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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was tax.

Last in Parliament October 2015, as Conservative MP for York Centre (Ontario)

Lost his last election, in 2015, with 44% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Small and Medium-sized Businesses April 30th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate this opportunity to discuss Motion No. 574, a motion which focuses on lower costs for businesses and consumers by reducing transaction fees.

Let me reassure the hon. member that under the leadership of the Prime Minister, our government is standing up for consumers and saving Canadians money.

We know that Canadian families work hard to make ends meet and every dollar certainly does count. While companies will look out for their bottom line, our government is looking out for all Canadians. When Canadians make decisions about how to spend their money, they must be assured of a voice, a choice and fair treatment.

In the October 2013 Speech from the Throne, our government committed to take additional action to protect Canadian consumers. We understand that Canadians are tired of hidden fees. That is why we have secured voluntary commitments from Canada's eight major banks to enhance low-cost bank accounts and offer no-cost accounts. Banks also committed to provide free monthly printed credit card statements. We have also worked with the provinces to maintain the integrity of the framework for payday lending-type products and to support provincial efforts to regulate appropriately all payday lending-type high interest rate products.

However, our initiatives go beyond lawmaking and regulation, and include public outreach and education.

In April 2014, we announced the appointment of Jane Rooney as Canada's first ever Financial Literacy Leader. Her mandate is to collaborate and coordinate activities with stakeholders to contribute to and support initiatives that strengthen the financial literacy of all Canadians. This initiative will allow our government to broaden its efforts to help Canadians make more informed choices for themselves and for their families.

Accordingly, our government believes that the best consumer protection framework is one in which there is competition, fees are disclosed and consumers can exercise choice.

For example, we have introduced regulations relating to credit agreements, including lines of credit and credit cards, which came into force in 2010. These regulations limit business practices that are not beneficial to consumers. They require the provision of clear and timely information to Canadians about credit products with a particular emphasis on credit cards. Specifically, our government has taken steps to update the existing financial consumer protection framework with several key measures. These include, for example, mandating an effective minimum 21-day interest-free grace period on all new credit card purchases when a customer pays the outstanding balance in full, and introducing a fee summary box.

In November 2014, the Minister of Finance welcomed proposals submitted by Visa and MasterCard to reduce their credit card fees for merchants, which should ultimately result in lower prices for consumers.

Specifically, the proposals from Visa and MasterCard will: voluntarily reduce their respective credit card fees for consumer cards to an average effective rate of 1.5% for a period of five years; ensure that all merchants receive a reduction in credit card fees; provide a greater reduction for small and medium-size enterprises and charities which have the least amount of bargaining power; and require annual verification by an independent third party to ensure compliance.

Last month, our government announced the enhanced code of conduct for the debit and credit card industry. These new changes will make the code even stronger by addressing unfair business practices and improving transparency for merchants and consumers, including new provisions that apply specifically to mobile payments.

The revised code contains several enhancements to address unfair business practices and improve transparency for merchants and consumers, including: extending the application of the code to mobile payments, including new consumer protections for mobile payment users; measures to facilitate the pass-through of credit card fee reductions to merchants; a new complaints handling process available to merchants with code-related complaints; enhanced disclosure requirements that will require plain language disclosure of key contract terms and conditions and merchant fees in information summary boxes on merchant contracts; providing greater flexibility for merchants to exit their contracts without penalty and limiting the automatic renewal of contracts; new branding requirements for premium credit cards to make these cards more easily identifiable to merchants at the point-of-sale; and new disclosure requirements for credit card issuers to inform consumers that apply for premium credit cards that use of these cards may result in higher merchant fees.

Most elements of the code will come into force within nine months of the date on which the networks adopt the code. Some elements, such as the measures to facilitate the passthrough of interchange rate reductions to merchants and the new rights for merchants regarding acceptance of contactless payments, took effect in April.

There will be a slightly longer implementation period for the new enhanced disclosure requirements on account of the significant systems changes that acquirers will need to make.

Let me assure the hon. member that the updates to the code were developed in close consultation with a broad range of stakeholders, including members representing the credit and debit card networks, small business retailers and consumers. Bilateral consultations were also conducted with acquirers and small merchant associations. In fact, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business said at the time that the code “has served merchants extremely well.... [It] has done an excellent job in ensuring some fair ground rules and maintaining Canada’s low-cost debit system.”

Consumers will also benefit from a new requirement that credit card issuers disclose to consumers who apply for premium credit cards that use of these cards will result in higher merchant fees. This will help to empower consumers in selecting their payment method by disclosing the actual cost to merchants of accepting payments with a premium credit card.

This of course is not new. Throughout our time in office, our government has been focused on helping Canadian consumers identify and take advantage of the best possible financial products and services for their needs.

As we announced in economic action plan 2013, we are working to develop a comprehensive financial consumer code to better protect consumers of financial products and ensure that they have the necessary tools to make responsible financial decisions. Such measures empower and protect Canadian consumers and they increase their financial literacy by providing them with the right information at the right time so they can make financial decisions that best suit their needs.

As our actions have clearly demonstrated, our government clearly understands the importance of monitoring the credit card and debit card industry in Canada. In this regard, the motion's recommendations are well intentioned, but not required.

I therefore urge hon. members to vote against the motion and instead support our government's ongoing measures to protect businesses and consumers in a competitive marketplace.

Small and Medium-sized Businesses April 30th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I think the member is confusing the interchange fee with the merchant rate. I think he is lumping them both together.

The interchange fee is the amount that is carved off from the transaction to make the credit card system work. The merchant fee is typically about 1.5%. Our government has negotiated with financial institutions and credit card companies on the merchant rate to come up with a voluntary code of conduct, which the credit card companies have agreed to.

I would like to pose the following questions.

The member spoke about Europe, that we should adopt more of a European model. Since he did not mention any countries in particular, let us assume he is talking about Greece. Would the member propose that we adopt a Greek model to follow in terms of credit card and credit and financial institutions?

If we look back at the Regina Manifesto, when the CCF was founded, it called for the nationalization of banks. In 1962, when the NDP was founded, it also called for the nationalization of banks. Is the NDP now calling for the nationalization of banks? How would he enforce this proposed scheme that he has cooked up?

Vietnamese Community April 30th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, today marks 40 years since the capital of the Republic of South Vietnam fell to the communist invaders from the north.

An iron curtain of totalitarianism fell upon the democratic south. Many were sent to political re-education camps, tortured, beaten, and killed. More than two million people from the south fled by any means possible. Many escaped on makeshift rafts. They set out to sea in search of freedom. Some 250,000 of these boat people, as they became known, died at sea from drowning, starvation, thirst, and hunger.

For more than 60,000, a safe haven was found in Canada. In 1979-1980, the Conservative government of the time, with the help of churches, synagogues, communities, and just plain old folks, offered them a home in Canada.

The Vietnamese community now numbers more than 300,000 strong. They are fearlessly proud Canadians. Many are here in Ottawa today to mark the 40th anniversary of the start of their journey. As a country, we are marking the passage of the Journey to Freedom Day Act, now enshrined in Canadian law.

All Canadians of Vietnamese descent, and all those who came to this country in search of hope and opportunity, have made Canada the best country in the world.

The Budget April 28th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, we have a phrase in Yiddish. The word is “chutzpah”. This is a great demonstration of a question that is based on chutzpah, which loosely translated means rashness or nerve to ask such a thing.

Did members know that a Liberal budget was introduced into this House on February 16, 1999? In the following fiscal year, in 2000-2001, lo and behold, there was no Liberal budget presented by the government. Then, the following fiscal year, two and a half years after the Liberals introduced the budget on February 16, 1999, they got around to introducing their next budget. It was two and a half years.

The Budget April 28th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I want to respond to that.

Logic alone would tell us that, if these ideas were proposed in the past, they would be policy today. I do not know where the member is coming from when she talks about proposing policies that we are now adopting, but I would caution the New Democrats on one thing. It is this party here that we have to be careful of. They used to call the NDP “Liberals in a hurry”. I would keep an eye on these guys. People should not be worried about us stealing their policies.

What we offer Canadians is choice. We are not saying they cannot send their kids to daycare, but we are giving mums and dads the option. We are offering the money and they can send their kids to daycare or, if they want, they can raise them themselves. The New Democrats should imagine not having government raise their children. What a unique concept.

The Budget April 28th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, we did not balance any budgets on the backs of the most vulnerable, like the Martin and Liberal Party did in the 1990s. Even in those heydays of economic prosperity, they could never get the unemployment rate below 7%. Ours is lower today, while our economy is still fragile.

We have made the right choices as a government. The Canadian people sent us here. We made a pledge to them in three successive elections that we would balance the budget, create jobs, and lower taxes. That is exactly what we have done, and we are proud to take this platform to the Canadian people come October.

The Budget April 28th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to rise in the House today to speak to our budget, strong leadership, a balanced budget, and the low-tax plan for jobs, growth, and security.

We live in the greatest country on earth: Canada. People come here from all over the world for a variety of reasons, but most importantly, they come to Canada for hope and opportunity. Yes, they want opportunity for themselves, but more importantly, they want opportunity and hope for their children.

The riding I am so privileged to represent, York Centre, is very ethnocultural. I go around the community endlessly, time and time again, and what I see reminds me of when I was young, when my dad came to Canada as an immigrant and how hard he worked, and how hard new immigrants to Canada work. When I shake the hands of some of these men, these hands are worn. These hands have blisters. These hands are hardened by the hard work they do because they want to see their kids succeed in the hope and opportunity Canada has to offer.

We see this paying off. When I go to high school graduations, which I do every June in the riding of York Centre, I see kids whose parents came to Canada just a few years ago, and they are the ones who are getting all the scholarships to universities and colleges. They will be the doctors, the lawyers, the professionals, and the tradespeople of tomorrow.

I remember, growing up, when I would wait for my dad to come home late at night. He had a shoe store, and I remember peering through the window blinds waiting for him to come home. When I saw him pull into the driveway and get out of the car, I got so excited, and I know that these kids do too. As tired as he was, he still had time to play with me or do homework with me, just like these kids today in the riding of York Centre whose parents come from another country. That is what Canada is all about.

That is why we have presented here today, and since 2006, a path and a plan for economic prosperity in Canada. It is so immigrants will have opportunity and can have hope for their children.

We have presented a plan here in the House for debate today that is based on low taxes, on trade, and on a balanced budget. Why is it important to balance the budget? The opposition parties do not think it is important. We cannot really blame New Democrats. They are blinded by their ideology, an ideology of spend, spend, spend. Spend as if we have it, is their ideology. What is the Liberals' ideology? They are still searching for one, but they do have a set of principles, and if we do not like those, they have a whole other set for us.

Let me tell the House a bit about our plan, a plan for jobs, for growth, and for long-term prosperity. Our plan has created 1.2 million net new jobs since the depth of the recession in July 2009. Our financial sector has been rated by the World Economic Forum for the seventh year in a row to be the soundest in the world. We have lowered taxes not 50 times, not 100 times, and not even 150 times. We have lowered 180 different taxes. We have taken over one million people off the tax rolls altogether. We have brought in income splitting for seniors so they can split their pensions and do not have to pay as much tax.

Now we see that the Liberals and the New Democrats are against the proposals we have in this budget to put more money in the pockets of hard-working Canadian families. They seem to be under the impression that the government treasury will have less money. We know what that means. First, they have to understand that this is not the government's money. My dad and these dads and moms in York Centre who are working hard, that is their money. They have earned it. They say that the government will be out of that money.

The taxpayers would have more money to spend how they see fit. Let us not forget that, when our government introduced the universal child care benefit, it was the Liberals who got up and said people would just use it to buy beer and popcorn. What an outrage. People are using this money to pay for education for their children, and if they so choose, to pay for daycare for their children. It is about choice. It is about putting kids with the experts, those who know how to raise them. That is not the government, Liberals, or NDP. That is mum and dad. They are the experts on how to raise children.

Our fiscal plan is sound. It makes sense and it is working. We do not know the opposition's fiscal plan. We know the Liberal's is smoking marijuana, for one, but the NDP plan is to raise taxes and spend recklessly. Both these plans fail the first test of fiscal responsibility, which is that the numbers just do not add up. New Democrats just want to tax and spend because they think there is an endless supply of money out there. Well, that chicken has been plucked. There are no feathers left. There is only one taxpayer, and taxpayers are maxed out. That is why we are lowering taxes. That is why we see people spending more money.

We have lowered corporate taxes. The NDP seems to think we need to raise corporate taxes. We do not. It does not understand that corporations, artificial entities, do not pay taxes. Taxes are passed down to the end user, which is the consumer, so middle-class Canadians pay higher prices because corporate taxes are higher. Therefore, we lowered those taxes. Now we find that corporate investment in Canada is way up. Corporate taxes are way up and there are more jobs as a result. That, at the end of the day, is doing our job.

Canadians sent us here in 2006, 2008, and 2011 to get the job done, and that is what we are doing. We made a pledge to the Canadian people that we were going to provide jobs, growth, and long-term prosperity, and that is exactly what we are doing. We are going to be the first government in the G7 to balance our budget, and not just balance it—we will have a surplus of $1.4 billion.

The opposition parties are very fast at criticizing what we do, and they propose these kinds of wacky schemes like carbon taxes and one-size-fits-all daycare where there is no choice. They do not understand the reality, and when we try to explain it to them, they just want to double down on what they know is wrong, or they should know it is wrong. That is why it is incumbent on us, the government, the Conservative Party, who know that Canadians deserve to keep more of their hard-earned money in their pockets so they can decide how to spend it. It is not to create big bureaucracies to spend and tax wildly with reckless disregard for the future.

Success is not by chance, but it is by choice, and we have been making the right choices since 2006. That is why we are not mired in recession, as are other countries around the world. If it were up to the opposition, it would have us right at the edge, like Greece.

Journey to Freedom Act April 22nd, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I am happy to rise today to speak to Bill S-219, journey to freedom day act. I am co-sponsoring this bill with Senator Ngo from the other place.

It is important, however, contrary to what we just heard earlier from the other speaker, that April 30 is designated as journey to freedom day. It is important that this is the date the community has agreed upon. This is the date the community wants.

I presented a petition in the House of Commons signed by 2,620 people of Vietnamese Canadian origin just a little while ago. In addition, we had committee hearings at the heritage committee where we heard from various members of the community, including James Nguyen, president of the Vietnamese Association Toronto. He said:

As a leader of the biggest Vietnamese community in Canada, I attend many events on a weekly basis. There is overwhelming support for this bill whenever the conversation comes up. This bill is important to me and to those I encounter in the community, because it acknowledges our heritage. April 30 is a day for Vietnamese Canadians to come together to express our gratitude to Canadians for welcoming us with open arms.

The community wants April 30. This is the day the saga of the Vietnamese boat people began. Let us not forget that April 30, 1975 was the day the communist forces from North Vietnam occupied and conquered the south. They took over Saigon and as a result almost two million people fled South Vietnam. They fled persecution. They fled political imprisonment. They fled, in a lot of instances, death.

Some 250,000 boat people who went on rafts, that were put together with logs and rope, and crossed the seas succumbed to murder by pirates, rape, sexual assault, drowning, thirst, and hunger.

In 1980, some 120,000 were accepted here in Canada. In 1986, Canada was awarded the Nansen medal. There are 300,000 Canadians of Vietnamese origin now living in Canada. It is important to Vietnamese Canadians, who all agree, that April 30, journey to freedom day, is the day that is recognized by the community and by this House of Commons.

It is important. I have many people in my community of Vietnamese origin who have told me that April 30 is the day. Canada is a country made up of people that have all come from somewhere else. We all come here for pretty much the same reasons: to escape persecution, to escape hatred, and to escape violence. We come here because we want the opportunity and the hope that Canada has to offer us, for ourselves and more importantly, for our kids.

In the late 1970s and 1980s when Canada opened its doors to so many Vietnamese boat people, that boat became a symbol. It is a metaphor for freedom, for a journey to freedom. That is why April 30 is the date the community wants, the date that Saigon fell to communist forces.

Many Canadians do not know the story of Vietnamese boat people. This day, April 30, is the day Saigon fell, the day when the exodus of people from South Vietnam began, the day that Canadians will learn what people will do and to what extent they will go to escape persecution, to embrace freedom for themselves and for their families.

This is so significant. This is an important date. The young people here in Canada must know April 30 as the date. This bill will serve a pedagogical purpose. It will educate young Canadians and Canadians alike of the importance of what we have here in Canada, the great Canadian values of freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law.

This is also a celebration. This bill is a celebration of Canada. It is a celebration of Canadian values that we here in Canada, in 1980, opened up our arms to welcome boat people, people who had absolutely nothing. My dad was a survivor of the Holocaust and he came here with only the shirt on his back.

Many people, not just Vietnamese, have come to Canada with the very same, just the shirt on their backs and some change in their pockets to make Canada their home because Canada offers hope and opportunity for people.

I will tell the House that people in my community want April 30 as the day to mark this. Forty years have gone by now and we have an opportunity in the House to do the right thing, to say to the Vietnamese Canadian community that, yes, Saigon fell on April 30. That is the day that the journey to freedom began, which ended up here in Canada, where now some 300,000 Canadians of Vietnamese origin live.

On the weekend, I was at the North York Vietnamese seniors club. There were many people there, both young and old alike, who came on these makeshift boats. Some came as babes in arms. All remember the experience and all are so grateful to Canada. This date is very important for them. We must do the right thing here in Canada.

People say we have not heard from the community, but the community has been heard. The community has spoken. The community has said April 30 is the day. Some say we need to hear from the government of Vietnam or its representatives. It is not the practice of this Parliament or any other democratic parliament around the world to hear from representatives of foreign governments when it comes to passing domestic legislation, and we should not bend to the pressure from that embassy or any other embassy. When we pass legislation in the House, it is because the will of the people has tasked us to do that. We are responsible to the Canadian people, not to people in another country.

Vietnamese Canadians have spoken. They have sent many of us here, just like other Canadians, to get the job done, and the job in this piece of legislation is to designate April 30 as journey to freedom day.

Jewish Historical Events April 21st, 2015

Mr. Speaker, this month Jews in Canada and around the world will mark three historical events.

On April 15, Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day, was an opportunity for Canadians to pay tribute to the six million Jews who were murdered at the hands of the Nazis and their collaborators. It is also a time to raise awareness about the Holocaust and to combat anti-Semitism.

Tonight at sundown begins Yom Hazikaron, Israel's Day of Remembrance for Fallen Soldiers and Victims of Terror. On this solemn day, we pay tribute to those who tragically lost their lives defending Israel's right to exist in peace and security.

Yom Hazikaron concludes with the start of Yom Ha'atzmaut, Israel's Independence Day. This year marks 67 years of independence for the Jewish state.

Our Conservative government is proud to celebrate not only Israel's independence, but the strong friendship between Canada and Israel that is based on shared values of freedom, human rights, democracy and the rule of law.

Am Yisrael Chai.

Passover April 1st, 2015

Mr. Speaker, this Friday, beginning at sundown, Jews around the world will gather with family and friends to usher in the Shabbat and the holiday of Passover.

The story of Passover as told during the seder reminds all of us of the importance of freedom. The seder ceremony is filled with the symbols of confinement and liberty, pain and joy and has served as a means of teaching each new generation the story of the liberation of the Jewish people from slavery in Egypt. Most important, it instructs us that it is the responsibility of each generation to teach their children that freedom is something we must always cherish.

The lessons of Passover echo in every corner of the earth. They demonstrate to us that while we must be thankful for the freedom we have, we must also remember all those in the world who yearn to know its many gifts. This year, let us rededicate ourselves to extending the blessings of freedom, democracy, human rights, and liberty to all who seek it.

I want to offer to all celebrating Passover my heartfelt wish for a joyous chag filled with the warmth of family and friends.

Chag Pesach kasher v'sameach.