House of Commons photo

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

Anti-terrorism Act, 2015 February 19th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, coming from the leaning tower of appeasement party over there, I am a little taken aback. Here is a party that first of all said that it did not support our mission in Iraq, claiming that it supported the troops but not the mission. That is reminiscent of conscription if necessary but not necessarily conscription. It seems that the Liberal Party is very adept at that.

I must say, however, that our fight against terrorism is multi-faceted, and it must evolve with the times. Terrorism is the number one threat to our country right now, and our responsibility as legislators is to the people of Canada who have sent here. They have sent us here to keep them safe, first and foremost. We are committed to that. We do not waver.

We know exactly what our job is here. It is to keep the people of Canada safe, and we will not—

Anti-terrorism Act, 2015 February 19th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, it was Winston Churchill who once said that “an appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last”.

What this bill would do is enhance and give the right tools and proper equipment to our law enforcement officials so that they can keep Canadians safe.

In1981, the McDonald Commission reported on the wrongdoing of the RCMP at the time. CSIS was created three years later, in 1984. CSIS was created with the sole purpose of investigating foreign intelligence agencies operating in Canada. Times have changed, and our security intelligence services need to change with them. We now have new threats.

If the member remembers last October, we had a terrorist incident right here in our own Parliament. We had another terrorist incident in Quebec. There have been terrorist attacks recently in Copenhagen and Paris. Our law enforcement officials need the proper tools with which to conduct the proper investigations to keep us safe.

The opposition always asks for specific incidents. Our law enforcement officers never get saves, like in baseball. We do not hear about what they stop, but we do hear about what actually gets through. Our job here is to make sure that our law enforcement officials can continue to make those saves so that we do not ever have to hear about another terrorist incident happening in Canada or anywhere else in the world.

Anti-terrorism Act, 2015 February 19th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, we are a country that holds a strong belief in equality, human rights, and the rule of law. Therefore, I would like to begin my comments today by making a statement that may seem obvious but that some in this House would deem to be controversial. The international jihadist movement has declared war on Canada. Canadians are being targeted by jihadi terrorists simply because these terrorists hate our society and the values we represent.

That is why our Conservative government has put forward the bill we are talking about today. It is a bill that would protect Canadians from jihadi terrorists who seek to destroy the very principles that make Canada the best country in the world in which to live.

Be it the brutal and merciless attacks on Canadian soil in October or abroad in Sydney, Paris, and Copenhagen in recent weeks, terrorism attacks core values and what we as Canadians hold dear: our freedoms and our democracy. As the Prime Minister indicated following the violent attacks, “We will not be intimidated”. It is therefore essential that we provide those entrusted to investigate, analyze, and respond to terrorism with all the necessary tools to degrade and destroy threats to our national security in whatever form they may take. This is exactly what the anti-terrorism act, 2015 would do.

I would like to spend my time discussing the parts of this bill that have been the subject of considerable interest; namely, the amendments that would strengthen the terrorism recognizance with conditions and the terrorism peace bond provisions.

The ability to prevent terrorism before it happens is critically important in our overall approach to responding to terrorism at home and abroad. Preventative arrest provisions, as they are more commonly known, do just that. They are rapid response tools that can be sought even where there has been no criminal charge and no prior convictions, enabling a judge to impose any conditions.

The anti-terrorism act, 2015 would reduce the red-tape burden required to obtain a recognizance with conditions. Under the current law, a peace officer must believe, on reasonable grounds, “that a terrorist activity will be carried out”. That is an incredibly high threshold. The bill would change this and instead require that a peace officer believe that a terrorism offence “may be carried out”. This is far more reasonable. It would also replace the additional requirement that a police officer suspect, on reasonable grounds, that the recognizance is “necessary to prevent the carrying out of the terrorist activity” with a requirement that the police officer suspect on reasonable grounds that the recognizance “is likely to prevent the carrying out of the terrorist activity”.

Other important changes to the terrorism recognizance are contained in this bill. Currently, a person may be detained under these provisions for a maximum of three days. The bill would increase the maximum period of detention to seven days. I support this change, because we need to ensure that Canadians are safe from terrorist activity. I also support this change because the law would also ensure that the constitutionally guaranteed rights and freedoms of those detained would be fully respected by requiring police to go before a judge after the first 24 hours, and generally every 48 hours thereafter, to justify the need for continued detention.

It is important to understand how these provisions work. Under the current law, if a police officer has arrested someone without a warrant, he or she is required to bring that person before a judge within 24 hours. Once brought before the judge, the person can be ordered detained for up to an additional 48 hours if justified on various grounds, including where it is necessary to protect the safety of the public.

The anti-terrorism act, 2015 would not change this process but would allow for detention beyond this three-day period only where the continued detention remained necessary on various grounds, such as protecting the public, and where there was evidence to show that the investigation was being conducted diligently and expeditiously. In other words, there would be ongoing and meaningful judicial oversight concerning the detention of a person under these powers.

The proposed reforms would also allow young persons to be subject to recognizance with conditions under the provisions of the Youth Criminal Justice Act, as is currently the case for terrorism peace bonds.

I would like to discuss the improvements to the existing terrorism peace bond contained in the anti-terrorism act, 2015. The proposed changes would make this tool easier to obtain. The evidence would have to demonstrate that a person believed, on reasonable grounds, that another person “may commit” a terrorism offence, instead of the current “will commit” a terrorism offence requirement.

For both the terrorism recognizance with conditions and the peace bond, the bill would authorize a court to require sureties from a defendant. A surety is someone who agrees to take responsibility for ensuring that a person subject to the court order complies with the conditions imposed.

The bill would also require a judge to specifically consider whether geographical restrictions and temporary passport surrender conditions should be imposed to prevent the carrying out of a terrorist activity or the commission of a terrorism offence.

In situations where an individual subject to a peace bond has been previously found guilty of a terrorism offence, a judge would have the authority to order the duration of the peace bond to be up to five years, up from the current limit of two years.

Finally, the bill would increase the maximum sentence of imprisonment for a breach of these court orders in relation to the recognizance with conditions and terrorism peace bonds from two years to four years.

Now, it is important to note that existing safeguards on the use of these preventative tools are maintained in Bill C-51. First, before police can use these provisions, they will be required to obtain the consent of the Attorney General, meaning that a full review of the facts will occur to ensure that there are justifiable grounds to proceed. Second, although a police officer may arrest and detain someone under these provisions without having first obtained the Attorney General's consent, they can only do so in exigent circumstances where the grounds for laying an information exist but it would be impracticable to lay the information, for example, because it is necessary to arrest someone immediately due to a concern that terrorist activity will occur unless the person is arrested.

Third, the provisions require judicial oversight. Fourth, the use of the recognizance will continue to be the subject of annual reports to Parliament by the Attorney General of Canada and the Minister of Public Safety. Parliament will, for example, be informed of how many applications were brought, how many detentions occurred, and whether the new additional periods of detention were sought and obtained. Finally, the recognizance with conditions will still have to be brought before Parliament for mandatory review and will still be subject to a sunset clause, as required by the Combating Terrorism Act of 2013.

Before concluding, it is worth noting that the proposed enhancements to our terrorism prevention tools are consistent with similar tools in place in like-minded jurisdictions. For example, the United Kingdom has used similar measures to protect the public by imposing conditions on people who have been determined to pose a threat to the safety of the community. Australia uses control orders to prevent terrorist acts from occurring and that enable the imposition of conditions on individuals.

I think this is important, because it shows that countries with strong democratic traditions and institutions and that respect the rule of law have also recognized that they can take measures that are firm in their response to terrorism and fair in their approach, respecting the rights of those subject to these preventative tools.

We have a strong set of anti-terrorism laws. Proposals in this bill would enhance these laws to enable law enforcement to intervene earlier and more effectively in terrorist investigations.

If there is a moment when I believe we can stand together, it is now. Initiatives such as those put forth in Bill C-51 send a clear message to the world that Canada is and remains a leader in implementing measures that contribute to global security and in a way that respects the rights, freedoms, and values that define our country.

Seniors February 17th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, seniors play an important role in our families and communities. They helped build Canada and continue to contribute to its success.

That is why I always make a point of regularly visiting many of the wonderful seniors homes and organizations in York Centre. As I do every year to mark Valentine's Day, this past week I visited the Sunshine Centre for Seniors, Earl Bales Park Senior Centre, Downsview Retirement Community, and St. Bernard's Residence to distribute roses to all the residents.

As always, the smiles on their faces touched my heart. I want to thank them all for welcoming me so warmly. I also want to acknowledge and thank the directors, caregivers, and volunteers at these homes and organizations for all the hard work they do to care for their seniors.

We can best show our respect and gratitude to seniors by working hard to make sure that our communities are places where older people can participate, and find encouragement, acceptance, assistance, and services to continue to lead their lives with dignity.

For all they have achieved throughout life and all they will accomplish, we owe them our deepest gratitude. To quote poet Robert Browning:

Grow old along with me!

The best is yet to be.

Journey to Freedom Day Act February 5th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I looked at the record of the debate in the Senate, and it appears that there were four votes against the bill by the Liberal Party and 14 abstentions. I am a little perplexed that the Liberals would be interested in hearing the communist views of the Vietnamese government, given that they seem to have already made up their minds that they will not be supporting this bill. Maybe I should not be surprised. I think it would surprise even members of the NDP that the Liberals would be interested in hearing that.

I would be shocked if the NDP were against such a bill that would celebrate our great Canadian values of freedom and democracy and yet, on the other hand, remember that those in their time of need were helped by Canadians. Their generosity and the great Canadian spirit of celebrating Canadian values brought so many refugees here to Canada who have made wonderful lives for themselves. We as a country have benefited by their presence.

Journey to Freedom Day Act February 5th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, this legislation is not about reconciliation. This legislation is first about remembrance and second about celebrating the great Canadian spirit of remembering, of knowing who we are, and celebrating Canadian values of freedom, democracy, human rights, and the rule of law. We are here in the House today as an example of that. We are debating the bill here in the House today.

I know what the hon. member is referring to. At the Senate committee a representative—I believe it was the Ambassador of Vietnam—submitted a letter on behalf of the communist regime of Vietnam to give its perspective on the journey to freedom day act, to which I understand it is vehemently opposed. He submitted his remarks in writing. Unfortunately they were not in French and could not be translated in time to be put into the record.

This is an important bill, and I really hope that, in the true spirit of our great Canadian values, all members will support it.

Journey to Freedom Day Act February 5th, 2015

moved that Bill S-219, An Act respecting a national day of commemoration of the exodus of Vietnamese refugees and their acceptance in Canada after the fall of Saigon and the end of the Vietnam War, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Speaker, on April 30, 1975, the Vietnam War ended. The capital city of South Vietnam, Saigon, fell to the Communist invaders from the north, but that is not where the story ends. April 30, 1975, began a new chapter in the lives of the people of South Vietnam.

It was the start of the exodus of millions of people fleeing that country, the land they had called home for generations. They were fleeing the harsh treatment and suppression of human rights by an authoritarian government; ethnic, religious, and political persecutions; political executions of former South Vietnamese officials and their families; forced resettlement in remote areas; and deteriorating living conditions brought on by food shortages, flooding, and drought. By 1979, some 600,000 South Vietnamese had fled.

Over the next three years, the refugee label “boat people” became familiar as Vietnamese began trying to escape from their homeland aboard small watercraft, seeking temporary refuge in neighbouring countries.

Many countries refused to allow them to land. The United Nations High Commission for Refugees reported that while attempting to escape, at least 250,000 Vietnamese people lost their lives at sea due to drowning, illness, starvation, and sexual assault or violence from kidnapping or piracy.

In response to this humanitarian crisis, Canada responded by opening our doors. Between 1975 and 1976, Canada accepted some 6,500 political refugees who had left Vietnam after the fall of Saigon. In October 1976, Canada accepted 180 boat people. In August 1977, there was a further commitment for 450 people. In 1978, the government agreed to accept 50 boat families per month. By 1980, some 120,000 Vietnamese refugees were welcomed with open arms to Canada. Also, by demonstrating an ongoing concern, Canada aimed to encourage countries of first asylum to open their doors as well.

By 1986, the United Nations High Commission for Refugees was so impressed by Canada's role in accepting so many refugees from South Vietnam that the people of Canada were awarded the Nansen Medal for their “major and sustained contribution to the cause of refugees”.

This medal is the refugee equivalent to the Nobel Prize, and marks the only time in history that an entire country has been recognized in this fashion. That is why I am so proud to co-sponsor, along with Senator Thanh Hai Ngo, Bill S-219, or the journey to freedom day act, which will serve three purposes.

First, it would establish April 30 as a day to commemorate the exodus of refugees from South Vietnam.

Second, it would recognize the extraordinary humanitarian role played by the Canadian government as well as Canadian families, voluntary agencies, communities, synagogues and churches, and religious groups in welcoming so many Vietnamese so warmly into the Canadian family.

Third, it should also be noted that this period in Canadian history is one that is not well known among younger Canadians today. For that reason, April 30 should serve as a day of reflection and education. All Canadians should know the story of Vietnamese refugees who were forced to flee their native land, of the vast humanitarian effort that was undertaken by Canadians to welcome them, and of the triumph over adversity that the vibrant Vietnamese community in Canada represents.

Canada was among the first countries to welcome Vietnamese refugees with open arms. When the people of Vietnam were in need, Canadians from all walks of life answered the call without hesitation and opened their homes and hearts to over 60,000 Indochinese refugees who desperately needed a place to rebuild their lives.

This is the highest number of refugees per capita taken by any country in the world during this period. Canada's role in opening its doors to so many Vietnamese refugees is an example of the best of Canada. It is a true demonstration of Canadian values.

Here is a little bit of how it worked.

The federal government developed a private sponsorship program whereby institutions such as churches and groups of at least five adult citizens would take a refugee family into their care for a year.

For each person sponsored privately, the government accepted another refugee under its own care. It was Canada that pioneered the private sponsorship refugee program, enabling our country to accept a much larger number of refugees while also reducing the cost to the government coffers and providing an example to the rest of the world.

Without the warm and caring efforts of thousands of Canadians, and the leadership, support, and co-operation of the Canadian government, as well as refugee agencies, non-governmental organizations, and religious groups, the movement of such large numbers of people, under such urgent and difficult circumstances, would simply not have been possible.

It is written in scripture that he who saves a single life saves an entire generation. Today there are approximately 300,000 people of Vietnamese origin living in Canada. More than 100,000 of them live in the greater Toronto area.

On April 30, for the past 39 years, Vietnamese Canadians have gathered to remember a new beginning and to thank Canada. In 2015, the Vietnamese Canadian community will celebrate the 40th anniversary of the resettlement of the boat people to Canada.

This bill speaks to Canada's long-standing tradition as a beacon of freedom and democracy, a nation that generously embraced refugees who were forced to flee their homelands through no fault of their own.

One of the more remarkable developments in this story is that many of those who came to Canada as boat people are today sponsoring refugees themselves. They have partnered with the Government of Canada, under the leadership of our Prime Minister, to bring to Canada the last remaining Vietnamese refugees, who have been stranded, without status, in Southeast Asia, in places like Thailand and the Philippines, for nearly 40 years. What a proud legacy, and what an amazing way to mark their journey to freedom: by helping others.

This is an important bill, and today I ask for all members' support in moving it forward. National recognition of this day would serve as a point of pride for people of Vietnamese descent and for all Canadians, highlighting as it does the generous Canadian spirit and national respect for freedom. Our nation is one built by immigrants, and our communities are enriched by the vibrant mosaic of cultural heritage within them.

Never again shall Canada's refugee policy be as disgraceful and despicable as it was before and during the Second World War, a time when “none is too many” was the order of the day. Canada's warm, generous acceptance of immigrants and refugees is one of our nation's most sacred traditions. Our historic and continued commitment to diversity is one that we as a government must strive to recognize and honour whenever we can.

This bill would also provide an opportunity for all of us to reflect on our own commitment to a diverse and inclusive Canada, a place where we are all united in our values, regardless of race, religion, colour, or creed. It is so important for all Canadians to remember and reflect on our nation's history and how it has contributed to our current culture of pluralism, diversity, and acceptance.

This bill would also provide an excellent chance to reflect on the strengths and diversity the Vietnamese community has brought to our country and to thank them for their contribution to our cultural mosaic. We can all learn something from the refugees who were willing to risk everything to live in freedom, because a life lived without freedom is no life at all.

I am a first-generation Canadian, and this bill invites reflection on my own experience as a child of a Holocaust survivor, whose dad came to Canada with nothing more than the shirt on his back, a number tattooed on his arm, but most importantly, hope in his heart. For so many refugees who came to Canada, like the survivors of the Holocaust, the Vietnamese boat people, the persecuted Christians and Yazidis of northern Iraq and Syria, and so many others, each and every one of them had a right to turn their backs on humanity, yet they did not. They came to Canada in search of hope, hope for themselves, yes, but more importantly, hope for their children so that they would not be forced live under the yoke of oppression or persecution. They came to Canada because Canada is a beacon of light in the world, a country that stands tall and strong, adhering to the values of freedom, democracy, human rights, and the rule of law.

The journey to freedom day act would offer an opportunity to reflect on our commitment to the very best of Canadian values. It would give us yet another reason to showcase Canada as the best country in the world to call home.

Today I ask for my colleagues' support to pass Bill S-219 and help us declare April 30 as journey to freedom day in this great country of Canada.

Opposition Motion—Job Creation February 5th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, what I would say is that our party is focused on what matters most to Canadians, which is jobs, growth, and long-term prosperity. We have done that by putting more money into the pockets of hard-working Canadian families so that they can determine how that money can be spent.

It was the Liberal Party, about a decade ago, that said that if we give Canadians more money, they are going to spend it on beer and popcorn. No, they are going to spend it on their families. They are going to spend it on their kids. They are going to spend it on what matters most to them.

Opposition Motion—Job Creation February 5th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, it was not the Conservatives who rejected the Liberal proposal; it was the Canadian people in 2006, 2008, and 2011. The Canadian people rejected the Liberal proposal.

Let me tell the House about the Liberal proposal. The Liberal proposal was to pillage $55 billion from the EI fund, a manouevre on which this party decided to take that party to court, and the Supreme Court ruled that the Liberal Party had stolen the money from the EI fund. That is the Liberal proposal: to take money that belongs to Canadian workers. No, that is Canadian workers' money. The government keeps it in trust for Canadian workers.

There have been 1.2 million net new jobs created in this country since the end of the recession. That is a record that we are proud of. That is a record that we will stand proudly on, and we will take it proudly to the Canadian people when the election comes later this year.

Opposition Motion—Job Creation February 5th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate my hon. colleague listening carefully to my speech, but clearly he was not listening carefully enough.

We have lowered taxes 150 times since taking government in 2006, resulting in the average Canadian family of four saving $3,400 in taxes. That is more money in their pocket that they can spend on what they consider to be most important for them. These are hard-working Canadian families.

I remember that when I was a small kid, my dad had a small business. He had a shoe store. He would come home late at night, when and I would be looking through the window waiting for him. I would see him get out of the car and drag his knuckles on the ground. He was dead tired. However, he always took the time to play with me or to help me with my homework.

These are what small business people do. Not only do they create jobs but they also spend time with their families. This is exactly what our government is focused on: job creation profitable enough so that people who are entrepreneurs, or who can become entrepreneurs, will also have ample time to spend with their families. That feeds into our family tax cut.