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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word is canada's.

Conservative MP for Thornhill (Ontario)

Won his last election, in 2015, with 59% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Foreign Affairs June 15th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, the air and land blockade of Qatar by Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states is continuing. Saudi Arabia cites Qatari links with militant groups in the embrace of various terrorist entities, including Iranian groups. Saudi Arabia is demanding that Qatar break all links with the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, and Iran.

Canadians have not heard a peep from the Liberals on this dispute, which includes both allies and enemies. Can the minister explain why?

Justice for Victims of Corrupt Foreign Officials Act June 13th, 2017

Madam Speaker, it is a true honour to speak in support of Bill S-226. I thank Senator Andreychuk for her initiative in another place and I thank the member for Selkirk—Interlake—Eastman for bringing it to the House.

The legislation will effectively add a long overdue dimension to Canada's official sanctions regime by targeting corrupt foreign officials responsible for gross violations of internationally recognized human rights. This act will be forever associated with Sergei Magnitsky, a heroic victim of Vladimir Putin's brutally corrupt regime. He was an auditor who discovered and exposed details of a massive corruption racket involving many mid and high-level Russian government officials, oligarchs, best described collectively as “kleptocrats”.

I will not revisit the tragic details of Mr. Magnitsky's cruel detention, his torture and his death or of the Putin regime's posthumous conviction of Mr. Magnitsky on outrageously confected charges of tax evasion. However, I would recommend, for those unaware of the Magnitsky story, the international best seller, Red Notice, written by his employer, the crusading champion of Magnitsky-style legislation in democracies around the world, Bill Browder, CEO and founder of Hermitage Capital Management.

Bill C-226 lays out very clearly the circumstances under which corrupt foreign individuals, not just in Russia but anywhere in the world, would be listed. Listing would apply to individuals responsible for, or complicit in, extrajudicial killings, torture or other gross violations of internationally recognized human rights, and foreign government officials exposed of illegal activity.

The law would prohibit those individuals from travelling to Canada, investing in Canada or for any funds or properties of these individuals discovered in Canada to be subject to seizure. The law would also provide for penalties against Canadians found to be engaged in activities that would assist the identified corrupt foreign officials.

The Liberal government has come to accept and support the legislation very late in the day, even though in the final days of our previous Parliament, the Liberals joined all parties in unanimously supporting a motion for Magnitsky-style legislation.

The first Magnitsky legislation was passed in the United States in 2012. Other countries have followed such as the United Kingdom and Estonia. The European Parliament has called on member countries to consider imposing entry bans on listed individuals and for co-operation in freezing the assets of listed Russians.

Despite acceptance and implementation of these Magnitsky laws, the former Liberal foreign minister, Stéphane Dion, flatly opposed such legislation last year, saying, more than a little disingenuously, that it was unnecessary. Fortunately, over the past year, encouraged by the official opposition and NDP members of the foreign affairs committee, the Liberal members of the committee came to agree that in fact Canada did need Magnitsky-style sanctions legislation.

Our committee heard testimony from a broad spectrum of witnesses.

Former Liberal justice minister, Irwin Cotler, the sponsor of the House's original Magnitsky motion, said that the main objective “is to combat the persistent and pervasive culture of corruption, criminality and impunity”, and most importantly, to assure victims and defenders of human rights in such foreign countries “that Canada will not relent in our pursuit of justice for them”.

Garry Kasparov, an eloquent advocate of democratic reform in Russia and, of course, former world chess champio, put it this way in his testimony before the committee. He said, “Money is always looking for safe harbour. We are talking about hundreds of billions of dollars, if not more, of this money that will definitely be looking for a place to be invested.” He warned against Canada being considered by corrupt individuals as a “safe haven”.

Zhanna Nemtsova, daughter of the Russian pro-democracy crusader, Boris Nemtsov, murdered on a Moscow bridge in 2015, made clear the importance of targeted sanctions against named individuals. She said, “These are not sanctions against a country or even a government. These are sanctions against specific individuals responsible for corruption and for abusing human rights.”

Equally powerful testimony came from Russian human rights activist, Vladimir Kara-Murza who, after recovering from one sinister attempt to poison him in Russia in 2015, told our committee:

I have no doubt that this was deliberate poisoning intended to kill, and it was motivated by my political activities in the Russian democratic opposition, likely including my involvement in the global campaign in support of the Magnitsky Act.

Mr. Kara-Murza was in Canada a few weeks ago still recovering from a second poisoning attempt on his life. He encouraged Canadian parliamentarians to ensure the legislation was quickly voted into law and then, as importantly, effectively enforced.

That is an important point because, as the foreign affairs committee discovered during our hearings this past year, enforcement of Canada's existing sanction regime is pathetically dysfunctional and ineffective.

The Freezing Assets of Corrupt Foreign Officials Act was created in 2011, to respond to events of the Arab Spring, where governments fell and state assets were vulnerable to corrupt officials suspected of moving ill-gotten wealth to locations abroad.

The Special Economic Measures Act has been used in the creation of a number of regulations that would impose restrictive measures and prohibitions on illegitimate activities, to freeze bank accounts, to block financial dealings and seize property.

Sanctions against Iran for its nuclear adventurism and sponsorship of terrorism are within SEMA, as are sanctions against Russia for the invasion and occupation of Crimea and sponsorship of the deadly rebellion in Eastern Ukraine.

However, testimony revealed that Canadian departments and agencies that were mandated to monitor and to enforce such sanctions, operated in counterproductive silos, that the complexities of sanctions enforcement exceeded the capacity of departments and agencies. Most important, we heard from the RCMP and other agencies that there was a lack of capacity to monitor and investigate compliance and that sanctions enforcement was a much lower priority than say, anti-terror responsibilities.

While we in the official opposition are pleased that the Liberals have accepted our unanimous foreign affairs committee recommendations to add this Magnitsky bill, Bill C-226 to Canada's sanction regimes, there is still much more to be done.

There are 12 other recommendations in the committee report aimed at fixing Canada's dysfunctional sanctions enforcement to increase capacity, coordination, and commitment between departments and agencies. The need for just such action was made clear last month. Where bureaucrats, security agency officials, and financial institution specialists tended to scoff that Russian kleptocrats would want to move illegal funds to Canada or to enjoy those ill-gotten gains in Canada, information provided by Mr. Browder to the RCMP last year and to Canadian journalists more recently proved exactly the opposite.

The CBC confirmed that after following up on Mr. Browder's documents, a powerful Russian crime syndicate, accused of laundering hundreds of millions of dollars around the world, appears to have also flowed millions through nearly 30 Canadian bank accounts, without sanctions enforcers noticing. Some of those accounts belonged to individuals. Others were shell companies created to receive incoming funds and to send laundered money abroad.

Lincoln Caylor, a Toronto lawyer who specializes in complex fraud, was quoted as saying that there was so much documentation proving that millions from a sophisticated Russian tax fraud had moved in and out of Canada, that it was groundbreaking.

We in the official opposition are pleased the government has finally decided to support Conservative legislation, which will target the world's worst human rights offenders, as well as from Russia, to Iran, China, Congo, Venezuela, South Sudan, anywhere perpetrators of gross violations of human rights can be identified. We are pleased with the combination of Bill C-226 and the foreign affairs committee's unanimous recommendations to apply Magnitsky sanctions legislation and to enforce them.

The challenge now is for the often foot-dragging Liberal government to actually act.

Foreign Investment June 13th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, the Liberals brushed off the concerns of two former CSIS directors and a former ambassador to China regarding the slapdash sunny-ways sale of Canadian defence technology to a communist dictatorship. While the Liberals may be willing to jeopardize our security interests selling Norsat for a trade deal with China, they have clumsily put at risk relations with our best friend, trade partner, and protector.

Now that a congressional committee is urging the Pentagon to review this risky deal, will the Liberals order a formal national security review?

International Development June 12th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, a Hamas terrorist tunnel has been discovered between two Gaza schools run by the UN Relief and Works Agency, UNRWA. The agency, which teaches hate and glorifies Palestinian terrorist attacks against Israel, has responded disingenuously with shock. The reality is that UNRWA is desperate not to reform its ways but to preserve funding from increasingly skeptical democratic donor countries.

When will the Liberals accept that Canada's $25 million in Palestinian aid could be delivered by better means?

Business of Supply June 8th, 2017

Madam Speaker, as I said during my remarks, we recognize the government's action to contain fissionable materials and to work for further decommissioning the still huge arsenals that exist in Russia and the United States. We recognize that many of the former Soviet republics, such as Ukraine, Belarus, and others, voluntarily relinquished their nuclear weapons, laid them down. Our previous Conservative government worked to achieve those same ends.

These talks will continue, I regret to say, for years, I believe, but there is no reason to not continue with meaningful talks with our nuclear-possessing democratic allies, and the others, in the enduring hope of one day having a nuclear-free world.

Business of Supply June 8th, 2017

Madam Speaker, as I say, we recognize the idealism of the NDP motion. With regard to the first part of her question and the symbolic unanimous consent on December 7, 2010, I was in Parliament. I was not in the House. I have voiced my concerns and reluctance to support unanimous motions at any time, except in the most exceptional circumstances, and this was another one. It was a unanimous motion put by Bill Siksay, a former NDP colleague, after question period, at 3:45 in the afternoon, when the House had fewer members than it has at this moment. It was a symbolic motion. It was a motion that supported the dream we all share of a world one day free of nuclear weapons, but it is unrealistic to expect today.

Not to trivialize this matter, but the reason our democratic allies are refusing to lay down all their nuclear weapons today, the reason our historic adversary, Russia, will not lay down its, is the unpredictability of the new nuclear states and the nuclear rogue states. It comes down to the rather trite saying, “You don't bring a knife to a gunfight.”

For the foreseeable future, we have to contend with a—

Business of Supply June 8th, 2017

Madam Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Selkirk—Interlake—Eastman.

I would like to begin by taking members and folks viewing us across the country in the safety and security of their homes back to a moment in history: 16 minutes past eight o'clock in the morning of August 6, 1945. That was the instant when an atomic bomb, three metres in length, weighing barely 4,000 kilograms, containing less than 64 kilograms of uranium-235, and dangling from a descending parachute, exploded over Hiroshima, Japan. In that instant, some 80,000 people died in the blazing blast under a rising mushroom cloud of fire and smoke. The co-pilot of the American B-29 bomber, looking back, said to his fellow crewmen, “My God, what have we done?” What the Americans did that terrible day, and with a larger plutonium bomb three days later over Nagasaki, Japan, effectively ended the Second World War and far greater casualties, with Japan's surrender the next week.

We know that, since 1945, although there have been a number of close calls, nuclear weapons have not again been used in conflict. In the early years of the Cold War came the concept of mutual assured destruction, developed as a defence policy during the Kennedy administration. MAD essentially involves the United States stockpiling a huge nuclear arsenal, which in the event of a Soviet attack would have provided the U.S. with enough nuclear firepower to survive a first wave of nuclear strikes and to strike back at Russia and its Warsaw Pact partners. The resulting enduring theory of nuclear deterrence to this day meant that it would be unthinkable for either side to launch a first strike because it would inevitably lead to its own destruction.

Toward the end of the Cold War, 1987 to be exact, Margaret Thatcher said:

A world without nuclear weapons may be a dream but you cannot base a sure defence on dreams. Without far greater trust and confidence between East and West than exists at present, a world without nuclear weapons would be less stable and more dangerous for all of us.

Prime Minister Thatcher then offered a quote by Winston Churchill, and again this goes back to the period just after the Second World War when Churchill said, “Be careful above all...not to let go of the atomic weapon until you are sure and more than sure that other means of preserving peace are in your hands.”

Today, almost three decades after the Cold War ended, and despite the voluntary decommissioning of thousands of nuclear weapons, there are still more than 10,000 nuclear weapons of all sorts, bombs and warheads, worldwide. Eight countries have successfully detonated nuclear weapons: the United States, Russia, Britain, France, India, Pakistan, North Korea, and Israel. We know Iran is close to achieving nuclear capability. Five NATO member countries share nuclear weapons: Germany, Belgium, Italy, the Netherlands, and Turkey. The nuclear non-proliferation treaty, ratified by Canada decades ago, aims at “sharing the benefits of peaceful nuclear technology and the pursuit of nuclear disarmament and the ultimate elimination of nuclear arsenals”. However, North Korea left the treaty; Israel, India, and Pakistan have never joined; Iran did join decades ago but, surprise, was found to be in non-compliance and brags today about its dark nuclear intentions.

In the past decade, our previous Conservative government worked multilaterally to improve international nuclear security and to address the threat posed by nuclear terrorism. We worked with our international partners to prevent the acquisition of fissionable materials by any individuals, entities, or countries that might threaten Canadian national security, which brings me to the NDP motion before us. Conservatives do not disagree with paragraph (a) of the motion; we have no doubt of the catastrophic humanitarian consequences that would result from the use of atomic weapons.

At the same time, we in the official opposition agree with our democratic allies that possess nuclear weapons as a vital defence deterrent, the United States, Britain, France, and Israel; and our NATO partners that share them, Germany, Belgium, Italy, and the Netherlands, like Canada; which do not possess nuclear warheads. These countries all disagree with the talks to ban nuclear weapons, talks aimed at achieving total nuclear disarmament, which have absolutely no chance of success.

Russia and China, both nuclear powers, both veto-wielding permanent members of the Security Council, are not part of the democracies boycotting group, but they too see no reason to participate in the nuclear weapons ban talks. The Russian foreign minister has said that the 120 countries that are participating in the talks are trying to coerce nuclear powers into abandoning nuclear weapons, and he said it is absolutely clear that the time has not come. As well, President Obama during his presidency held essentially the same opposition to participation in the nuclear ban talks. That is because the world today is arguably in a much more dangerous place than it was during the Cold War and MAD. It is not because of the several hundred Russian and American weapons that are still on what is called hard alert, ready for launching within minutes of a perceived attack, but because of the nuclear weapons in the hands of a belligerent North Korea, because of the nuclear weapons still in development in Iran and that regime's continuing commitment to one day make a nuclear strike on Israel, and because of nuclear weapons at the ready today in Pakistan and in India, not to mention the fissionable material salvaged from Soviet era weapons believed to be accessible to international terror organizations.

While we Conservatives share with the NDP and peace-loving people around the world the dream of a nuclear weapons free world, while we agree that there are a couple of elements in the 2008 UN Secretary-General's five-point proposal that are still today worth pursuing—such as the call for the establishment of a central Asian and African nuclear weapons free zone treaty, the proposal for greater accountability and transparency by nuclear weapon states in documenting the size of their arsenals and weapons stocks, and continued efforts against other weapons of mass destruction—we in the official opposition do not believe that there is any benefit to participating in a marathon, wishful-thinking talkathon. There are more meaningful ways to work for greater peace and stability, fundamental human rights, and opportunities for those in the developing world and undemocratic states.

While we recognize the idealism of the NDP motion, we do not believe that the current precarious state of the world justifies Canada's engagement in these specific UN disarmament talks to ban nuclear weapons.

Foreign Affairs June 6th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, when Canadians are illegally detained and abused by countries like Iran and China, the Liberals cite “privacy” as a reason to remain silent. When Canadians are eventually released, if they survive, like the Garratts from China or Professor Hoodfar from Iran, the Liberals have been similarly mute.

When will the Liberals reset this unacceptable foreign policy and condemn publicly, on behalf of all Canadians, the past and present abuse of Canadians in China and Iran?

Foreign Affairs June 6th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, after 18 months of erratic foreign policy missteps, Canadians may be relieved the Liberals have finally accepted the need to hit the reset button.

After a stroll through history, through a myopic Liberal lens today, where is the detail for example on whether the Liberal retreat from the allied coalition in Syria and Iraq will be reversed, whether the Liberals will be less submissive with China on trade and human rights, and whether the Liberals will be less secretive about votes for human rights abusers at the United Nations?

Venezuela June 1st, 2017

Mr. Speaker, I apologize for turning my back to the Chair.

Absolutely, until Goldman Sachs came in with the $600 million-plus, which provided a certain amount of comfort for the Maduro regime, in fact the greatest single source of hard currency for that dictatorial regime has been drug running.

Venezuela has taken over from previous narco gangs and organizations that had transited from Colombia. Now the majority of drugs coming from Latin America are transported by Venezuelan fast boats up through the eastern Caribbean and eventually to North America.