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Track Michael

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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word is liberal.

Conservative MP for Wellington—Halton Hills (Ontario)

Won his last election, in 2015, with 51% of the vote.

Statements in the House

73rd Anniversary of D-Day June 7th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, 73 years ago this week, an Allied force of over 150,000 soldiers, 4,000 ships, and 11,000 airplanes began the D-Day attack to defeat Nazism and liberate the people of western Europe. The Canadians went north to the Netherlands, a distance of some 300 miles. It took them four months to get there, advancing only three miles a day. Every mile of ground was soaked in Canadian blood.

Eleven months after D-Day, in May 1945, Canadian soldiers finally liberated the Netherlands, including my mother's family in Friesland.

More than 7,600 Canadians died in the canals, fields, and villages of the Netherlands so that my mother and her family could live, and the Dutch have never forgotten. I am here today because of the sacrifices of those Canadian so long ago.

We will never forget. Je me souviens.

Government Appointments May 31st, 2017

Mr. Speaker, two major stakeholder groups representing francophone linguistic minority communities and Acadia throughout this country and anglophones in the province of Quebec have voiced concerns about the process.

Last January, the Prime Minister refused to hold the spirit of the Official Languages Act by refusing to respond to an anglophone in Quebec in English. Now the Liberals have failed to consult with leaders of the recognized parties here in the House of Commons and the Senate before coming forward with this nomination.

This process is flawed. The government lacks respect for the Official Languages Act. When will it restart this process and give us a real nomination?

Government Appointments May 31st, 2017

Mr. Speaker, I want to give the Minister of Canadian Heritage another chance. She said that stakeholder groups fully support the process. The Quebec Community Groups Network, the representative of anglophones in the province of Quebec, and the Fédération des communautés francophones et acadienne both have said that they have concerns with the process by which the government has proposed the new Commissioner of Official Languages.

Will the government and the minister admit that the process is flawed and commit to restarting this process?

Government Appointments May 29th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, when Mr. Harper proposed Graham Fraser for the position, his credentials were above any partisan approach, but the present Prime Minister proposed a candidate who does not pass the partisan smell test, and he failed to legally consult the opposition.

This past January, the Prime Minister refused to answer an anglophone in English. So much for the respect for this institution of Parliament, so much for the respect for Canada's two official languages.

When will the Prime Minister withdraw this nomination?

Government Appointments May 29th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, a Liberal MP told Michel Doucet, a candidate for Commissioner of Official Languages, that,

“if he did not talk to certain Liberal Party of Canada higher-ups, he would not get the job.”

The Commissioner of Official Languages is an agent of Parliament, not a partisan employee of the Liberal Party of Canada.

In the last election, the Prime Minister promised to clean up the partisan swamp. He promised to do things differently. Is this his idea of cleaning things up?

Battle of Hong Kong December 13th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, 75 years ago today, Canada was fighting our first battle of the Second World War: the Battle of Hong Kong. Hong Kong is often forgotten because it began on the same day as Pearl Harbor. Hong Kong is Canada's Pearl Harbor, and we cannot forget.

During that 17-day battle, 1,975 Canadian soldiers of the Royal Rifles of Canada and the Winnipeg Grenadiers desperately defended Hong Kongers, including my father and his family, from a vicious attack: 290 were killed; 500 were wounded; those not killed were taken as prisoners of war and 264 of them died in prisoner of war camps, under horrific conditions.

Of the nearly 2,000 Canadians who went to Hong Kong, over 1,000 were killed or wounded, one of the highest casualty rates of the Second World War. These Canadians died so that my father and his family could live.

We will never, ever forget.

Paris Agreement October 3rd, 2016

Mr. Speaker, that allows me to briefly touch on something else that I was not able to touch upon during my remarks, which is that not only did the government not bring forward a revenue-neutral carbon tax, but it also failed to come forward with a plan to eliminate all the regulations, the costly and ineffective regulations that put a huge burden on consumers and on companies across this country. These are regulations like the corporate average fuel economy standard regulations, the bio-fuel and ethanol and bio-diesel standards that could all have been eliminated had a proper revenue-neutral price on carbon been implemented.

It would have saved consumers and companies a lot of regulatory burden and a lot of undue costs. However, all that opportunity was missed because the government failed to show leadership on this issue and establish a nationwide revenue-neutral carbon tax using the power of free markets while at the same time cutting red tape and all the regulatory overburden that has been imposed on consumers and companies across this country.

Paris Agreement October 3rd, 2016

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his comment, but I could not disagree more strongly. I believe that setting the price of carbon is the way to go to achieve these reductions in emissions, and using the power of free markets and the private sector to achieve these outcomes has been proven in the past to work.

If the government were to set a price on carbon, allowing free markets to achieve these outcomes, that is the way to go, but what is critical in setting that price is ensuring the revenue neutrality of any revenues to the taxpayer. As I pointed out earlier in my remarks, if we do not do that, we are about to embark on one of the biggest tax grabs in Canadian history, and mark my words, this will have major political repercussions.

This is on a scale that makes the Green Energy Act in Ontario look Mickey Mouse. This is something that, at $50 a tonne, will cost the equivalent of 2% of GDP, some $38 billion a year. This is a huge shift in tax policy, and the fact that the government did not insist on revenue neutrality will hammer consumers and companies across this country.

Paris Agreement October 3rd, 2016

Mr. Speaker, we see clearly when we read the economic research on carbon pricing that the initial introduction of a carbon price has little impact on emissions. It is not until the price reaches its final stages further down the line that it actually starts to significantly reduce emissions. In other words, the reduction in emissions is not linear; it is exponential and the significant decreases come at the tail end of the pricing scheme and not at the initial stages.

Paris Agreement October 3rd, 2016

Mr. Speaker, I am happy to rise in the House to speak to this issue of climate change. I believe it is one of the greatest environmental challenges of our time. This file has befuddled federal governments for over two decades. I am glad to see that the current government has come forward with a plan.

I note that the current government has adopted the targets established by the previous Conservative government under Prime Minister Stephen Harper at Copenhagen for a 30% reduction in greenhouse gases below 2005 levels by 2030, even though in Paris, I note that the current government said this target was a minimum target and that it would come forward with a stronger target. Clearly, that is not the case.

I would also note that the Liberals promised in their election platform that “targets must recognise the economic cost and catastrophic impact that a greater-than-two-degree increase in average global temperatures would represent”. That is on page 40 of their platform.

To be clear, the House should know that the 30% target adopted by the government does not meet that election commitment to keep global warming to a two-degree limit.

However, I commend the government for coming forward with some plan so that the House can debate it. I have long believed that the federal government needs to do better in reducing emissions. That is something I have said, not just on this side of the aisle but consistently when we were sitting on the other side of the aisle.

The way to reduce emissions is to price carbon, to take what is an externality in our economic system and internalize it by pricing it; but there is a right way to price carbon and there is a wrong way to price carbon.

The right way to price carbon is based upon three important principles. The first is to have consistent prices across all regions of the country and across all economic sectors. The second is to ensure that no backdoor equalization takes place. The third principle is revenue neutrality, not to the government collecting the revenue, but revenue neutrality to the taxpayer who is paying the revenue.

Those three principles are incredibly important.

The first principle, which is to have a consistent price across all economic sectors and across all regions of the country, is important because we would otherwise distort our national economy and do great damage both to consumers and companies.

The second principle, that there be no backdoor equalization, is also equally important because in the constitutional structure of our federation, the provinces own the resources and should enjoy the full benefits of those resources. A province like Alberta, with over 65 tonnes emitted per citizen, or Saskatchewan, with closer to 70 tonnes emitted per citizen, would have money taken out of their jurisdiction by a potential system and redistributed across the country. That cannot be allowed to happen because it would be nothing more than a backdoor equalization program and would be unfair to those provinces that have the resources they are developing.

The third and final principle, I believe, is the most important one. It is the principle of revenue neutrality for citizens and taxpayers across the country. Here is why this is such a critically important question. The government has proposed a $50-per-tonne price on carbon by 2022. In a 750-megatonne economy, that is the equivalent of close to $40 billion a year in revenues to various governments and in various schemes. That represents 2% of GDP. If we assume that after 2022, the government's plan is to continue to increase it at a rate of $10 per tonne per year, we would end up with a price of around $125 a tonne by 2030. That would be the equivalent of $66 billion a year, assuming that the $125-per-tonne target achieves a 30% reduction in emissions to 525 megatonnes. This revenue of $66 billion a year would represent over 3% of Canada's GDP.

This third principle is the most important one, because if there is no revenue neutrality for the taxpayer and families and citizens across this country, then we are about to embark on one of the largest tax grabs in Canadian history. That $66 billion a year represents over one-fifth of federal government revenue. It is a huge chunk of change.

Let us judge the Liberal plan on these three principles: the principles of consistent pricing, no backdoor equalization, and revenue neutrality.

On the first principle, the government should be given a checkmark. It has established a consistent price across the country. It has also designed it so that the price would be gradually ramped up in order to prevent a shock to the economy, from $10 a tonne in 2018 to $50 a tonne in 2022. Presumably, the price is going to reach closer to $120 to $130 a tonne by 2030. On the first principle, the test is met.

On the second principle of no backdoor equalization, the test has also been met. The federal government, by mandating that the provinces collect these revenues and that where provinces do not collect these revenues, the federal government would do it on their behalf and fully remit the transfer back to the provinces without any strings attached, means that the second principle has been met.

However, the third principle of revenue neutrality has not been met. As I said earlier, by revenue neutrality I do not mean revenue neutrality in terms of the government's use of that money for government programs or balancing its budget or other forms of government initiatives. I mean revenue neutrality so that the ordinary Canadian family, the ordinary citizen, will come out no further ahead or behind under any carbon pricing scheme.

That is not the case here, because the federal government will allow this system to be established in a way that allows governments to spend the money. As I mentioned earlier, by 2022 we are talking about 2% of GDP, some $38 billion, assuming a 750 megatonne emissions level. It will still be roughly 750 megatonnes in 2022, because every economist and every expert has told us that the reductions in emissions do not really kick in until the back half of the plan, when the price starts getting closer to $100 plus a tonne. By 2022, we are looking at $50 a tonne and 750 megatonnes and a cost of $38 billion a year. That is more than $1,000 per person in this country. For a typical family of four, we are looking at imposing about $4,000 in additional costs. By 2030, we could be looking at imposing an additional cost of $7,000 on a typical Canadian family of four.

In contrast, the much-ballyhooed Liberal middle class tax cut saved those middle class taxpayers just under $3 billion a year. Compare and contrast the much-ballyhooed middle class tax cut of just under $3 billion a year with a tax grab in the form of a non-revenue neutral carbon tax of closer to $38 billion a year in 2022 and $66 billion a year by 2030.

The federal government has missed a huge opportunity to use these revenues to reduce income taxes. It could have used constitutional power over taxation, over the regulation of interprovincial trade and commerce, and its powers with respect to the Criminal Code, with relation to toxic substances, and with respect to international trade to convince the provinces to adopt a nationwide scheme that truly would have been revenue neutral.

This plan reminds me of the plan the Ontario Liberal government introduced almost a decade ago, called the Green Energy Act, a plan that used public money to subsidize all sorts or renewable energy in Ontario and that has put a huge burden on Ontario families and cost them an enormous amount of money, with an almost doubling of their electricity bills. This plan will go down the same path, and I fear that the Liberal government has just sown the seeds of its own demise.