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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

Summer Events in York—Simcoe June 1st, 2017

Mr. Speaker, summer is the time to be in beautiful York—Simcoe on the picturesque shores of Lake Simcoe. The lake is our playground. It is now enjoying its strongest environmental health in generations. Why? It is thanks to a decade of investment from the Conservative government's Lake Simcoe clean-up fund.

The summer fun in York—Simcoe starts tomorrow, with Mount Albert Sports Day, running from June 2 to 4. Come for the games, a midway, entertainment, and an old country dinner.

August 10 to 13 will see thousands taking in the Sutton Fair, a celebration of our community's agricultural history. Horses, cows, and sheep meet demolition derbies and baking competitions in this classic country fair.

On August 19, we will gather in Bradford at Carrot Fest. This giant party pays tribute to the Holland Marsh, Canada's salad bowl.

The best event of all will be the local MP's old fashioned Dominion Day pancake breakfast in Sharon on July 1st.

Help mark the 150th anniversary of Confederation and give a maple syrup thanks to Sir John A. and the Fathers of Confederation for creating Canada, the best country in the world.

Petitions May 31st, 2017

Mr. Speaker, I have several petitions to table, which petitioners have submitted on the subject of commemorative medals that the government has cancelled, despite the fact that this is the 150th anniversary of Confederation.

Traditionally, medals have been presented by the Government of Canada to notable individuals who have made a significant contribution to Canada in their communities. It has been done on the occasion of the 125th anniversary of Confederation, of course the centennial in 1967, the diamond jubilee in 1927, and even in the year of Confederation itself. Although preparations were very far in advance, including a design for the medal for this year's 150th anniversary of Confederation, unfortunately the Liberal government has cancelled this.

The petitioners indicate that as part of the Liberal war on history, they are disappointed that the contributions of community-building Canadians are not being honoured and are being ignored.

The petitioners come, as I said, from a number of communities: Kindersley, Saskatchewan; Bewdley, Ontario; Winnipeg Beach, Manitoba; Matlock, Manitoba; Cranberry Portage, Manitoba; Flin Flon, Manitoba; Hodgeville, Saskatchewan; Waterford, Ontario; Burlington, Ontario; Delaware, Ontario; London, Ontario; Leask, Saskatchewan; and Blaine Lake, Saskatchewan.

As we can see, there are petitioners from all across the country who call upon the Government of Canada to respect tradition, recognize deserving Canadians, and reverse the unfortunate decision to cancel the commemorative medals on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of Confederation.

Canadian Heritage May 19th, 2017

Madam Speaker, the Liberals always find a way to take care of their friends. As we have seen this week, no former Liberal cabinet minister is ever left behind. When I commented that it was inappropriate for the CBC to receive Canada 150 funding on top of its annual billion dollars from the taxpayers, the CBC's taxpayer-funded lobbyist corrected me. The Canada 150 money went to Ken Dryden, not the CBC. In fact, the CBC paid even more tax dollars to the former Liberal minister's project.

Why is it that the only history that can make it past the Liberal war on history is someone's past history as a Liberal minister?

Canadian Heritage May 19th, 2017

Madam Speaker, the Liberal war on history continues. Groups celebrating our history on the 150th anniversary of Confederation have been told they cannot. The Annapolis Valley project showcasing the region's contribution to Canada's founding has been told no by Ottawa. Instead, Canada 150 funds of half a million dollars went to former Liberal cabinet minister Ken Dryden for his project, a TV show modestly called “We Are Canada”, described as “just tedious TV” by The Globe and Mail. It was helpfully broadcast on the taxpayer-funded CBC.

Why is the Liberal government taking money from community groups and giving it to former Liberal politicians?

Petitions May 18th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, commemorative medals have been issued on significant milestones of Canadian history to recognize the contributions of ordinary citizens who have done remarkable things for their local communities, which might otherwise go unacknowledged. A medal was issued in our Confederation year, 1867; in the diamond jubilee year, 1927; in the centennial year, 1967; and in 1992, which was the 125th anniversary of Confederation.

As part of the Liberal war on history, the government has cancelled plans to have a medal to honour contributions of ordinary Canadians in this year, the 150th anniversary of Confederation. Tradition is being ignored and community-leading Canadians are being forgotten.

I have several petitions to present today on this subject. The petitioners come from Gatineau, Quebec; Forestville, Quebec; the very famous Baie-Comeau, Quebec; Southey, Saskatchewan; Melville, Saskatchewan; Regina, Saskatchewan; Manotick, Ontario; Osgoode, Ontario; Nepean, Ontario; and Ottawa, Ontario.

The petitioners call upon the Government of Canada to respect tradition in history, recognize deserving Canadians, and reverse the very unfortunate decision to cancel the commemorative medal that was planned to honour Canadians on the 150th anniversary of Confederation.

Petitions May 15th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, commemorative medals have been issued by the Government of Canada on significant occasions in our country's history to recognize the contributions of ordinary Canadians to their communities, contributions that mean so much to so many but too often go unnoticed and unrecognized.

A medal was issued for Confederation in 1867, the Diamond Jubilee of Confederation in 1927, the Centennial in 1967, and the 125th anniversary of Confederation in 1992, but as part of the Liberal war on history, there will be no medal honouring the country-building contributions of Canadians on this, the 150th anniversary of Confederation.

Tradition is being ignored, and community-leading Canadians are being forgotten. I have several petitions from Canadians on this subject. The petitioners come from Sydney, Nova Scotia; Nanton, Alberta; Ayer's Cliff, Quebec; Surrey, British Columbia; Inverness, Nova Scotia; and Kerrobert, Saskatchewan.

The petitioners are all calling upon 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.

Ethics May 11th, 2017

The cabinet spot is not going to be yours with that kind of answer.

Canadian Broadcasting Corporation Privatization Act April 10th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, I am speaking today as the official opposition critic for Canadian heritage and national historic sites. In that capacity, I of course have responsibility for such files as the Canadian public broadcaster, the CBC. Therefore, let me state clearly from the outset what the Conservative Party's position is, as endorsed by our delegates at party conventions: “The “CBC-SRC is an important part of the broadcasting system in Canada. It must be a true public service broadcaster, relevant to Canadians. We will focus the CBC-SRC services on its mandates as public broadcasting services.” That is our party policy. That is our official position as a party.

There are times when the CBC strays very far from those objectives. We are very fortunate, however, that the CBC is capable of being there. We need only look at this past weekend to see the CBC playing that role properly with the good coverage we saw around the 100th anniversary commemorations of the Canadian victory at Vimy Ridge. It was very positive, and the proper role, I think, of a public broadcaster. I think of the drama we are seeing this year, Anne, which is another re-creation introducing what is a Canadian classic, and indeed one that has stood the test of time very well, to a whole new generation of young Canadians, and older Canadians, too, I have to confess. Again, I think it is fine, excellent work, and something we can all be proud of, which is the sort of thing we would like to see from a public broadcaster. I am particularly encouraged to see Canada: The Story of Us, which is a focus on history.

Those are the kinds of things a public broadcaster should be doing, telling Canadians their stories about Canadian history, our literature, and the important historical events that have made us what we are today. Sadly, it is all too rare.

One hears criticism, for example, in the newspapers these days of this project, Canada: The Story of Us, from a bunch of different perspectives. However, if I can put it in a nutshell, what all of those critics are saying is one thing, “I don't hear my story there” or “I don't see my story there”. Does that mean there is something wrong with the programming being shown? I do not think so. I think it is very high quality, and I commend the CBC for doing it. Do I agree with every view expressed? Of course not. History would not be history if we all agreed on it. Of course, we all have different views and perspectives. That is as it should be, and it is great that this debate be stimulated.

However, when people are saying that they do not see their story there, they are acknowledging what has been a failure of the CBC as a public broadcaster, which is to play exactly that role. The fact is that series like Canada: The Story of Us are too few and far between, and when one occasionally comes along, people necessarily are going to be left out. Stories are going to be left out from what is a magnificent array of Canadian history. What that shows us is that it has not been doing its job properly. That is an important consideration: Is the CBC doing the right things that a public broadcaster should do? That is what our party position is. That is what I would like to see happening. That is certainly what we are seeing some good examples of right now, but we have seen too few in the past.

Does it make sense for a broadcaster in a public role to be trying cheap reality TV shows, imitations of American programming? I do not think so. That is not its proper function. At the same time, we have to ask ourselves if the CBC produces value for the tremendous volume of tax dollars that Canadians give it, which is well in excess of $1 billion a year. Are Canadians consuming that? The fact is, the numbers show that the eyeballs are dropping. The relevance is declining. The CBC is not playing that role properly. I put it to members that if that money was focused, if it spent it more sensibly on what would be the true public broadcaster role, I think we would find it would be far more heartening, and it would do a much better job of that.

I look at those stories in Canada: The Story of Us, and I have to confess that even I, a bit of a Canadian history buff, am learning things I did not know before. We can all debate the perspectives, but that is what the CBC should be doing. I know there were journalists who contacted me in the effort of getting that kind of cheap shot they wanted, because the Prime Minister did an introduction at the outset of the series. I declined to do that. They wanted me to say it was not appropriate. I know my seven-year-old thought it was not appropriate. However, I said I was heartened to see it.

I commended the CBC for taking the initiative to focus on Canada's history. I was heartened to see the Prime Minister actually encouraging it, because in his other policies, he has been doing exactly the opposite. He has been turning his back on Canadian history, adding to the vacuum in the understanding of who we are. We see that most notably with the decisions on the themes for the 150th anniversary of Confederation, which were changed by the government to include four themes, all of them merit-worthy but excluding history and the story of Confederation itself as permissible themes. That was absurd. Fortunately, the public broadcaster, in its wisdom, was wiser than the Prime Minister and is talking about exactly such things, in a dramatic fashion. For this, it is to be commended.

However, there are other things we have to trouble ourselves with that we have legitimate concerns about in terms of the role of the public broadcaster. I do not want to be a TV critic, but is another stale comedy that has been on the air for decades, that folks are kind of tired of, the right way to go? I do not know.

Certainly, the most difficult fit for any public broadcaster is that of public affairs and news broadcasting. When a state broadcaster is engaged in the news, we look at it, in most countries around the world, with a lot of skepticism. A state broadcaster in Russia or in a place like Syria, which I suppose has a state broadcaster, I do not know, we immediately conclude is propaganda. If we look at RT, which is the state broadcaster projecting abroad for Russia, it is clearly propaganda.

There is always a discomfort when taxpayers' money is used to cover the news. This controversy goes back some time. The CBC was actually created as the Canadian Radio Broadcasting Commission by the Conservative government of R.B. Bennett. However, it was not too long before its news and public affairs role began to land it in trouble. Once Mackenzie King was in government, lo and behold, it changed the name to the CBC and took decisions, for example, not to cover the Conservative leadership convention. This, of course, attracted a lot of attention. Why is that? It was because it looked to everyone like a deliberate effort by a state-run broadcaster to diminish attention on the opposition Conservative Party. That goes back in time. These kinds of apprehensions and perceptions of bias have been there for a long time.

It is not crazy. If we look at any academic study done of journalists over the past 50 or 60 years, we will see that not too many of them vote Conservative. I do not know why. It seems to be something about who gets drawn into what professions, but that is the case. I will bet that is the case today. In those circumstances, we can understand why people are quick to perceive bias and concern.

Then, of course, there is the fundamental question, with the CBC, of value for money. A tremendous amount of money is being spent, and there are real questions based on how Canadians are voting, and voting with their feet.

At the heritage committee, we have been hearing criticism about how the public broadcaster is using those massive subsidies of billions of dollars. As the world is changing and we are seeing more and more people going online, the criticism we are hearing from the print journals, the newspapers that are in trouble, and other radio and television outlets is that the CBC is using its dominant position and taxpayer subsidies to squeeze everyone else out in the online news universe. It is attracting the advertising there, using the public subsidy to have an advantage in that news gathering. In the process, it is harming and putting those newspapers out of business. When the Canadian Radio Broadcasting Commission was established, when the CBC was established, no one contemplated a role in an online world. Is that an appropriate one for the CBC? That is an important question.

There are some real questions we as Conservatives have, but let me make it clear and understood by everyone that the party policy position is that we support a public broadcaster. We would just like the CBC to play the role of a genuine public broadcaster, bringing forward the literature, theatre, and music of Canada.

I point to what was seen in the past year as one of the rare successes of the CBC, and that was the final broadcast of the Tragically Hip concert from Kingston, which ignited the imaginations of a lot of people. These are the kinds of things that get Canadians excited and supportive of a public broadcaster, because it is being a public broadcaster.

If the CBC is to avoid facing an ongoing tide of the kind of initiative we are debating here to privatize the CBC, to abolish the CBC, it should look seriously at how it can better play the role of being a genuine public broadcaster and put on the air fine programming like Canada: The Story of Us , like the Anne miniseries, and like the coverage we saw of Vimy this weekend. It was CBC at its best. It is capable of doing it. Sadly, it is all too rare.

Privilege April 7th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order.

I want to address the point you just referenced, which I believe is page 144, which you had read earlier. I thought of intervening at that point, but I was hoping it would not be necessary, but it seems that it perhaps may be.

It indicates there, in the section you read, that the Speaker will hear the member and may permit others who are directly implicated in the matter to intervene. That is the first sentence in that paragraph.

You will recall, Mr. Speaker, in our previous discussion about the scope of the question of privilege that this is no longer a question of privilege that simply affects two members. The issue of the effort to rewrite the rules of the House through the back door. Rendering privilege to be a matter that is raised at committee on a motion from a member of the government means that this now affects every single member of the House. Therefore, every member is implicated and has a direct interest in speaking to it.

The construction of the motion is no longer simply one of privilege for the two members, but it is privilege as it affects all of us in this House. I have certainly indicated that what we are discussing is inclusive and, bound into it, the effort to effectively amend the Standing Orders or our rules by changing the way in which privilege is dealt with by making it a government motion at committee that hinders privilege.

I could even go further in that regard. It is actually more sweeping than that, because the Constitution of Canada even addresses the questions of privileges of parliamentarians. It says at section 18 under Legislative Power in part IV:

The privileges, immunities, and powers to be held, enjoyed, and exercised by the Senate and by the House of Commons, and by the members thereof respectively, shall be such as are from time to time defined by Act of the Parliament of Canada, but so that any Act of the Parliament of Canada defining such privileges, immunities, and powers shall not confer any privileges, immunities, or powers exceeding those at the passing of such Act held, enjoyed, and exercised by the Commons House of Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, and by the members thereof.

My point there being that we are even getting into the realm of constitutional and statutory amendment that the Liberals are trying to do by way of a motion at committee. This is a profound, serious, and deep question.

The other point being that, of course, as I was saying, everyone who is directly involved, which is now all 338 members of this House, are directly implicated, and every one of them should have the right to speak. I say that simply because I have heard the Speaker reference that there was one more member who wished to speak. I am not sure that is the case. I think the Speaker should canvass the House completely.

If we read further:

In instances where more In instances where more than one Member is involved in a question of privilege, the Speaker may postpone discussion until all concerned Members can be present in the House.

This would suggest the Speaker should certainly continue discussion until everyone who is present has had an opportunity to have their say, and then further, if there are others who wish to have their say beyond that.

There has been much weight placed on this sentence:

The Speaker also has the discretion to seek the advice of other Members to help him or her in determining whether there is prima facie a matter of privilege involved which would warrant giving the matter priority of consideration over all other House business. When satisfied, the Speaker will terminate the discussion.

One could certainly place a construction on that, as I would, that when the Speaker is satisfied that there is a prima facie question of privilege, absolutely, there is no need to hear any further, and the Speaker may step forward and terminate the debate at that place. That is what “when satisfied” means. It does not mean, “I can presume in my mind what others are going to submit and that it is going to fail to reach the threshold necessary.” That is not what satisfied means. What satisfied means is that the Speaker has been satisfied that there is a prima facie case of privilege. That is what the debate is about. At that point, the Speaker can intervene and cut it off and say, “I need hear nothing more. We need not debate anymore. I am satisfied.”

I appreciate and recognize that the Speaker has every right, when he has concluded that an individual has entered into repetition and is not raising new points, having given the member enough opportunities to draw the member's points to a conclusion, to terminate those comments. That, however, is a very different question than allowing other members to make their comments. The challenge for the Speaker is that if the Speaker is doing that, notwithstanding that I believe what we see in House of Commons Procedure and Practice in the passage cited, is that when satisfied, you may terminate. That means when satisfied that there is a prima facie case.

Mr. Speaker, how can you possibly have such magical psychic powers as to be able to presume the future submissions of members who have not yet had an opportunity to stand on a question of privilege that directly and personally affects them? I do not believe that was your intention. I did not hear that as your intention, but I sense that some may have been wishing to guide you to such an intention. Having seen your conduct as Speaker before, I do not believe you would, and I just want to caution you from heading to such shoals.

Privilege April 7th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, I find alarming that this is the conclusion you have drawn after having heard submissions from me and from the member for Perth—Wellington.

What was made quite clear is that at issue is how that point of privilege was responded to and the fact that now there is an effort to try to rewrite the rules on how privilege in this House works through a motion at the committee. The government has said that it respects that the point of privilege needs to be dealt with and that the decision by the Speaker yesterday, the prima facie decision, would be dealt with and respected in that fashion. That is the basis of the government having voted to go to government orders, to have disposed of the prima facie decision of the Speaker yesterday. That is the privilege issue at stake. What we are facing is an effort to rewrite the Standing Orders of this place and centuries of tradition.

I appreciate that the Clerk wants to intervene and provide contrary arguments to mine at the same time I am taking the time to make a submission, but I have to take exception, because we just saw a demonstration that you had not appreciated what had been said earlier, likely because of such interruptions, Mr. Speaker.

The point being made is much more fundamental. It is not the same point of privilege as yesterday. It is entwined as part of it, absolutely. What is being objected to is that we are now seeing an effort by the government to rewrite the rules of centuries in this House, to rewrite the big green book, O'Brien and Bosc. It is an effort to rewrite the Standing Orders so that privilege would be dealt with in an entirely different way, diminishing privilege to a motion from a government member at a committee. That is the basis of this motion we have been discussing here. That is why everything the hon. member is saying is in order. That is why I was alarmed by your earlier intervention, Mr. Speaker, and by the interventions of others, that suggested that it might not be.

In fact, the parliamentary secretary to the government House leader got up himself and spelled out that this is what has happened and has taken place at the committee. That is an important part that is intrinsic to this. It is not simply a repeat discussion of the point of privilege on which the Speaker made a prima facie finding yesterday. It is where that is leading in an effort to rewrite our rules and diminish our privileges and, in effect, extinguish the rights of this House as to privilege, and the supremacy of this House as to privilege, and to make it now depend on government motions at committees.