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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

Resumption of Debate on Address in Reply October 5th, 2020

Mr. Speaker, we all know just how much the current Liberal government loves slogans, clichés and idioms, a whole variety of figures of speech and double-talk, to avoid straight talk, transparent answers and well-reasoned policy. As we all know, the Prime Minister is the cliché master, double-talker and sloganeer: “I've got your back”; “We are all in this together”; “We will succeed, because we must succeed”; “We have the tools”; “We're all hands on deck”; and, of course, the ultimate fallback when faced with a tough question, “Nothing is off the table”. The Prime Minister has excused ethical lapses by telling the Ethics Commissioner that he does not have business meetings when he improperly joins meetings with lobbyists; they are just relationship sessions. The PM excuses alleged misbehaviour from decades ago, and even from much more recently, by saying he respects women's ability to experience things differently.

Clichés are essentially a result of unremarkable thinking, which brings me to the theme of the Speech from the Throne: the remarkably imprecise commitment to build back better. The current government may have a historic record for spending hard-earned Canadian taxpayer dollars, but it has an abysmal record of building anything.

Last week, the government made much of the relaunch of perhaps the Liberals' most misguided creation, the Canada Infrastructure Bank. The institution, when it was created in 2017, was challenged far and wide as a problematic, theoretical mix of public and private investment and interest, and, as predicted, it has been a flop. Still, the original CEO retired with a six-figure bonus on top of his $600,000-a-year salary. Last week's attempted resuscitation included a new board chair and re-profiling of $10 billion of the original still-languishing dollars. However, the Liberals are still hoping that private investors will be drawn in by the public money put up to backstop loans, which really lays all of the investment risks on Canadian taxpayers.

There is one infrastructure investment by the government that has seen Canadian tax dollars spent. Unfortunately, it has been invested offshore: $256 million to buy an interest in the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. Global Affairs officials warned the Liberals that the investment would be used by China to further the communist regime's authoritarian model of governance in vulnerable nations around the world, and it has. Those Canadian tax dollars are building infrastructure, but the building is not happening in Canada and it is not creating Canadian jobs.

All of that said, there is one massive infrastructure project under way in Canada today, an almost $6-billion project, but it again speaks powerfully to the government's fumbling, to lost opportunities for a major Canadian employer and to many lost worker-years of employment. It is the Gordie Howe International Bridge project, one of the largest infrastructure projects in North America today. It will provide a spectacular new crossing link between Windsor and Detroit that will be of tremendous benefit to bilateral trade and travel.

When bids were called in 2016 and 2017 for the massive precast reinforced concrete girders and slabs for the longest main span of any cable-stayed bridge in North America, Canada's leading infrastructure product manufacturing company, with the largest manufacturing facility in Canada, a company called Decast, tendered bids compliant with Canadian specifications and Ontario's tough MTO standards. The girder portion of the project is worth $20 million and 30 direct full-time jobs for one year. The slab portion of the project is worth $40 million, with 45 direct manufacturing jobs for a year and a half. This does not account for the many millions of dollars in downstream business for Ontario suppliers of the aggregates, the cement and steel materials, and the many trucking and transportation jobs.

What happened? Decast lost the bid. Who got it? It was a company that did not meet any of the quoted specifications or standards, with a facility not certified under the Canadian precast concrete quality assurance certification program, a company that does not buy material from the MTO's designated sources of materials list, a company that does not have facilities to allow proper concrete curing to MTO standards, a company that is American, in Columbus, Ohio.

When Decast asked why Canadian and Ontario MTO standards cited in the tender were so flagrantly ignored, the Ontario government, which should have jurisdiction over standards for a project largely in this province, had an answer: The federal government put Canadian and Ontario safety and quality standards aside and decided to export Canadian dollars and Canadian jobs to Ohio. Canada is paying for 85% of the construction of the Gordie Howe bridge, not to mention paying the bill to the customs facility on the U.S. side, and it exported the structural manufacturing and all those jobs.

The latest infrastructure minister has some questions to answer. Why? What standards is the U.S. manufacturer working to? Who is auditing the U.S. manufacturer? MTO standards are set for a 100-year service life. With the deficient standards, does the Gordie Howe bridge consortium only care about the 30 years it will be responsible for the operation of the bridge?

Infrastructure spending should contribute to the growth and prosperity of Canada. The government does not get that sourcing foreign, in the absence of fair trade, will hobble Canada's economic recovery and essential growth.

In the real world, building back better means moving the sorry lot opposite to this side of the House and for the Conservatives to deliver the jobs and the road, bridge, rail line and subway infrastructure that Canada so sorely needs today. As the House knows, my constituents expect the subway element to include the long-delayed Yonge subway extension north through Thornhill.

COVID-19 Response Measures Act September 29th, 2020

Mr. Speaker, let me first acknowledge that the minister is the only member of the Liberal front bench with the spine to have acknowledged that the government dropped the ball on the WE scandal. I appreciate her direct answers to direct questions through the COVID crisis.

Earlier today, the minister conceded she has not had the time to consult with provincial governments because of the last-minute desperate inclusion of the NDP forced two-week paid sick leave benefit into the Canada recovery benefit. I am wondering now, given that small businesses are concerned this may in fact work against their ability to get workers back to safe workplaces, if she will consult with those governments and respect their concerns with regard to this groundbreaking change to the Canada Labour Code.

Proceedings on the bill entitled An Act relating to certain measures in response to COVID-19 September 29th, 2020

Mr. Speaker, obviously, in its desperate rush to get NDP support, the government did not consult with the provinces, which have jurisdiction over most workers in Canada. Does the minister realize that Ontario workers who take two weeks of federally paid sick leave could lose their jobs? Provincially regulated workers with three job-protected unpaid sick days could be dismissed if they take two weeks of federally paid leave without the permission of their employer.

Government Business No. 1 September 28th, 2020

Madam Speaker, that is an outrageous claim by my hon. colleague. The several hybrid sitting days during the summer did not provide any meaningful answers at all to the questions raised in those sessions. Where we were getting answers was in committees, which the government shut down with the unnecessary and outrageous prorogation of Parliament.

Government Business No. 1 September 28th, 2020

Madam Speaker, I agree with many of the points my hon. colleague raised at the beginning of his intervention and question. Of course it is absolutely necessary to ensure workers do not have to choose between going to work and earning a living or staying at home and taking the precautions that will protect us all. For the last six weeks of prorogation, the Liberals were hiding from scandal, we could have been discussing this in committee among parties.

This is a massive change to the Canada Labour Code. In many ways, it is in potential conflict with provincial jurisdictions. Employers and the boards of trade and chambers of commerce should have been engaged in the long-term discussion of how to make this effective in those areas where it is essential, but also in ways that it is not exploited, as we have seen exploited, for example, in Ontario with regard to teachers and their abuse. The school boards are very clear in saying that their contracted sick days have been abused in a variety of ways. They have been reduced, but are still a huge cost consideration and a challenge to continuity in teaching in public schools. This is a consideration that we wish had been considered.

Government Business No. 1 September 28th, 2020

Madam Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Central Okanagan—Similkameen—Nicola.

Canada is facing a critical moment in the continuing COVID crisis. Millions of Canadians are still in need of emergency funding of one sort or another. Although the early soaring numbers with tragic loss of life in seniors homes and beyond were brought down by the first lockdown with a range of precautions and restrictions, as imperfect as it might have been, we are concerned now about the sharp resurgence of infection in some urban areas and among certain groups whose compliance with the advice of public health officials and government at all levels relaxed far too soon.

The COVID crisis is not just a health crisis. COVID has taken a terrible toll on our Canadian economy, as it has on economies around the world. Canada today has the highest unemployment rate in the G7, despite having almost the highest spending in the G7. With the amendment to Bill C-2, now before us today, Canada's deficit and debt would soar to historic record new levels.

The government must recognize that a significant number of businesses and industries, despite COVID restrictions and precautions, have gradually been able to safely reactivate their workplaces to bring back workers safely and fire up their respective corners of the economy. Over the past month, I visited large industrial manufacturers and small businesses, and I have been impressed at how they are safely, defiantly, coping with the challenging new realities of their workplaces. However, I have also heard from a range of small, medium and large employers and members of chambers of commerce and boards of trade who say that government needs to balance essential emergency financial support with meaningful incentives to return to work where it is safe to do so.

When we first saw Bill C-2 last week, after six weeks of prorogation with the Liberals in hiding from scandalous revelations in committee, the estimated costs of the post-CERB expanded benefits were enormous: $37 billion in one year. The estimated costs are now in the mid-$40 billion range with another $17 billion in ongoing COVID program spending attached to this bill. We are debating almost $60 billion in new spending in two days. The deficit for 2021 is now certain to be well past $400 billion.

There is no question that the three principal elements of Bill C-2, the Canada recovery benefits act, would provide a lifeline to millions of workers and folks left out of earlier support. The government's decision to effectively embrace our Conservative back-to-work bonus proposed in June is an overdue step forward, a work incentive that would allow workers to earn beyond the benefit payments with a 50¢ on the dollar repayment of earnings if they exceed $38,000 in annual income. However, the original expectation of a minimum taxable payment of $400 a week expired when the Liberals caved in to NDP demands that $400 a week was not enough.

The Liberals caved in again on Friday when the NDP demanded more, a two-week paid sick leave demand, without any consideration by the House or Parliament of its possible negative impact on Canada's struggling economy. One must consider the continuing disincentives discouraging many healthy workers from safely returning to workplaces that can provide assurance of strict adherence to public health guidelines.

In my province of Ontario, under the new legislation an individual who works full time for just over three weeks will be able to access EI for six months at $500 a week. An Ontarian working full time at minimum wage, $14 an hour, receives $525 a week.

That said, the three pillars of the Canada recovery benefits act are needed: first, the CRB, the Canada recovery benefit for workers who are self-employed or not eligible for EI; second, the CRCB, the Canada recovery caregiving benefit for eligible Canadian households where a parent cannot work because they must care for children or a high-risk dependent; and third, the CRSB, the Canada recovery sickness benefit for workers who are sick or must self-isolate because of COVID-19.

Unfortunately, the time wasted in prorogation and the closure vote tomorrow, a most offensive application of the legislative guillotine, prevents the due diligence these benefits deserve.

The last-minute amendment to the sickness benefit that the Liberals caved into Friday, which provides for what the act calls a “leave of absence”, lacks answers to abundant questions on how it may be used or abused.

The amendment says that “every employee is entitled to and shall be granted the leave of absence” from work of “up to two weeks—or, if another number of weeks is fixed by regulation” if the employee is unable to work because, one, “they contracted or might have contracted COVID-19”; two, they have underlying conditions, are undergoing treatments or have contracted other sicknesses that, in the opinion of a medical practitioner, nurse practitioner, person in authority, government or public health authority would make them more susceptible to COVID-19; or three, “they have isolated themselves on the advice of their employer, a medical practitioner, nurse practitioner, person in authority, government or public health authority for reasons related to COVID-19”.

There are huge legitimate, logical questions in these provisions. Pre-existing underlying conditions like asthma, diabetes, weakened immune systems, etc., don't go away in two weeks, and the provision for cabinet to extend coverage weeks is unlimited. There are some very big questions here.

As well, employment lawyers and experts have long raised red flags about this intrusion into areas of provincial jurisdiction, because most workers are governed provincially. One noted Ontario employment lawyer, Lior Samfiru, says that new incentives may be required to provinces and to employers in the form of tax cuts to get the buy-in in those jurisdictions. There have been, as well, fears expressed by economists and employers that 10 paid sick days could have a serious negative impact on productivity, that said with an eye to some public service unions' exploitation of already-contracted sick days. Then there is the unanswered question of monitoring and enforcement of a violation of the program criteria.

All of these issues should have and could have been explored during the six weeks of the WE scandal turtling by the Liberal government, rather than the clumsy presentation of Bill C-2, followed by the Liberals' second desperate concession to the NDP, and this debate and tomorrow's taking place in the shadow of the legislative guillotine of closure.

As I said at the top, millions of Canadians need emergency funding and many of them are caught now between the ending of CERB and when they will be able to access the new programs. They are caught in dire circumstances again because of the latest self-inflicted stumble by the Liberal government.

Conservatives believe extraordinary emergency funding has been needed and continues to be needed to support Canadian workers, employers and all those in need of support from the start of this COVID crisis, but we lament the lack of transparency and accountability of the Liberal government, the unacceptable neutering of Parliament, the time lost during the unnecessary prorogation for all-party consideration, debate and more reasonable outcomes, and the rush now to confect legislation on the run in the interest of self-serving partisan survival.

Even as we all struggle to do our part to deal with the resurgence of infection spread in certain areas, Conservatives lament the lack of a meaningful recovery plan with the investments, the tax cuts and regulatory improvements that will build competitiveness, incentivize workers and employers, and make Canada a better place to invest, to rebuild and to safely live.

Public Safety September 24th, 2020

Mr. Speaker, over the last five months, COVID-19 has had to share headlines with almost daily shootings across the GTA. Criminals do not care about COVID-19 and they certainly will not follow any new gun bans the Liberals pass. Organized crime and guns smuggled across the border go hand in hand.

When will the government finally realize that the solution is not going after law-abiding gun owners in small towns, but going after smuggled guns and organized crime?

Government Business No. 9 July 22nd, 2020

Mr. Speaker, I apologize. I do sometimes get carried away when it comes to the Prime Minister's ethical behaviour or unethical behaviour.

We have known for some time that ministers answer important questions in the House, such as the questions the member asked in this hybrid Parliament. The excuse is always that it is question period, not answer period and the answers are generally deflections or non-answers. I think that once we get more of the committees up and running and in full operation, with full attendance under normal parliamentary rules, we will get revealing answers, which I think the veterans affairs minister would have felt compelled to give in committee, as the finance minister revealed his very serious violation of the Conflict of Interest Act this afternoon with his acceptance of sponsored travel.

Government Business No. 9 July 22nd, 2020

Mr. Speaker, my hon. colleagues is quite correct in remembering the Liberal adscam, the scandal that led eventually to the fall of a previous Liberal government.

We have just learned this afternoon that the finance minister has admitted to one of the greatest violations of the Conflict of Interest Act, accepting a sponsored vacation from the WE organization of which we continue to learn every day even more concerning details.

As I said in my remarks, yes, the Prime Minister appears to be guilty and we will wait for several months. Seven months is the average time for an investigation by the Ethics Commissioner. It was somewhat longer in the first “Trudeau Report”, because the Prime Minister found it inconvenient to meet with the then ethics commissioner, Mary Dawson. That became close to a year-long investigation. However, I would hope that the Prime Minister, his ministers and others in his Liberal caucus make themselves available soon so we can resolve these issues.

While we have not taken an official position that the Prime Minister step aside, his behaviour and performance over the last five years has proven him unfit to lead this country. We would certainly urge those in his cabinet who are not also complicit in his violations of the Conflict of Interest Act to take charge and to ensure that more due diligence is done with the treasure that the government is administering in emergency funding during the COVID pandemic. The close to $1 billion in this scandal raises the question of how many of the other emergency programs might be found to have similar violations and potential to be investigated.

Government Business No. 9 July 22nd, 2020

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for a reasonable suggestion, which unfortunately, in the House procedure committee, was pushed aside by the Liberal members on that committee, who were supported by the Bloc and the NDP.

Our issue is in regard to remote voting. It is not so much that we are against remote voting, but we have great concerns with the web-based system Liberal members have been proposing since 1997. We have seen in other legislatures and democracies video-based voting, using the technology we are using here today in the hybrid House, which would be equally effective here and certainly verifiable. We have security provisions with regard to who participates in these hybrid sessions. It is one of the six alternative voting procedures our Speaker has honourably presented to the committee.

Unfortunately, the Liberal members on PROC, again, supported by the Bloc and the NDP, have bowled ahead with this vision of voting via smart phone, on an iPhone, which we simply, in the Conservative Party, find unacceptable.

We also wish, and we discussed this at PROC, that we followed the mother parliament in the United Kingdom, where a variety of approaches have been tried, such as voting electronically, voting by video and voting in the lobby, one at a time, safely distanced from each other. As well, with regard to your point, which is a good point, about our far-flung members, some of them have underlying health problems or family members with underlying health problems, and now that social spacing is no longer allowed on our national airlines, there are considerations. Those alternates of video voting or voting by other means have been put forward and were discussed.

The official opposition's basic issue with the majority report, the Liberal, Bloc and NDP report from PROC, is that it did not adequately consider or test other approaches.