House of Commons photo

Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was ndp.

Last in Parliament October 2015, as Conservative MP for Oak Ridges—Markham (Ontario)

Lost his last election, in 2015, with 43% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Energy Efficiency Act April 1st, 2009

Mr. Speaker, I sometimes find it difficult to sit in the House and listen to members opposite talk about anything to do with the environment. Prior to being elected here, I was chief of staff to Ontario's first commissioner of alternative energy. At one point, we came through with a very extensive, all party report with over 130 recommendations with respect to clean energy, hydrogen, solar, wind and energy conservation.

The Liberals were in power at that time and to get them to move on any of those recommendations that were brought forward was impossible, even with all party support in the Ontario legislature. We know they broke their word with respect to Kyoto. I wonder if the member is not continuing the Liberal legacy of saying one thing but doing another. They signed the Kyoto protocol but we know they did absolutely nothing to meet our targets. In fact, they brought no money and no initiatives forward.

Now, here the government stands actually doing something. The Prime Minister came to my riding to announce funds for the Nature Conservancy of Canada so that we could bring some of our natural heritage under the protection of the government. We are investing in chemical waste management.

I wonder if the hon. member could explain to the House why, when the Liberals were in government, they failed Canadians on the environment so often.

Business of Supply March 31st, 2009

Mr. Speaker, I will say this about the members of the NDP. A least there is some consistency in what they are saying, unlike our friends in the Liberal Party who complain on a daily basis in the House about certain things that they just voted in favour of.

I will remind the hon. member that we did provide $1.1 billion of funding to the CBC, a record level. A great majority of the House voted in favour of that. Our minister has been changing the way in which we provide funding to all levels of cultural institutions. However, we are providing record levels across the board, levels that have never been seen before in this country.

In my riding, the changes have been welcome. However, we need to look at two things. We need to look at responsibility to Canadians. We have a responsibility, as the government, to ensure the funds that all Canadian taxpayers send to us are treated with the respect they are being sent to us with, which why we put in $1.1 billion and why we expect all hon. members to respect the independent decisions made by the CBC. We appreciate the work being done by the CBC in these difficult times.

Business of Supply March 31st, 2009

Mr. Speaker, I find the comments of the hon. member to be quite remarkable. It was this government that increased funding to the CBC to the highest level. Guess what? It was that member who voted not once, not twice but three times in favour of our economic action plan, which increased funding to the CBC to the highest level in Canadian history.

The member talks about one red cent. Let us talk about the red book of 1993 where the Liberals said that they would provide stable funding. What did they do? They cut $440 million. Why did they cut $440 million? They wanted to redirect that money to their friends so they could do something called the sponsorship program. It had nothing to do with CBC then, did it?

Business of Supply March 31st, 2009

Mr. Speaker, before I begin, I would like to inform the House that I will be splitting my time with the hon. member for Saint Boniface.

I would like to thank the hon. member for Honoré-Mercier for proposing the motion today because it allows me to clear up some of the misunderstandings he has propagated with regard to the operational structure of the CBC. While seemingly unimportant to most, an argument based on faulty fundamentals is certainly of no use to the House.

In recent weeks the hon. member has made a number of statements that reveal just how far off-base he is with his assumptions around many of his supposed facts, and just how little he knows about the governance of the CBC and its operations. Perhaps he is doing a political show.

If the hon. member truly believed in the motion, it makes one wonder just why he voted in favour of the government's economic action plan, not once, not twice, but three times in the House. The economic action plan clearly outlined what the government's financial plan was for the CBC. Again, I remind the House that the hon. member voted not once but three times in favour of that economic action plan.

That being said, I am pleased to have the opportunity to provide much needed clarification and perspective on this issue for the hon. member and all Canadians.

It would be important to begin with the briefest of history lessons, so I will begin by quickly reminding the hon. members opposite of the origins of CBC Radio-Canada, its governance, and the importance of autonomy from government interference, which is what this particular motion seeks to do.

CBC Radio-Canada was created in 1936 and replaced the Canadian Broadcast Commission, which had become far too vulnerable to interference and meddling by political players. Because of the political influence, the public began to lose faith and confidence in the nation's public broadcaster.

However, unlike Liberal leaders who followed him, Prime Minister Mackenzie King took the opportunity to restore confidence in national institutions cherished by Canadians. He chose to fix the problem and granted the new public broadcaster with a greater level of autonomy from government. That was in 1936. Since 1936 the Broadcasting Act has been amended a number of times, but no amendment has ever attempted to disregard that autonomy, as the hon. member's motion would have us do today.

The Liberals are certainly not the party of a strong, independent and free national broadcaster, as they would have us all believe. In fact, history indicates just the opposite. It was the Liberal Party that promised increased stable and long-term funding for the CBC in 1993, only to start slashing the budget in 1994. The year 1997 saw the same promises made and the same ends met. Budgets were cut to the tune of $440 million, while at the same time certain individuals in the Liberal Party received similar amounts of money by something most Canadians, unfortunately, remember as the sponsorship program. The victims of that were the more than 4,000 Canadians who lost their jobs at the CBC under the previous Liberal government. That is the real legacy of the Liberal Party.

A Conservative government in 1991 further expanded the corporation's independence from government and allowed the leadership of the CBC to make its own decisions with regard to programming and journalistic activities, and freed the CBC from the interference of former Prime Minister Trudeau, who infamously threatened to put the key in the door of the CBC, a threat that would obviously have put thousands out of work.

Another Conservative government increased funding to arts and culture to record levels in the country, and increased support to the CBC to the tune of $1.1 billion a year, a level that has never before been seen. This Conservative government has made all those changes.

The amazing thing is that a Conservative government always has to come to the aid of the CBC in tough times. Yet, the hon. member claims that Conservatives are destroying the CBC. I think Canadians are smart enough to know the real story when they hear the facts, which is why I am very pleased the hon. member raised this motion today.

The government will not dictate business practices of the CBC, as the hon. member would have us do with the motion. Supporting the motion today would certainly be the first step in the destruction of the CBC.

I am sure, in worldly travels of the Liberal leader, he has come across state controlled broadcasters and he must know the result of such control. We cannot and we will not dictate what the corporation should run, which programs it can run and when or second guess the decisions that it must make. The results would be catastrophic and I hope the Liberal leader will remember this when it comes time to vote on this motion tonight.

What the member opposite fails to understand is that to now intervene in the CBC's business would reverse over 73 years of autonomy from the government, an autonomy that is paramount for a public broadcaster in a free and democratic society.

The fact that the country is facing an economic downturn is not news today. The downturn was not created by this government but it is one that this government, with the help of Canadians, including our business leaders, will conquer together. Each and every business in this country needs to make difficult decisions, as does each and every family. The CBC is not alone in this. Every media outlet, every business and every family are now making the difficult decisions that are required during these difficult times.

The leadership of the CBC, by virtue of being a corporation funded by taxpayers, is not immune from these difficult business decisions. It has taken the bull by the horns and has faced its challenges head on. That is why it is good at what it does. To have my colleagues second guess it here today must be truly insulting to the management of the CBC.

It is the responsibility of this government to ensure that the CBC and, in fact, all crown corporations are appointed with people, not on the basis of who they know but on the basis of what they know. It is the job of the government to ensure that the leadership of the CBC is stacked with people who have the proper skills and experience required to run a business because that is what the CBC ultimately is.

The skills, experience and competence of the corporation's current CEO, Hubert Lacroix, his chairman, Timothy Casgrain, and the entire board is undeniable. The board is well-balanced and includes individuals with the vast knowledge and experience in all aspects of business. They will weather this storm and will be stronger for the tough decisions they are making.

The CEO and board of directors deserve the support of the House. We must have faith in their abilities to make the right decisions and use what they have been given wisely. Although we may not be pleased with program choices or a news report, we do not interfere and we must not interfere.

When the decisions of the board get more difficult to make, as in this case, when employees are let go or programming is scaled back, governmental interference is equally inappropriate. On this side of the House, we do have faith in the leadership of the CBC. We know it is best able to make the tough decisions that these difficult times require. Without a doubt, its job would be easier if all the decisions were simple. Reality, however, dictates that they are not, not for Hubert Lacroix and not for any Canadian.

If the hon. member lacks the faith in the leadership, then he should move that motion. I am sure the House would resoundedly defeat it. What he should not do is sit in the House and play backseat driver in the decision making process of the CBC.

The sponsor of this motion supported the budget that allocated record levels of funding to the CBC and now that is not enough for him. He now wants to run the show but it does not work that way. During these times, how can he possibly look his constituents in the eye and not blush? How can he support the budget that outlines funding for the CBC one day and the next day complain against it?

Everyone in the House supports the CBC. However, the senior management of the CBC has said that the end sought in the approval of this motion will not be met with or without the bridge financing requested here today. As such, I would propose the following amendment. I move that all words following “throughout Canada” be deleted so that the motion reads as follows, “That this House recognizes the indispensable role of CBC-Radio Canada in providing national, regional and local programming, including news coverage and services to linguistic minorities throughout Canada”.

Citizenship and Immigration March 31st, 2009

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to express both my anger and frustration as a father of two young daughters at the incredible decisions made at the citizenship and immigration committee today.

At a meeting earlier this month, opposition members voted unanimously to recommend that the Government of Canada not deport any individual to Sri Lanka regardless of criminal convictions. My motion today would have rectified the committee's previous error and would have shown all Canadians that we are serious about public safety. However, again, the official opposition voted unanimously against my motion to deport individuals convicted of serious crimes in Canada.

According to the Liberals, people like Panchalingam Nagalingam, implicated in the fatal shooting of two teenagers, a meat cleaver attack, the trashing of a community centre, threats, assaults and credit card theft would be allowed to remain in Canada. The Liberals talk tough on crime when the cameras are on but show by their votes that indeed they continue to put the rights of criminals ahead of victims.

Will the Liberal leader ask his MPs to support Canadians, or will he continue to sit back, smirk and put his hands in the air--

Italian-Canadian Recognition and Restitution Act March 24th, 2009

Mr. Speaker, I would hope that the hon. member would withdraw his comments and I will give him an opportunity to do that.

I wonder if the hon. member could outline for me the progress that was made during the St. Laurent government, the Pearson government, the Trudeau government, the Chrétien government and the Martin government. I know that hon. gentleman was elected in 2000. I wonder what initiatives he brought forward and what initiatives previous Liberal governments brought forward with respect to redress.

Italian-Canadian Recognition and Restitution Act March 24th, 2009

Mr. Speaker, in 1990, then Prime Minister Brian Mulroney actually apologized to Italian Canadians on behalf of the government. He further pledged that we would not go down that road again and he accepted the principle of redress.

I also note that it was a Liberal prime minister who actually identified Italian Canadians as enemies--

Business of Supply March 24th, 2009

Mr. Speaker, I want to let the hon. member know that I announced a project, along with the Liberal member of the provincial parliament, in my riding of Oak Ridges—Markham. She explained how excited she was to work with the federal government to bring forward a project that was desperately needed in the riding.

The member talked about some of the New Horizons funding. Which one of the programs, seniors for seniors, or memories to music, or senior social support services, or Mississauga Chinese elder abuse prevention program, or the Gateway JOY (Just Older Youth) Seniors Volunteer Network, or the Happy Seniors for a Happy Community, or Seniors Kitchen and Social Club and so on spread throughout Mississauga in particular, does he not approve of and which one would he like to get rid of, because he obviously does not support seniors in Ontario?

Business of Supply March 24th, 2009

Mr. Speaker, I wonder if the hon. member would agree with me that getting money out the door to provinces and municipalities so that they can attack the infrastructure needs and deficits they have had over many years of ineffective Liberal governments is now a priority.

I wonder if he might also comment on some of the differences between the accountability measures built into the stimulus funding and the lack of accountability that was built into the Liberal sponsorship scandal that saw hundreds of millions of dollars redirected from Canadian taxpayers to help fund Liberal Party policies.

I wonder if he might specifically inform the House on his actions with respect to accountability in that time period and help me understand some of the differences between our accountability measures, which were elegantly talked about by the member for Kitchener Centre, and some of the measures that were in place during the sponsorship scandal.

Business of Supply March 24th, 2009

Mr. Speaker, some of the members opposite are probably reflecting on the horrible sponsorship scandal of the previous Liberal government, which saw hundreds of millions of Canadian taxpayers' dollars stolen and put toward Liberal Party use.

With respect to this particular motion, I wonder if the hon. member might once again reflect on some of the accountability measures already put into the stimulus funding.

Is the hon. member prepared, as I am, to work with the Liberal provincial government in Ontario and his municipal counterparts to make sure the stimulus funding goes out the door, and meets local, provincial, as well as federal needs to get people back to work, to build bridges and roads and maintain sewer systems? I wonder if the hon. member may comment on that.