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Track Peter

Your Say


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

Attack on the Parliament of the United Kingdom March 22nd, 2017

Mr. Speaker, as we have heard, there has been an attack on our mother parliament in Great Britain. There are reports of multiple casualties, including a police officer, in what is being considered a terrorist attack.

While the details are still being confirmed, what is known is that today there has been an attack on democracy.

Canada and the United Kingdom share many links, bonds, and traditions, including our head of state, our system of government, and now, unfortunately, modern attacks on our parliaments.

The scenes out of London will no doubt bring back dark memories for many of us here in the House today. Our thoughts and prayers are with our colleagues across the Atlantic. We thank the police and the security forces that defend these houses of parliament, those in the U.K., and all houses of democracy around the world.

Operation UNIFIER March 21st, 2017

Mr. Chair, my hon. colleague is clear that members on both sides of this House are very passionate in their statements in support for Ukraine. We in the official opposition are relieved that the government finally, after waiting for almost a year to respond to the questions and appeals from the Government of Ukraine, has seen an extension of Operation Unifier, which, as my colleague said, is what our Conservative government initiated.

Our disappointment springs from the fact that it is only what our government initiated under a very different time, when we thought we had not one, but two agreements, the Minsk agreements, to create a ceasefire, to create a negotiated settlement, and ultimately a withdrawal of the Russian forces that are directing the so-called insurgency.

I would ask my colleague how he can justify, given the new deadly realities of the Russian surge in the last couple of months in eastern Ukraine, the resupply of armaments, weapons, materiel, and direction in not meeting the request from the Government of Ukraine for not only an extension of Operation Unifier, but an expansion for the provisions, the supply of defensive armaments—

Operation UNIFIER March 20th, 2017

Mr. Chair, I would like to thank my hon. colleague for his collegiality on the various travels of our House standing committee on foreign affairs, especially most recently in eastern Europe, where we visited Ukraine, Latvia, Poland, and Kazakstan.

I would like to ask him a question based on one of the many meetings and briefings we experienced.

In several interactions with representatives of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, the OSCE, they were appealing, almost begging, for more funds to allow not only monitoring on both sides of the line of contact in eastern Ukraine, but to expand their operations along the Russian border to better monitor what Russia is sending into eastern Ukraine in the way of fuel, armaments, and men. Would he advise his Liberal government that perhaps it is time to step up and provide some additional funding to the OSCE to carry out these important monitoring operations?

Operation UNIFIER March 20th, 2017

Madam Chair, indeed I will give the member a chance to continue, with his answer to my question.

In describing this recent deadly, bloody, destructive surge by the Russian-directed forces in eastern Ukraine, my colleague seems to be making the arguments that we on this side of the House have been making for responding to Ukraine's appeal for an expansion of Operation Unifier, and for the defence of lethal weapons, the anti-tank, anti-armoured mobile artillery and satellite imagery, which the government in Kyiv has been so passionately requesting discretely, given the diplomatic appreciation of the basic extension of Operation Unifier. However, my colleague's remarks would seem to be supporting the feeling on this side of the House that we should be responding with much more to the request of the government of Ukraine.

Operation UNIFIER March 20th, 2017

Madam Chair, I thank my hon. colleague for a very reasonable question. In fact it is true, and had I had more time I would have mentioned that the mistakes of one government with regard to names left off the list of sanctioned individuals should not be used as an excuse by the current government to continue to keep those names off the list. Igor Sechin is a prime example. As the brutal left-hand man of Vladimir Putin and the head of Russia's oil company, he has in fact, just in the last couple of months, managed to sell 20% of that company, despite U.S. and other sanctions, through a very dark series of negotiated deals. That is exactly why I would suggest that the names of Vladimir Yakunin and Igor Sechin be considered by the government today to be added to the list of those sanctioned Russian individuals.

Operation UNIFIER March 20th, 2017

Madam Chair, I thank my colleague for his continuing efforts over the years in support of Canada's strong and unqualified support for the people of Ukraine who have chosen a democratic course.

With regard to the atrocities, we know atrocities are being committed by a number of groups, some of them organized, some of them directed, some of them spontaneous as a result of the worst tendencies of human nature in areas of conflict, some of them with regard to elements of very basic organized crime, but I think that what is required with fulfillment of the Minsk agreements is greater access for human rights organizations, meaningful monitoring, meaningful investigation of the complete range of atrocities—some of them better documented than others—a very real assignment of blame, and prosecution as crimes against humanity or crimes of war.

Operation UNIFIER March 20th, 2017

Madam Chair, I will be splitting my time with the member for Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles.

Time is short in this take-note debate and we have heard the appropriate exchanges of compliments back and forth between members of all parties in the House who know through either service or experience exactly what is at stake in Ukraine, but I will cut to the chase.

We in the opposition have long been worried that the Liberal government's commitment to the defence of Ukraine was half-hearted and fading. That would apply to not all Liberal MPs, as I have just said, but to the actions and attitudes of the government as a whole.

Our concerns were realized two weeks ago, when the government, after ignoring appeals from Ukraine since last summer, finally announced an eleventh-hour bare-bones extension of Operation Unifier. This extension does not speak to the brutal new realities, the recent deadly surge in the Russian-backed war on Ukraine. The extension does not respond to Ukraine's request for an expansion of the Operation Unifier training mission. The extension does not answer the outgunned Ukrainians' appeal for defensive weapons and the restoration of satellite battlefield imagery. The extension does not address the long-overdue signing and implementation of the Canada-Ukraine defence co-operation agreement. The extension did not mention Ukraine's request for additional support for the widely recommended expansion of the OSCE monitor teams to report on violations of the Minsk agreement.

The Liberals have not spoken a word of increased humanitarian assistance to the thousands of newly displaced eastern Ukrainian civilians driven from their homes by the recent Russian-directed surge, adding to the more than a million and a half internally displaced men, women, and children and the three-year death toll of 10,000.

Canada's commitment to the defence of Ukraine might not rate high on the Liberals' list of public opinion poll-driven priorities, but the Liberals, and in fact all Canadians, need to remember why Russia illegally invaded and still occupies the Ukrainian autonomous Republic of Crimea, why Russia invaded and still supports the euphemistically described rebellion in eastern Ukraine, and why the toll of death, displacement, and destruction continues there. It all comes down to democratic choice.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War, the people of Ukraine, along with the populations of many of the former oppressed Soviet republics, chose democracy and chose the west. The western democracies stepped up after Russia's bellicose response to Ukraine's revolution of dignity, the Russian invasion and occupation of Crimea, and Russia's invasion and arming of rebel separatists in eastern Ukraine. Western governments, including Canada's, imposed a range of sanctions on Russia, and in December 2014, Canada committed with the United States and other countries to provide coordinated training assistance through Joint Task Force Ukraine, with the Canadian element known as Operation Unifier.

As we have heard tonight, since deployment in the summer of 2015, the joint task force has trained more than 3,200 Ukrainian soldiers through more than 90 courses.

The Liberals claim their commitment remains strong, but these words often ring hollow. For example, just last December, we saw amazingly blatant duplicity when, on the same day that the Liberals sported traditional Ukrainian embroidered shirts, vyshyvankas, to brag in debate about Liberal support for Ukraine in the form of the free trade agreement negotiated by both our Conservative and Liberal governments, these same Liberals had the temerity to vote against Ukraine in a whipped vote against recognition of the historical deadly Surgunlik—the Soviet Tatar genocide—and Russia's current abuse and deportation of ethnic Tatars from the illegally occupied Ukrainian autonomous Republic of Crimea.

That is why we in the official opposition are so disappointed in what I referred to earlier as the Liberals' eleventh-hour bare-bones extension of Operation Unifier. It falls short of our Conservative government's original commitment to Ukraine. It falls short of what Ukraine has requested and in fact appealed for. It falls short of Canada standing up strongly for a democratic Ukraine.

Government Appointments March 20th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, the bungling of Mr. Dion's diplomatic consolation prizes reflects badly, not only on the Liberal government, not only with the offended EU and German host countries, but the broader international community.

What else have the Liberals forgotten to do? Are there loose ends as well with regard to Mr. Dion's dual citizenship?

Government Appointments March 20th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, Canadians are still waiting for answers on the logic and manner of Stéphane Dion's extraordinarily clumsy diplomatic appointments. Canada's professional diplomats, past and present, at headquarters and abroad, are dismayed and discouraged. Mr. Dion's status in Brussels will diminish the rank and the authority of the ambassador in place. Mr. Dion's status with Germany, as a still uninvited special advisor, is a diplomatic faux pas. For a ministerial housecleaning so long in the works, why this diplomatic train wreck?

Income Tax Act March 9th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, having seconded Bill C-323 introduced by the member for York—Simcoe, I am delighted to speak to the very meaningful benefits this legislation would bring not only to the owners who preserve and restore heritage properties of all sorts, but to the communities where they are located, as well as to our national cultural heritage.

I represent a riding which has a magnificent respect for the original townsite of old Thornhill, applying its own regulations and encouragement of preservation and restoration under the Ontario Heritage Act. The City of Markham's heritage department offers short-term loans to owners wishing to embark on a restoration adventure, and upon an owner's commitment to conserve the heritage features of a designated property, the City of Markham will actually reduce annual property and education taxes by fully 30%. As well, since 2000, Markham has presented annual heritage awards to owners who have completed restoration projects in compliance with heritage standards.

I am pleased to share with members the pride that Cilla and I share, having survived the roller-coaster perturbation involved in the restoration of 111 John Street, in Thornhill.

The central part of the designated house, built in 1842 by a miller named John Lane, first served to house the coopers who constructed the wooden barrels to carry cornmeal and flour back to England. It was effectively a bunkhouse. The house did have a late Victorian expansion, but its 19th century charm survived even the dilapidated, fixer-upper state in which we found it and acquired it in 2007.

To make a long story short, our marriage survived the top-to-bottom three-year restoration of the house, and we were honoured to receive a Heritage Markham Award of Excellence for our restoration project. Just to clear the air and to assure this House that I support Bill C-323 for its high-minded goals of celebrating restoration and maintenance of Canada's heritage buildings far beyond old Thornhill, indeed right across Canada, and not for personal gain from the very reasonable benefits that this law would provide, let me inform members that because a heritage property demands constant loving care and repair that many homeowners today might find challenging, Cilla and I, unfortunately, no longer own this home.

When I had a close call with mortality a couple of years ago, I received stern spousal direction that I was no longer to venture up onto the roof to carry out maintenance and fixes or to wield my trusty chainsaw as an occasionally necessary high-level amateur arborist. So, reluctantly, we sold to, we hope, we believe, a family as enchanted with this heritage property as we were.

Let me thank members for indulging this explanation of my fixation with historic properties, modest and grand, and let me return to the very important specifics of Bill C-323.

My colleague, the member for York—Simcoe, in his introduction of this private member's legislation, reminded the House of the very real public interest in the preservation and restoration of heritage properties. He spoke directly to the cost burden that rehabilitation is usually more expensive than alternatives such as demolition and a replacement new build, but certainly it is far less expensive than the priceless loss of physical Canadian heritage in a tear-down.

He pointed out that the bill would help owners who are preserving historic places with a modest portion of the cost of delivering this important public benefit. This bill would create a 20% tax credit for rehabilitation of recognized, designated historic places. The bill would also create an accelerated capital cost allowance for eligible capitalized costs incurred under the same conditions as the tax credit.

What exactly are eligible costs? Under the provisions of Bill C-323, these are costs that would include construction, insurance, development, site improvement, as well as basic professional fees. These eligible costs would exclude acquisition, cosmetic and furnishing costs of such a structure.

Our sponsor, the member for York—Simcoe, reminded us that not so many years ago, the government implemented a pilot program with a tax credit and end goal such as the one this bill would create. He cited the fact that the response doubled, on average, the property values of the respective structures and that the tax credit actually incentivized significant GST and corporate tax revenues.

Many countries in different parts of the world have heritage grants and associated programs. The most similar policy, I believe, is the tax credit program in the United States, which provides a 20% tax credit on costs related to the rehabilitation of designated historic buildings, as well as a 10% credit on non-designated buildings built before 1936. The program in the United States was implemented in 1976. It is widely recognized as having been exceptionally successful with over 41,000 projects certified. As well, the program has been found to have a net positive impact on the United States Treasury of $5 billion over the life of the program to date.

Under Bill C-323, eligibility for the tax credit and accelerated write-off of any restoration project would have to be first certified by an architect, following Parks Canada's easily available published standards for conservation of historic places.

The integrity of this evaluation process is ensured through the use of criteria that are not only recognized across Canada, but internationally. There are many programs in different parts of the world which have adopted the Parks Canada criteria for their work in designating and recognizing historic buildings.

Although this process is very exacting, it need not be burdensome or costly and can, we believe, be very easily applied to the detail and the coverage provisions of Bill C-323. The Parks Canada historic sites record with regard to major structures and locations, I am sure hon. members recognize this, is world-class. Application of the Parks Canada historic sites standards to fulfill the provisions of Bill C-323 would be scalable, and again, as I said, not burdensome or costly.

In closing, I would echo the words of my colleague from York—Simcoe in saying that Canadians will be much more likely to embrace the idea of having their heritage properties designated as historic if the bill is passed by the House. While the design of the legislative package is very modest in dollar terms, it would represent a very meaningful investment in our national cultural infrastructure.

I encourage all members of the House, all parties in the House, to stand in support of Bill C-323.