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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was support.

Last in Parliament October 2015, as Conservative MP for Brampton—Springdale (Ontario)

Lost his last election, in 2015, with 33% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Criminal Code May 1st, 2012

moved that Bill C-394, An Act to amend the Criminal Code and the National Defence Act (criminal organization recruitment), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Speaker, I am thrilled to have this opportunity to share with the House the important measures introduced in Bill C-394, an act to amend the Criminal Code and the National Defence Act (criminal organization recruitment). The focal point of Bill C-394 is to protect Canadians, especially our youth, by making the act of criminal organization recruitment, or in other words gang recruitment, an offence under Canadian law.

All of us can agree that our youth are our future. This is a statement that holds no partisan or political undertone. Each one of us in the House and every Canadian would agree that our youth will define the trajectory of the country and that trajectory will be determined by the types of opportunities our youth are given.

Young Canadians today have a sense of vulnerability about them. There are challenges that all youth face. My three young children constantly remind me, as a parent, how important it is to provide for their safety and to protect them from any real or imagined dangers. Like every parent, I want the best for my children. I want them to be given every opportunity to succeed. To do this, I strive to create a safe environment in which they are free to grow and explore their potential.

Unfortunately, not all kids or teenagers get to experience the life they deserve. Sometimes the pressures to fit in or join a certain group are just too overwhelming, leaving youth vulnerable to those who might exploit their desire to belong. In a 2008 publication, the RCMP found that street gangs in Canada are increasingly aggressive with their recruitment tactics. In a disturbing trend, these criminal organizations are targeting youth under the age of 12 and as young as 8 years old.

These ruthless gangs pursue our vulnerable youth for several reasons. They know that those falling within this age range cannot be formally charged with a criminal offence. They also know that our youth can be easily pressured to participate in a variety of criminal activities. Our innocent and most vulnerable citizens are being manipulated, coerced and at times forced to embark on a life that no Canadian should ever experience. Gangs exploit our children by forcing them to participate in criminal activities such as drug dealing, robbery, theft and prostitution.

When I had the opportunity to speak with current and ex-gang members who led recruitment initiatives, they told me of a world that knew no boundaries. For instance, gang members will use drug addiction to manipulate potential recruits to take part in criminal activities that support the gang. This means that children, young kids who should have been playing soccer in school yards, are carrying weapons, drugs and money. In the eyes of gangs, these youth are dispensable and easily controlled.

It is worrisome and heartbreaking that Canada's most violent criminal organizations actively recruit youth and teenagers. How can we as a nation sit by and watch this happen?

I remember vividly what the director of the Regina Anti-Gang Services told me as we sat side by side in a small room among hardened gang members seeking to exit that lifestyle. She told me that, once recruited, these innocent children and teenagers were lost to the streets of the city forever. Promising young lives would vanish into the criminal culture forever. What makes this lifestyle so deadly is that leaving a gang is next to impossible.

As I mentioned earlier, I had a chance to speak with several former and current gang members. I sat beside a young man, a mere 19 years old, who had been a gang member for more than seven years. When I looked at him, I saw a kid. However, as we got deeper into a discussion about his past, there was nothing in his life that resembled that of a youth. He was recruited into a gang at a very young age. Instead of school, friends, family and sports, he was robbing drug dealers, attacking rival gang members and selling drugs on the streets.

This was a kid who excelled in a criminal organization because that was the only life he knew. I cannot help but picture his work ethics allowing him to lead an extraordinarily successful law-abiding life. Now he is battling a drug addiction and because he is seeking to exit the gang, he constantly looks over his shoulder fearing for his life. He told me that no matter what one does, one is never really out of the gang.

The people he recruited into the gang have experienced the same thing as he did. He looked me in the eye and asked, “By recruiting others into the gang, how many lives did I ruin? How many families did I hurt? And how many people have experienced pain at my hands?” What type of life is that for a young person?

We see lives being shattered by gangs, families destroyed and our community safety placed in jeopardy. As a father, I fear the presence and power that a gang wields over a community and its most vulnerable citizens. As a member of Parliament, I know there is more that we can do.

In 2006 CSIS estimated that the number of street gang members under the age of 30 was approximately 11,000. The report cautioned that the number would continue to grow rapidly over the coming years.

In the Peel region, which my family and I call home, the number of gangs has exploded in the last few years. In 2003 there were 39. Today there are well over 110 street gangs within our neighbourhoods. This means that more people live in fear, more young people are targeted and more violence is used.

Gang members in Canada have a blatant disregard for the safety and well-being of those around them. For instance, in some communities, families are afraid to leave their home or let their children play outside. Gangs also pose a significant risk for law enforcement officers. The increase in gang recruitment has far-reaching and systemic effects on our country as a whole. Our safety, security and well-being are placed in jeopardy.

The purpose of Bill C-394 is twofold.

First and foremost, we are seeking to further protect our youth and communities by criminalizing the act of gang recruitment. Far too many communities in Canada are facing a gang problem. It is vitally important that we maintain the security and safety of our neighbourhoods, streets and families.

By tackling gang recruitment, we can help reduce the number of innocent and vulnerable citizens who would otherwise be lost in this dead-end lifestyle forever. It is about protecting our children, neighbourhood and future. Criminal organizations use fear, intimidation and violence to advance their objective and grow within a community. This behaviour can no longer be tolerated.

Second, Bill C-394 is designed to provide law enforcement officers with additional tools to address gang recruitment. I had the opportunity to meet with numerous stakeholders across Canada to discuss this issue. The valuable insight we gained was used in the development of the bill. We spoke with several law enforcement officers who praised the bill's direction, scope, focus and resourcefulness.

The 2002 Canadian Police Survey on Youth Gangs, conducted under contract to the Solicitor General of Canada, was the first of its kind in the country. This landmark study identified some startling figures. Of 264 Canadian police services surveyed, 57% believed that the youth gang problem was getting worse. Most concerning was the fact that 44% reported that youth gang members had established a relationship with larger organized crime groups.

The common theme that we witnessed while meeting with law enforcement officers was that the more tools they had to fight what they called the “war on gangs”, the better the outcome could be. Bill C-394 has taken that request and seeks to augment current efforts.

Youth gang membership has and will continue to grow in the country if we sit back and do nothing.

Restorative and preventive approaches complement other justice responses to criminal activity, but they cannot replace them. Bill C-394 is focused on addressing the criminal actions that allow a gang to proliferate, strengthen and grow within our communities. We are tackling the criminal conduct that is destroying our youth's lives and placing others in jeopardy on a daily basis.

With this being said, I am strongly committed to supporting a balanced approach to gang recruitment by advancing preventive and education-based programs across this country. We are focusing on bolstering our law enforcement, legal and justice system to respond to the increasingly aggressive gang recruitment strategies that are ongoing.

Bill C-394 would allow our justice system to appropriately hold those who would recruit individuals into a criminal organization accountable for their devastating actions. By doing so, we will be able to take these dangerous criminals off our streets for good. This not only maintains the safety and security of our communities, but it offers the opportunity to severely inhibit a criminal organization's growth.

When I spoke with the president and CEO of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Winnipeg, he told me a story that exemplified the need for this proposed legislation. At one of their inner-city club chapters, gang members will wait under the parking garage directly behind the building. Their sole purpose for being there is to engage those leaving the Boys and Girls Club in hopes of recruiting them into their gang, a targeted strategy that is not a coincidence.

This example highlights the reality that our youth in our communities face. Education and prevention programs are only a part of our response. We need to provide our justice system with the ability to respond through legal action.

Imagine for a moment if these children, youth and teenagers were empowered to report those trying to recruit them. Imagine if our community members knew that something could be done about gang recruiters who operated in their neighbourhood. It would empower communities to take action.

Today, we have an opportunity not just as members of Parliament, but as Canadians, to come together and make a difference in our neighbourhoods. I urge each member to view the bill for what it is: an important new tool in our criminal justice system that will benefit families, communities and future generations.

It is time that we take back our streets from criminal organizations that are increasingly tightening their grip on our freedoms, safety and security. It is time we take a stand so every child, teenager and adult can experience the life that they deserve to live.

Justice May 1st, 2012

Mr. Speaker, Canadians are concerned about crime. They gave our government a strong mandate to keep our streets and communities safe. Gang activity and recruitment is a growing problem. Youth are often targeted by criminal organizations to join their ranks. This is one reason that I introduced Bill C-394, the criminal organization recruitment act. The legislation would send a strong signal that seeking to recruit youth into organized crime gangs is a serious offence that deserves tough sentences.

Could the Minister of Justice please inform the House about the government's position on my legislation?

Khalsa Day Parade April 30th, 2012

Mr. Speaker, I am thrilled to share with the House the incredible celebrations that took place in Toronto this past weekend. The Khalsa Day parade showcased our country's rich diversity, cultural traditions and unity.

What is so special about this annual event is that it brings us all together, regardless of faith, to share in the Sikh religion's values of service to others, harmony and equality. These are principles that our nation holds dear. These are the same principles that Canadians build their families on and that our government defends at home and abroad.

The strength of the Sikh community emanates across Canada. The Khalsa Day parade is a time to celebrate and also a time that reminds us all about enriching Canada through participation, peace and togetherness.

I would like to thank all of the organizers and volunteers who made this celebration a wonderful experience for everyone.

Protecting Canada’s Immigration System Act March 15th, 2012

Mr. Speaker, as I mentioned earlier, our immigration system is far too generous to bogus refugee claimants, who would like to take advantage of our system and all of the services that federal and provincial governments provide in terms of social assistance, education, health care and so on.

If a legitimate refugee comes to this country, Bill C-31 would actually help that person. The bill would help speed up the process and get a person who is in real need integrated into the country faster and sooner. The bill targets bogus individuals who are trying to take advantage of our country and our system and Canadian taxpayers.

Protecting Canada’s Immigration System Act March 15th, 2012

Mr. Speaker, as I mentioned in my speech, we have one of the most generous immigration systems in the world and it is important that we protect it.

The fact of the matter is that we have far too many bogus refugee claimants coming into the country, whose appeals sometimes drag on for years. We know that it takes on average four and half years to get an obvious bogus refugee out of this country, and that is what is costing Canadian taxpayers billions of dollars. While these bogus refugees are here, they are obviously costing taxpayers in social assistance, health care and education.

I would like to applaud the efforts of the hon. Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism for addressing this issue. It is a concern that truly needs to be addressed urgently.

Protecting Canada’s Immigration System Act March 15th, 2012

Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Langley.

I am grateful for the chance to speak in the House today on Bill C-31, the protecting Canada's immigration system act. I would like to congratulate my hon. colleague, the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, for tabling this important legislation, and I encourage all members in the House to join me in supporting Bill C-31 to ensure that it passes into law.

Canada has always been a welcoming country and continues to be so. Since 2006, our government has welcomed the highest sustained, average number of immigrants in Canadian history. Our generous immigration system is not only the envy of the world but also enjoys broad support among Canadians.

Why is this? In my opinion, there are two big reasons. First is an economic reason. Canadians know that without a strong immigration system, our economy would suffer. We now live in a globally competitive world, where countries that can attract the best and the brightest from around the world will best be able to compete internationally.

Second is historic experience. Canadians know that for generations newcomers have come to Canada and have helped to build it into the strong and pluralistic country it is today. There is every reason to believe they will continue to do so in the future. However, for that to happen, we must be vigilant in ensuring that our immigration system remains robust, efficient and working in the best interests of our country.

I believe that the measures in Bill C-31 will help ensure exactly that. What are these measures? As the minister has clearly articulated, they fall into three complementary categories, all of which will help protect the immigration system. First, Bill C-31 will build on the reforms to the refugee system that were passed into law on June 2010 as part of the Balanced Refugee Reform Act. Second, this legislation will help crack down on the disreputable business of human smuggling. Finally, Bill C-31 will pave the way for the introduction next year of biometrics for screening applicants for temporary resident visas, or study or work permits.

Once these measures are implemented, I am confident they will live up to the name of the bill, the protecting Canada's immigration system act.

For the benefit of my hon. colleagues, I would like to briefly discuss the importance of each of these measures in turn. On the day that the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism introduced the bill, he spoke about the significant increase in refugee claims originating in countries that we would not normally expect to produce refugees, democratic countries that respect human rights.

The most striking example of this is the fact that last year alone almost a quarter of all refugee claims made in Canada were by EU nationals. In other words, a quarter of all claims are coming from our democratic European allies, not from war-torn countries ruled by tyrants and plagued by persecution. That fact alone makes the case for additional reform of the system, but consider the cost to Canadian taxpayers in recent years from almost all EU claims being withdrawn, abandoned or rejected. Indeed, the unfounded claims among the 5,800 EU nationals who sought asylum last year cost Canadian taxpayers $170 million.

In order to remove a failed refugee claimant from Canada, it still takes an average of four and a half years from the time of the claim to the person's removal, and removals have dragged out for more than a decade. Failed claimants are eligible to receive taxpayer-funded social benefits, which contributes to their overall economic burden on taxpayers. For many years, Canada has spent far too much time, effort and money on failed refugee claimants who do not need this country's protection. This hurts those who are very much in need of our protection.

As the minister has stated, these measures would help provinces save about $1.65 billion over five years in social assistance and education costs. The reforms proposed in the bill would speed up the process of both deciding on refugee claims and on removing failed claimants from Canada.

Even with these reforms, Canada will still have one of the most generous asylum systems on earth. In fact, because these reforms would enable those who need our protection to get it even faster, I would say that it makes the system even better.

Bill C-31 would help to bring our immigration and border control systems more fully into the 21st century by creating a legislative framework for the long planned implementation of biometric technology as an identity management tool in those systems. In plain language, collecting biometric data would mean photographing and fingerprinting people applying to Canada for a temporary resident visa, or for study or work permits. Because biometric data is more reliable and less prone to forgery or theft than documents, these measures would strengthen immigration screening, enhance security and help reduce fraud. This is an effective way to manage a high volume of applications and some forms of sophisticated identity fraud. It would help prevent serious criminals, previous deportees and terrorists, among others, from using a false identity to obtain a Canadian visa. Alternatively, the use of biometrics would also help facilitate legitimate travel by providing a fast and reliable tool for confirming the identity of travellers, students and temporary workers.

I said at the beginning of my remarks, Canadians must always be vigilant about keeping our immigration system robust, efficient and working in the best interests of Canada. When we examine the measures in Bill C-31, it is clear that they will do all of these things.

The bill would make Canada's immigration system faster and fairer. It would help us put a stop to foreign criminals, human smugglers and bogus refugees abusing our generous immigration system and receiving lucrative taxpayer-funded health and social benefits. At the same time, Bill C-31 would provide protection more quickly to those truly in need.

For these reasons, I am very hopeful that all of my colleagues in this House will join me in supporting the bill's passage into law.

Emergency Debate March 12th, 2012

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for doing a wonderful job of chairing our House committee.

This measure brings financial predictability for all provinces and territories, as they can count on long-term stable funding arrangements that will see transfers reach $40 billion by the end of the decade.

Emergency Debate March 12th, 2012

Mr. Speaker, I would assume the hon. member, being a physician herself, would know and would clearly understand that when I say that health care is the responsibility of the provinces and the territories, it is true.

At the same time, the Government of Canada has a responsibility to ensure Canadians are protected and have adequate drugs that they require. It is the provinces and territories that work with the manufacturers. They are the real customers.

When it is out of the Government of Canada's hands, or the information does not get to the government or Health Canada in a timely fashion, it is limited in its resources. I hope that answers the question.

Emergency Debate March 12th, 2012

Mr. Speaker, I would like to remind the hon. member, as I mentioned in my speech and as was mentioned earlier by the Minister of Health, that it is the responsibility of the provinces and territories to provide health care.

At the same time, our government and Health Canada have shown a very clear leadership by working very closely with Sandoz, the manufacturing facility. As we all know, this problem arose not because of the situation within Canada, but it was initiated by the U.S. FDA. Health Canada and the Minister of Health are doing everything in their power to ensure this issue is addressed in a very timely fashion.

Emergency Debate March 12th, 2012

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to have the opportunity to address the House on the issue of drug shortages in Canada and around the world.

We know drug shortages are a concern for all Canadians, and we know this is not the first time our health care system has suffered as a result of a shortage situation. What we are experiencing here in Canada is a symptom of a much larger global problem. Drug shortages are global in nature and are felt by patients worldwide. If we are to resolve them, there will need to be collaboration on an international scale.

What brings us together today is our mutual concern over the drug shortages caused by the production slowdown at the Sandoz manufacturing facility in Boucherville, Quebec. The manufacturing issues that are currently ongoing at Sandoz in Canada are a local example of a global issue. Interruptions to supply such as the one Canada is facing can arise as a result of a variety of factors.

I would like to take this opportunity to share with the House some of the global factors that can bring about drug shortages here in Canada.

Often a drug shortage is a result of shortages in a raw material required to make the drug. These raw materials are often scarce and, in addition, they can be quite difficult and complex to produce. Perhaps most importantly, the ingredients for many medications are sourced internationally.

For example, a complex drug to treat cancer may be manufactured in Canada, the United States or Switzerland, but its raw materials can come from places such as India, China and Latin America. Furthermore, within these countries there are a limited number of suppliers of raw materials. When taken together, that means fewer raw material suppliers operating from a small number of countries but supplying the world's needs. The ability to meet the demands of the international community on a continuing basis is highly vulnerable to risk, which might affect that supply. Because of this worldwide dependency on a few raw material manufacturers, the market is in a constant state of flux between being able to meet supply demands and there being a lack of supply of the ingredients for the global market. Shortages of raw materials can occur when there is just one raw material supplier for a high-demand drug or if there is competition between several manufacturers for a raw material that is in short supply. As a result, our respective domestic supply chains are very much intertwined with international supply chains.

We also know that manufacturers in the countries we rely on for the supply of raw materials for drugs can run into many different types of production issues, which can deeply impact the overall global supply. As a regulator, Health Canada is responsible for reviewing the safety, quality and efficacy of drugs and for authorizing their sale in Canada. Once a drug is authorized for sale in Canada, Health Canada will monitor the safety of the marketed drug by collecting, analyzing and assessing adverse drug reaction reports that are submitted by the pharmaceutical industry, health professionals and consumers. If safety concerns are identified with a product, this may in turn result in a company recalling the drug, which in turn will result in a drug shortage for that particular drug.

The trigger for the remediation activities currently being undertaken at the Sandoz facility was the warning letter that was issued by the U.S. FDA. The U.S. FDA's observations for the facility focused on a product manufactured in Canada but intended exclusively for the U.S. market. Sandoz' international parent company, Novartis, made a business decision to focus on addressing U.S. concerns. As we are now clearly seeing, this decision has had a significant impact on Canadians.

In response to this letter, Sandoz decided to cease production on a number of its production lines in order to upgrade operations at its facility. However, some of those production lines were used to make drugs that were scheduled to be sold and consumed in Canada.

It should be noted that the reaction of Sandoz to the FDA ruling is not unusual. It is, in fact, fairly typical of the pharmaceutical industry to appease its customers with larger markets in order to assure its continued access to those markets. It also shows how global business practices of pharmaceutical companies should take into account the needs of our local population.

The business practices of the various players within the pharmaceutical drug supply chain can contribute to drug shortages in a number of ways. For example, manufacturers and wholesale drug distributors will routinely their supply by minimizing end-of-quarter or end-of-year product inventories. Manufacturers and wholesalers sometimes also limit the shipment of product based on the previous year's demand. Both practices can result in shortages at pharmacy and hospital levels.

In an effort to keep costs down and profits up, many manufacturers, wholesalers and pharmacies maintain minimal supplies of drugs in production or in stock. Just in time strategies like this can contribute to drug shortages. Some health care organizations keep little or no inventory on hand and are dependent on daily delivery by suppliers. In this case, a temporary supply disruption of a medically necessary drug can become a crisis for physicians and for patients.

Finally, we know that global pharmaceutical companies and manufacturers play a key role in bringing drugs to the market, but we also know that their business models have changed in the wake of globalization. Pharmaceutical industry consolidation has become the norm around the globe. When companies merge, less profitable product lines are often reduced or discontinued. Sometimes manufacturing facilities are closed altogether. When companies merge with similar product lines, this will often result in product consolidation, possibly resulting in changing a multi-source product into a single-source product. These practices result in fewer sources for drugs, leaving markets vulnerable to shortfalls.

When companies consolidate around the world, this means that the supply of drugs for both Canada and other countries increasingly rests on fewer and fewer production sites. Twenty years ago, a problem in one production site for a drug could be resolved by increasing supply at a similar site. In today's climate this is not possible because there is often only one company that produces a certain type of drug globally.

These are some of the global causes of the drug strategy shortages that we experience in Canada, but let us bear in mind that drug shortages are occurring around the world. To the south, the United States is experiencing drug shortages in increasing numbers. In the United Kingdom drug shortages are also emerging, often as a result of drugs meant for British markets being shipped and sold to Europe.

Un to now, the Canadian experience was not as drastic as that which has been experienced in the United Kingdom and Europe. Managing the global factors affecting supply of Canadian pharmaceuticals is a significant matter.

Our government recognizes that drug shortages are a concern for all Canadians. The health of those who rely on drug therapy and pharmaceuticals is a primary concern for this government. However, we should know that drug shortages occur in the global context and are as a result of a number of factors at work in the global supply chain.