House of Commons photo

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

Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 May 14th, 2021

Madam Speaker, it is a real pleasure to speak to this timely bill brought by my colleague, the member for York—Simcoe. Before I get to the details of Bill C-204 and the impact that this proposed legislation has already had on a government that was dragging its feet in joining the global movement to ban the export of hazardous plastic waste, I would like to thank the member for his wider, passionate and loud commitment to the magnificent body of water that lends its name to his constituency. It is about an hour's drive north of my riding of Thornhill. I am speaking of Lake Simcoe, of course.

Since his arrival in the House of Commons after his election two years ago, the member has regularly raised his voice urging the government to re-establish the Lake Simcoe cleanup fund, killed by the Liberals in 2017. The virtual challenges imposed on the workings of the House over the past year have forced us to limit attendance on the Hill and to work from constituency offices and homes. While all of this has frustrated many members, the MP for York—Simcoe has taken advantage of his remote technology a number of times to bring the lake, and the government's dereliction of duty to a cleaner Lake Simcoe, to the attention of the House and Canadians. He positioned himself in front of the lake one time, and as he has referred to today, he made a statement while actually standing in Lake Simcoe in hip waders to call for re-establishment of the highly effective cleanup fund our Conservative government funded for 10 years.

His proposed legislation, Bill C-204, is on one hand simple in the changes that it proposes to the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, but also profound in what it could achieve. As the member for York—Simcoe reminded us when he spoke, for far too long Canada has been sending too much of the plastic waste that we all generate to other countries for disposal.

There was a time when there was a significant market for clean and sorted plastic waste, both in Canada and abroad, particularly in China. A corporate constituent in my riding of Thornhill was producing a broad range of products 10 years ago that included furniture, planks for decks and docking, buckets, barrels, sports gear and so forth made from a variety of plastic waste material. It was bumped from the market when China began outbidding it and other Canadian recyclers for Canada's plastic waste.

In 2017, after dominating international trade in waste plastic, China abandoned the practice and the market because its customers around the world raised their quality standards on imported recyclables. These included Canada, to its credit.

That recycling market was for clean, select and sorted plastic waste. More of Canada's plastic waste, much of it contaminated, has been exported to the United States and a number of Asian countries for disposal by incineration, landfilling or abandonment. As the member for York—Simcoe points out, between 2015 and 2018 almost 400,000 tonnes of Canadian plastic waste was shipped to Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam, India, Hong Kong, China and the United States.

In many of these countries where environmental standards actually exist, they are often very poorly enforced. These tonnes of waste are not only irresponsibly burned or improperly added to landfills. In many cases they are simply dumped and defile the environment, groundwater, surface water and air. Unlike China, which banned waste plastic because of market rejection, some of those countries are now prohibiting plastic waste trade for environmental reasons, in some cases because of the sudden surge in plastic waste dumped on their countries resulting from the huge tonnage rejected by China.

Canada's environmental image abroad was bruised terribly last year when the governments of the Philippines and Malaysia demanded that Canada, at great cost to Canadian taxpayers, repatriate thousands of tonnes of contaminated plastic waste that had been dumped on their rural communities and countryside. All of this happened at the same time as countries around the world came together to more responsibly regulate the way countries controlled the import and export of plastic waste in its many forms.

Party countries to the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal, a convention that was created in 1989 in the wake of scandals involving the dumping of toxic waste in Africa and other developing countries, agreed, in 2019, to update the Basel Convention to ban the transboundary movement of plastic waste from industrialized countries to developing countries, specifically the types of plastic waste that are considered hazardous and contaminated.

Members will remember that I mentioned earlier that Canada has been dragging its feet in joining the global movement to ban the export of plastic waste. The government failed to demonstrate leadership by not immediately joining other countries in the ratification of the Basel Convention amendments, and that is where Bill C-204 made a big difference even before this debate. The Liberals, who had been derelict in their duty again to ratify the Basel amendments, suddenly, two days before the member for York—Simcoe was to speak to this bill, announced that they would ratify it, and they did, although they were more than a year late, 18 months late, and after 186 other countries had signed.

Now, does that mean that the export of all plastic waste from Canada will suddenly stop? Unfortunately not. The Basel Convention amendments apply to a specific list of types of plastic considered hazardous, but not to another list of plastic waste that is presumed not to be hazardous, provided these safe, uncontaminated waste plastics are destined for recycling in an environmentally sound manner. The Liberals think that makes it okay for some Canadian waste plastic to be exported. They claim that it helps businesses abroad, as if Canada's plastic trash is some kind of development assistance.

This makes Canada an outlier in the OECD, because there is another amendment to the Basel Convention, known as the ban amendment, which bans absolutely the export of plastic waste from OECD countries to non-OECD countries. There are 98 countries that have signed that amendment, democracies such as Australia and the United Kingdom, but to date, Canada refuses to sign.

Canadians watching from home or reading a transcript of my speech today in Hansard should know that much of the media reporting on these issues confuses the two amendments, which the Liberals use to their advantage when they claim that Bill C-204 is unnecessary because Canada signed, belatedly, the first amendment.

The sponsor of Bill C-204, the member for York—Simcoe, believes that Canada should not be exporting any plastic waste. The member believes that because there are any number of Canadian companies prepared and capable of recycling plastic waste, it is time for Canada to stop treating the rest of the world as a dumping ground for Canadian plastic waste.

He referenced in his speech an Alberta company that can convert all types of plastic to diesel fuel. It is ready to build refineries across the country that could convert 3,000 tonnes of plastic waste a day, diverting more than a million tonnes from landfill and foreign destinations. He mentioned another company in Nova Scotia that, like my corporate constituent in Thornhill, could manufacture a broad range of products from plastic waste. However, these companies need access to adequate volumes of clean plastic waste to make their business plans work, and if Canada kept its vast tonnage here, they would work.

The member for York—Simcoe told the House that Canadians from coast to coast want action on this environmental issue. He said that the Liberal government could no longer justify a practice that many other industrialized countries have ended, and that developing countries should no longer be expected to fulfill disposal services that we should take care of in a safe and environmentally sound manner.

I agree with my colleague from York—Simcoe, and I hope all members will join me in supporting his bill, Bill C-204.

Canada Elections Act May 10th, 2021

Madam Speaker, I agree with my hon. colleague.

Canada Elections Act May 10th, 2021

Madam Speaker, the provision for a particularly lengthy writ period is tremendously important both for the safe conduct of polling residents in long-term care and seniors residences, but also to prepare Elections Canada officials and the polling stations for those Canadians who choose to vote in place. I attended and observed the two by-elections last year, and it is very complicated and difficult, and safety must prevail.

It will also take that period of time to distribute the mail-in ballots and to get them—

Canada Elections Act May 10th, 2021

Madam Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his somewhat disingenuous questions. I would like to address the matter of timing.

The bill was rushed to introduction in December, again, pre-empting the interim report of the PROC committee. This committee has been filibustered by the Liberal minority on the committee for more than two months, because the Liberals do not want to recognize the will of all the opposition parties to call a relevant witness to appear for one meeting. For the last month, the Liberals have filibustered their own amendment.

I am wondering if the rush now, as the bill is eventually forwarded to the PROC committee, is to allow—

Canada Elections Act May 10th, 2021

Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure to finally have the opportunity to rise to speak to Bill C-19, if in the shadow of time allocation. I will get to aspects of the bill that I consider worthy and a number of provisions that I believe should be amended in committee, in a moment, but first I will address a number of the underlying issues that have affected the way this bill was mismanaged in its creation, as so many other pieces of legislation have been similarly in this Parliament.

The crux of the problem is not the COVID pandemic. The crux of the problem is the arrogance of the current government to approach virtually every practice and procedure as though it won a majority in 2019. The Liberals refuse to recognize the range of realities, most importantly the pragmatic humility a minority government must practise to govern effectively. The current Liberal government, as in the last Parliament, has ignored committee studies, reports and recommendations in the creation of legislation dealing with critically important issues, such as privacy, foreign affairs, the digital charter, regulating the Internet, medical assistance in dying, and now Bill C-19, an amendment to the Canada Elections Act, provisionally, for a possible general election in this pandemic, a pandemic that will last much longer because of the government's inability to properly procure vaccines and to accept Conservative advice when the pandemic first struck and at every stage since.

The Liberals, with selfish impatience, introduced Bill C-19 last December, not waiting for the completion of a long and thorough study on essential amendments to the Canada Elections Act to protect public health and democracy during a possible pandemic election. An interim report by the committee was, at the time, within days of being presented to the government. That report was pre-empted by Bill C-19, ignoring the suggestions of the exhaustive study and disrespecting not only opposition members on the committee and the many expert witnesses who testified during the study, but the Liberal chair and Liberal committee members, who had worked collegially with the opposition to develop comprehensive recommendations for such an important study.

The Liberals clearly intended then to rush the legislation through Parliament, as they have done with so many other flawed pieces of legislation from the beginning of the pandemic, but in this case the rush was not to help Canadians still in the grips of the pandemic, and it was not to prepare a plan for economic recovery to get Canadians back to work; it was in the political self-interest of preparing for the snap election they were thinking they might get away with. In doing so, they not only disregarded the work of parliamentarians, but wasted the valuable time of health officials and elections experts who appeared during the thorough procedure and House affairs committee study.

In doing so, they ignored the reality that an overwhelming majority of Canadians did not want then, and do not want now, a general election in a deepening pandemic crisis. If the Liberals had any doubts, that was surely driven home in the subsequent cycle of spiking infections and death across the country and the provincial elections conducted under pandemic conditions, most notably the profoundly disrupted Newfoundland and Labrador election.

The interim report of the committee contained extensive, reasoned advice based on the testimony of expert witnesses that would have improved Bill C-19 before it was tabled, but the final report of our committee, submitted to the government in February of this year, provided even more important advice. Most important, the committee advised the government and recommended unanimously, every Liberal member on the committee as well, that the federal government commit to not calling a federal election during the pandemic, unless defeated on a vote of confidence.

Further, Conservative members of the committee wrote a supplementary report, which reiterated the recommendation against holding a pandemic election and elaborated, noting that Bill C-19 was uninformed by the extensive content of the committee report and stating very clearly that the government has a moral obligation to refrain from triggering an election or orchestrating its own downfall, as the Prime Minister has already tried to do a number of times.

Because of the government's inability to manage its own legislative agenda, the bill before us has had precious few hours of debate.

A key element of Bill C-19 involves the change of the usual designation of an election day to be an election period of Saturday, Sunday and Monday, rather than just Monday, to provide more time for voting, social distancing and the precautions necessary to provide safe voting places. The bill also provides for the extension of voting hours of polls, if necessary to midnight, on any polling day, but not to exceed 28 hours for the three-day election period.

The bill also changes the maximum writ period to 53 days because of the many challenges anticipated for in-person voting or involving mail-in ballots. With regard to mail-in ballots, the bill allows electronic applications to be made with proper security protocols, of course, for mail-in ballots. They are very detailed provisions, which I believe would secure the safety of those ballots. There are also provisions for the safe casting of votes in institutions, in facilities where seniors and persons with disabilities reside.

I will support all of those provisions in the bill, on the condition that they expire automatically, completely and absolutely six months after the pandemic period is considered to have ended.

However, there are a number of elements in this legislation that I strongly oppose and believe should be amended. I believe they must be amended at committee, our procedure and House affairs committee, which was so ignored and so disrespected by the original tabling of this legislation in December.

First and foremost, there is a provision for counting mail-in ballots after the end of the official three-day election period. Given the new powers granted the Chief Electoral Officer for early mail-in ballots and extended poll hours, there is absolutely no reason, no excuse, for any ballots received after polls close on election day to be counted. Election day must be decision day.

As well, while I accept the extension of pandemic powers to the Chief Electoral Officer, I oppose the provision that would expand his determination of “satisfactory proof of the elector's identity and residence”. Pandemic protocols should not enable greater voter fraud than already exists in non-pandemic elections.

In conclusion, I want to remind all members of this House of the unanimous recommendation of the procedure and House affairs committee, each and every Liberal member included, that the federal government must commit to not calling a federal election during this continuing pandemic, unless it is defeated on a vote of confidence.

Public Services and Procurement April 20th, 2021

Mr Speaker, COVID hot spots, designated high-priority vaccination areas, of Thornhill, Vaughan and Markham in York Region have for weeks now experienced a serious reduction in vaccine supplies. Clinics large and small have closed due to a lack of supply, new eligible groups cannot be accommodated and the region is unable to expand protection of residents and essential workers in manufacturing.

In desperation, Ontario's Premier Ford is now reaching out to the European Union, India and the U.S. What is the Liberal government doing now to backfill its blundering unsecured vaccine procurement?

Employment Insurance Act March 12th, 2021

Madam Speaker, my colleague's speech was a very thorough, information-packed and concisely addressed, unlike that of the parliamentary secretary who preceded her.

On behalf of dozens of my constituents in Thornhill, I would also like to thank her for bringing up the contradiction regarding the people who left the CERB, made an application to EI as directed, were refused EI access and were directed to apply for the CRB and were denied. They have been left in limbo for months because of a computer glitch showing an EI account was left open.

I wonder if the minister addressed this problem, which she promised to fix more than a month ago, when she appeared before committee yesterday.

Public Safety March 12th, 2021

Madam Speaker, to the demands of Canada’s Iranian and Jewish communities that Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps be added to Canada’s list of terror groups, the minister deflected, saying four proxy IRGC agencies, including the Quds Force, are already listed. That listing, by the way, was in 2012, by our Conservative government, and when this House voted overwhelmingly to list the IRGC in its entirety, the member for Scarborough Southwest cast a yea vote.

Can the Minister of Public Safety explain his change of mind?

International Development February 22nd, 2021

Mr. Speaker, for years the Liberal government has accepted implausible assurances from UNRWA that Canadian dollars are not being used to teach Palestinian children to hate. The minister has been duped once again, with proof last week that UNRWA continues to use educational materials that glorifies terrorists and urges children to wage jihad against Israel.

When will the government stop making empty promises to investigate and stop funnelling Canadian tax dollars to a corrupt agency that conditions innocent children to hate and terror?

Public Safety February 5th, 2021

Madam Speaker, all Canadians should welcome the government's addition of 13 new groups to the Criminal Code terrorist list, but the Liberals once again have failed Canadians, failing to fully ban Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. The IRGC has sponsored terror around the world for decades and is responsible for the destruction of the Ukraine air flight last year that killed 55 Canadians and 30 permanent residents.

When will the Liberal government finally list the most deadly terror organization in the world today?