


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

Business of Supply February 8th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, I could not agree more with the hon. member. The current conditions and the lack of access to opportunity for our first nations, especially the young indigenous people across this country, is shameful. Anything we can do as a federal government to invest in those young people will be key to their success. It is a fine example of what happens in a society when the growth is not shared by all. It perhaps should be the prime target of where we reinvest.

I agree that any money that is recouped by tax avoidance and going after tax cheats and tax havens would easily be put to much better use. That is a prime example of where that money should be invested. I agree wholeheartedly with the hon. member, and it is something that the government will strive to do.

Business of Supply February 8th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, it is always an honour and a pleasure to have the opportunity to rise in the House, and this is no exception. I will be splitting my time with the hon. member for Hull—Aylmer, and I appreciate the opportunity to do so.

First, I completely share the commitment to fairness that is at the heart of today's motion for debate. I also believe our government has illustrated, in the clearest possible terms, through its actions, that it is committed to a fair system. Shortly after coming to office in 2015, the government took decisive, immediate action to begin the process of restoring fairness.

We raised taxes on the wealthiest 1% in order to cut taxes for the middle class, benefiting nine million Canadians. We did this, because over the past 30 years, the median real wage income of Canadians had barely risen, leaving many concerned about their future. At the same time, the after-tax incomes of the wealthiest .01% of Canadians had risen dramatically. Individuals earning more than $1.8 million per year had seen, on average, their income rise by nearly 156%, or 3.1% per year on average, after inflation..

Canadians want a country where hard work is rewarded with greater opportunities and a real chance at success. We have been taking action to make this a reality.

I do not disagree. In fact, I would submit that no member in the House disagrees with the sentiment that every Canadian deserves a fair chance at success, with the sentiment that there should be a level playing field, that Canadians from coast to coast to coast should have the same opportunities, regardless of their lot in life, regardless of what their parents did before them, regardless of where in the country they live, and regardless of where they came from.

The sense of inclusion is so important to the essence of what it means to be Canadian. I think we all share this fair and level playing field commitment. No young Canadian should feel that they do not have the same chances, that they do not have the same opportunities as their neighbours.

This is how Canadians thrive, how Canadians see themselves, proud of our country, proud of its people, and proud of the opportunities we offer to everybody. The sense of inclusion is not a sense monopolizing Canada or only in Canadians, but it is the sense of how do we get there, how do we get there fairly, and how do we include everyone in our society.

This notion of inclusion has been around as a human notion perhaps from time immemorial. In the 1960s and 1970s, that notion of inclusion had more to do with ensuring everyone had equality and everyone had the same rights. As our economy is modernizing and as the global economy is changing, this notion of inclusion has become an economic notion.

GDP growth, of course, is laudable. GDP growth is something every nation wants. However, if that growth does not include everybody, if that growth is not distributed fairly, if that growth leaves large parts of the population behind, then we have let society down. We cannot have a society where a smaller and smaller percentage of the population gets more and more of the benefits of the economy. That is not fair, that is not right, and that is unjust.

That is the essence that underlies this motion, and it is a laudable motion.

As a federal government, we need to ensure we create a fair system. This is all about fairness of opportunity, and of course the tax system. The tax system is one tool that our federal government has at its disposal. There are others, but today we are focusing on that system. Building a tax system that supports fairness and opportunity has been fundamental to everything this government has done.

In our 2016 budget, this government replaced the previous child benefit system with the Canada child benefit. That CCB is simpler, more generous, and better targeted to those who need it the most.

During the first year, over 3.3 million families received more than $23 billion in CCB payments. Nine out of 10 families are better off under the CCB than they were under the previous system. In my riding of Newmarket—Aurora alone, over 13,000 families are receiving nearly $5,500 for a combined investment, because that is what it is, in our families and our people of $70 million.

This is one tool that helps create fairness. It is lifting children out of poverty. It is allowing families to let their children participate in extracurricular activities that perhaps they could not afford. It is helping offset the high costs of day care in my part of the world.

This is what a federal government should do. This is how the tax system can work fairly. I am proud to be part of a government that implemented this fundamental change.

In October, we also announced a reduction in the small business tax rate to 10% effective January 1 of this year, and to 9% next year. For the average small business, this will leave an additional $1,600 a year for it to reinvest in its business. Small businesses in many ridings, including my own, are the engine of growth. Any extra tax room they have is reinvested in their business, which of course helps grow the business, which then creates the middle-class jobs.

Those are two examples of the ways the tax system is being used to benefit Canadians and to help ensure that level playing field, that equal chance at opportunity that every Canadian deserves.

This is an economic reality. The global market is changing. The world economy is changing. There will be a premium on innovation. There will be a premium on skilled labour. We need to create a society that puts a premium and important value on innovation and skilled labour. This is how our economy will grow. We cannot be lackadaisical in these efforts. We must always remain vigilant that the growth Canada has been blessed with is shared equally by all.

This economic reality can quickly become a social issue if growth is not inclusive. If chunks of the population feel left behind, if they feel there is no chance or opportunity for them, if they feel the economy does not work for them, they will conclude that society does not work for them. We cannot leave chunks of our population behind. As the economy changes, we have to ensure we lever the opportunity as a nation. However, we have to ensure the rewards of those opportunities are shared by all. I do not think any member in the House would disagree with that sentiment.

It is clear that our government is delivering a fair tax system. I can assure hon. members that our work will continue. Going forward, we must remain vigilant and address inconsistencies and unfairness in the tax system. This is so important because fairness is at the heart of our government's plan for long-term sustainable economic growth.

Federal-Provincial Relations December 13th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, on Monday, the Minister of Finance met with his counterparts from across the country to work collaboratively and take action that was in the interests of all Canadians, to strengthen the middle class, and to help those working hard to join it. As a result, a number of agreements were reached, including a coordinated approach on the cannabis excise framework.

Could the Prime Minister inform the House on the cannabis agreement, and how it benefits provinces, territories, and municipalities?

Salaries Act December 7th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, my hon. colleague's question gives me an opportunity to talk a bit about my former life. Do not be aghast at this, but I come from Bay Street and also have some experience as a lawyer in corporate governance. The evidence is clear that public boards with diverse directors are profitable and show an increased return on investment, and shareholders encourage it because it makes good business.

I would always say that having diverse perspectives is good for any organization, whether private or public sector. Hearing different perspectives lets people perhaps change their minds about decisions they would otherwise make, and ensures that the application of decisions is universal in scope and not just for a narrow group of people. If it makes for good business sense, as it does, it also makes good sense for good public governance. We should strive to have a diversity of opinions any time decisions are being made, and the cabinet table should be no exception.

Salaries Act December 7th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate my friend's interjection. I enjoyed my time with him on the government operations committee. At committee, he was always insightful and informative, and it was good to have him as part of our committee.

I am not sure where he is getting his position that women will not be able to have over 50% of cabinet positions. I have read the legislation pretty closely. I studied it at committee clause-by-clause. My memory is not perfect, but I can recall no provision mentioning anything of that sort. If there is a such a provision in there, I would be happy to change my answer and refer to that provision. However, I believe there is nothing in the act that would prevent a cabinet from being 100% female. Perhaps that is what we should be striving for.

Salaries Act December 7th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, as I said, debate is a good part of the process, and I am happy to partake in it. However, we should follow the rules in this place when debating, and I am happy to continue to do so.

I was about to conclude by saying that I urge all members to support the bill, because it is a great bill.

Salaries Act December 7th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise in the House today, as it is on any day that luxury is afforded to me. We are all honoured when we get this opportunity, and I am no exception.

I am happy to speak to Bill C-24 at report stage. I sit on the government operations committee, where we reviewed this bill. I think I had a chance to speak to it at second reading as well. Therefore, I am going to address the debate from a bit of a different angle.

When we hear the many concerns raised in opposition to this bill, some are not necessarily related to the subject of the bill, but are perhaps valid concerns nonetheless. In my very humble opinion and submission to this chamber, anyone who is opposed to this piece of legislation, who argues it is unnecessary, and who wants us on this side of the House to believe it is merely cosmetic, I think does an injustice to the five ministries being elevated and the important subject matter of those ministries. It is not about the people or the ministers; it is about the ministries.

For example, in his mandate letter to the Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities, among other things, the Prime Minister indicates that the minister should develop and introduce new federal accessibility legislation. I highly doubt any member of this House would not think that is an important task to undertake, or that improving disability legislation in this country is a trivial matter. The ministry should be elevated to the status of a full ministry.

There should be no junior ministries. In essence, that is what this bill is about. It is not about the people, it is about the job. Certainly, we can have a ministry that is equal. Historically, in the Westminster model, a prime minister is first among equals, and the ministry itself should be a group of equals.

La francophonie is another ministry that is being elevated.

The department's mandate is to ensure Canada’s strong and sustained engagement in the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie. That is important.

Canada is a proud member, as it should be, of the International Organisation of La Francophonie. It is one of the many international organizations Canada has the great honour of being a part of. In fact, we are leaders in this organization, as we are in many international organizations, and have been throughout our history.

Canada's international role and leadership on the global stage is not bound to whatever party is in government at the time. Every government realizes it is important for Canada to be a leader and a player on the world stage. I do not think there is a member here who would suggest that our role in the Commonwealth or NATO is not important. I hope, and I believe, that not one member here thinks that our role in La Francophonie is not important. That is what this bill does. It elevates these roles, which we should view as important, to the status they deserve because of the important work done by these ministries.

Of course, the ministry of small business and tourism will also be elevated should this bill become law. We do not need to debate the importance of small business to the Canadian economy or Canadians.

Also, I do not think we need to undermine the importance of tourism to our economy. Canada has seen growth in tourism this year as a result of the Canada 150 celebrations. We hope to see another increase in tourism next year when Canada and China enter their tourism agreement. Many small businesses and communities rely on tourism for jobs, for growth, and for keeping communities vibrant. Why should tourism not be a full ministry? Tourism is vitally important for all Canadians, and we need to focus on that when discussing Bill C-24.

The Minister of Status of Women would also be elevated to a full ministerial position. I have not heard anyone argue that we should not do that. We can all agree that the role of the Minister of Status of Women is an important one. Her ministry is an important ministry that does important work for all Canadians. The minister certainly deserves an equal place at the cabinet table. This role ought not to be dismissed or diminished in any manner. It is not a trivial role. The ministry does great work and needs to be at the same level as all other ministries in Canada. Bill C-24 would do that.

When we look at the ministry of science, I do not think for a minute that anyone here does not accept science as an important part of Canada, an important part of the Canadian economy, an important part of the innovative economy. The global economy is changing rapidly. Canada needs to be and remain in the vanguard of that change. If we do not invest in science, if we do not encourage our children to participate in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics, then we will be left behind. No member of Parliament, no Canadian in fact, would want our country to be left behind as we enter the new innovative global economy, in which Canada should rightfully take its place of leadership.

These are the types of things we are talking about and none are unimportant. None of them ought to be seen as lower in an artificial hierarchy. These topics are important to all Canadians. They are important to my constituents and I am sure they are important to the constituents of everyone in the chamber.

The opposition's role is to oppose, and valid concerns are always raised about legislation. It is part of the debating process, part of what we parliamentarians go through when we make laws. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. No one should feel less Canadian as a result. Being in opposition is an essential part of the parliamentary system. I want members to realize that when they criticize or raise valid or other objections, or when they raise issues that may or may not be important, from time to time it diminishes the subject matter of legislation.

For members to say that Bill C-24 is unnecessary, that it is a cosmetic exercise, that it is a pet project of the Prime Minister, is to say that La Francophonie is not important, that science is not important, that disability legislation is not important, that the status of women ministry is not important, that small business and tourism is not important. We all agree that these five ministries are very important and deserve to be at the table with all of the other important ministries. The ministry needs to be a one-tier ministry.

I urge all members to support—

An Act to change the name of the electoral district of Châteauguay—Lacolle December 6th, 2017

Madam Speaker, no one in this House is calling into question the good faith of the member for Châteauguay—Lacolle. We all know that she is coming forward with her private member's bill from an honest place, a true place, and from a place her constituents can respect. I think we can all agree that our primary role is to represent our constituents in Ottawa. However, to call the member's bill into question is a little surprising, especially when the substance of the bill, as we heard, is supported, I think, by every member of this House.

I have not had the pleasure of visiting the member's riding, but I hope to get there one day. However, if I were in Châteauguay—Lacolle, as it is known now, I would not want to be confused into thinking that I might be in the wrong riding. Therefore, this affects all of us, not just the member's constituents, or the members for Saint-Jean and Châteauguay—Lacolle, who, I can assure members, are not easily confused. Canadians are busy people. When they want to reach out to their MP's office, they need to know which MP to call. It is as simple as that.

There is a border crossing near the member's town. Imagine if someone forgot their passport at the border crossing and needed urgent help, but called the wrong riding. The MP, I am sure, would be very helpful, regardless of whether or not that person lived in the riding. But if one lived in Lacolle, it might lead to confusion, which, of course, we do not want. We do not want people to be misled. We want Canadians to feel that they are participants in their democracy and have a riding name that reflects their community.

The member has heard from her riding. She is echoing their voices here in this chamber. I, for one, am glad to see democracy at the grassroots level in action here in the chamber, as we all are. I know every member will support this bill, regardless of my urging, but I urge them to do so anyway.

An Act to change the name of the electoral district of Châteauguay—Lacolle December 6th, 2017

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House to speak to Bill C-377.

This is a private member's bill put forward by my colleague, the hon. member for Châteauguay—Lacolle. As we know, it proposes to change the name of her electoral district to Châteauguay—Les Jardins-de-Napierville.

The municipality of Lacolle, which is currently included in the name of my colleague's electoral district, is actually located in the neighbouring riding of Saint-Jean. This is confusing as we have heard, for residents in both ridings and for this reason, the hon. member for Saint-Jean supports the legislation as well. Our government in turn supports the bill because it makes good sense.

Typically, as all members know, riding names are selected during a process every decade under the Electoral Boundaries Readjustment Act. In the latest process, census commissions were created in all provinces after the 2011 census. Each three-person commission, in accordance with the legislation, was chaired by a judge appointed by the provincial chief justice.

In the spring and summer of 2012, the commissions crafted and made public proposals for each of their respective provinces. They then held hearings to get public feedback and to consider possible alterations. Final reports were submitted by the Chief Electoral Officer to the Speaker of the House of Commons. They were then referred to the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs.

This process is as exciting as it sounds. I think we can all agree with that. That referral gave MPs an opportunity to file objections, which the committee considered before producing its final report. That report was put forward to the commissions with the recommended changes.

In the case of Quebec, the committee sent 11 objections to riding names and suggested alternatives. All were adopted and the 2013 Representation Order was proclaimed that autumn, resulting in our new electoral map.

However, Parliament has the option of adopting name changes after this process finishes. Normally this goes smoothly, though in 2003-04 there were objections from the Chief Electoral Officer at the time, Jean-Pierre Kingsley. Mr. Kingsley pointed out that there was an excessive administrative burden imposed because it took place so close to the 2004 election. He also voiced concern that the change could lead to public confusion and additional costs because electoral materials would have to be reprinted and software reconfigured. However, there have not been any significant issues identified when name changes are proposed well in advance of elections.

In the case of the bill we are considering now, there is no indication that the name change will cause any technical problems. Elections Canada has asked that no name exceed 50 characters, including hyphens and dashes. This proposed new name is well below that threshold. I am sure the member for Louis-Saint-Laurent would agree with that.

Elections Canada has also asked that name change bills receive royal assent no later than January 2019. There is plenty of time.

In addition to this kind of legislation, our government and indeed all members of this chamber must do everything in our power to encourage Canadians to participate in our democracy. Confusing Canadians, confusing voters does not foster participation in our democracy. In fact, the Minister of Democratic Institutions has spoken passionately about the need for us to do everything we can to encourage and not discourage democratic participation.

As a result, we are committed to restoring integrity to our democratic process by reversing some of the previous government's Fair Elections Act, which made voting difficult for so many. We are accomplishing this with Bill C-33, which was introduced last year, as all members of the House know. This legislation, if passed, would make it easier for Canadians to vote, get more Canadians involved in voting, and build confidence and integrity in our voting system.

In essence, this private member's bill is about empowering Canadians. It is about empowering constituents to feel they are part of the process.

I do find it a little surprising that some members opposite are quarrelling about the process, although are supportive of the substance. However, there are many ways to get to the same objective. For instance, some people wear belts. Some wear suspenders. Neither is right and neither is wrong. They both get to the goal that is established at the outset, and in this case, it is holding up one's pants. Does it really matter what process is used if it supports the goal? It is a fair and open process. Surely we can all agree on that in this place.

My colleague for Châteauguay—Lacolle knows her constituents' concerns better than any of us. She has heard from them. We heard her say there is a petition in the riding asking to change the name of the riding. The member for Châteauguay—Lacolle would ignore that at her peril. How could she go back home and say she got the petition with the thousand names, but decided to ignore it because the opposition wanted her to do something else for them instead? Would they not ask if she were not here to work for them? Of course she is, as we all are throughout this country, working very hard for our constituents. To the suggestion there is some flaw in her conclusion that it is important to her constituents, I would say, no, there is not.

I honestly believe, as I think we all do, that this private member's bill—

Grey Cup 2017 November 23rd, 2017

Mr. Speaker, thousands of football fans have descended on Ottawa for Canada's unofficial national holiday: the Grey Cup. What a way to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Confederation. Fans from across our great nation will gather to celebrate our game. Fans of the Lions, the Stampeders, the Eskimos, the Roughriders, the Blue Bombers, the Ticats, the Argonauts, the Redblacks, and the Alouettes all come together to celebrate Canadian football. A few of them may even have a beer or two.

This annual Canadian tradition has seen it all: the fog bowl, the mud bowl, the ice bowl, the 13th man, and a horse or two in a hotel lobby.

To the Calgary Stampeders and the Toronto Argonauts, congratulations, and good luck in the 105th Grey Cup. As a lifelong Argos fan, I look forward to the Grey Cup coming back to Toronto.