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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

Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians Act September 19th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, it will be tough for me to hit those heights that the member for Lethbridge just did in standing up for her constituents, but we in the Conservative Party have been standing up for ordinary Canadians for quite some time. That is what this party is all about, our agenda of consumer protecting legislation, of measures to protect ordinary Canadians, which is reflected in the bill, which is essentially the Liberal government taking up our Bill C-62 from the last Parliament and bringing it forward in this Parliament. That is one example of it, but there are many other examples of that.

We did a great deal to introduce more competition, for example, in the wireless sector so that people would pay less. It is an ongoing struggle to do in this country, and it tends to happen in federally regulated industries for some reason, but we did that. We protected consumers when we brought in a ban on biphenyl, BPH, which was a chemical in a lot of plastic materials to make them soft. It was appealing to have in things that babies and children would be chewing on, and of course, it was hazardous. Our government banned that so that children would be protected.

I and other members encouraged a ban on phosphates in dishwasher detergents so that we could protect the health of Lake Simcoe and so many other lakes in which phosphates were affecting water quality, and that was to the detriment of all consumers and ordinary citizens. We did it throughout, with a number of measures under our chemical action plan where we methodically evaluated, one after another, chemicals that were being introduced into consumer environments or into people's homes, to assess whether they were hazardous, what the risks were, if we really needed to have these chemicals in people's homes, and how we could protect Canadians better.

We also did it in some of our rules that we brought in to ensure that there was greater truth in food packaging, again, something to protect consumers. I could go on and on, but that was an agenda where the Conservative Party, in our finest tradition, was standing up to protect ordinary Canadians, to protect ordinary citizens and provide them with the protection that they thought was a legitimate role of the government, of the state.

That is often a question because another element of our Conservative philosophy is that we are great believers in freedom, liberty, and minimizing the role of government. The question becomes what is the appropriate role of government and where is there a place. What many of these things have in common are values that justify the government stepping in where people look to government to play that role. As Conservatives, we understood and continue to understand that difference between when government is the correct answer to the question and when it is not.

In a case like this one, where we are dealing with safety, safety is paramount. There is no greater role for a government than to ensure the safety of its citizens. In this case, when we are dealing with auto recalls, the dangers of something going wrong of a mechanical nature are indeed great. The consequences are great, and that is one reason that suggests perhaps the government has a role, one reason why Canadians expect government to play a role.

Another occasion is where there is an imbalance in information or knowledge between different entities or in power. With automobiles, that is certainly the case. More and more with specializations in society, typical Canadians do not necessarily know how to fix a car, what is wrong with a car, and how to recognize if there is a flaw in a vehicle. They do not have those kinds of resources compared with the very significant multinational corporation that has a lot at stake. That is where people are looking for government to step in on the side of ordinary consumers, and that is what we Conservatives were doing when we introduced the predecessor to this bill, Bill C-62.

As technology changes, as things become more technical—and we have seen that happen in the auto sector with automobiles—again there is a place for us to step in on the side of consumers, on the side of ordinary Canadians to make sure their interests are protected. That is again a legitimate role for us.

I talk about that imbalance. That imbalance when major corporations are involved has sadly and unfortunately been an issue in the auto sector. We have seen that recently. We have seen that on the international stage with some of the European manufacturers who were caught up in this very major scandal to do with diesel emissions and diesel emission testing.

Big corporations found ways to alter their technology so the vehicles “knew” when they were being tested and suddenly changed the way they operated to score better on those tests and then later, on the efficiency test, went back to the regular way of operating. Obviously, that would raise a lot of questions of trust, but it is also a place where the government has to step in to defend consumers and their interests. It meant, of course, that the efficiency and the mileage advertized was not really what was expected by consumers and citizens, and it also meant that some of the other objectives of those emission and efficiency standards were not being achieved.

We also have to ask ourselves why that happens. Why did those companies do that? We see that is also a response to government intervention that the companies went there. Obviously there are important questions of ethics and morality in play and incentives we have to look at, but what is funny is that it puts those two different tensions at play. When the Conservative government brought Bill C-62 forward, the member for Milton was the minister at the time, though there was much work done in the run-up to it by predecessor ministers, but the purpose was to find the right balance in standing up for consumers and making sure their interests were protected.

Earlier today, we discussed recalls in the drug industry and some of the powers of big pharma, another area where the Conservative government was very active in standing up for ordinary citizens and an area where perhaps more still needs to be done to ensure the interests of ordinary citizens are protected. We see a little of that right now with the spreading of the opioid crisis. Have we really looked carefully at whether all of the incentives are right and all of the protections are there for consumers? That needs to be addressed at the federal level and especially at the provincial level. These are all important values at play, but the bottom line for us as Conservatives, people who stand up for their constituents, is that we want to be there for those consumers when they face those imbalances and risks and stand up for them.

With respect to the auto industry in particular, I have had personal experience with recall notices, and some funny things can happen. With my most recent recall notice, I went to a dealership and, oddly, the mechanic working on the car refused to do the recall work, suggesting to me I had to get my car detailed first in order to get it done, because he was not happy with the cleanliness of the area where he would have to work on the airbag. I have a Honda and took it to a Honda dealership here in Ottawa. I had to ask myself why that happened. There was nothing particularly unusual about the situation, but what troubles me is that either there were incentives in place—where the mechanic was being told if he sold 10 car details that month he would win a trip somewhere, he was trying to upsell, and this was his chance to do that—or perhaps there is an imbalance in the pressure on dealerships to provide these recall repairs and they feel they do not have sufficient compensation to do it, which goes to the amendment before the House that the Senate has introduced.

I do not know whether that amendment strikes exactly the right balance, but I do know that amendment obviously addresses what may be a very real issue, and my own personal experience is telling me that it was a real issue. I do not want to leave anybody with the impression that I have a problem with Honda. My car has 470,000 kilometres on it. It has been outstanding and I would buy another Civic Si when the time comes, which is probably relatively soon. It is a high-quality vehicle manufactured not too far from my constituency and that of the hon. member for Simcoe—Grey. It is an outstanding vehicle that has performed very well, but this recall experience tells me that there are still very real problems, that we have to do things to stand up for consumers, to ensure their interests are protected, and that we have to get the balance right. I am of the view that Bill C-62 was a great step forward in doing that. I am also of the view that perhaps some of the initiatives in the amendment that comes from our friends in the Senate may be yet another element in improving that one step further. It is certainly an issue for which we have to find the right answer.

This, to me, is a piece of legislation I have no problem supporting. It is in the long tradition of what we in the Conservative Party have stood for and is, in fact, a bill that we presented in the last Parliament. I am happy to speak in favour of it and vote for it when the time comes.

Petitions June 21st, 2017

Mr. Speaker, the Liberal war on history continues to prompt a flood of petitions to my office. In particular, some of them are on the issue of commemorative medals, which governments have traditionally issued on anniversary years such as this to worthy citizens who have contributed to their communities to recognize those contributions.

A medal was issued in 1867 in the year of Confederation, including to the Fathers of Confederation like Sir George-Étienne Cartier and Sir John A. Macdonald, among other worthy Canadians. In the Diamond Jubilee in 1927, there was a similar medal to honour Canadians of distinction in their communities. In 1967, of course, the centennial, there was such a medal, as there was on the 125th anniversary in 1992. However, as part of the Liberal war on history, the government has decided that there will be no medal honouring the country-building contributions of Canadians on the 150th anniversary of Confederation. In fact, the Liberals cancelled plans that were very well advanced for such a medal. Tradition is being ignored and community-leading Canadians are being forgotten.

The petitioners come from many communities: Sheho, Saskatchewan; Bezanson, Alberta; Winfield, Alberta; Theodore, Saskatchewan; Foam Lake, Saskatchewan; Snow Lake, Manitoba; Dartmouth, Nova Scotia; Huxley, Alberta; Red Deer, Alberta; Sorel-Tracy, Quebec; Saint-Hyacinthe, Quebec; and Saint-Roch-De-Richelieu, Quebec. The petitioners ask that the government reverse its unfortunate decision to cancel the medal honouring deserving Canadians on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of Confederation.

Petitions June 20th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, the Liberal war on history continues to prompt many petitions to my office, and I have a raft of them to present today.

The petitioners are very proud Canadians. They are proud of their country's history. Commemorative medals have been issued on many occasions in Canada's history to recognize outstanding Canadians who have made significant contributions to their community and country. This kind of medal has been awarded on the occasions of Confederation in 1867, our diamond jubilee of Confederation in 1927, the centennial in 1967, and most recently on the 125th anniversary of Confederation in 1992. However, as part of the Liberal war on history, the program to present medals such as these, which was very well advanced, was unfortunately cancelled.

The petitioners call upon the government to reconsider that decision and actually proceed with a proper medal for the 150th anniversary of Confederation.

The petitioners come from Winnipeg, Manitoba; Iroquois Falls, Ontario; Yarmouth, Nova Scotia; Acadia, Nova Scotia; Wedgeport, Nova Scotia; Tusket, Nova Scotia; South Ohio, Nova Scotia; Nepean, Ontario; Ottawa, Ontario; Woodbridge, Ontario; Toronto, Ontario; Mississauga, Ontario; Markham, Ontario; Keswick, Ontario; Scarborough, Ontario; Whitby, Ontario; Pickering, Ontario; Ajax, Ontario; Stockholm, Saskatchewan; Grayson, Saskatchewan; Wapella, Saskatchewan; Whitewood, Saskatchewan; Esterhazy, Saskatchewan; Redvers, Saskatchewan; St. Louis, Prince Edward Island; and Tignish, Prince Edward Island.

The petitioners are calling on the Government of Canada to respect tradition, recognize deserving Canadians, and reverse the decision to cancel the commemorative medal for the 150th anniversary of Confederation.

Petitions June 16th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, the Liberal war on history continues to prompt many petitions to my office, and I have a fistful of them today.

In the past, commemorative medals were issued by the Government of Canada on significant milestones in our country's history, recognizing the contributions of everyday Canadians to their communities, contributions that mean a great deal to so many but often go unrecognized and unacknowledged.

Medals to recognize people like that have been issued on the occasion of our Confederation in 1867, when the Fathers of Confederation were among those who received such an award. We also had such medals on the Diamond Jubilee of Confederation in 1927, the Centennial in 1967, and the 125th anniversary in 1992. However, as part of the Liberal war on history, there will be no medal honouring the country-building contributions of Canadians on the 150th anniversary of Confederation.

This is the case notwithstanding that plans were very well advanced under the previous government for such an award, including a design, and these plans were cancelled by the current government. As a result, tradition is being ignored and community-leading Canadians are being forgotten.

The petitions I have received and am presenting today come from the following communities: Cardigan, Prince Edward Island; Montague, Prince Edward Island; Winnipeg, Manitoba; Morden, Manitoba; Cartwright, Manitoba; Cupar, Saskatchewan, Mather, Manitoba; Duncan, British Columbia; Slocan, British Columbia; Petit-de-Grat, Nova Scotia; Arichat, Nova Scotia; Sturgeon Country, Alberta; Edmonton, Alberta; and Morinville, Alberta.

The petitioners call upon the government to reverse the very unfortunate decision to cancel the medals and to respect tradition and recognize deserving Canadians by issuing a medal to honour Canadians who have helped make a contribution to their communities, during this the 150th anniversary of Confederation.

Criminal Code June 15th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, an optimist would say that the objective is to not place favour on any particular faith. A cynic might say it is simply to diminish the role of faith and the role of religious services. That is just speculating on motive. I would hope that the motive is the view that this does not place favour on any faith.

There is nothing in the section that favours one faith over another. I suppose it favours those who are practising over those who are not and do not need that kind of protection, but that is not a difference that troubles me. The fact that I do not regularly go to church means I do not need any particular protection. I am not looking for it.

The concern is for those who do wish to attend a particular service. I do not know if the member has noticed, but there are certain religious cleavages at a global level taking place that are exported. It is easy to whip up that intolerance. When we say we want to be tolerant, we want to protect people in that context. If disagreeing with or taking exception to someone's faith is allowed to be manifested by walking into and disrupting a service or threatening people wishing to attend a service, saying it is being done in the name of freedom of speech, using the Pussy Riot example, I am not sure it is a desirable thing. There are so many places in which to exercise freedom of speech without having to then infringe upon someone else's rights.

Right now there is a section that protects that special place where people are worshipping, whatever faith they are. It is now protected, and we are going to have an act of the legislature that takes away that protection. In judicial interpretation, legislative interpretation by a judge, one would ask why they were doing this. Clearly, there was an intention that it should not enjoy special protection. I do not think that is wise in this day and age.

When it comes time to weigh those competing rights under the charter, what we are doing is diminishing the special protection of freedom of religion right, thanks to this section.

Criminal Code June 15th, 2017

Madam Speaker, as I said, we support much of what is in the bill. My concern is some of these other odd provisions, such as the ones I mentioned.

In terms of duelling, I cannot assure the member that there will be more duels if this section is permitted that legalizes them. What I can assure him is that there will not be fewer. If they are looking for a social evil to solve, I do not know that they are solving one.

Criminal Code June 15th, 2017

Madam Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Mégantic—L'Érable, who is doing such a good job for his constituents.

However, I would first like a go at it.

This is a bill that everyone knows the Conservative Party of Canada is supporting. However, it is one of those bills that we are told is a question of modernization and to consider it to be somewhat technical. I was given this good advice long ago when I was a minister that whenever bureaucrats or officials tell us this is about modernization to start looking quickly because it is a Trojan horse; it is not all technical. Modernization is designed to wear down resistance, because anybody standing in its way clearly is somehow backward. This is a bill offered in that fashion. While there are indeed meritorious aspects of it and elements that represent a modernization, there are parts that give one cause to wonder why they are necessary or included.

There is certainly a difference between a Conservative and Liberal approach. The first of these is the very first provision in clause 1 of the bill, which proposes to repeal section 49 of the Criminal Code. This section of the Criminal Code states:

Every one who wilfully, in the presence of Her Majesty,

(a) does an act with intent to alarm Her Majesty or to break the public peace, or

(b) does an act that is intended or is likely to cause bodily harm to Her Majesty,

is guilty of an indictable offence....

Why would we want to say that is no longer an offence? I am sure the answer is that it is no longer an offence because there are already offences about intimidating people, harming people, or assaulting them, and Her Majesty can benefit from their protections. That is an interesting argument, except that in this very same Criminal Code they are maintaining, for example, the provisions on the intimidation of Parliament. Therefore, one wonders what the motivation is. It seems clear to many of us that the motivation is a hidden agenda of diminishing the very important role of Her Majesty in this place, and in this country. That is something that does cause us trouble.

Another example I find cute when we look at the difference between Conservatives and Liberals is that Conservatives say if something works well it is good. If the Liberals say something works well, clearly, it is irrelevant. A perfect example of this is the proposal to eliminate the provisions on duelling. Duelling is not a pressing social ill these days. I think we would all acknowledge that. The last fatal duel in Canada took place on June 13, 1833, not too far from here, in Perth, Ontario.

Therefore, I would say that tells us that those Criminal Code provisions are pretty good at doing what we want laws to do, which is to tell people what is right and what is wrong so they stay away from it. The Liberals say that since everybody is following the law we do not need it anymore. I am not sure that I agree with that. If we went through a great spurt where suddenly nobody was murdered, would they be eliminating the murder provisions from the Criminal Code? I would certainly hope not. It is a different approach. Although, it is not a great pressing social ill this day, I think it speaks to the odd approach of legislating that we have here by the Liberals.

There is another provision, which is the one that my friend from Yorkton—Melville was just speaking to, which is a Criminal Code provision the Liberals are proposing to repeal that deals with threats or force that, “unlawfully obstructs or prevents or endeavours to obstruct or prevent a clergyman or minister from celebrating divine service or performing any other function”.

Why would they want to get rid of that? They say there are other provisions that exist. There has been a debate about these things. We can think of two high-profile examples in recent years. One is the group in Russia with the interesting name Pussy Riot that launched a protest on stage during a Russian Orthodox service in Russia against the way that Vladimir Putin has essentially taken control of the Russian Orthodox church and made it an agent of government will and policy. That was generally celebrated in the west as an act of free speech and expression.

On the other hand, we have examples here in North America that we condemn. One thinks of the Westboro Baptist Church, a group that has made a habit of, I think very unfortunately, protesting at the funerals of dead American servicemen who have been returned. They have threatened to do the same thing in Canada. Their argument is that the death of these military servicemen abroad is evidence of God's anger at society's acceptance of homosexuality, so they traumatize families by disrupting these funerals and services.

I think we would all agree that is not necessarily a good thing and is a reason to have a good provision like that. My friend on the other side mentioned that there are other things that already protect this, and we will talk a bit later about the charter and the role of the charter.

If one is balancing the general question of disrupting an event, such as an assault causing discomfort, then something like the Westboro Baptist Church activity could be protected, as it is in the United States under its free speech provisions. It could be protected under our charter provisions. However, if we have a Criminal Code provision, as we have right now, that creates a specific offence for disrupting a religious service or ceremony, such as a funeral at a graveside, that might mean that the charter threshold is a little bit higher because of the specific nature of the offence. While free expression is a good thing under the charter, the right of people to worship is also important. Parliament has said that it is important.

What would a future court do? It would say that this Parliament expressed its intention by taking away that special protection. That would no doubt change how that charter argument plays in the future. Again, it is a reason I would encourage the government to consider removing those provisions from the bill.

There is another one I find interesting and am very puzzled about. It is the proposal to remove section 370, which creates an offence for fraudulently publishing a government proclamation or notice of appointment. It seems to me a pretty reasonable thing to do. If someone is creating false government documents that order people to do things, as proclamations do, why would we want to suddenly take away that offence? It just puzzles me. Why would we want to make it legal for people to produce false government proclamations that would mislead people?

Then, of course, there is section 365, which is the offence of fraudulently practising witchcraft. We all chuckle and laugh, but I can understand why the party of Mackenzie King would want to make legal the practice of witchcraft, sorcery, and talking with people who have passed from this world, as Mackenzie King enjoyed doing. The concern is, and we have all heard stories like this, that people use these kinds of fraudulent witchcraft powers to persuade people that, for example, if they put $10,000 in an envelope, which they say will be burned but they slide it under the table instead, he or she will be saved from whatever curse they say the person is under. These things really happen in our society, even in this day and age. Does that provision, as it exists right now, cause any harm? No. Does it give the police an avenue or resource in the case of those particular unusual offences? Yes, it does.

This is why I ask why we need to look around for things to change, in the name of modernization, for the sake of changing. Some people would say it is very simple: the government does not have much of a legislative agenda. I can appreciate that this might be the case. However, the Conservative approach is that if something works, and it is not causing any harm, why change it? If it might, in the past, have provided some demonstrable good and protection, perhaps it does not need to be changed. Absent evidence of some demonstrable harm, why would we need to go there?

The last thing I want to talk about is the question of the charter statement. This, as a lawyer, is something I find very puzzling. Proposed subsection 4.2(1) states:

The Minister shall, for every Bill introduced in or presented to either House of Parliament by a minister or other representative of the Crown, cause to be tabled, in the House in which the Bill originates, a statement that sets out potential effects of the Bill on the rights and freedoms that are guaranteed by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

I thought that was the job of the courts. The courts are there to pass judgment on it. If the government is saying to the courts that it has already looked at it and it complies, and one should hope that it is only introducing bills it believes comply, does that create undue pressure on the court to treat it as being charter valid? We often hear people say that they are not going to comment on something because it is before the courts. A minister will say that, because we are not supposed to, as a government, be interfering in that fashion. Would this do that?

Even worse, what happens when a court starts striking it down? What is served by a notice like that if it is then proven repeatedly to be wrong? Does it prove that the Minister of Justice was not very clever or that the staff of the Justice Department really are not very good lawyers after all? Is that going to constrain the Supreme Court or any other court in the exercise of their judgment? I am puzzled as to what is achieved by something like that.

I know people want to say good things about the charter and that we are doing things in accordance with the charter. One presumes that the first duty of a government introducing legislation is to look at that. To put the statement on top of it is unusual and out of place in a place where it is not the minister's job but the court's job to pass judgment.

Petitions June 15th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to present petitions from two Canadian historical societies. These are prompted, as many are, by the Liberal war on history. These historical societies want history to be respected and celebrated during the 150th anniversary of Confederation.

The first petition contains signatures from members of the United Empire Loyalists' Association of Canada. The association is committed to advancing knowledge of the important role Loyalists contributed to Canada's development. Many Fathers of Confederation, in fact, were Loyalists, including Sir Samuel Leonard Tilley and John Hamilton Gray, or were descendants of Loyalists. Loyalists were people who came to Canada from the United States to demonstrate their desire to have a place in North America separate and apart from the republic to the south.

Members of the Waterford and Townsend Historical Society have also signed this petition. One of its most recent projects was rehabilitating the heritage train station in Waterford. That rail station was part of the important focus on railways to connect the new country in the period following Confederation.

The petitioners call on the government to reverse the very regretful decision not to have Confederation included as a theme of the 150th anniversary of Confederation and to indeed celebrate Confederation in this very important 150th birthday.

Committees of the House June 15th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, the Conservative members of the heritage committee wish to present a supplementary report, as our view is very much in contrast with that of the Liberal majority. Overwhelmingly, the recommendations of the majority members on the committee have embraced an effort to turn back the clock in the media world and keep things the way they were to try to replicate the ways of the analogue world in a new digital world.

This is a fool's errand; the world is changing and change brings disruption. Some see this disruption as a problem, but higher taxes and government control of the news is not the answer to the problem. Efforts to turn back the clock to an earlier age are doomed to meet with failure. With the transformations of the digital world, the media are genuinely democratizing for the first time. No longer is a citizen's influence limited to choosing which newspaper to read or which television news to watch. Now every citizen can use the online digital world to report news and opinions and distribute them. This is a welcome environment.

The committee is seeking new ways to tax Canadians to pay for efforts by the government to involve itself in the production of news for Canadians. Canadians do not need more and new taxes. The Conservative members of the committee strongly oppose any proposal to implement a Netflix tax, Internet tax, or any other news tax on Canadians.

Petitions June 14th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, the Liberal war on history continues to prompt many petitions to my office. I rise today to present petitions from four Canadian historical societies stating they want history to be respected and celebrated during the 150th anniversary of Confederation, which as we know the government has not chosen to allow as a theme.

The members and visitors of the Elbow and District Museum in Elbow, Saskatchewan, have expressed their support for the government to include Confederation as a theme of Canada 150. The Elbow museum recounts the life of immigrants to the Prairies in the 1900s coming via Sir John A. Macdonald's railroad to settle the west.

Members of the Trail Historical Society have signed the petition and are also asking the government to keep Confederation in Canada 150. The former mining settlement grew with the development of a smelter servicing the Canadian Pacific Railway, one of the projects central to the legacy of Sir John A. Macdonald. Today, the legacy of this early project of Confederation plays a central role in Trail's heritage.

Members of the Thornhill historical foundation are calling on the government to restore Confederation as a theme of Canada 150. Father of Confederation, William Pearce Howland represented part of Thornhill as a member of Parliament in 1867.

I have a petition from the Antigonish historical society. Father of Confederation, William Alexander Henry grew up in Antigonish. He stood as a Liberal and became a Conservative. He originally opposed Confederation, but ultimately became a supporter after attending the Charlottetown conference. His ability to see the light and change his mind should be an inspiration to the government in encouraging it to change its mind, end the Liberal war on history, and make Confederation a theme of the 150th anniversary of Confederation.