House of Commons photo

Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was mentioned.

Last in Parliament September 2021, as Liberal MP for Kitchener South—Hespeler (Ontario)

Won his last election, in 2019, with 40% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Tourism May 8th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, tourism is a key economic driver in Waterloo Region.

For 10 years, the Conservatives failed to understand that. Harper made cuts to Destination Canada's budget, and now Doug Ford is cutting the province's tourism budget. It is very clear that the tourism sector is not a priority for these Conservatives.

Can the Minister of Tourism, Official Languages and La Francophonie reassure the hard-working people of the tourism sector what our government is doing to support them better?

National Nursing Week May 6th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to rise in the House today to recognize the vital contributions nurses make to the health and well-being of all Canadians. With more than 425,000 regulated nurses across Canada, it is by far our largest group of health care providers.

This week is National Nursing Week 2019. It is a week in which we recognize nurses' commitment to delivering safe, effective and quality health care. The week draws attention to nurses to increase awareness of the many contributions of nurses to the well-being of Canadians.

I am pleased to celebrate this special week with the Canadian Nurses Association, the national and global professional voice of Canadian nursing, representing over 140,000 nurses in all 13 jurisdictions across Canada.

I thank Canada's nurses for their leadership in delivering better health care for our nation, with a special thanks to the nurses of Cambridge, Kitchener and Waterloo.

Mennonite Heritage Week February 27th, 2019

Madam Speaker, I rise today to address Motion No. 111, which seeks to recognize the contributions of Mennonite Canadians in building Canadian society by recognizing the second week of September as Mennonite heritage week.

It is well known that Canada is one of the most diverse countries in the world. Canada is home to approximately 200,000 people of Mennonite faith. Ontario and Manitoba have the largest Mennonite population in the country, with 58,000 and 44,000 Mennonites respectively.

Canadians of Mennonite faith have contributed much to Canadian history and to the overall fabric of Canadian society. Many Mennonites have received international recognition for their work and have established themselves as leaders in Canadian communities.

Mennonite Canadians continue to leave a lasting mark on our diverse national fabric in every aspect of Canadian life, strengthening Canada in the process. They are prominent in Canadian film, television, radio broadcasting, newspapers and magazines. They are active in political life at all levels of government.

I would like to quickly speak about a few Mennonite Canadians who are currently reshaping Canadian society while also introducing the world to Mennonite-Canadian heritage and culture through their work and art.

Dawna Friesen is an Emmy Award-winning Canadian journalist with a career that spans both Canada and the world. Her hard work and determination have led to many successes, such as winning a Gemini Award in 2011 for the best news anchor. Travelling the world, she has been able to tell us many stories that have touched our lives as Canadians. She is one of the country's first female news anchors to lead a nightly newscast.

Howard Dyck is a Canadian conductor and broadcaster. He has had a long, distinguished career in classical music, including being the artistic director of the Grand Philharmonic Choir and chamber singers and the conductor of the Bach Elgar Choir of Hamilton. He received the Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2012.

Miriam Toews, a celebrated Canadian author, writer and actor, is best known for her novels, such as A Complicated Kindness and All My Puny Sorrows. She has won a number of literary prizes, including the Governor General's Award for fiction and the Writers' Trust Engel/Findley Award for her body of work. She is a two-time finalist for the Scotiabank Giller Prize and a two-time winner of the Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize. Her work explores the challenges and notions of patriarchy, family and community, using her Mennonite heritage as the anchor for her work.

Dr. Henry George Friesen is a Canadian endocrinologist; a distinguished professor at the University of Manitoba; and the discoverer of human prolactin, a hormone that is best known for enabling the production of milk in mammals. He is a recipient of the Canada Gairdner International Award in recognition of his contributions to the fields of biochemistry, physiology and pathophysiology.

The President of the Treasury Board, a practising doctor and politician, has earned much acclaim. As a doctor, my esteemed colleague has worked in Canada and abroad to address issues of social inequality and enhance opportunities for individuals that improve their socio-economic outcomes.

Her work to promote global health includes founding a grassroots response to the global HIV epidemic in 2004. Give a Day to world AIDS challenges Canadians to raise money for people affected by HIV. She was also instrumental in the launch of Ethiopia's first family medicine training program through her work with the Toronto Addis Ababa Academic Collaboration. She was raised in my riding of Kitchener South—Hespeler.

Finally, James Reimer is a professional NHL goaltender who is currently playing for the Florida Panthers. He made his NHL debut with the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2011. Reimer plays for Canada internationally and first represented our country in the 2011 world championships.

Despite immigrating to Canada in the 1870s and being key contributors to building our nation, Mennonites experienced discrimination and adversity due to their customs, habits, modes of living and practices. Remembering our past provides us a moment of pause to think about how we see ourselves as a nation in the world today.

The first Mennonites to Canada arrived in the late 18th century, settling in southern Ontario and Manitoba and moving into the Prairies and the Northwest Territories. Today, Canadians of all ethnicities take part in Mennonite beliefs, practices and traditions. Early Mennonites to Canada were Dutch, German, Russian, and American. They came to Canada for the promise of land, cultural and educational autonomy and a guaranteed exemption from military service.

After the First World War, many religious groups were refused entry into Canada under the Immigration Act due to their customs, habits and practices, making it hard for Mennonites. Today, we recognize that Mennonite settlements in the west were instrumental in the development of our nation.

There is a wide scope of worship, doctrine and traditions among Mennonites today and there are many types of practising Mennonites. Some avoid all forms of technology and live traditionally, while others use modern machinery and electronics. They are Canadians, living and practising their beliefs in a manner consistent with their community ideals.

In 1988, Canada became the first nation to proclaim a Multiculturalism Act. The act requires that we continually safeguard equality for all Canadians, in all economic, social, cultural and political aspects of their lives.

Our multicultural heritage is about more than just a commitment to welcoming diverse people from around the world. It is a commitment to principles of equality and freedom, grounded in human rights and enshrined in our legislative framework, including the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Canadian Multiculturalism Act.

A little connection to my riding would be that in 1857, the Hespeler part of my riding was named after Jacob Hespeler, a native of Württemberg, Germany, an immigrant and entrepreneur who established successful industries in my riding of Hespeler.

Many Mennonites came from many areas in the United States, particularly from Pennsylvania, and settled in southern Ontario in my hometown city of Kitchener, which at the time was named Berlin. It drew many immigrants from Germany, approximately 50,000, to the region and continuing well after the war.

Some of the local names one may see in certain areas of my riding would be Bechtel, Eby, Erb, Weber and Cressman. My first summer job was in construction. The last name of my employer, the gentleman who owned company, was Cressman. His cultural ties and his heritage were linked to Mennonites. I had the privilege of working with him. It was great to see how he helped build our community and a lot of the region.

Diversity is a core component of our Canadian identity. The historic and contemporary contributions of Mennonite Canadians are a vital part of the diversity and the social, economic and political fabric of our country.

Finally, I would like to thank all Canadians of Mennonite heritage for their commitment to building our great nation. Celebrating our interconnectedness and the many unique communities and cultures that thrive here gives us a chance to discover what we all share in common. This allows us to fully appreciate the value of our differences. ln celebrating our diversity, we learn about our common struggles and our shared values. We learn how far we have come, but also the hurdles that we must overcome.

I want to thank the member for bringing the motion forward. It is a great motion and I will be happy to support it.

High School Coach of the Year February 1st, 2019

Mr. Speaker, as we enter the Super Bowl weekend with the New England Patriots versus the Los Angeles Rams, I rise to recognize and congratulate Greg White, a teacher at Jacob Hespeler Secondary School and head coach of the Hespeler Hawks senior football team.

Mr. White is the recipient of this year's Riddell High School Coach of the Year Award. He was nominated by football parents, Jana Papke, Dennis Flaming and Daphne Nuys-Hall. Thanks to local reporter Mark Bryson, an article about Greg White's award appeared in the Waterloo Region Record this past Monday.

Mr. White was involved in starting up Hespeler's football program in 1992. He led the Hawks to their first all-Ontario championship in November, following an undefeated record of 12-0 this past season.

I congratulate Greg White and the Hespeler Hawks.

Criminal Code December 10th, 2018

Madam Speaker, I want to talk about sections 36 and 37 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act in my speech, which already address inadmissibility grounds with respect to criminality, serious criminality and organized criminality. That will be the majority of what I will be speaking about in my speech.

I am pleased to be able to take the floor to discuss Bill S-240, an act to amend the Criminal Code and the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, which proposes new criminal law responses to tackle the issue of organ trafficking.

I would like to spend my time discussing the bill's proposed changes to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.

Members will likely be aware that the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act sets out a number of rules governing who is and who is not admissible to Canada. In particular, division 4, part 1 of the act specifies a number of situations where a foreign national or permanent resident will be inadmissible to Canada for reasons of security, for reasons of criminality of various types, or for having engaged in human or international rights violations.

Section 35 specifically articulates the grounds upon which a permanent resident or foreign national would be inadmissible for reasons of violating human or international rights, such as where the person has engaged in genocide or war crimes. Bill S-240 proposes to amend this section to provide that a permanent resident or foreign national would be inadmissible to Canada for having engaged in conduct that would constitute an offence captured by any of the four new offences proposed in this bill. This amendment raises interesting issues that I look forward to hearing more about during our debates here in the House.

In determining whether someone is inadmissible, Bill S-240 would require the minister to be satisfied that the individual engaged in conduct that is captured by the bill's proposed new offences. In the summary of the bill, it notes that the minister who would be responsible for making such determinations would be the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration. However, it is my understanding that the minister who is responsible for the inadmissibility sections of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act is the Minister of Public Safety. It is unclear to me whether the sponsor of the bill is proposing that the ministerial responsibility for this new ground of inadmissibility be different than what is currently the case. It is important to ensure that the bill would not result in a situation where ministerial responsibility is either misunderstood or inconsistently applied in this act.

I would also be interested to hear more from the bill's sponsor in the House of Commons as to whether amending section 35 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act is appropriate, given the focus of the section is on international rights violations. It is not clear to me why the amendments are proposed here, rather than in sections 36 and 37 of the act, which deal with inadmissibility on the grounds of criminality, serious criminality and organized criminality.

I would also like to note that another private member's bill, Bill C-350, introduced by the sponsor of Bill S-240 in the House, dealing with the same issue, would amend section 37 instead of section 35. There appears to be some uncertainty as to where this kind of change should be made, and I am interested in hearing more about this in the House.

More fundamentally, I wonder whether this type of amendment is even needed. The Immigration and Refugee Protection Act already contains a number of different grounds upon which a person may be found inadmissible to Canada. Specifically, sections 36 and 37 of the act already address inadmissibility on grounds of criminality, serious criminality and organized criminality. These provisions, in my view, are broad enough to capture the conduct targeted by the proposed amendment. For example, permanent residents or foreign nationals are inadmissible to Canada for engaging in serious criminality. While “serious criminality” is not defined, the provision makes clear that it includes engaging in conduct abroad that was an offence in the place where it occurred and that if it had been committed in Canada it would constitute an offence punishable by a maximum penalty of at least 10 years' imprisonment.

Under this rule, a foreign national or permanent resident who engages in conduct that would be criminalized by the offences proposed in Bill S-240 would be inadmissible. I wonder then what the rationale is for specifically enumerating a new ground of admissibility.

The same holds true for subsection 36(2), which states that a foreign national is admissible to Canada for having been convicted of an offence outside of Canada that, if it were committed in Canada, would have constituted an indictable offence.

Beyond the question I have already raised concerning the need for specific amendments of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, I would like to spend a few moments talking about what may be unintended consequences of Bill S-240.

As has already been discussed in previous speeches, one of the proposed new offences will criminalize any person who obtains or facilitates obtaining an organ from the body of another person where he or she knows or was reckless as to whether the organ was obtained for consideration. Others have spoken about how this would capture individuals who travel abroad to obtain an organ that was purchased in a country where it would be legal to do so. However, it is not only limited to this conduct.

For example, proposed subsection 240.1(3) will also criminalize medical practitioners who participate in the organ transplant surgery in the country where it is legal to do so. Under Bill S-240, that person will also be inadmissible to Canada. I wonder if this is an appropriate outcome.

I raise these questions because I strongly believe we need to fully appreciate the implications of any legislation that is brought before us. I do not believe that to this point, Bill S-240's proposed changes to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act have benefited from the kind of detailed debate that is required. In fact, based on my review of the parliamentary record, I could not find a single question raised in the other place about the implications associated with Bill S-240's immigration-related proposals.

There can be no doubt that the issue of illicit organ trafficking is a serious one. There equally can be no doubt that we, as parliamentarians, are united in our concern and commitment to identifying appropriate solutions to address the behaviour of those who would seek to exploit the vulnerable, with no regard for their health or well-being.

Nevertheless, we should not let the seriousness of the issue detract from our responsibility to closely examine and, where possible, improve upon legislation that is brought before us. A number of issues have been identified with Bill S-240 that require more detailed examination, and I look forward to our continued consideration of them.

Hockey November 29th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to wish the Cambridge roadrunners girls' peewee A hockey team good luck at the Canada-America hockey tournament in Lake Placid, New York, over the next three days. The tournament is a classic clash of hockey titans, Canadians versus Americans.

Our community and I will be proudly cheering them on. I have had the pleasure of meeting the players and their dedicated coach, Dave Moore, at the Hespeler Memorial hockey arena in my riding of Kitchener South—Hespeler.

These young women have all the things that make an incredible hockey team: heart, focus and determination. I know the team members will represent Canada well, and that they will remind the American hockey teams that hockey is our game.

Go Canada, go.

Budget Implementation Act, 2018, No. 2 November 27th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, we made a promise to invest in Canadians, and that is what we are doing. We are doing the best of the G7 countries. Canadian wages are among the best in the G7 countries. We will continue to invest in Canadians. We will see this record through. We will ensure that we are doing the best for Canadians by investing in them and opening up markets, which we have done with the TPP, CETA and the new USMCA. We will continue to deliver for Canadians.

Budget Implementation Act, 2018, No. 2 November 27th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, there have been companies in the past that have gone into insolvency or bankruptcy and a lot of the time pensioners were the last to get paid. We have seen it here with Nortel in Ottawa and I am sure the member has seen it in his region in Hamilton. Moving forward, we want to see that pensioners are protected. A lot of the pensioners who are in unions have taken minimal wage increases throughout the years in order to protect their pensions and their benefits. Therefore, we want to ensure that pensions are protected. Personally, I want to see this going forward so that we can see pensioners being protected.

Budget Implementation Act, 2018, No. 2 November 27th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives are the opposition and, rightfully so, they have to ensure the government is investing in Canadians, that investment is recuperating and that investment is coming back to Canadians. Therefore, I will provide the House with the record.

Since we have taken office, we have invested in Canadians. We have seen an unemployment rate hovering around 7%, now down to 5.8% or around 6%. As I mentioned in my speech, in my region it is at 5.2%. When we put the investments in place for Canadians we see that record.

Also, we have lowered taxes on middle-class Canadians from 22% down to 20.5%. That has led to Canadians spending more in the economy and when there is more spending more businesses will be able to sell their products. We have seen that kind of a record. When we invest in Canadians, we see that record coming back.

Budget Implementation Act, 2018, No. 2 November 27th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak today in support of Bill C-86.

For people watching at home, some of what we are discussing today may sound familiar. That is because we heard about these programs earlier this year when the Minister of Finance presented the 2018 budget on February 27.

Budgets, by their nature, are aspirational, forward-looking documents. They are an expression of what we, as a government, are planning to do.

In order to achieve the objectives which we have set out for ourselves in the budget, we must make new laws or make changes to existing laws. To do that, we must pass legislation.

The aspirations in this year's budget took nearly 400 pages to express. If the budget took nearly 400 printed pages to express, the laws needed to implement the plan have to be written. That generally involves multiples of 400 pages and then those laws have to be presented and debated in the House of Commons, be examined by a committee or committees, be passed by the House, then sent to the Senate, debated and reviewed by a Senate committee, passed by the Senate and then sent to the Governor General for royal assent. All that takes a lot of time.

Therefore, we divide the budget plan into those items that need to get passed right away. Soon after the budget is presented, we deal with those items with a first piece of legislation. Then later we deal with the more forward-looking plans in the budget and we create a second piece of legislation to implement the remainder of the budget plan.

Today we are discussing that second piece of legislation to implement the 2018 budget. One of the aspirations expressed in budget 2018 was that we should address the gender wage gap by making progress toward equal pay for equal work. The issue arises because, as the budget said:

In Canada today, women earn 31 per cent less than men do....the median income for women is $28,120, compared with $40,890 for men....As the largest employer in the country, many have called on the federal government to lead by example—and that is what the Government will do.

The bill we are debating today introduces proactive pay equity legislation for workers in the federal government and in federally regulated sectors. Equal pay for work of equal value is the smart thing to do. We are very proud to be moving forward with proactive pay equity legislation. It is a key way in which our government is delivering on its commitment to gender equality.

Bill C-86 proposed to enact the pay equity act to establish a proactive process for the achievement of pay equity by the redressing of the systemic gender-based discrimination experienced by employees who occupy positions in predominantly female job classes. The new act would require federal public and private sector employers that would have 10 or more employees to establish and maintain a pay equity plan, with set time frames, to identify and correct differences in compensation between predominantly female and predominantly male job classes for which the work performed would be of equal value.

The new act would provide for the powers, duties and functions of a pay equity commissioner, which would include facilitating the resolution of disputes, conducting compliance audits and investigating disputes, objections and complaints, as well as making orders and imposing administrative monetary penalties for violations of that act. The new act would also requires the pay equity commissioner to report annually to Parliament on the administration and enforcement of the new act.

Bill C-86 would also amend the Parliamentary Employment and Staff Relations Act to provide for the application of the pay equity act to parliamentary employers. It would also make the Minister of Labour responsible for the administration of the federal contractors program for pay equity.

On modernizing the federal labour standards, the amendments to the Canada Labour Code that Bill C-86 would make are:

(a) provide five days of paid leave for victims of family violence, a personal leave of five days with three paid days, an unpaid leave for court or jury duty and a fourth week of annual vacation with pay for employees who have completed at least 10 consecutive years of employment; (b) eliminate minimum length of service requirements for leaves and general holiday pay and reduce the length of service requirement for three weeks of vacation with pay; (c) prohibit differences in rate of wages based on the employment status of employees...(e) update group and individual termination provisions by increasing the minimum notice of termination.

Bill C-86 would also amend the Wage Earner Protection Program Act to:

...among other things, increase the maximum amount that may be paid to an individual under the act, increase the maximum amount that may be paid to an individual under the Act, expand the definition of eligible wages, expand the conditions under which a payment may be made under the Act.

It is interesting to note that while the Liberal federal government is enhancing labour standards for workers, the Conservative provincial government in Ontario is in the process of diminishing labour standards. We would think that the first rule of government would be like that of the medical profession: First do not harm.

I share the disappointment of some members of the House that we were not able to take a further step forward by protecting worker pensions in the event of insolvency of employers. Bill C-86 would make amendments to Canada's insolvency legislation and would improve the Wage Earner Protection Program Act. However, it does not address the issue, which is essentially of deferred wages remaining unpaid. The pension of workers need protection from employers' bankruptcy by giving pension funds priority in employer bankruptcies. I hope we can move forward to correct this problem in the not too distant future.

I also want to talk about our record of our government and what we have done for middle-class Canadians.

The investments made from our government in middle-class Canadians consist of $40 billion in a national housing strategy. This is much-needed and will help Canadians have a decent home to live and raise their families. We have also increased the Canada child benefit, which will be indexed as of this year. An average family will receive $2,000 more in its pocket to help with the high cost of raising its children. We have lifted hundreds of thousands of children out of poverty.

With respect to jobs, we have created over 500,000 new jobs since 2015. We have had the lowest unemployment rate in 40 years. The unemployment rate nationally is around 5.8% to 6%. In Waterloo Region, at the end of October, that unemployment rate was at 5.2%.

We have also announced federal funding for a high-tech company in my riding, North Inc., which is making high-tech Focals, eyeglasses. This has increased jobs in my region. It has added 230 good well-paying jobs in the high-tech sector.

As well, and not in terms of the budget, in my committee of citizenship and immigration, we brought in the global skills strategy to bring in high-tech workers to our region to ensure we closed the gaps in the high-tech sector.

In infrastructure spending, we have added historic spending of $120 billion in infrastructure projects. In my region alone, I have announced $97 million for a highway expansion, going from six lanes to 10 lanes, so we can get our products to market faster and can have faster commutes to and from the GTA from our region.

Also, we have lowered taxes for the middle class, from 22% down to 20.5%. We have also lowered taxes on businesses, from 11% to 9% in 2019.

These are some of the things our government has laid out and it is our record since we formed government. This is why I am supporting this budget.