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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

Petitions December 2nd, 2020

Mr. Speaker, I rise to present a petition on behalf of citizens and residents of Canada, calling on the Government of Canada to apply specific Magnitsky sanctions, including the barring of travel to Canada and seizure of assets, against 14 Chinese Communist officials guilty of a range of gross human rights violations of Falun Gong practitioners, including torture, murder and organ harvesting.

The Economy November 30th, 2020

Mr. Speaker, the economic update will surely reveal just how large the deficit has become and how deep the hole out of which the country must eventually climb.

The lack of a plan for acquisition and distribution of vaccines threatens to have a delaying domino impact across economic recovery. However, the lack of a larger plan for fiscal recovery two years down the road, three years and more is equally unconscionable.

When will Canadians get a comprehensive plan?

The Economy November 30th, 2020

Mr. Speaker, Canadians deserve certainty, clarity and competence from their government, all of which have been sorely lacking both before and during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Conservatives supported, with corrective advice, the range of emergency COVID programs, but those massive funding programs account for barely half the federal deficit.

Today we expect yet another rhetorical exercise in the reimagining of the Canadian economy, but where is the plan for economic recovery?

Criminal Code November 30th, 2020

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for her very caring, kind and gracious words. I look forward to our paths crossing again in the House, in this place, rather than by this imperfect hybrid means.

Criminal Code November 30th, 2020

Mr. Speaker, indeed, language is important. Bill C-7, in many ways, has blurred the lines with regard to the most vulnerable in Canada. That explicit language should be and I hope will be eventually added.

I must say to her first point that I do not agree with the characterization of medically assisted death as suicide. I believe it is about determining by a profound, personal and dignified choice the manner of an unavoidable outcome.

Criminal Code November 30th, 2020

Mr. Speaker, in many instances that has been the parliamentary practice and tradition. However, the testimony of the Minister of Disability Inclusion last week before the Senate committee's pre-study of Bill C-7, and her unambiguous comments on two amendments that she would, in fact, support, demonstrate that the government either did not ask her or did not include her in the process, and that the Senate is well within its realm to consider those specific amendments proposed and send them back to this place for proper consideration.

Criminal Code November 30th, 2020

Mr. Speaker, when I last rose in the House to speak to the matter of physician-assisted death in 2016, I noted that the legislation then before us, Bill C-14, was neither the alpha nor the omega in the continuing conversations on the topic that Canadians have had for decades.

The Supreme Court had forced that legislative moment on reluctant politicians with the Carter decision, although the conversation had been simmering across society from the last century into this one.

However, in 2016, Bill C-14 brought us nowhere near where the Supreme Court had ruled Parliament must go. It was an interim step. It was a very cautious first step that was driven home with the Truchon-Gladu ruling in Quebec, which ordered that a class of people denied eligibility for medical assistance in dying by Bill C-14 were indeed entitled to access medical assistance in accordance with the Carter ruling.

The legislation before us now, Bill C-7, as amended in committee, under-amended I believe, and I will get to that in a moment, goes considerably beyond Truchon-Gladu. That said, the past five years of medically assisted death has brought Canadian society to a much more accepting place than in 2016; that increased acceptance of the practice justifies the additional provisions included in Bill C-7.

To my point that Bill C-7 was under-amended by the justice committee, the Conservatives hold that, for a variety of reasons, not least of which the WE scandal prorogation that wasted six valuable weeks in the summer, Bill C-7 has been indecently rushed through committee with not nearly adequate consultation. In the shadow of time allocation, signalled by the Liberal House leader last Thursday, it seems it will be denied adequate debate now during report stage.

This flawed process makes even more important the separate full and comprehensive parliamentary review of medically assisted death demanded by Bill C-14.

At committee, the Conservatives proposed nine amendments to better protect vulnerable groups, reasonable amendments, all rejected by the Liberals, but amendments which I hope Senate colleagues will consider in the upper house. I say that with some expectation of that actually happening as a result of testimony before the Senate's legal affairs committee last week by the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion. In fact, the minister endorsed exactly the same point as was proposed by one of the Conservative amendments, which was voted down by Liberal members of the House justice committee. She said, unambiguously, that health practitioners should not be allowed to discuss the issue of assisted dying until a patient asked.

Admittedly, this is a particularly difficult issue and one of context. I understand why anyone, but particularly a person with disabilities might feel improperly, even terrifyingly pressured, depending on how the matter is raised by a doctor. There is quite a difference between a physician informing of a range of choices facing a seriously ill patient and directly recommending assisted death.

The Canadian Nurses Association advised the Senate committee that the law should explicitly allow doctors to raise the issue with patients, as did the Canadian Association of Medical Assistance in Death Assessors and Providers. Dr. Stefanie Green told the committee that it would be unprofessional not to lay all the options on the table. I am sure we will all follow Senate dealings on this question very closely.

The disability inclusion minister testified as well before the Senate committee that she was open to considering an amendment to Bill C-7 that would impose a 12-month sunset clause on the proposed ban on individuals suffering solely from mental illnesses to seek an assisted death. Legal experts have made it abundantly clear that if that clause remains in Bill C-7, it is destined, almost certainly, to return to the Supreme Court where it will almost certainly be found to be unconstitutional. This is another consideration to watch closely.

Over the years since Bill C-14 was passed, and now as Bill C-7 is being rushed to law, a dark cloud has hung over discussion and debate, and that is the government's still unkept promise, a broken promise actually, to better provide choice, a meaningful alternative to physician-assisted death.

In 2015, the Liberals made a campaign commitment to invest $3 billion in long-term care, including palliative care. In fact, the importance of access to palliative care and end-of-life decision-making was one of the few unanimous points of agreement in the special joint committee's report to Parliament in February, 2016.

The government promised to expand the availability of accessible, affordable, acceptable palliative care for all those who for reason of conscience, faith or choice decided not to avail themselves of physician-assisted death. The Liberals' inconsistency in the matter of choice in other circumstances aside, this is a promise that must be fulfilled. It is essential that hospice and palliative care capacity in the country be vastly expanded to provide for those who would choose a meaningful alternative to MAID.

As I said in the House four years ago, my personal decision, which will determine my vote on this legislation, is a product of three individuals and their experiences and my own.

In my previous life as a journalist, I followed closely the unsuccessful legal crusade of Sue Rodriguez, as ALS steadily increased its smothering, deadly grip on her. I was seized by her rhetorical question posed to all Canadians, “If I cannot give consent to my own death, whose body is this? Who owns my life?”

When I first came to Parliament 12 years ago, I became close to another thoughtful, courageous Canadian, a fellow MP, the Hon. Steven Fletcher, Canada's first quadriplegic MP, re-elected three times. Steven did not give up after a life-changing accident. He met immense challenges and he overcame them.

However, in two private members' bills tabled several years ago, which I seconded, and in testimony before the justice committee in January 2016, Steven made a powerfully convincing argument for self-determination to one day make a final decision. Steven argued for a law by which an individual could make one's own decision based on one's own morals and ethics, but under guarantee there would be no pressure on that person from society, family, friends, or the facility in which he or she might be.

I was also powerfully persuaded by the tragically tortuous passing of my brother-in-law, a brilliant academic, by Alzheimer's. I informed the House during debate on Bill C-14 that should such an end one day face me, I would surely compose an advance directive and that one way or the other it would be fulfilled.

Finally, as a cancer survivor, I have had many hours of reflection during treatment and since to personally ponder the issues involved in medically assisted death and Sue Rodriguez' quite powerful rhetorical question: Who owns my life?

I am honoured to participate in this debate on Bill C-7 as I was with Bill C-14. Bill C-7 would correct the major deficiencies of the original legislation, but it is still deficient. Whatever happens in the Senate, I hope the parliamentary review, which should have occurred before consideration and passage of Bill C-7, will now more thoroughly examine this evolving law and properly lead to eventual amendments, chief among them measures to better ensure protection of Canada's most vulnerable.

Israel November 24th, 2020

Mr. Speaker, Canada's ambassador to the United Nations rejected the preamble to the first resolution in this year's annual barrage of one-sided, prejudicial, anti-Israel resolutions sponsored by countries properly characterized as jackals of the world's body, but directed by the Liberal government, he voted for it.

Canada's leading Jewish organizations had pleaded before the vote to withhold support for regimes focused not on peaceful pursuit of a two-state solution but on demonizing and delegitimizing the state of Israel.

The Deputy Prime Minister tried to justify the vote, proclaiming “Canada will always stand with Israel,” but she also suggested obliquely that Canada's side-taking was really a vote against populism, authoritarianism and rights abuse.

Really? Canada broke with long-standing policy again to vote against Israel and support a resolution sponsored by Venezuela, Syria and North Korea.

Small Business November 20th, 2020

Madam Speaker, one in three small businesses across Canada is losing money every day they try to stay open, and as of January 1 they will be hit with a major hike in Canada Pension Plan premiums. This is an onerous and untimely burden on small businesses struggling to survive, and for employees transitioning off of emergency benefits.

Will the government do the right thing and postpone the CPP premium hike?

Business of Supply November 17th, 2020

Madam Speaker, I am sure my colleague knows that Telus and Bell invested in Huawei at loss-leader prices, far below real market value of the other 5G manufacturers, such as Ericsson or others, just to penetrate this sensitive Canadian sector. We also know that Telus and Bell want as much as $1 billion each to compensate for their losses due to their unwise investment, should the government ban the 5G technology they have already installed.

Is that one of the reasons the government has delayed for so long doing what is correct?