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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was regard.

Last in Parliament September 2021, as Conservative MP for Thornhill (Ontario)

Won his last election, in 2019, with 55% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Situation in Sri Lanka February 4th, 2009

Madam Speaker, over the years, governments of Canada have been and continue to be deeply concerned about civilian casualties and the humanitarian situation in the continuing civil conflict in Sri Lanka.

This government has conveyed its concern regularly, but most recently, with great urgency, in a public statement on January 28. The Minister of Foreign Affairs also conveyed this concern directly to the government of Sri Lanka when he spoke with the minister of foreign affairs, Rohitha Bogollagama, on February 2. Today our concerns were raised again in another statement. Our Minister of Foreign Affairs called for an immediate ceasefire and support for the statement released yesterday by the co-chairs of the Tokyo Donor Conference on Reconstruction and Development of Sri Lanka. As the minister just said, we have called for a cessation of hostilities for some time now.

We support the call of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, the LTTE, commonly known as the Tamil Tigers, to discuss with the government of Sri Lanka the terms for ending hostilities, including the renunciation of violence, the laying down of arms and the acceptance of the government of Sri Lanka's offer of amnesty as the first step toward an inclusive political dialogue that should contribute to a lasting peace.

Canada is particularly concerned about the grave threat faced by a large number of civilians caught in the conflict zone. Canada strongly condemns the shelling attacks on the hospital which is in contravention of international humanitarian law. Equally disturbing have been continuing accusations by both the government of Sri Lanka and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam of the other side firing into a government-declared safe zone.

The Government of Canada is continuing its efforts with like-minded countries to deliver strong messages to all parties to the conflict about protecting civilians, including humanitarian workers, allowing their safe and voluntary movement from combat zones and ensuring unhindered access for humanitarian workers to reach civilians in need.

In light of the grave humanitarian situation in Sri Lanka, Canada will continue to provide assistance to Sri Lanka's vulnerable populations. In fact, as we just heard, the Minister of International Cooperation today announced that Canada will provide up to $3 million in humanitarian aid to Sri Lanka to help those affected by the current crisis.

Canadian assistance in Sri Lanka is focused on the immediate needs of the affected populations and is provided by organizations such as the International Committee of the Red Cross, United Nations agencies and key Canadian non-governmental organizations with a proven capacity and track records in Sri Lanka.

Canada's food aid funding is primarily directed through the United Nations World Food Programme, an experienced implementing partner with demonstrated ability to address the needs of the most vulnerable populations.

Canada also provides assistance for broader initiatives in Sri Lanka such as the sponsorship of a regional conference in Colombo, on pluralism, that took place in South Asia in March 2008. This conference focused specifically on minority integration and participation in government and civil society, and included participation from the government of Sri Lanka. Canada intends to host follow-up events in Sri Lanka. We believe that continued assistance with such initiatives is important for the promotion of human rights and democracy.

Canada continues to urge the government of Sri Lanka to move toward a new and meaningful political solution to the conflict that will address the legitimate concerns of all communities. The decades old conflict will not be ended on the battlefield, but through political accommodation.

We have therefore called on the Sri Lankan government to demonstrate leadership and move forward with the tabling of further details for meaningful power sharing agreements that will be acceptable to all the communities of that beautiful island.

We have also repeatedly impressed upon all parties our grave concern over the deteriorating human rights situation and the need for an international presence to report on human rights violations. Through bilateral meetings and multilateral fora such as the Human Rights Council, the Government of Canada continues to express our concerns regarding reports of violations of humanitarian rights and humanitarian law.

The increase in attacks on journalists in Sri Lanka is also very troubling. In the Minister of Foreign Affairs' call with the Sri Lankan foreign minister, he urged the government of Sri Lanka to conduct open and independent investigations into all attacks on journalists and to hold those responsible to account. The lack of neutral reporting underlines the pressing need for independent media to have unfettered access to the conflict area.

The Government of Canada will continue to work with like-minded countries to urge all parties to the conflict to protect civilians, to ensure respect for international humanitarian law, to provide humanitarian actors the full, safe and unhindered access to conflict-affected populations, and to return to the peace process.

As members may know, Canada is home to the world's largest Sri Lankan diaspora of over 200,000, comprised mostly of Tamils, who arrived as asylum seekers in the 1980s and the 1990s. These Sri Lankan Canadians, proud Canadians, are passionately interested and follow developments in Sri Lanka very closely.

However, the LTTE, the Tamil Tigers, are also known to be present in Canada. In April 2006, the Government of Canada listed the LTTE as a terrorist organization, thereby freezing its assets and prohibiting any and all fundraising, whether voluntary or through extortion. In June 2008, again after an extensive investigation, the World Tamil Movement was listed as a terrorist organization under Canada's Criminal Code for financing the Tamil Tigers, the LTTE.

The government regularly meets with representatives of civil society and NGOs which work on Sri Lankan issues in Canada. I would like to emphasize that the large and vibrant population of Canadians of Sri Lankan origin means that Canada has a very real interest in developments in Sri Lanka, an interest that is regularly communicated to the government of Sri Lanka.

Finally, I would like to underline that Canada continues to deliver clear messages to the government of Sri Lanka on Canada's grave concern over the human rights and humanitarian situation in the country. Canada works with like-minded countries and through multilateral fora to address key issues and to continue to press for steps toward a durable political solution to the conflict that will address the legitimate concerns of all communities in Sri Lanka.

Resumption of Debate on Address in Reply November 25th, 2008

Madam Speaker, with an eye on the clock, I think the questions and answers in the next hour will more than adequately respond.

Indeed, I ran on a platform of adding a strong and effective voice from the greater Toronto region, albeit from the fringes of Canada's metropolis. This government is fully committed to assisting and promoting manufacturing and all of our industrial sectors that face challenging times in the months and years ahead.

Resumption of Debate on Address in Reply November 25th, 2008

Madam Speaker, certainly we have mutual goals with our trading partners in our backyard, the Americas, which has been neglected for too long. It is our intention to promote free trade, which will offer opportunities and benefits to Canadians. At the same time we want to recognize that democratic governance, human rights recognition, and the process of law are tied directly to prosperity and the ability of governments to bolster and to strengthen their institutions.

We will work with those governments. The free trade agreements that have been signed recently recognize that these countries are democracies that share Canadian values. These agreements will allow them in the months and the years ahead to strengthen those institutions. For those governments in the Americas which may fall into the category of definitional problems of democracy, these agreements will demonstrate for them that by embracing democratic values and principles and the principles of free trade that there will be benefits not only for their governments but for the people of their countries.

Resumption of Debate on Address in Reply November 25th, 2008

Madam Speaker, this government is encouraging all of our institutions and crown corporations and indeed all Canadians to approach the current uncertain economic times with the same sense of prudence and economy as they would with their own family budgets. While reviews are regularly taken of all of the institutions of government, there are at this time no plans to reduce.

Resumption of Debate on Address in Reply November 25th, 2008

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for a prescient question. Yes, indeed, this government is committed to removing internal domestic trade barriers, and has been since our election in 2006.

It is true that we raised this issue again in the meeting with the first ministers. At the same time, we will continue to work to encourage our trading partners abroad to remove barriers and to open markets to free trade. We will continue to encourage the provinces and the territories to lower the barriers which impose an unfair burden on all Canadians and on the economy.

Resumption of Debate on Address in Reply November 25th, 2008

Madam Speaker, foresight is a precious commodity. While the government does not claim a monopoly on that commodity, we do claim to have anticipated and to have made tax cuts that began to stimulate the economy, tax cuts that are even now coming into effect.

As my colleagues opposite demand a plan to create stimulation, over the next couple of years this plan will continue to add billions of dollars of stimulation to the economy in the face of those who wish to impose new taxes at a time of economic crisis.

I would ask my colleagues to share in the offer made last week by the Prime Minister and the finance minister, which was for members to offer constructive criticism and ideas as we move forward to work together to address the crisis that faces the world, a crisis that will indeed touch on Canada.

Resumption of Debate on Address in Reply November 25th, 2008

Madam Speaker, this being my initial appearance and my initial opportunity as a member of Parliament to rise in the House, I would first like to offer personal congratulations to you on your appointment to the chair, and to the Speaker of the House on his re-election, and to beg pre-emptively collective forbearance by the chair for rookie procedural gaffes.

My election to Parliament is fulfillment of an almost lifelong dream, and for that there are many to thank. First and foremost is Cilla, my bride of more than 27 years, who has supported me through the high moments and low--mostly high moments, I must admit--on my journey from the news desk to this privileged perch in the crucible of Canadian politics.

Thanks go as well to my daughter Trilby and her partner Daniel, who have cheered me on via any number of electronic technologies from overseas, regularly taking my side and covering my back in the dark and archaic recesses of the blogosphere. I owe great, sincere appreciation as well to my three sisters Susan, Adele and Norma, and to my brother Arthur, who have patiently watched their brother's erratic career path.

However, I recognize with the greatest humility that I would not be before you today had not the voters of Thornhill entrusted me with their votes and sent me here to join a Conservative government that in its first two and a half years of productive, pragmatic and principled government won those voters' trust and confidence that it would provide more of the same in these uncertain times.

In this period of global economic uncertainty Thornhillers, like all who live in and around Canada's metropolis, like all their fellow citizens from coast to coast, are rightly concerned about their individual and shared futures.

It is very clear that this concern is not limited to one sector of society or to one particular corner of this world. This global economic situation affects everyone, regardless of how much money one earns or where one lives. Most of us know loved ones who are feeling especially vulnerable in these uncertain economic times.

Yet in this period of worldwide economic challenge, there are many reasons for Canadians to have confidence in the future. Canada's economic fundamentals remain strong, and our banking system is the most solid in the world. True, we are navigating the stormy seas and shoals of an economic tempest not of our making, but Canada is well positioned to weather these gales and to emerge stronger than ever.

We have a strong leader in the Prime Minister, and Canadians have once again put their trust in a government that is committed to getting things done.

We also have a government that is willing to reach across the floor to consult and work with all members of the House, because the economy is far too important to be left to petty partisanship. We must move forward as a country. We are fortunate to have such strong and capable leadership.

Our recent Speech from the Throne is proof that this government understands the pressures placed on hard-working Canadians as a result of the uncertain global economic situation. I am proud to say that this government has been putting Canadians first. We will continue to move forward in the spirit of cooperation and openness. We will overcome these economic challenges and emerge stronger together.

Our government has wasted no time. The Prime Minister has already met with the first ministers to discuss the economic realities facing Canada at this time. Our government will continue to work with the provinces and the territories in order to find solutions that will help all Canadians. For example, our government recognizes the importance of a strong infrastructure program that will stimulate our economy while renovating or replacing or supplementing time-worn essentials of our modern society.

Our building Canada plan is the most ambitious infrastructure renewal effort in half a century. The federal government will work with the provinces to accelerate the $33 billion plan over the coming years to ensure a stronger, safer and better Canada.

Likewise we are committed to building a stronger financial system that will serve Canadians better now and in the future. We are the government that has cut taxes to lower costs for businesses and to help families. We are the government that has reduced the GST from 7% to 6% to 5%.

As well, our government is committed to ensuring that all Canadians can fully participate in the opportunities of this great land. As just one example, in 2007 our government announced that it will work with the provinces to make the recognition of foreign credentials a priority in order to attract the best and the brightest to Canada. A year later, there are now over 320 Service Canada centres across the country offering in-person foreign credential referral services to newcomers. This particular incentive helps many constituents in my home riding of Thornhill, as well as others across the country. Service Canada centres continue to help ensure a smooth integration for immigrants, which benefits newcomers and Canada economically and socially.

We must remember above all that our current economic troubles started beyond Canada's borders. As a result, these economic uncertainties must be addressed at their roots.

The Prime Minister and the Minister of Finance have met with their G-20 counterparts to both re-examine and renew the rules and institutions that underpin the global financial system. Our government is committed to working with our international partners to ensure that the global financial system is fixed and ready to withstand future trials of this nature.

Last week the Prime Minister, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Minister of International Trade were in Peru to participate in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum. The event was an opportunity to engage with some of our partners in the Americas, notably with our Peruvian hosts.

At a time of economic instability, which brings with it new challenges to security and to democratic institutions in the hemisphere, it is clear to this government that Canada is seen as a valuable and trusted partner in the region. Our neighbourhood is the Americas. Our economic prosperity, our values of democracy and human rights, and our security are closely linked with those of our neighbours.

Canada has made a commitment to deepen our engagement in this region. We plan to be there for the long haul to achieve our vision, a vision based on three mutually reinforcing objectives: a more prosperous, a more secure and a more democratic hemisphere.

Canada will also continue to actively engage with its North American partners to promote our objectives and our vision for the region.

We are working to achieve strong and well-managed economies committed to open markets. We will do this by developing strong bilateral partnerships and an increasing web of economic and political agreements with our key partners in the Americas.

We are working to achieve transparent and accountable democracies that delivery social equity, prosperity, security and human rights. We will do this by actively engaging with multilateral institutions such as the Organization of American States, the Inter-American Development Bank and the Summit of the Americas in support of Canadian objectives, interests and values.

Finally, we are working to achieve enhanced regional stability and security by continuing to increase the promotion of development goals delivered through a non-partisan democracy promotion agency.

Last week in Peru, the Minister of International Trade signed a free trade agreement with Colombia. Earlier this year, we signed a free trade agreement with Peru. These agreements will create new business opportunities for Canadians and for our partners alike. They include very strong parallel agreements on labour and the environment that commit Canada and its partners to work together to ensure high levels of protection for workers and for the environment.

As we sign these agreements with our partners, we are funding programs to support law reform and enforcement in the Americas.

Canada is now moving forward with the negotiation of free trade agreements with Panama, the Dominican Republic, the Central America Four and the Caribbean.

However, prosperity is not only about free trade agreements. We are also increasing cooperation and exchanges in numerous other fields with key partners in the region.

To deliver on the security objective, Canada is working on numerous fronts. To combat crime and violence, which impacts citizens in the region and Canadians alike, we are allocating funds for training, equipment, and technical and legal expertise on issues such as counterterrorism capacity in the Caribbean and Central America.

To deliver on the democracy objective, we are working bilaterally and multilaterally to strengthen democratic institutions and processes in the region.

In February 2008, the Democracy Council organized a democracy dialogue on Canadian approaches to democracy support in the Americas, assembling members of the Canadian and international community to discuss challenges and opportunities for democratic development in the Americas.

One-third of the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade's global democracy funding targets the Americas for support to democratic institutions and practices. Canada is actively engaged in supporting good and effective governance in the Americas. We are helping to train civil servants in such areas as public sector accountability, transparency, human rights, and modernization of the justice system.

Canada also continues to provide leadership in Haiti, where we have committed $555 million in reconstruction and development efforts over the five years spanning 2006-2011. Along with regional partners such as Brazil and Chile, we are strengthening Haiti's enforcement capacity and border management processes and supporting Haiti's efforts to support its prison and judicial system.

As we move forward, we will face new challenges and opportunities. In the context of a global economic slowdown, it is important that we continue to promote the importance of open markets, prudent regulations, appropriate framework policies and corporate social responsibility on the part of the private sector.

The current period of economic uncertainty beyond our borders and within has affected many of my constituents in Thornhill. Their concerns are shared with citizens across the country who are working to provide safe and secure housing for their families. They have saved for their children's education and they have invested for retirement. This government recognizes the challenges that must be overcome in the months and years ahead to create jobs for an economy that will recover, to protect nest eggs for those who worked a lifetime to provide for themselves, and yes, to assist those most vulnerable among us.

This throne speech holds the answers to those challenges. Canadians can be confident that in these difficult economic times, our government is committed to protecting and bolstering Canada's economic future. We will continue to build on the solid record we have established over the past several years in government.