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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

Petitions March 25th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, it is my honour to present a petition signed by 2,619 Canadians calling for the swift passage and all-party support of Bill S-219, the journey to freedom day act.

Journey to Freedom Day Act March 23rd, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I am humbled to be speaking after my colleague for Mississauga East—Cooksville, who spoke from the heart of his personal experience living under the regime of a communist government and who knows of what he speaks.

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the fall of Saigon, when the forces from the north invaded the south, breaking the Paris agreement negotiated in 1973, and took over South Vietnam with the fall of Saigon on April 30, 1975.

We put forward this bill, which originated in the other place, and I am honoured to be the co-sponsor of it in this House.

This bill would serve three purposes. First, the bill would mark April 30 as a day to commemorate the fall of Saigon, when the communist forces of the north invaded the south and took over the country.

Second, it would serve as a celebration of who we are as Canadians. We took in 60,000 boat people, refugees, who under extreme circumstances, made their way to Canada. We made them Canadian citizens, and they are now proud Canadians.

That is the story of Canada. Canada is made up of people from all over the world. We are all immigrants. We are all from some other place. We come here for hope and opportunity. That is what Canada represents to so many people around the world. People come here to escape persecution and hatred. They come here for a better life for themselves, and more importantly, for their children so that they can realize all of their dreams. That is why this bill is so important.

Third, this bill would serve a pedagogical purpose. Canadians, whether they are Vietnamese, Jewish, or Polish does not matter, should all know the history of each other.

April 30 is a significant day for the Vietnamese people. It is also a a significant day because it marks a time when freedom ended for a group of people around the world, and our young people need to know that. They need to know that living in Canada bears a certain responsibility. Because we live in such a great country, because we live in the democracy we do, we have responsibilities. We have a responsibility to remember all of the past atrocities that have occurred around the world, from the Holocaust to the Holodomor to the Armenian genocide. These are all important facts of global history, and yes, of Canadian history.

This is why it is so important that all members of this House support Bill S-219. It is because April 30 is a significant day in global history, but more importantly, the symbolic nature of this bill stands tall so that we as Canadians remember and do not forget. That is why when the time comes to show our support in this House, we must all stand in unanimity to support the journey to freedom day act, Bill S-219. I ask all members to join me in supporting this bill.

Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices Act March 12th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, that is quite typical of the Liberal Party. We have seen that for many decades in the House. The Liberals do not support Bill C-51, but they will vote in favour of it. This goes back to the times of Mackenzie King, the times of conscription if necessary, but not necessarily conscription.

We have the Liberals once again getting up and saying that they are going to support the bill but they have a bit of a problem with the title.

This is not a university paper. This is not a college essay. We are in the Parliament of Canada, representing the Canadian people who sent us here, the Canadian people who stand for Canadian values. Those are the people we represent.

The people have told us that they will not stand for barbaric practices such as female genital mutilation, forced marriages, sexual assault, and we have put this into the legislation. I ask the opposition parties, the NDP and the Liberals, to get on board, support us and represent the wishes and will of the Canadian people.

Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices Act March 12th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, it is the epitome of ignorance to stand and cast aspersions on and call another member of Parliament names. I take great umbrage with that. I thought he was a better person than that, but evidently he is not.

In answer to his question, clearly the member could not even follow the line of debate. He does not know we are talking about Bill S-7, the zero tolerance for barbaric cultural practices act. He went off on some tangent about something in the Middle East.

What I think would be acceptable to the NDP, which seems to engage in this form of relativism, is if we named Bill S-7, the tolerance for barbaric cultural practices act. I am sure that would make those members happy.

Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices Act March 12th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure and pride to rise today in my place to speak in support of Bill S-7, the zero tolerance for barbaric cultural practices act.

I have been a member of Parliament now for almost four years for the great riding of York Centre. I was born and raised in the riding of York Centre, and now I am raising my family there. It is probably one of the most ethnocultural ridings in Canada.

We have the largest number of Russian-speaking people of any riding in the country. We have one of the largest populations of Filipino people, one of the largest populations of Vietnamese people, one of the largest populations of Hispanic people and one of the largest populations of Jewish people. Plus, we have ethnic representation from virtually every other imaginable ethnicity of which we can dream. That is a wonderful thing, and that is what makes Canada such a great country. York Centre is merely a microcosm of our great country of Canada.

We are a nation of immigrants. We are all from somewhere else, and we come here because Canada represents this great country of hope and opportunity, yes for ourselves but, more important, for our kids. People come here because they want to escape racism and persecution. They want a better life for themselves and, more particularly, for their kids so they can achieve all the hopes, dreams and aspirations possible for a human being.

I rise today and speak about the various ethnicities and ethnocultural representation we have in our great country of Canada. We are this country of diasporas. When I am in my riding of York Centre, I am privileged to go to a different event almost every night that is ethnocultural based. Sometimes I go to two, three or four events in a night.

All these ethnic groups are different. They all celebrate something different, representing their own culture. However, what they are doing is the most Canadian thing we can ever imagine. They are celebrating where they come from, but what they are most proud of and what unites them all, notwithstanding where they originally come from, is that they are proud Canadians. They are proud of our Canadian values of freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law. They take great pride in that. Whenever I mention the word “Canada”, bar none, we get a standing ovation because everybody wants to celebrate being Canadian. They know the value of what it is to live in our great country of Canada, and they know what they left behind. Yes, they can celebrate their culture and their differences, but they know at the end of the day they are most proud of being Canadian.

That is why it is so important we pass Bill S-7. As a country, it is inconsistent with our values, and we will not tolerate allowing people into it who will practise barbaric acts. People say that the title of the bill is provocative. Yes, it is intentionally so because we want to label these acts as barbaric.

That is unlike the leader of the Liberal Party who, a few years ago, had a problem with the word “barbaric”. When Citizenship and Immigration Canada put out a guide for new Canadians, it used the word “barbaric“ in the guide, and it referred to certain acts like female genital mutilation and forced marriages for young women. These acts were declared barbaric, and the Liberal leader went to his Twitter page stated his objection to the use of the word “barbaric”. He said that it did not take into account cultural sensitivities. He said that there were different cultures out there that were inconsistent with the values that we had in Canada, but that we nevertheless must respect those values, and such barbarism must be respected. He took umbrage with that word. However, when the Liberal leader was confronted by many Canadians who objected to his objection of the word “barbaric”, he said, “Perhaps I got tangled in semantic weeds”.

He said, and this is the best, that the government should use the words that make “an attempt at responsible neutrality”. We are not in the neutrality business. We are in the business of promoting the values of Canadians, what Canadians take pride in. As I said earlier, we take pride in our Canadian values and stand up for freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law because we are proud of our country and we will not accept people who come to our country and want to practise barbaric acts.

The opposition says that the bill would put it underground. It is underground right now. A woman cannot go to a hospital and ask to have her genitals mutilated. We as a country are taking a stand. We as a government are saying this is wrong. Yes, the legislation serves an educational purpose and a pedagogical purpose because we need to send a strong message to those people who would dare think that in our great country of Canada these barbaric practices are acceptable, because they absolutely are not.

I would hope the Liberal Party and the New Democratic Party would not engage in their moral relativism and think that there is nothing right and there is nothing wrong, that everybody needs to debate and everything is a gray area. No, there are certain rights, imperatives and things that are right and wrong, and barbaric practices such as female genital mutilation, forced marriages and honour killings are wrong. We take a stand against that as do Canadians. We know where Canada stands.

The Canadian people sent us here to do a job. We take that job very seriously. We are honoured to have that responsibility. We have a responsibility to the Canadian people to ensure our country is protected.

We are sending our armed forces to northern Iraq to fight against ISIS. What is ISIS doing? We have seen it burn human beings alive. We know it takes little girls from their towns and use them as sex slaves and sells them into slavery. It cuts off the heads of women, children and men. We have sent our armed forces there, along with a coalition, to fight against this objectionable behaviour, to fight against these thugs and barbarians. We do not want this in Canada.

The Canadian people have spoken. The Canadian people have made it clear that we will never—we have not in the past, we will not now, and we will not in the future—accept these barbaric acts. We will never do it, and we stand firm in that. Our government is representing the views and beliefs of the Canadian people by introducing this legislation.

Leader of the Liberal Party of Canada March 11th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, the Liberal leader is being criticized for comparing current debates to the turning away of Jewish refugees in the 1930s and 1940s. Let me share what B'nai Brith Canada had to say:

[The] Liberal leader['s]...comparison of Canada’s current immigration policy to that of the 1940’s which saw Jews barred from the country is wholly inappropriate....[The Liberal leader] is the latest in a long line of politicians who fall into the trap of drawing highly-inappropriate and offensive Nazi-era comparisons by using the term ‘none is too many’ haphazardly. Such language is divisive and only does a dis-service to Canadians interested in dealing with pressing issues of the day. We must find the balance between freedom and security without resorting to inaccurate historical parallels that have no bearing on reality. The threat of radicalization and jihadist terror is real. We must all work together to address that threat while being part of a tolerant and pluralistic society

The Liberal leader must apologize for his comments.

Boris Nemtsov March 10th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, upon hearing of the assassination of Boris Nemtsov, my thoughts immediately turned to his family. How difficult this must be for them. He was so young, so vibrant, so full of life, but what of his extended family, all those people who shared in his yearning for hope, democracy, opportunity, equality and justice? How difficult this is for all those who share in this grief.

For all those throughout history who have been cut down and taken from us far too early, we must continue to carry the torch. As it says in scripture, “Say not in grief 'he is no more' but live in thankfulness that he was”.

A few months after my election to the House of Commons in 2011, I hosted Boris Nemtsov in Ottawa for meetings with my fellow parliamentarians. In my riding of York Centre, we organized a community event to a packed room at the Bernard Betel Centre. His message was a simple one, centred on hope and optimism.

Let me be clear. Those cherished values did not die in the streets of Moscow with Boris Nemstov. Yes, the world cries, tears are shed over his grave for the words left unsaid and deeds left undone, but Boris pushed the door open. Now it is up to all of us to carry his memory across the threshold.

Rest in peace, my friend.

B'nai Brith Canada February 26th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to welcome B'nai Brith Canada to Parliament Hill today. Led by a team of experts, they are here to testify before the human rights subcommittee regarding the threat posed by Iran.

Their message is clear: Iran is one of the world's leading sponsors of terrorism and the driving force behind international terrorist organizations like Hezbollah and Hamas. The Iranian regime also continues its attempt to acquire nuclear weapons. This despotic regime has repeatedly threatened to “wipe” Israel off the map.

Israel, like Canada, faces many threats. Canadians are being targeted by terrorists simply because they hate our society and the values it represents.

That is why it is so important to hear from an organization like B'nai Brith, which, since its founding in 1875, has been engaged in combatting anti-Semitism, bigotry, and racism in Canada and abroad.

Canada does not sit on the sidelines when our values are threatened as some would have us do. Therefore, we are grateful for the leadership and insight that organizations like B'nai Brith Canada have shown. I know all of us on this side of the House would like to thank B'nai Brith for their commitment to the values that make Canada the best country in the world in which to live.

Rise in anti-Semitism February 24th, 2015

Mr. Chair, I thank the minister for his very warm remarks.

As a country, Canada is doing well. We have seen our Prime Minister not go to a Commonwealth meeting in Sri Lanka. We have seen our Prime Minister stand up against Russian aggression in Crimea and Ukraine. We have seen our Prime Minister stand shoulder to shoulder with Israel. Our foreign policy is now based on principle.

As a country, Canada is doing very well in our promotion of Canadian values. What gives me great pause, however, is what we see in other countries around the world. When we see anti-Semitic incidents take place in Europe, when we see the murder of Jews in Copenhagen, in Paris, in other countries around the world, not only do Canadians need to stand up and say no, but people around the world need to stand up and say no.

Growing up, I remember what Martin Niemöller, a German pastor, had said, “First they came for the Socialists, but I was not Socialist, so I did not care. Then they came for the trade unionists, but I was not a trade unionists, so I did not care. Then they came for the Jews, but there was no one left to stand up and say anything”.

We cannot afford to find ourselves in that kind of position ever again. That is why I am so proud as a Canadian to be part of a government and to be part of a Parliament that takes such a strong stand, exhibited tonight by every member from every party, standing up and saying no to anti-Semitism, standing shoulder to shoulder to fight this ugly rabid scourge head on.

Rise in anti-Semitism February 24th, 2015

Mr. Chair, before I begin my remarks, I will indicate that I will be splitting my time with the member for Ajax—Pickering, the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration.

I would like to begin by saying that in 1945, when the horrors of the Shoah became known to the world, the world came together and said, “Never again”. “Never again” must not be seen as a hollow phrase. “Never again” must be a call to action for all people of good conscience to stand together against the scourge of anti-Semitism and racism, in whatever form it may take, and for all people to stand together and support each other when they face hatred.

My colleagues tonight on all sides of the House have spoken quite eloquently about anti-Semitism. I want to talk more about the personal side of my own experience.

My dad, as many members know, was a survivor of the Holocaust and was the only survivor from his family. My dad was in Auschwitz. He was 12 when he was interred in the ghetto in Lodz, which, before the war in 1939, had 225,000 Jewish inhabitants, out of 600,000 people. By the war's end, only 300 Jewish residents of Lodz had survived.

In 1944, my dad and grandfather were taken to Auschwitz on the last transport out of the ghetto. My grandmother and my dad's younger brother had already been taken earlier to another death camp two years earlier, Chelmno, which was located outside of Lodz, where the Germans had set up vans. These were not just ordinary vans. These were vans where the exhaust pipe fed back into them so that all of the people were asphyxiated who were put into the vans.

My dad was taken to Auschwitz in 1944 with the liquidation of the Lodz ghetto, and upon arrival there, the SS man sent my grandfather in one direction to the gas and my dad to slave labour.

My dad never spoke a word about what happened. When he came to Canada in 1947, he came with a number on his arm, a shirt on his back, but more importantly, hope in his heart, like most immigrants who come to Canada do. He built a family here. He built a life. He chose hope over despair.

I grew up in the Bathurst Manor area of Toronto, which has a large number of Holocaust survivors. Many of my friends' parents were survivors. As kids, we all wanted to know about our parents' experiences, but we did not dare ask, because we knew intuitively that we should not ask, because it just showed too much pain on our parents' faces for them to talk about, so we did not ask, and we grew up without knowing.

A couple of months ago, I was contacted by a fellow who lives in the riding of York Centre. He called and asked me if I am the Adler whose father was Abram Adler from Lodz. I said yes, and he said he had a story for me. He said he knew my dad's family in the ghetto and that there was something I should know. He said that before the Germans had sealed the ghetto, in the spring of 1940, my uncle, Chaim, was part of a group of Jewish men who would go out at night after the German curfew and smuggle food and clothes to Jewish children's orphanages. He said that one particular night, Chaim was told to drive the truck because he was the only one who knew how to drive a truck. They were caught by the Germans. They were all made to lie face down on the street outside of the orphanage, and they were all shot in the head. He then told me that the SS went into the orphanage and shot all the children. He thought I should know this story.

Another story is about friends of my parents. This fellow was a survivor who married a women from Canada. I remember my parents saying that when he went to sleep at night, he would wake up almost every night, screaming and in a cold sweat. His wife had to place a Canadian and an American flag at the foot of their bed to reassure him when he woke up, he was safe. The dreams he would have were so torturous, recalling what happened to him during the Shoah.

This is the kind of environment I grew up in as the child of a Holocaust survivor. When I went to my friends' bar mitzvahs, they were attended by hundreds of people, but at my own bar mitzvah there were no grandparents.

At Rosh Hashanah, at Passover, there are empty chairs at the table because there are no grandparents, there are no aunts and uncles, there are no cousins. These are the circumstances, this is the environment, the result of the anti-Semitism that we as Jewish people had to endure in Europe in the 1940s.

It all started with words which led to deeds. That is why it is so important. We are talking about a take-note debate. This is not a debate; it is an agreement. Let us all take note. Let us all say that we, as a people, who live in the great democracy of Canada, stand for Canadian values and as democratic people, we have a responsibility to each other to stand up for those Canadian values of democracy, of freedom and of the rule of law.

When one person is being persecuted, we are all being persecuted. It is incumbent upon all of us to stand together, to stand up for each other and to fight the evil of racism, hatred and anti-Semitism.