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Track Michael

Your Say


Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word is chair.

Conservative MP for Wellington—Halton Hills (Ontario)

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

Statements in the House

Business of Supply April 24th, 2018

Madam Speaker, I support the motion. I am comfortable with the wording of the motion.

At the end of the day, the issue is that the government has mishandled this file and needs to seek a remedy with the American administration. In my view, it needs to seek it because there is a broader issue at play. The tide of people flowing from the United States to Canada could very well be reversed, and in that situation we will not have any leverage. The American people, their administration, and their economy, which is 10 times bigger and more powerful than ours, are going to drive those negotiations and get what they want. We are much more reliant on exports to the United States than the Americans are on exports to Canada. We need to seek a remedy to the situation before we find ourselves in a much more difficult situation where we will not have any leverage to negotiate a suitable outcome.

Business of Supply April 24th, 2018

Madam Speaker, on the issue of the previous government's deficit reduction action program, I do not think that the reduction in budgets for the then Department of Citizenship and Immigration actually created any backlogs in the system. I thought the system quite orderly and quite planned. In fact, backlogs went down for many streams of immigration.

With respect to calling on the Prime Minister to withdraw his tweet, I think social media is relevant to the story. The fact is that even today social media is having a huge impact on these irregular border crossings. It is the social media networks that are suddenly triggering a surge in people from Nigeria coming through Lacolle, Quebec, as a result of the power, pervasiveness, and ubiquity of social media.

It was the Prime Minister's tweet that first got people thinking about doing this. The Prime Minister, who has millions of Twitter followers, should tweet out and clarify what the situation is at the Canadian border and tell people not to cross the border at Lacolle, Quebec, or at Emerson, Manitoba, and to do so through regular means. That will strengthen our immigration system and public confidence in that system.

Business of Supply April 24th, 2018

Madam Speaker, I am going to address this whole issue of “illegal” versus “irregular” up front. I think both are acceptable, but even the CBC uses the term “illegal” in its news articles. The CBC, I trust, is a trustworthy news source, so other people have used it. At the end of the day, in order to focus on the issue at hand, I am going to avoid focusing the argument around the term itself, and rather focus on the issue at hand.

Let me start by saying that I think everyone in the House understands and supports the need for immigration to Canada. We have a below-replacement birth rate as a country, so we need immigration in order to maintain a constant population. We have labour market shortages, so we need immigration to fill jobs. Also, we are a country of immigrants. Since the early 17th century, immigrants have come here and have built our country.

I am proud to be the son of immigrants. My father was Chinese and my mother was Dutch. They moved to Canada in the 1950s and 1960s to start a new life. I am proud of my history and my family's history with respect to this issue.

I am sure members in all parties of the House have similar stories about immigration to this country. Also, because Canadians are fair and generous, we also believe in and support our policies on refugees and asylum seekers, people who have been dispossessed. That is why subsequent and successive Conservative and Liberal governments have taken in refugees from Hungary, from Vietnam, today from Syria, and other people who are dispossessed, such as Yazidis.

Therefore, the debate in front of us today is not about whether we support immigration, because we all do, and as I pointed out earlier, some of the highest levels of immigration intake during the post-World War II period came during the Harper years. We admitted some 260,000 immigrants a year for almost 10 years of the Harper government. That is 2.6 million immigrants. In addition to that, we admitted roughly 26,000 UN refugees each and every year. That is 260,000 UN refugees over that 10-year period. I think we can all say that successive Liberal and Conservative governments have supported immigration and the need to take in those dispossessed and those who are refugees.

That does not mean we agree on every aspect of our immigration and refugee system. For example, during the last election, the Conservatives said we would take in approximately 25,000 Syrian refugees. The Liberals promised to take in approximately double that number, at 50,000. The Canadian people spoke, and they elected a Liberal majority, and I respect that. The Liberals had a mandate to take in some 50,000 refugees.

In 2006, we disagreed with the previous Liberal government's position on charging prospective immigrants a $975 fee to process their application. We promised to cut that fee in half, which we did. We may disagree on the details of our system, but we agree on the fundamentals, so let us focus on the details of what is going on here and why this motion is in front of the House.

Madam Speaker, I am supporting the motion, as indicated. I am also splitting my time with the member for Medicine Hat—Cardston—Warner.

The motion in front of us today is not about whether or not we support immigrants or refugees; it is about one particular issue that has gone unresolved, the irregular border crossings that are taking place, especially in places like Lacolle, Quebec, and Emerson, Manitoba.

The Liberal government has mismanaged this issue. A country ultimately has sovereignty over two things: its people and its geography. By mismanaging our borders, the government is weakening the sovereignty of the Canadian state, and by failing to address this problem over the last two years, it has created a host of other problems.

First, we have seen a significant increase in spending to process people crossing the border irregularly, and the government has had to significantly increase spending to provide for social services for people in Quebec. That is $173 million more for processing and $180 million more for social services, and this is just the start. The cost could spiral into the billions of dollars.

All the while, the government is not delivering on the spending it committed to Canadians on repairing our nation's ailing roads, bridges, and transit infrastructure, all the while running much higher deficits than the Liberals promised.

The Liberals have also created another problem. Because they have had to divert money and resources away from regular immigration and refugee processing in order to process the people crossing the border in Quebec and Manitoba, there is now a backlog of some 45,000 applications for privately sponsored refugees. I am told the wait times for processing are now seven years. There is now an 11-year wait time for the processing of asylum claims. The problem is only going to get worse unless the government supports the motion and takes action to address this problem.

Last year, we admitted some 20,000 people who crossed the border in Emerson and in Lacolle. This year, it could well be north of 60,000 people. To date, about 60,000 people have crossed at those two locations, and officials are predicting that this summer some 400 people a day will be crossing. We could be looking at 60,000 people this year who are crossing through non-normal channels, a fifth of our overall immigration intake.

For decades, Canada has had an orderly, planned, controlled, and safe immigration system. Our immigration system has for decades been controlled through the vetting and screening of immigrants. As a result, we enjoy very high levels of public support for immigration and for refugees. As a result, Canada has one of the highest intakes of immigrants and refugees in the world. The two are linked: orderly, planned, and controlled immigration and refugee resettlement and high levels of public support for those systems. This is not true of Europe and the United States.

For example, in the United States, the Americans for decades have had no control or planning of their immigration system. U.S. administrations and U.S. Congresses dating back to the 1980s have failed to deal with their challenges of irregular border crossings and people entering the country illegally. As a result, today the United States finds itself with some 10 million people who have entered irregularly and who are without documentation and without papers. It is causing huge problems, and the problem is in some ways insoluble. We do not want to go down that path here in Canada.

The same is true of Europe as it is in the United States. That is why I am supporting this motion. We need to maintain high levels of public support for our system, and that begins by maintaining an orderly, controlled, and safe immigration and refugee system so that Canada can continue to benefit from the world's brightest and best and so that we can continue to receive and welcome the downtrodden and dispossessed in this world.

There is a final reason that I am supporting this motion. What if the shoe is on the other foot? Let us not forget that the 2002 third country safe party agreement between the government of Prime Minister Jean Chrétien and the administration of Bill Clinton came about because of the horrific events of September 11, 2001. We were under an inordinate amount of pressure from the Americans, who wanted that agreement in place and who had the cards to play in those negotiations. We managed to keep the borders open to trade so that we could continue to grow our economy. However, what if we go into a severe recession? What if the housing bubble pops and we see a reverse flow of migrants in irregular crossings from Canada to the United States? We would have no leverage to deal with an American administration that wants the problem fixed. That is why the government needs to sit down with U.S. administration, talk about this problem, and find a solution to these issues in Emerson and in Lacolle, Quebec.

Business of Supply April 24th, 2018

Madam Speaker, I will be the first to denounce racism or dog-whistle politics when I see it. However, some of the rhetoric coming from the Liberal members does not match reality. The fact is that both Liberal and Conservative governments have strongly supported Canada's immigration and refugee system.

In preparation for this debate, I downloaded some statistics from StatsCan about the number of immigrants who have come to Canada every year. They tell a story. The facts do not lie. The facts are that during the Harper government, some 10 years, a record number of immigrants were admitted in the postwar period. Some 260,000 immigrants and 26,000 UN refugees a year were admitted during that 10-year period, which is much higher than during the Chrétien or Martin years or the Mulroney years. Therefore, I think we have to tone down some of the rhetoric and focus on the issue at hand, which is that border crossings are taking place in Lacolle, Quebec, and Emerson, Manitoba.

Business of Supply April 24th, 2018

Madam. Speaker, there have been arguments about the wording of all this. Setting that aside, it is clear that there are a lot of irregular crossings and that the problem is growing. Why will the government not address this problem?

There is a problem right across the country, and it is important that the government speak with the U.S. administration in order to solve it.

I do not understand why the government is not talking to the United States government about this. Let me put this to the government: What if the shoe were on the other foot? What if Canada plunges into a deep recession as a result of a housing crash or some other deep recession, unemployment skyrockets, economic growth is negative, and we have the opposite happening? What if we have literally tens of thousands of people irregularly crossing the border from Canada into the United States? We would not have much leverage to renegotiate the safe third country agreement. We would be under inordinate pressure as a government and a country to give the Americans whatever they want in order to ensure that the free trade of goods and services continues to flow across that border.

Why is the government not taking the opportunity today to bring this challenge to the administration, to seek a remedy here that would stem the flow of irregular border crossers so that we can regulate this problem before it becomes a real crisis in the other direction?

Business of Supply April 24th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, the member outlined the government's position on this issue. If he does not agree with the member for Calgary Nose Hill's suggestion that the government work with the United States to amend the safe third party agreement to declare the entire 9,000 kilometre border a port of entry, why does the government not simply declare Lacolle, Quebec, where he has visited and talked to local officials, a port of entry? If people are coming through that point irregularly, why not just declare that point, and other points in the country where people are coming through, ports of entry so that these persons will be treated the same as every other person who tries to enter Canada through an official port of entry?

Wellington Advertiser April 18th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, amid all the doom and gloom in the newspaper industry, there is good news, and that good news is in Wellington County in rural Ontario.

Fifty years ago, Bill and Trudy Adsett started a newspaper out of the front seat of their car. First, they only sold classified ads, but as time went on, they began to cover the news. Today, the paper, managed by their son, Dave Adsett, is one of the largest family-owned independent weekly newspapers in Canada. It is profitable, and it is the single biggest source of news in the county. As they say at the Wellington Advertiser, “We cover the county.”

The paper, along with Wellington County, is looking to the future. It has just digitized every edition of the paper, from its first edition on March 12, 1968 until today. It has also just received the Ontario Community Newspapers Association Gold Quill award.

I extend congratulations to the Adsett family and to all the staff at the Wellington Advertiser.

Beef Farmers of Ontario March 28th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, l would like to recognize a former classmate of mine and a constituent.

Mr. Joe Hill was just elected president of Beef Farmers of Ontario. He and his family live just outside of Fergus and Elora in Wellington County. They have been raising beef cattle for generations. In fact, I remember when we both worked on beef farms when we were at Fergus High School, he on his father's farm and I on the neighbour's.

Ontario is Canada's second largest beef producing province, and Beef Farmers of Ontario represents the province's 19,000 beef farmers.

Once again, congratulations and best wishes to Joe Hill as he begins his term as president. I look forward to working with him to ensure that Ontario's beef farmers are well represented here on Parliament Hill.

Infrastructure March 20th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, that is not the case. According to the parliamentary budget officer, the budget provides an incomplete version of the government's infrastructure spending plan. In fact, he asked the government for a copy of the plan, but there is no plan.

Before the Liberals refer to their so-called infrastructure plan, would they care to tell us where we can get a copy of the plan?

Infrastructure March 20th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, in the last election, the Liberals promised to run modest deficits of less than $10 billion to fund infrastructure. Instead, they are racking up much bigger deficits, but they are not spending the money on infrastructure. In fact, the PBO reports that one-quarter of the money promised for infrastructure will go unspent. That means that millions of Canadians stuck in traffic and roads and bridges unrepaired.

The Liberals also promised to transfer unused funds into the gas tax fund. Where is the promised Liberal plan for infrastructure?