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Crucial Fact

  • Their favourite word was hope.

Last in Parliament September 2021, as Conservative MP for Port Moody—Coquitlam (B.C.)

Lost their last election, in 2021, with 32% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Government Business No. 10—Broadcasting Act June 21st, 2021

Madam Speaker, I am a little concerned about the way Conservatives' intervention on this bill is being interpreted. I am really disappointed that it is being reduced to a fundraising effort and that this is how it has been interpreted.

Clearly there has been a breach of the tools and the institution of democracy throughout this Parliament, and this is just one example of those being breached. As an artist, I am very disappointed. I feel we were forced to choose between spending more time talking about the artists and fighting for democracy. That should not even be an issue, but the fact we had to really bothers me, so I would—

Housing June 18th, 2021

Madam Speaker, StatsCan released a new housing price index for May. New home prices have increased 11.3% year over year, and this is the largest increase since November 2006. Prices for lumber and other products increased 17.9% from the previous month. It has more than doubled year over year.

Can the Prime Minister explain why he has implemented such incredibly poor economic policies leading to increased inflation and higher home prices, effectively crushing the dreams of young Canadian families looking to buy their first home?

Fisheries Act June 16th, 2021

Mr. Speaker, it is my privilege to rise today to speak to Bill C-269, , an act to amend the Fisheries Act (prohibition—deposit of raw sewage), which was tabled by my colleague, the hon. member for Regina—Qu'Appelle.

As the Fisheries Act currently stands, there is no definition of raw sewage. Bill C-269 would amend the act by adding raw sewage to denote the following:

raw sewage means sewage that has not yet been processed or treated to separate and remove contaminants, and includes

(a) used water from sanitary appliances that contains human fecal matter or human urine,

(b) used water, other than the type of water described in paragraph (a), from sanitary appliances or from other appliances in a kitchen or laundry, and

(c) surface runoff and stormwater that is mixed with the type of water described in paragraph (a);

The bill inserts a statement in section 34 of the act that would not allow raw sewage to be eligible for an exemption permit from the minister.

Bill C-269 amends section 36 of the Fisheries Act by adding, “No person shall deposit or permit the deposit of raw sewage in water frequented by fish.”

The bill also states non-application for Canadian fisheries waters located in the Northwest Territories, in Nunavut or north of the 54th parallel in Quebec or Newfoundland and Labrador.

The bill also indicates that anyone dumping raw sewage in water frequented by fish is guilty of an offence and liable.

The act would come into force five years after the day on which it receives royal assent.

Bill C-269 is simple and straightforward. It calls for accountability and urgency of action. For me, personally, it triggers a vision for improved environmental protection and infrastructure.

In 2015, when the member for Ottawa Centre was the minister of environment, she allowed the City of Montreal to dump eight billion litres of raw sewage into the St. Lawrence River. Regardless of any justification, that is an unfathomable amount of toxic matter that was dumped into the water. I cannot even imagine what the repercussions of that were.

According to Environment Canada, from 2013 to 2017, more than one trillion litres of untreated waste water is known to have leaked or been purposely dumped across Canada. The City of Victoria and surrounding municipalities finally became one of the last major communities to stop dumping sewage into water in 2020. According to Mark Mattson, president of non-profit water protection organization Swim Drink Fish, Canada still has ongoing sewage pollution problems.

Bill C-269 is necessary to protect our waters from contamination and for wildlife species in water to be able to survive and thrive. It is time there was no more ambiguity on this. Being the member of Parliament for Port Moody—Coquitlam, Anmore and Belcarra, I have the privilege of being an advocate and steward for many environmentally sensitive places within my riding. This privilege brings responsibility. Today, I would like to highlight a very special and globally significant creek, which is Stoney Creek, which some of the rivers in my riding feed into.

Stoney Creek is the environmental lifeline for countless wildlife, as well as an urban oasis for both my riding and the neighbouring riding, Burnaby North—Seymour, and the greater region. Countless hours and decades of work by stream keepers from the Stoney Creek Environmental Committee, as well as local residents, has resulted in the return of salmon to Stoney Creek.

Today, Stoney Creek is the most successful Vancouver area urban creek for returning salmon. Stoney Creek is the spawning grounds for chum and coho salmon, as well as steelhead and trout. It is also significant on a global basis as it is home to the endangered Nooksack Dace. Approximately 10,000 Nooksack Dace remain.

It is very moving to watch the salmon on their spawning journey. I see their long, upstream and painful journey of perseverance ending in sacrifice for the next generation. It is very emotional to watch. I was shocked to learn that after torrential rainfalls, sometimes raw sewage overflows from Coquitlam sewers and makes its way to the celebrated Stoney Creek where the endangered Nooksack Dace have made their home and the coho and chum salmon come to spawn.

It is troubling for me that sewage overflow coming from my riding in Coquitlam is contaminating the aqua ecosystem in the riding of Burnaby North—Seymour in Stoney Creek. Upon discovery, I officially offered my assistance to the mayors of Coquitlam and Port Moody to seek federal infrastructure funding for their sewer systems when they seek upgrades.

However, I am perplexed as to why the member for Burnaby North—Seymour, who is the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, who has been in office longer than I have, has not taken any action on this troublesome issue or championed funding for sewage infrastructure when the harm is being done to wildlife in his own riding and reports of sewage being dispensed into Stoney Creek have been happening under his watch for years.

According to obtained records, since 2014 at least nine documented discharges of sewage have occurred in the Stoney Creek watershed. Raw sewage has spewed from manholes in my riding and flowed into the creek, and some experts believe that raw sewage is also escaping through exfiltrating from the Metro Vancouver Stoney Creek trunk line and flowing into the groundwater and ultimately into Stoney Creek.

The Metro Vancouver Stoney Creek trunk line was constructed in 1959. Over time, concrete piping and gaskets will tend to deteriorate, increasing the likelihood of both infiltration of groundwater into the pipe and inflow from surface water entering collectively inflow and infiltration, or I and I, as well as exfiltration of sewage into the groundwater and creek.

Records obtained via freedom of information requests show the following levels of E. coli in Stoney Creek. On September 18, 2020, there were 8,664 colony-forming units per 100 millilitres of water. In August there were 7,701, and in October there were 4,611. Samples exceeded 1,000 colony-forming units per 100 millilitres on six days. Ultimately, to solve the problem, new sewage infrastructure needs to be built. From obtained records, it is apparent that Metro Vancouver trunk line is over capacity, a very common phenomenon.

Meanwhile, the catchment's population is projected to increase 15,000 to 50,000. Constituents and other nearby residents are concerned that not expanding the sewage infrastructure promptly will result in increased contamination of Stoney Creek as well as situations where new home purchasers will not be able to move into their new homes due to lack of sewage capacity. Something similar recently happened in Campbell River, another B.C. community.

The topic of sewage is not a glamourous one, but waste elimination is a basic health and safety issue that needs to be dealt with. As we have seen, a microscopic virus like coronavirus has done much damage in our lives and to our establishments. Development of residential homes is a natural part of urban sprawl. Building more affordable housing is necessary to allow young families and first-time homebuyers to break into the housing market and have a home, but development without proper infrastructure is dangerous for the community and surrounding ecosystems.

Bill C-269 is a good place to start to trigger more accountability and action to upgrade all the infrastructure needed. Development is inevitable, but without the proper infrastructure, we could see a host of problems, of which the impact could be the contamination of our waters and harm to endangered species and salmon. It requires a concerted effort among all tiers of government to solve this problem effectively of aging sewage infrastructure and innovating new systems to meet the demands created by growing development in urban and suburban centres like my riding, and extreme weather events from climate change. If done with efficacy, a simple bill, like Bill C-269, could instigate the unfolding of a larger vision to yield greater protection of vulnerable fish, species and water habitats and improve public health and safety and job creation to help reopen our economy.

This is a problem across our country, and municipalities are aware of it, but they are stuck. They have so many other pressing matters they have to get to that without the funding, it gets shuffled under the pile. With Bill C-269, accountability would be placed. We can keep talking about the environment with trumpet blasts, but without deadlines and rules and a plan to accomplish these goals, it is still talk and no action. We know, as humans, we all need a deadline and some rules to get anything done. I see this bill as one that has great potential to help us literally clean up our act.

One thing I did discuss with the member for Regina—Qu'Appelle was the five-year term clause. In discussing it with him, it is something that should be debated and discussed with fulsome conversation so that we are helping the municipalities set themselves up for success and not failure. It should not be punitive. It should be something to help them get things done efficiently.

In closing, I feel that this is an issue that has been around for a long time and everyone is aware of it, but it is one of those things that nobody wants to tackle because the money is not there. We know that with the Canada Infrastructure Bank, the minister promised $35 billion, but how much of that is used for things like this?

Moving forward, as we discuss Bill C-269, I hope that we can come to the table, bring our different ideas, and use this as a starting point to break that cycle of all this aging infrastructure not being dealt with, so that we can protect the environment, so that we can move forward with positive, prudent development that does not create other problems, and so that municipalities do not feel like they are alone but that they have the support of other tiers of government.

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns June 16th, 2021

With regard to the requirement that entails individuals entering Canada for compassionate reasons to seek an exemption online, the problems with the Public Health Agency of Canada’s (PHAC) online system, and the resulting actions from the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA): (a) what is the total number of international travellers arriving at Canadian airports who were denied entry, broken down by month since March 18, 2020; (b) how many individuals in (a) were (i) immediately sent back to their country of origin, (ii) permitted to remain in Canada pending an appeal or deportation; (c) what is the number of instances where the PHAC did not make a decision on an application for exemptions on compassionate reasons prior to the traveller’s arrival, or scheduled arrival in Canada; (d) of the instances in (c), where PHAC did not make a decision on time, was the reason due to (i) technical glitches that caused the PHAC to miss the application, (ii) other reasons, broken down by reason; (e) for the instances where the PHAC did not make a decision on time, was the traveller (i) still permitted entry in Canada, (ii) denied entry; and (f) what specific recourse do travellers arriving for compassionate reasons have when they encounter problems with the CBSA or other officials due to the PHAC not making a decision on time?

Government Business No. 10—Broadcasting Act June 15th, 2021

Madam Speaker, I am very thrilled that the member has raised that issue because those are very important, but the dilemma I have with the bill is not that those things are not good, it is the fact of why are we having to fight for democracy when the bill should strictly be about things like that and helping artists—

Government Business No. 10—Broadcasting Act June 15th, 2021

Madam Speaker, I would like to refer back to the whole concept of regulating. Regulations mean that they are imposing on the entity or the corporation they are regulating to respond in the way that they are being asked to. Of course, regardless of whether the algorithm is being controlled by that web giant or a platform like Facebook, or not, if the CRTC tells them to do certain things with algorithms, they they will.

Government Business No. 10—Broadcasting Act June 15th, 2021

Madam Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan.

I would like to present today's speech based on the perspective I bring from my previous profession as an artist.

Being a professional artist, whether a composer or writer, is an extremely difficult vocation to pursue, attain and sustain. There is a huge gap between those who have talent but have not been able to get their big break, and those who have found stardom. Secure gigs as staff writers or contracts to long-term projects are limited and competitive, and most artists pursue other careers to pay their bills.

As a composer, I have been around creative people most of my life. Artists are dreamers with a lot of discipline with their art and tireless hope to find their rainbow's end. They give their best performances whether for a three-member audience at an open mike or at an outdoor concert with hundreds of listeners. Artists do not tire of doing their best and following their dreams, because they are driven by the love of creating and the dream of sharing their work with a captive audience. For most artists, it is a labour of love.

A talented artist gets their big break when they are discovered by a large enough following that will help their career become sustainable. That is why songwriters want their music to eventually make its way to radio, television and film, and writers want their stories on TV and the big screen. However, anyone who has navigated the entertainment industry knows that there are gatekeepers who ensure media platforms give precedence to major players and minimal opportunity to the small players. They also base their content on market reach and capital.

At the end of the day, we call them the arts, but they are a business that uses the arts for capital. I am speaking neither for nor against this. There is room for commerce and art to contribute to economic prosperity together. What I am concerned about is the inequity of opportunity when industry gatekeepers determine the culture of a nation because of their mass reach. It is not a level playing field for artists who have a lot of talent and simply want to express themselves without having to succumb to the matrix for marketability that large corporations define.

Broadcasters and artists continue to have a symbiotic relationship, but not all artists are welcome to participate in this symbiotic relationship. Having CanCon regulation is a good thing to the extent that it safeguards Canadian content, but in practice CanCon is applied by corporations to Canadians who have already found their success to a large degree and who fit the marketability matrix. Fortunately, with or without CanCon, Canadians artists are still rising to the top and I am pleased by the diversity of content that broadcasters are tapping into today. There has been progress.

The digital world turned the entertainment industry upside down. It allowed independents to enter the arena without having to pass through gatekeepers. With fewer CD and DVD sales, big-name entertainment corporations and independents turned to download sales, but download sales were hurt by pirated content. With the shift to online streaming, the revenue source for creative content producers has become fluid with the prominence of Internet usage. Now Canadian broadcasters are also threatened by foreign players, as foreign content enters the Canadian digital market.

In response, the government may have thought to update the Broadcasting Act by increasing discoverability for artists and levelling the competition for broadcasters, and voila: here is Bill C-10. Originally, Bill C-10 was supposed to level the playing field by regulating large online streaming services, such as Disney+, Netflix and Amazon, to meet Canadian content requirements, just as for Canadian radio and television stations.

Through the Broadcasting Act, the CRTC is given power to issue broadcast licences to allow radio and TV stations to operate, and to regulate broadcasting while meeting conditions on the kinds of programming they can air and community standards. A portion of their programs, often 20% to 40%, is allotted to be Canadian content, and broadcasters can also be mandated to pay licence fees and contributions to the Canada media fund: a federal agency that subsidizes Canadian television and film.

The update that Bill C-10 proposes is a new category of web media called “online undertakings”, which would give the CRTC the same power to regulate the web that it has for traditional TV and radio stations without having to apply for licences. It seems simple and straightforward, but there is a glitch that could turn this seemingly benevolent piece of legislation into a Trojan horse.

Bill C-10 defines web media as “an undertaking for the transmission or retransmission of programs over the Internet for reception by the public by means of broadcasting receiving apparatus”. This definition is so vague that it could include everything from Amazon Prime to anyone with a website or a podcast. Programs under the Broadcasting Act are defined to include images, audio or a combination, of which written text is not predominant. This would refer to podcasts, photos, videos and memes, but not the written content on news articles and posts. It could include everything from a multimillion dollar film produced for Netflix to a 15-second pet video on TikTok.

I was shocked to learn that, while Conservative heritage committee members proposed an amendment to Bill C-10 to set some safeguards to limit regulations to online undertakings with more than $50 million a year in revenue and 250,000 subscribers in Canada, which would apply only to large streaming services, the Liberals rejected it. That means that not only was the government aiming at big companies but also that broadcasting is now being used to control everyday Canadians.

Section 2.1 and section 4.1 were two exemptions in Bill C-10 for social media. Section 2.1 refers to users who upload onto social media platforms. Thus, the user would not be subject to conditions like Canadian content requirements or contributions to the Canada Media Fund, which the CRTC would impose.

That exemption remains on Bill C-10, but section 4.1 was taken out of the bill. It dealt with the programs that users upload on social media, indicating that the CRTC and the Broadcasting Act could not regulate programs that only consist of user-uploaded programs, but the Liberals removed that section in the bill.

In summary, section 2.1 regulates speakers, while section 4.1 regulates speech. With the deletion of 4.1, the CRTC can regulate the content uploaded on social media and also regulate the social media platforms that allow users to publish content, just as it regulates content licensed on regular traditional stations.

The Liberals keep telling Conservatives that 2.1 will safeguard users, but the absence of 4.1 removes a safeguard from content. Bill C-10 has expanded the powers of the CRTC and the Broadcasting Act to provide grounds for the CRTC to adopt regulations requiring social media sites such as YouTube to remove content it considers offensive and discoverability regulations that would make them alter the algorithms to determine which videos are seen, more or less. Violations for these regulations could be very high for the individual and the corporation. These are the details of concern. I take issue on the infringement of personal freedoms and freedom of expression of Canadians. Even the B.C. Library Trustees Association is saying it needs clause 4.1 back. These are librarians and libraries.

As I mentioned earlier in my speech, the gap between artists and their audience is discoverability, but if the discoverability is regulated through controlled algorithms, then it creates yet another barrier for artists. Why should the CRTC define what listeners should discover instead of allowing audiences to determine that for themselves? Why is the government trying to bring a barrier between artists and their audiences?

The minister keeps saying they want Canadians to tell their stories, but why is there a gap in the bill that would allow someone or an entity to determine which stories are to be discoverable? Artists have already faced an industry that was dominated by large companies to determine what was worthy of discovering and promoting through broadcasting giants, so why should the CRTC be given access to gatekeep discoverability?

The minister says he wants to protect the languages of minorities, but the minister should know that much of ethnic programming is created by underfunded, independent producers who never see any advertising money because it goes straight to the network. Where is the support these independent grassroots producers need? Again, the small players are left behind.

The minister says artists have said Conservatives are not supportive of them, but who is the minister speaking with? I do not think he has the numbers of small players on speed dial. Were they consulted for this bill? If any artist thinks that Conservatives are not supportive of artists, it is because the Liberals have created this wedge by refusing to reinstate 4.1. They are forcing Conservatives to bow for democracy, and we are the only ones who seem to be doing that. The Liberals have created a custody battle that I do not want to be a part of.

I want to support content, and I want to support our broadcasters, but why does it have to be a battle between choosing between them and democracy? We put forward a motion at committee calling for new charter statements to be provided, but the Liberals voted to shut it down.

I cannot help but wonder if the Liberals have an agenda for omitting 4.1. Artists who are still striving to find a rainbow are discriminated against and exploited. They face financial instability for following their hearts. Most will never get fully compensated for the investments they have made in their careers.

If the Liberals had simply fixed 4.1, I would not have my suspicions. The fact that they have not done something so simple with something that was originally there, makes me come to the conclusion that they are playing political games against Conservatives, at the expense of struggling artists.

Business of Supply June 8th, 2021

Madam Speaker, housing is a basic need for survival. It is not something we should tamper with lightly. People live in a complex ecosystem of currency and the interdependencies of economics and laws that govern its flow, at least in our part of the world. Outside the offerings of charity and benevolence, currency is required to buy and sell goods and services, and this includes homes.

Homes are where families are raised and provide a means for stability and safety. They are established to foster love and security and the thriving of their lives. A home provides autonomy for individuals and young families to grow their own legacy. The home is an anchor for the dignity and flourishing of those who dwell within. There are different types of homes required to meet the needs of people in different seasons of their life journey, including seniors. In the context of a complex world system, an individual's capacity to meet housing needs is intricately interdependent with the world one lives in and the opportunities facilitated by the governing entities.

In understanding these basic principles, it is incumbent on all tiers of government to work together to ensure that, in the midst of an economic continuum, the basic needs of the people are safeguarded so that necessities such as housing are accessible to all Canadians, regardless of their financial position. However, despite an upset of skyrocketing prices in the housing market, triggered by non-resident foreign buyers and money laundering, the government has done little to protect the priority of middle-class Canadians to access housing they can afford. The government has failed to act meaningfully to help first-time homebuyers and incentivize purpose-built market rental housing to fill the housing gap. It has now been made more difficult with inflation and the rising cost of lumber.

I have been raising the issue of housing shortage since the start of the 43rd Parliament. My first question period intervention was in response to the throne speech, and I raised the issue of affordability and the ineffective mortgage stress test. I only need to listen to the stories of my constituents to know that no matter how much the Liberal government claims to have taken action to solve the housing crisis, there is little fruit to show for its work.

I would like to share the story of Jordan, a constituent who lives with his wife and two young children in Coquitlam. He reached out to my office to tell me that he will ultimately be leaving the city he has called home for over 30 years because of housing prices. The last thing he wants to do is leave, but he says that he has little choice in the matter unless he goes into obscene amounts of debt once his current lease is up. As we know, many Canadians are very close to insolvency, just $200 shy. He is perplexed that while his salary is well above the national average, he cannot live in “what has been a working-class neighbourhood since its inception.” He regrets that “the only way to get into the market at this point is to be lucky enough to have parents who have cashed out at the top and are willing to transfer the necessary wealth to their kids.”

Jordan's is not the only story I have heard about long-time residents with deep roots in the community who have had to leave because they cannot keep up with the hiking housing prices. I have spoken with a constituent of Port Moody who is living with his wife and children at a parent's house, renting a floor that is below market rental value so they can save up for a down payment on their first home. However, given the skyrocketing prices, he is beginning to accept the possibility of moving further out of the city to afford a home, even though his children have begun settling into the neighbourhood and feel like it is their home. This breaks their parents' hearts. It is very sad.

Whenever I speak with young families trying to enter the housing market, I am told they cannot dream about owning a home to raise their children. However, there are common-sense steps the government can take without just talking about them or throwing money around without a meaningful strategy. The motion put forth by my colleague calls on the government to:

(a) examine a temporary freeze on home purchases by non-resident foreign buyers who are squeezing Canadians out of the housing market;

(b) replace the government's failed First-Time Home Buyer Incentive with meaningful action to help first-time homebuyers;

(c) strengthen law enforcement tools to halt money laundering;

(d) implement tax incentives focused on increasing the supply of purpose-built market rental housing units; and

(e) overhaul its housing policy to substantively increase housing supply.

In Coquitlam, the average price of a house is $1.1 million, according to MLS stats. This is an annual increase of 23%. However, regardless of the percentages that fluctuate, at large, the price range for first-time homebuyers is so beyond reach that there is no room for them to jump into the market. It should not be controlled by foreign non-residents.

According to a report from CMHC, “properties that have at least one non-resident owner amount to 6.2% of those in British Columbia, and in Vancouver it is 7.6%. The proportion of non-resident participation is highest for condominium apartments. The proportion of condominiums that had at least one non-resident owner was 10.4% in British Columbia. The largest differential in median assessment values between non-resident and resident-owned homes was in single detached houses in British Columbia, at $236,000, which is 36.7% higher than the median assessment value of resident-owned single detached houses.”

The government needs to put a freeze on home purchases by foreign buyers in order to recalibrate the housing market and make it one that reflects the needs of everyday middle-class Canadians. Middle-class Canadians need hope, as every Canadian needs hope about their future. If they get into the market, their house payments should not have to be so high that they live in debt for the rest of their lives.

As I look at the young people, it really is a prayer. I just wish I had more hope for young people as they graduate from university. They look at what is out there, and it is very daunting. They couch surf in their friends' homes. They live in their families' basements. They do not know how to move forward. It is not very much different for families who have children or for couples, because they are also staying in their homes.

In closing, I hope that I could ask the government to just step aside and with moral courage take these issues seriously, to attack crimes like money laundering, to sit down and really crunch numbers and strategies that work with mortgages, and to set their trajectory on helping middle-class Canadians find the hope to dream about their family and their future with a home where they could flourish under the safety of their own roof.

Housing June 8th, 2021

Mr. Speaker, housing prices in the greater Vancouver area are among the highest in North America because of non-resident foreign buyers, money laundering, the failed Liberal first-time home buyer program and a lack of affordable housing. Middle-class families in my riding feel it every day.

A young family in Port Moody is saving up for their first down payment by living at a parent's home, but skyrocketing prices are shutting them completely out of the competition. Their children will have to grow up far away from their grandparents in another city.

When will the government stop crushing dreams and fix the housing crisis with real solutions?

Business of Supply June 1st, 2021

Madam Speaker, I have a lot of confidence in my colleagues, the processes, parliamentarians and committees. However, I question what interferences happen to impact the effectiveness of the tools we have and how we use them.

My question is not about the competence of our fellow members. It is about the interferences, cover-ups and lack of accountability that prevent that effectiveness.