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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was debate.

Last in Parliament September 2018, as Conservative MP for York—Simcoe (Ontario)

Won his last election, in 2015, with 50% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Queen Elizabeth II May 31st, 2018

Mr. Speaker, this Saturday, June 2, marks the 65th anniversary of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II's coronation in 1953.

Her having ascended to the throne the previous year, the Queen's coronation ceremony was a grand occasion marked by celebrations across the United Kingdom, Canada, and the Commonwealth. It was the first televised coronation, watched by more than 20 million people around the world. The Canadian delegation was led by Prime Minister St. Laurent and Conservative opposition leader George Drew.

To mark the occasion, which was a national holiday in Canada, bronze coronation medallions were distributed to schoolchildren, and Her Majesty's royal standard was flown from the Peace Tower. Military tattoos, parades, fireworks, and concerts were held in cities, towns, and villages all across Canada.

For more than 65 years, Her Majesty has been a steady hand, a source and symbol of continuity, tradition, caring, wisdom, and duty in our fast-paced, ever-changing world. For many, she is Canada's grandmother, beloved and nonpartisan, looking out for our best interests. We wish her well on this anniversary.

Business of Supply May 8th, 2018

Madam Speaker, climate change has been going on for a long time. In geological terms, it was not that long ago that we were under a mile of ice here. Of course, that has all melted. The landscape where I live was all once formed by glaciers. Lake Simcoe, which I talked about earlier, was once a much larger post-glacial lake that has shrunk. The climate has been changing and continues to change, and there is lots of evidence that there are human impacts on it.

The question is, how do we make a difference? When the Conservative government was in power, our government actually reduced greenhouse gases. Our approach was a regulatory approach, not one that taxed each and every Canadian. We did not tax people like my constituents, who have no choice and have very difficult lives. Instead, we told big emitters to find a way. We said that there was technology out there that they could use to reduce emissions from their manufacturing operations, automobiles, and so on. That regulatory approach was salutary and tremendously successful. It improved the fuel efficiency of automobiles.

Those things were done well, and guess what? They actually benefited families in my constituency. If the automobile they buy is more fuel efficient, that is a good thing for them. However, if they just have to pay more for gasoline, that is a bad thing for them because they do not have that choice. They can make the choice of buying the more fuel-efficient car perhaps, but they do not have a choice about paying for the fuel to go in the car.

Business of Supply May 8th, 2018

Madam Speaker, I welcome that question because it reveals exactly the Liberals' attitude that they know best and that Canadians must change their behaviour. Which behaviour should my constituents in York—Simcoe change to make the Liberal member happy? Should they take their kids out of soccer so they do not use the car to go to soccer? Should they shut down their roofing business because they need a truck to do that work? Are they to stop heating their home during the winter and freeze in the dark? Those behaviours are what the hon. member is asking my constituents to change.

Those families feel that there are people in Ottawa, far away, who do not know their lives, saying they are living the wrong way. People in Ottawa are saying their kids should not have the right to play soccer, or maybe that they should not play hockey. Let us think about making ice in a rink in April, when it is warm outside. That is so bad for the environment. Well, guess what? People should be given some freedom. This country is based on freedom. The choices the Liberals are trying to impose on them are choices nobody should be asked to make.

Business of Supply May 8th, 2018

Madam Speaker, there is a point in the life of many governments at which, after campaigning and claiming that they were going to represent their constituents, the members who were elected change. They cease to represent their constituents in Ottawa and begin to represent Ottawa in their constituency.

In this debate we see exactly that phenomenon. I can tell members, having observed that pattern for the close to half a century that I have been closely following politics, that I have always been very careful not to allow that to happen in my case. That is why today I am going to speak from the perspective of my constituents.

Generally speaking, the people in York—Simcoe are hard-working, young families. They are not wealthy. They are not entitled. They are just looking for the freedom to be able to work hard, succeed, and make a brighter future for themselves and their children. They find that tougher and tougher. It is harder to make ends meet. Why? They keep running up against the rules, barriers, and taxes of politicians who think they know better how to run the lives of those individuals than those individuals themselves. They think they can make better decisions about their lives than those families can for their own future.

We saw that in Ontario, where families now struggle under unbelievably high hydro bills and a kind of funny, fancy accounting that means that those costs, which mainly paid off insiders in the name of really good things that smart people thought were better for them, are in fact causing them to make some hard and tough choices. They have to choose what they will give up in their lives altogether to make ends meet, such as their kids playing hockey, a vacation, or the things they used to enjoy once a year maybe, because they cannot meet those costs.

Their children are going to face tougher costs in a province where now, in just the time the Liberals have been in government, the debt has almost tripled. That does not even include the additional debt the Liberals have moved forward on the higher costs of hydro, which are crippling the way those families live.

Those typical families in York—Simcoe do not have a subway. They are not like a prime minister from Montreal, a finance minister from downtown Toronto, or an environment minister from downtown Ottawa who can walk to work. They are not like that. They have to travel to work by automobile. They live in homes that have to be heated in winters that are as cold as this past one was, a winter where the April heating bills were higher than the March heating bills. They are having trouble making those ends meet.

Therefore, when someone tells them that it is good for them to pay more for all these things, and they are already trying really hard to pay their taxes and make ends meet, something does not ring true. That tells them that the people who are out there making those speeches are no longer speaking for them but for some powerful bureaucrat in Ottawa who has an idea and an ideological agenda.

Then, when they learn that those powerful bureaucrats have written up documents saying what this will cost those individual families, and are then hiding it from those families, and the politicians in the Liberal government have become the wall of silence protecting those smart bureaucrats and hiding that information from Canadians, they know pretty quickly who is on their side of the wall and who is on the other side. They see that those Liberal politicians are busy keeping their constituents in the dark, imposing costs on them without telling them, and then refusing to even tell them what the so-called benefits might be and what reductions will be achieved in this carbon that is so bad.

That is the indication of a government that has ceased to represent the people and is now representing itself and an elite class in the country that thinks it knows best.

We see that in small businesses in Ontario that are regulated to death, with double the regulations of any other province. Small businesses cannot cope. They have trouble making ends meet. They are so busy dealing with inspectors and filling out forms that they do not have time to serve customers and make money anymore. Why? Smart politicians and officials and a provincial Liberal government think they know better how to run their businesses and their lives. However, it is not that way, and this debate we are having is in the exact same vein.

If we want to know what is at the bottom of “the Liberals know better than we do”, it came through very clearly when the Prime Minister was recently asked about these high gas prices. My constituents keep asking me about this and sending me the statistic that the last time gas prices were this high, oil was well over $100 a barrel. Now the price of oil is around $60 a barrel, but gas prices are this high. It is not unreasonable of them to ask why. Some think that somebody is doing them a bad turn. To use an inelegant term, some say that someone is screwing them. Some use even more inelegant terms. They do not understand why, but then they see why when the Prime Minister says these high gas prices are “exactly what we want”.

Well, that explains the gap, does it not? If the big oil companies, with the Prime Minister guarding their backs, have the freedom to raise gas prices at will because that is what the government has said it wants, do we not think they will take that chance? Therefore, the carbon tax is not the only cause of this. The government sent a signal, saying, “Go and raise gas prices, go and pick on the little consumers, and do it all you want.” Is it any wonder that is exactly what is happening?

This is what the ordinary mother in Keswick is facing when she wants to take her kids to hockey practice, or the ordinary mother in Holland Landing when the kids have to go to a soccer game and the fields are all the way in Mount Albert. They cannot wait for a bus, because there is no bus. They have to drive. It is the only way to get there. However, it is a lot more expensive suddenly. The hydro bill has gone up, and dad said they were making a little less this month because he has to comply with another regulation that just came from the provincial government.

It is time people in these positions of leadership here in Ottawa realized who we speak for. I am speaking in particular to the Liberal government members, who have so quickly not only forgotten whom they represent but have then also shown the craven arrogance of refusing to be candid and honest with their own constituents about the decisions they are making, why they are making them, and the policy basis for them. There is no defence in the world for refusing to explain the cost of that carbon tax.

There are analysts who have looked at it. Of course, in its study that is coming from the federal government, the University of Calgary has said that the carbon tax can reasonably be seen in the province of Ontario as ultimately having a cost of $707 annually. That is hitting electricity, home heating, gasoline, and other indirect costs in every single business.

All those business people running their small businesses, such as roofers, contractors, and plumbers in York Simcoe, have to get everywhere by driving. They have to drive to pick up supplies. They cannot go in a Smart car. They need a pickup truck, and that uses a fair bit of gas. It is the only way they can make their living. However, these taxes are punishing them for trying to make a living so that they can pay other taxes and take care of their families. Less and less is left at the end of every month. They have a tougher time making ends meet, and nobody in the Liberal government seems to care.

There is a smug arrogance. The Liberals are not going to tell us what the real cost is, even when we have analysts tell us there is a very real and significant cost, and a Prime Minister who gives the green light to gas companies to raise prices even higher because that is the policy objective. Higher gas prices are “exactly what we want”. That is what the current Liberal Prime Minister said.

Guess what? We are getting what the Prime Minister wants, but it is not what the people want. They care about their environment passionately, but do not talk to me in York—Simcoe about a Liberal government that cares about the environment. The Liberal government cancelled the Lake Simcoe cleanup fund, which has done unprecedented, positive things for that local environment. Without consultation and without talking to the people, the government just cancelled it out and out. The harm to those people's local environment is done, so they do not believe any of this talk about helping the environment. They look at a carbon tax as only a cash grab, and in all the things that money is used for, they do not see any benefits at all; they do not see anything that helps them.

My time is up, but I am sure I will have an opportunity to say more in answer to questions. However, I will encourage everybody not to forget they are here to represent their constituents and not the Liberal government.

Aboriginal Cultural Property Repatriation Act April 26th, 2018

Madam Speaker, the bill before us, proposing a national strategy for the repatriation of aboriginal cultural property, is a well-intentioned but flawed piece of legislation. The Conservative Party will support it at second reading, but we will be seeking amendments to correct some of its flaws, which we have already seen highlighted through the questions and the speeches so far.

The aboriginal communities of Canada are truly our first peoples. As such, aboriginal culture is important to all Canadians for its role in informing us who we are, what our roots are, and how that has contributed to making Canada the extraordinary country we are today. Naturally, the culture, artifacts, and art that bear witness to its past have an especially powerful meaning for aboriginal people. An ideal outcome will be one that not just balances competing interests in the property of cultural artifacts, but rather one that builds on common interests to achieve mutually beneficial outcomes. While some may see gain in stoking grievances and differences of interest, the sensible Canadian way is that which looks to build on mutual interests.

The question of how museums should deal with aboriginal cultural property is not new. In fact, well before any politician sought to make this an issue, the Canadian Museums Association and the Assembly of First Nations established a joint task force, which conducted consultations for a year. They arrived at sensible and practical conclusions on how museums should work in collaboration with first nations. They jointly recommended a process based on moral and ethical grounds for the use and presentation of cultural objects, and for resolving disputes. Museums across Canada have developed and implemented policies based on this joint Assembly of First Nations and Canadian Museums Association report, and all of it happened without Parliament imposing legislation. The parties involved are to be commended and recognized for their efforts in working together. It is in that context that we must view this bill.

“Aboriginal cultural property” is defined in this bill as “objects of historical, social, ceremonial or cultural importance to the Aboriginal peoples of Canada”. This could include thousands of everyday artifacts, ceremonial and sacred objects, ancestral skeletal remains and funerary objects, as well as artwork, sculptures, jewellery, or literature produced by Canada's aboriginal peoples.

In the late 1800s and early 1900s, many of these aboriginal cultural artifacts were gathered, purchased, and occasionally appropriated, by missionaries, government agents, anthropologists, and amateur and professional collectors. This occurred in a period when aboriginal culture was believed to be dying out, and the acquisition, preservation, and display of these artifacts was seen as a means to enable future generations of anthropologists and students to study traditional aboriginal cultures. Of course, aboriginal culture did not die out and instead now forms an important part of Canada's cultural landscape, while Canada's aboriginal people continue to make strong and significant contributions to our country.

The Conservative Party will be proposing three amendments, perhaps four, I might now suggest, constituting additional criteria for evaluating the measures to be included in a national strategy for the repatriation of aboriginal cultural property.

The display and interpretation of aboriginal cultural artifacts is broadly in the public interest. Current and subsequent generations of Canadians benefit from developing an appreciation and understanding of aboriginal history and culture, something that is a direct result of seeing and learning about aboriginal culture, often through artifacts and their interpretation in museums. It is not a coincidence that the appreciation of aboriginal culture, and public support to correct historical wrongs, have risen in parallel. This bill does not reflect that reality. For that reason, our first amendment will propose that measures “ensure that consideration be given to the public interest in artifacts being available to Canadians in a way that enhances knowledge and appreciation of Aboriginal culture”. The continued public display of aboriginal cultural artifacts will play an important part in helping future generations learn about and appreciate our first nations' traditions. This is a desirable outcome for all.

Another concern is that artifacts are often fragile and require special care. It will be a loss to all Canadians, including aboriginal communities, if artifacts are ultimately lost or degraded due to a lack of appropriate curatorial care. For that reason, we propose a second amendment. Any repatriation strategy should include measures that ensure that consideration is given to how best to adequately preserve and protect the quality and integrity of aboriginal cultural property. The current bill lacks this important consideration.

Finally, because of the sweeping definition of aboriginal cultural property in the bill as “objects of historical, social, ceremonial, or cultural importance to the aboriginal peoples of Canada”, the bill runs the risk of putting in jeopardy Canada's vibrant aboriginal art sector. This sector is a significant element to the economy of many remote aboriginal communities, and the revenues generated by the works produced support aboriginal families across Canada.

In any well-intentioned policy proposal, the greatest danger lies in unintended consequences. One need only look at the generally benevolent motivation behind the establishment of residential schools for aboriginal children and the subsequent suffering and hardship that often took place in those institutions to know the importance of looking beyond lofty ambitions to ensure that our actions actually make a positive difference.

In the case of the bill, there is a risk of placing a cloud over the entire aboriginal art and design community. If prospective purchasers, be they museums, galleries, or private collectors, fear that the repatriation of their newly acquired property is a future possibility, they will think twice about making such acquisitions or price in a discount for that risk.

Such an effort will harm aboriginal creators, communities, and economies. For that reason, we will be proposing an amendment to ensure that such a strategy does not have the effect of harming or discouraging the important commercial trade by aboriginal artists in the creation and sale of art, design, and fashion.

Of course, a fourth amendment reflecting what we heard the hon. member for Cumberland—Colchester express in his speech—that this repatriation policy should only apply to artifacts that individuals are no longer interested in possessing or that museums are going to deaccession—would be a further constructive amendment to help ensure a positive, constructive path forward on a repatriation strategy.

With these four amendments we would be proposing, an aboriginal cultural property repatriation strategy will have the potential to focus on the mutual benefits and opportunities that grow the place for aboriginal culture in the Canadian identity for the benefit of generations to come.

I believe there is a deep well of good faith and existing collaboration between Canadian museums and our first nation communities. All across Canada, aboriginal communities have been engaged and made positive contributions as museums have stepped up their game in enhancing their presentation and interpretation of our aboriginal culture, art, and history. Let us work to ensure that this positive environment continues to grow, something that will benefit all Canadians in the future.

Aboriginal Cultural Property Repatriation Act April 26th, 2018

Madam Speaker, the hon. member indicated the legislation is only intended to apply if artifacts are available, if their owners no longer wish to have those artifacts, not to facilitate the removal of artifacts from people who have them. However, that is not reflected in the actual drafting of the bill which speaks to “a comprehensive national strategy to promote and support the return of Aboriginal cultural property, wherever situated.” It also speaks to “a mechanism by which any First Nation...may acquire or reacquire Aboriginal cultural property to which it has a strong attachment.”

Since there is no reference at all in the bill to the notion of it only applying to property that an individual does not want or a museum is willing to deacquisition or deaccession, is he prepared to entertain an amendment that would clarify that it only applies to such artifacts as he described in his speech, only those that people are not interested in maintaining or that museums are willing to surrender?

Duke and Duchess of Cambridge April 23rd, 2018

Mr. Speaker, early this morning, Canadians were delighted to learn of the birth of a third child to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. Kensington Palace has announced that the royal baby, a boy, was born at 6:01 this morning, weighing a healthy eight pounds, 11 ounces. The little prince is now fifth in the line of succession to the Canadian throne, and is Her Majesty the Queen's sixth great-grandchild.

The Duke and Duchess and their children visited Canada most recently in the autumn of 2016, touring British Columbia and Yukon. We look forward to having them return to Canada with the newest member of their family soon.

On behalf of Canada's official opposition, I would like to extend my warmest congratulations to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and wish their family great happiness in the future.

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns April 16th, 2018

With regard to contracts over $10,000 signed by Canadian Heritage since November 4, 2015, where the final contract value is more than double the original contract value: what are the details of each such contract, including (i) date, (ii) vendor, (iii) description of product or service, (iv) original contract value, (v) final contract value, (vi) reason why final contract value was higher than original value?

March 23rd, 2018

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. In fact, you referenced, during this marathon voting, an earlier review of the big green book. The difference is that this point of order was raised at the first possible instance, immediately in response to the motion, when the vote was concluded, and as a result, I think you have to hear all submissions on it, because it is properly before you at this time.

However, it also has a significant distinction from the earlier precedent spoken to, where the issue was not raised until a much later sitting. It was not raised at the time the incident occurred, so it did not satisfy that part of the test of being raised at the first possible instance. It was a very different situation from what we face here.

Committees of the House March 1st, 2018

Mr. Speaker, I am proud to rise in the House as the sponsor of Bill C-323, which had the potential to revitalize our heritage sector to preserve Canada's built heritage, something that has had erosion. We are very much a product of what has come before us. Our cities, the places where we live, our small communities are defined by the buildings that are there, but we have lost far too much over Canada's history.

Bill C-323 was a bipartisan effort that was worked on together with members of the Liberal Party and other parties to ensure that something that had been asked for and sought for years and years, and worked on by governments, Liberal and Conservative, behind the scenes, could finally come to fruition through a proper tax credit scheme that would allow for the preservation of our heritage buildings.

Our heritage buildings define communities. They create economic growth. They improve our quality of life. They build social capital. They give people a reason to appreciate where they are, to go to special places, and to make special places.

It is therefore very disappointing to see this report from the environment committee with regard to Bill C-323, particularly in view of the bipartisan support it had in the beginning.

Initially, I worked with members of the Liberal Party and others to develop the bill and get it supported in the House of Commons. It would have created specific tax incentives on eligible heritage restoration work done to designated heritage buildings. Specifically, there would have been a 20% tax credit for rehabilitation and restoration work done to a designated heritage building. The work would have had to be certified by a registered architect. The bill would also have created an accelerated capital cost allowance for capital costs, again finding a way to create an incentive, with minimal cost to the public purse, for people to restore and preserve buildings instead of demolishing them.

In effect, the bill would have created a heritage policy for Canada that is fair to property owners, whom we in the public sector ask to bear the cost and burden of preserving our heritage through our process of designating their buildings and telling them that we want them saved, yet we do not provide anything on the other side to compensate them for those increased costs. This legislation would have created that impact, and it would have had a positive effect on Canada's national heritage.

The National Trust for Canada, our leading organization on built heritage, estimates that we have lost over 20% of our built heritage in the past 30 years, including buildings like the Edison Hotel in Toronto and the Redpath Mansion. For that reason, the national trust was strongly supportive, and it was one of the collaborative partners we worked with to develop this bill.

In fact, what the member said is entirely, patently untrue. There was enormous consultation with stakeholders, municipalities, etc. that went into the development of the bill. Through that process of consultation, it became evident that heritage means so much to many communities. It creates value for those communities and encourages tourism. It is something all Canadians can enjoy. That is why the bill had so much support.

What support did we have though the consultation? It was across political lines. It was across the nation. It was from individual members of Parliament, from dozens of historical societies, and dozens and dozens of municipalities. The Federation of Canadian Municipalities supported it. The royal society of architects supported it. Provincial governments supported it. I could go on and on.

The suggestion that it did not provide for collaboration with partners shows that whoever wrote that speech had no comprehension of the way heritage designation works, or the way the bill was crafted. In fact, it created a partnership that did not exist up until then among provinces, which set the terms for heritage preservation; municipalities, which make the decisions on which buildings to designate; and, finally, putting into the piece the federal partnership through the support for restoration. There could be nothing better than building a collaborative partnership. That is why I was so pleased to see that partnership build and the bill pass through second reading in the House, with support, it should be noted, from members of every party. It was not all the members of every party in the House, but members from every party in the House supported the bill, including several members of the Liberal Party.

At committee, a consensus emerged that mirrored the consensus across Canada that the bill would have a tremendous positive impact on our heritage built stock, and on the communities we live in. It seemed that all members of the committee were quite supportive. This was evident in their comments and their questions for the witnesses.

The members heard a lot about tax credits elsewhere, including for example the one in the United States, which has had a huge impact in revitalizing inner cities, in creating economic activity, and in creating tourist attractions and hubs where they never were before.

The Urban Land Institute magazine showcases its best projects of the year. Every year it overwhelming shows projects that have at their heart the American version of this heritage tax credit. People saw that it was valuable.

Also in that study they learned that the costs were minimal. In fact, the likely impact on the fiscal framework federally was because of the incentive it created for restoration and the like, and the economic spinoffs and developments that happened. More than any of these other kinds of studies that give us dubious reports on economic impact, this impact would be positive and taxpayers would get far more back than they ever put out, as well as the significant public benefits that would have been derived.

Then something happened. Just before it came time for the committee to vote, the Prime Minister's Office cracked down on its MPs for speaking their minds at committee and for having the temerity to have voted as they saw fit at second reading. Many of them had personally worked on the bill at second reading and to get it through to committee. Despite all of their previous support, Liberal MPs were forced to vote down the bill at committee by the Prime Minister's Office against their will. I understand that one of them was virtually in tears.

Supporters of the bill were understandably disappointed to see the bill voted down. Bill C-323 was an opportunity to refocus our efforts on heritage preservation during the 150th anniversary of Confederation. The policy seemed ideal for the milestone year in our nation's history. Unfortunately, the committee made the decision that we are now considering today.

We heard that in the companion report there was, believe it or not, a recommendation for tax credits like this. However, the criticism was, as we just heard in the speech from the government, that it should be done through the normal budget process. This was the criticism levelled by critics, and that is what was in speeches previously.

This committee report was tabled last year. The budget process continued. The budget was this week. Anybody who suggested to we wait for the budget and the proper budget process misled supporters of the bill, supporters of heritage preservation. No such tax credit was forthcoming. No such policy was forthcoming. It simply did not exist. The story about a budget process was a mere excuse for a government being so miserly and short sighted that it would not allow the more visionary members of a caucus who saw the value in the bill to support it as they had at second reading.

It is not surprising we see this from the Liberal government. I have been fond of noting that it seems to have a bit of a war on history. We saw it in the 150th anniversary of Confederation, where the themes disallowed the observance of the actual event of Confederation or events that celebrated our history. The five themes that were selected were fine. but if we wanted to have any support or assistance or to be part of the federal government's Canada 150 festivities, history and Confederation were not allowed.

This is just one of many examples of how the Liberal government has continued and perpetuated that war on Canadian history.

There was the cancellation of the Canada 150 medals for those people in local historical societies who do so much to build their communities. All of a sudden the opportunity to recognize people like that, people who build Canada, was wiped out. Why? Because the government is committed to a war on history.

There is a American great author who said, “History is who we are and why we are the way we are.” We are losing that here.

There was a great Canadian historian and author with great influence, Canon Lionel Groulx, who said:

No, a nation cannot separate itself from its past any more than a river can separate itself from its source, or sap from the soil whence it arises. No generation is self-sufficient. It can and does happen that a generation does forget its history, or turns its back upon it; such an action is a betrayal of history.

Then of course there was the great Joseph Howe, who resisted Confederation 150 years ago. He then embraced it, and joined the cabinet of Sir. John A. Macdonald later. He noted:

A wise nation preserves its records, gathers up its muniments, decorates tombs of its illustrious dead, repairs great public structures and fosters national pride and love of country by perpetual reference to sacrifices and glories of the past.

That was Joseph Howe in 1871. That is what Bill C-323 would do, and that is why I still encourage some within the Liberal Party to have the courage and conviction to support it, and to reject this report from the committee to turn down Bill C-323.