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

Innovation, Science and Economic Development March 23rd, 2017

Mr. Speaker, one thing is clear to all of us in the House. Canadians are ambitious and seek new opportunities every day. Whether they are looking to start their own businesses, to export to new markets or to scale up their operations, they need our support.

While we have been working hard to open doors and create opportunities for Canadians, it is clear that the global economy continues to change.

What new commitments has the government made in budget 2017 to help Canadian businesses flourish in this changing economy?

Preclearance Act, 2016 March 6th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, it is fair to say that the pre-clearance system in the eight airports that have it now is functioning quite well. Business travellers and people who travel on vacation think it is working well. However, it needs to be expanded. It is not fair for only those eight airports to have that benefit, and it should be expanded across the country. I know a lot of people who make decisions on where they travel and what airports they fly from based on whether or not they can get pre-clearance into the U.S., especially in my home riding of Newmarket—Aurora, which is close to two airports, one being Pearson International Airport, and the other being Billy Bishop airport. Right now, people who want to fly to the United States from Billy Bishop airport are not entitled to use pre-clearance. I think it would be of benefit to travellers in my neck of the woods to have that choice as a consumer when they decide on their flight options.

Preclearance Act, 2016 March 6th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the hon. member's question, and I also appreciate working with him on the trade committee.

I am not privy to any firm schedule, but I share his enthusiasm for seeing cargo treated in a manner that would make sure that businesses on both sides of the border are able to tap into both markets. It would ensure that small and medium enterprises are able to create the jobs and create the growth that they do for our economy.

I look forward to working with the hon. member to make sure that we can get that framework in place. I share his enthusiasm that sooner is probably better.

Preclearance Act, 2016 March 6th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, given that party's propensity to change its mind, I am not sure if his gratitude will actually be eternal if he offers it to me.

I think a lot has been made about the firearms component of the bill. Let us be clear. U.S. officers are given no greater power than what Canadian officers already have, so U.S. officers will not be armed in Canadian airports.

However, Canadian officers are already armed at land and sea points of entry. It only stands to reason that U.S. officers will have the same authority and the same powers that Canadian officers do in those situations. Frankly, I do not see why that is a problem that needs any more explanation. They need to be treated the same as Canadian officers doing the same job in the same area. I think that is reasonable.

Preclearance Act, 2016 March 6th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to discuss Bill C-23, which would provide the necessary authority under Canadian law to implement the land, rail, marine, and air transport preclearance agreement, thereby expanding U.S. pre-clearance operations in Canada, and, for the first time, enabling pre-clearance of cargo, and Canadian pre-clearance operations in the U.S.

Pre-clearance makes travel faster and easier for tourists and business travellers alike, and makes it faster and easier for Canadian companies to do business with Americans. It also allows Canadian travellers to undergo U.S. border procedures while under the protection of Canadian law, and, most importantly, our Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The proposed expansion of pre-clearance enabled by Bill C-23 has been greeted with enthusiasm by chambers of commerce across the country, by the tourism industry, the trucking industry, and by government partners, among others. The mayor of Quebec City, for example, has called it a great victory.

Pre-clearance operations for passengers have been a success story for more than 60 years, but they currently exist in only eight Canadian airports, and they do not exist for cargo at all. It is time to build on that success. Expansion to new locations and modes of travel require an agreement with the United States. That agreement has been reached, and the U.S. has passed the legislation needed for implementation in their country with unanimous support in both houses of Congress. That is no small feat. However, if we do not pass Bill C-23, the agreement will come to naught, and the benefits of pre-clearance will remain limited to those Canadians who already enjoy them.

Nevertheless, throughout this debate, the NDP members have been advocating in favour of the existing pre-clearance framework. According to the member for Vancouver East, the current pre-clearance system is working well. Similarly, the member for Beloeil—Chambly has said that the current pre-clearance system works well. The member for Esquimalt—Saanich—Sooke has said that pre-clearance works just fine. To quote the member for Windsor—Tecumseh, “I understand about pre-clearance. It is working. It exists today.”

Yes, it does, and I agree that the current framework, which has been in place since 1999, has served Canada well. The NDP support for it is interesting, because in 1999 when this framework was proposed and debated, that party had a very different take. At the time, the then member for Winnipeg—Transcona said that he had concerns about the bill having to do with privacy protection, with the power of U.S. authorities to detain people, and concerns that this would be a further application of U.S. law on Canadian soil.

The then member for Winnipeg Centre said that he had serious reservations about the bill. He said it was too intrusive and a breach of Canadian sovereignty. He was worried that foreign officers would have the right to hold people and to stop people from leaving. He argued that by passing the bill, the House was granting foreign powers on our soil which the NDP did not think was necessary. He went on to declare that the NDP remained firmly opposed to the creation of Canadian offences for resisting or misleading a foreign pre-clearance officer. He accused MPs in favour of the bill of being ready to trample on Canadian sovereignty. He said, and this is my favourite part, that the bill opened up such a can of worms that it should be sent back to the other place for them to try again, and to take into consideration such basic things as national pride.

Clearly, a couple of decades later, the NDP realizes that its concerns back then were overblown. However, here we are again. A new pre-clearance framework is being proposed, and, once more, the NDP is sounding the alarm about perceived threats to Canadian sovereignty and perceived powers granted to foreign officers. It would not surprise me one bit if 20 years from now New Democrats leap to the defence of Bill C-23 while insisting that any further changes would mark the demise of the sovereignty of Canada.

My point is, let us be reasonable. In most respects, Bill C-23 is very similar to the current framework. Regarding authorities to detain, question, search travellers, and seize goods, Bill C-23 is either identical to the existing law or very nearly so. The same is true regarding penalties for obstructing or lying to an officer. The right to withdraw from a pre-clearance area is maintained; a traveller just has to say who they are and why they are leaving. The totality of U.S. pre-clearance operations in Canada would be subject to Canadian law, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the Canadian Bill of Rights, and the Canadian Human Rights Act.

The motion put forward by the member for Beloeil—Chambly asks us to reject Bill C-23 because of what he referred to as the climate of uncertainty at the U.S. border. However, it is precisely, with legislation like this, that we are best able to reduce uncertainty for Canadian travellers. The bill provides a clear legal framework governing the actions of U.S. officers on Canadian soil, and requires U.S. officers in Canada to adhere to Canadian legal and constitutional standards.

Today, for instance, a Canadian taking the train from Montreal to New York has to disembark after crossing the border and submit to U.S. customs and immigration processes without any Canadian legal protection. With Bill C-23 in place, that traveller could be processed at the train station in Montreal, with Canadian constitutional safeguards in force and with Canadian authorities on site. In other words, not only would the legislation bring about substantial economic benefits, not only would it make trips to the United States quicker and more convenient for Canadian travellers, it would also enhance constitutional and legal protection for those very travellers.

With that in mind, I encourage all hon. members to give the bill their full support.

Conservative and Liberal Hockey Teams February 16th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, tonight an event of epic proportion will take place at 8 p.m. at the Canadian Tire Centre, home of the Ottawa Senators.

There is a buzz all across the national capital region. For the first time in years, the Conservative and Liberal hockey teams will faceoff for hockey supremacy. Two teams will compete, but only one will lift the trophy after the match.

I am not one to make predictions, and I will not attempt to do so today. I hear the Conservative team has some strong right-wingers, but our team has the ability to move from left to right, to left to right, which will come in very handy tonight.

Tonight's game is in support of the Terry Fox Foundation. Admission is free and donations will be accepted at the gate.

I urge every member of the House, especially those in the Ottawa area, to attend and to encourage their constituents to come out to support a great cause and to see, hopefully, a good game.

Donald S. Affleck February 7th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to pay tribute to Donald S. Affleck, Q.C., who passed away on January 25. Don was a graduate of Victoria College and a member of its football team. He graduated from the University of Toronto's law school and practised law for more than 50 years. He acted as a NAFTA arbitrator, as counsel to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance, and as chief counsel to the Royal Commission on Newspapers.

Don acted in many notable competition law cases. He also co-authored Canadian Competition Law, a widely recognized authority. He was not only an architect of competition law in Canada, he was also instrumental in establishing one of the first boutique litigation law firms in Toronto, having co-founded Affleck Greene McMurtry 25 years ago.

I had the honour of working with him for many years. He was a mentor and a friend, not only to me but to all who had the privilege of knowing him. The entire legal community has suffered a grave loss.

To his colleagues at the firm, to his entire family, and most importantly, to his wife Shannon, I offer my deepest sympathies.

Don, I will miss you. Rest in peace.

Points of Order December 7th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, I am baffled by this. I did not say anything disparaging at all, so I do not know how to address this.

Budget Implementation Act, 2016, No. 2 December 6th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member for Saanich—Gulf Islands knows as well as well as everyone in this House that I do not have the authority to speak for the government, so I cannot give her a date or a time frame.

However, I will let the hon. member know that I am happy to be part of a government that believes climate change is real, that has real policies to affect climate change, to improve the situation, and we will continue to work hard together with the Department of Environment and Climate Change and all my colleagues on this side of the House and any colleagues who want to help us to make sure that we leave the planet in better shape than it was for our children.

Budget Implementation Act, 2016, No. 2 December 6th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for Sherbrooke for his question.

We have talked about it during the campaign. It is in our platform. The overarching thing here is the theme of the NDP. Those members hate the word “private”. They hate any involvement of the private sector.

We on this side of the House think, if private sector funds can be leveraged with government money to make life better for Canadians, then why would we as a government not leverage that potential? Why would we not take advantage of being able to deliver more services, more infrastructure, and a better life for all Canadians? I do not share the fear of the private sector, as the member opposite and his colleagues do. That is why we will always have to agree to disagree on this point.

I for one am proud that we are able to leverage private money, if the case is appropriate, to get things built for Canadians. That is what Canadians demand. That is what Canadians want. That is what Canadians deserve.