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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was farmers.

Last in Parliament October 2015, as Conservative MP for Glengarry—Prescott—Russell (Ontario)

Lost his last election, in 2019, with 36% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Veterans Affairs April 24th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, this member really needs to start following the exciting new initiatives that we are delivering for our veterans.

He should be aware that we are expanding and opening nine new mental health injury clinics to support our veterans and their families all across Canada.

I mentioned, in this economic action plan, the family caregiver relief benefit, which provides eligible veterans with a tax-free annual grant of over $7,200 to ensure that the veterans' needs are met. That is going to support the family.

Will this member support our veterans by supporting this economic action plan that has so many excellent measures for our veterans and their families?

Veterans Affairs April 24th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, how untrue. Economic action plan 2015 not only benefits all Canadians, including low- and middle-income Canadians but also veterans.

Let me give some examples. Within this economic action plan is the new retirement income security benefit, which provides moderately to severely disabled veterans with a monthly income support payment beginning at age 65. There is also the family caregiver relief benefit, a new benefit for caregivers, and the critical injury benefit, which provides a $70,000 tax-free award to support those Canadian Armed Forces personnel who experience a sudden injury.

Will this member support our veterans by supporting our economic action plan? That is the question.

Canadian Air Transport Security Authority April 23rd, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House today to support this motion, which, in my opinion, fits in well with our government's commitment and priority to promote economic development and job creation across Canada in a fiscally responsible manner.

The motion also fits in with our government's risk-based approach to air security, whereby funding is targeted to areas of highest risk.

I greatly appreciate having the opportunity to speak about the work that the government is already doing on this issue and what we intend to do in the future to help support the initiatives of these airports.

Let me say at the outset that job creation and ensuring strong economic growth are this government's top priority. We firmly believe that the air industry still represents the fundamental pillar of our economic success.

Indeed, that industry provides goods, services and opportunities for Canadians all across the country, from the largest urban centres to the smallest communities. It contributes to our quality of life, our economy and our relationships with others and with the rest of the world.

Canada's vast geographic size has given rise to one of the largest civilian air transport networks in the world, with over 200 airports operating commercial flights.

Aviation helps distribute Canadian goods and helps us to develop new markets for our industries. It also allows people from outside to discover the beauty of this great land of ours. One hundred million passengers benefit from commercial services in this country on an annual basis. Aviation is truly an economic enabler for Canada. It is very understandable, therefore, that smaller airports are exploring ways of maximizing the economic benefits they get from being part of our aviation network.

Our national civil aviation security program is also one of the strongest in the world and we are committed to maintaining a high level of safety and security for the travelling public.

Of the 200 commercial airports in Canada, 89 are regulated and therefore required to offer mandatory passenger and baggage screening services. These 89 airports deal with approximately 99% of all air passengers in Canada.

The list of regulated airports required to offer mandatory screening services was developed in 2002 in the wake of the September 11 attacks and shows the airports where screening was already carried out before the establishment of the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority. From the point of view of risk-based security, it is not necessary that CATSA, the authority responsible for monitoring transportation security in Canada, ensure a mandatory presence in Canada’s 200 airports; otherwise, the cost of ensuring its presence would be prohibitive.

As we know, CATSA is the only body authorized to carry out security screening at Canadian airports. While CATSA contracts with service providers to carry out this function, it is CATSA that ensures a consistent screening process from coast to coast through the training, certification and oversight of all screening personnel. This is why we ask that the proposed motion be amended, so it is clear that only CATSA is authorized to provide screening services.

Many smaller airports believe that the sole obstacle to establishing new commercial services out their airports is the absence of passenger screening. If these routes are economically viable for the air carriers, then they may in fact be right as Canada's major airports require that passengers be screened before they can transfer to other flights within their airports. Passengers departing from the smaller airports must, therefore, be screened at the larger airports before they can continue their trips.

We strongly believe that security is and should remain the key consideration when allocating government-funded resources to prevent or mitigate threats to the transportation system. Nevertheless, we also believe our aviation security system must support, rather than hinder, economic opportunities.

We are constantly striving to achieve our security objectives, while supporting competitiveness in the aviation sector and minimizing the impact of this support on Canadian taxpayers and on the allocation of scarce security resources. This is why the changes made to the list of airports designated to receive government-funded security screening services are founded on risk-based principles.

Our understanding is that none of the airports interested in receiving screening services currently meet the risk threshold that would warrant mandatory screening. Nonetheless, we believe it is important that the smaller airports have the opportunity to explore all avenues for economic growth, including those that may come with the establishment of new commercial routes.

As we have heard, last June the Minister of Transport sent a letter to the airports that had expressed an interest in obtaining screening services to inform them that departmental officials would be exploring and assessing various mechanisms that would allow them to obtain these services on a cost-recovery basis. Since then, Transport Canada officials have been in contact with the interested airports to confirm their willingness to proceed down this path and to gather additional information on their anticipated commercial operations. Several airports have confirmed their desire to move forward.

Transport Canada has also begun to receive projections and plans that will help determine the level of service and equipment these airports would require. The department is continuing to work with both the interested airports and CATSA to assess the cost of having security screening at these airports. Much of this will depend on the number of flights they expect to attract, as well as other factors, such as passenger load and the frequency and destinations of flights.

Transport Canada will work closely with each individual airport so that screening costs and requirements are clearly understood and to ensure that the potential advantages of establishing screening services exceed the cost of those services.

Despite the progress that has been made, there are a variety of legal and financial challenges relating to this initiative that need to be addressed.

We are currently reviewing the legislative and regulatory changes that would best support this initiative. All parties recognize that these changes would take a certain amount of time. Beyond this, we also want to ensure that any solution takes a long-term view of how CATSA operates so that it is able to respond to this and other industry needs as they arise in the future.

Transport Canada will be working closely with our industry partners to make available all the necessary tools to provide a safe, secure and efficient transportation system to all Canadians.

Donald Potvin April 23rd, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to pay tribute to a distinguished veteran from my riding who passed away recently. Donald Potvin served Canada with honour throughout the Second World War.

Don, as he preferred to be called, fought with the 4th Canadian (Armoured) Division. He received the Chevalier Medal of Honour for his participation in the liberation of France. He served in England, France, Belgium and the Netherlands, and was a survivor of Normandy's Juno Beach.

I had the honour of welcoming Don to Ottawa last year for his very first visit to Parliament Hill. He shared many accounts of his service with me, including the fact that he had three tanks shot out from under him while actively engaged with the enemy. He was also a veteran who took the time to share his experiences with local students for Remembrance Day. He was gifted at putting the war into perspective for our younger generation.

Don's death represents a profound loss, and I would like to extend my sincere condolences to his family.

Veterans Affairs April 2nd, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for Pickering—Scarborough East for his hard work for our veterans.

Of the five great initiatives announced by the Minister of Veterans Affairs to improve benefits for injured veterans, two have already come into effect. Effective April 1, we have expanded the eligibility criteria for the permanent impairment allowance, so more veterans are eligible for financial support each month.

Also effective April 1, the earnings loss benefit is now calculated in the same way for reserve force veterans as it is for regular force veterans, and this is all about respect for veterans.

I encourage the opposition to support these initiatives and our other government initiatives.

Veterans Affairs April 2nd, 2015

Mr. Speaker, the family caregiver relief benefit is an important new benefit that recognizes the vital contribution of informal caregivers to the health and well-being of veterans with severe and permanent service-related injuries. The proposed new family caregiver relief benefit will provide veterans with an annual tax-free grant of more than $7,000. This new benefit will require little to no paperwork, and it will not require receipts. It will provide the informal caregiver relief while ensuring that veterans continue to get the support they need.

This is an important new initiative that the opposition should support.

Taxation March 27th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, Canadian families recognize that the Conservative government is the only party that understands the needs of parents.

That is why we have lowered taxes for families and enhanced the universal child care benefit, which will provide significant support to four million families with children.

In fact, this is one of the biggest packages of tax relief for Canadian families in modern Canadian history. The vast majority of these benefits will go to low- or medium-income families.

Sadly, the New Democrats and Liberals have not followed our lead in supporting Canadian families to choose the type of child care that works for them. Instead, the New Democrats have pledged to undo our support and impose a one-size-fits-all bureaucratic scheme that would fail to do anything for 90% of families, while the Liberals, simply put, would take this money away. That is shameful. The NDP and the Liberals need to stop listening to elites and start listening to real Canadian parents.

Our government remains the only one that supports moms and dads in making the best decisions for their families.

Military Contribution Against ISIL March 26th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, what I find very troubling about the position of the Liberals is that they would advocate, primarily, to do nothing, let the threat exist, let the violence continue, let terrorists attack Canada and do nothing.

The Liberal position, as well as the NDP position, is incomprehensible to Canadians. In fact, I believe the Liberals have only given two speeches on this topic tonight. It is an extremely important debate in the House of Commons. I believe they have only given two speeches because even they, and their MPs, do not understand their position.

Our position is very clear. It is ISIL that poses a threat, not only to the people of the region in which they operate, but also to the people in Canada.

As I mentioned in my response to a question from a previous colleague, Canada has experienced the tragic effects of ISIL reaching out to misguided Canadians, one of whom attacked Parliament and killed Nathan Cirillo and another who killed Patrice Vincent in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu.

I do not understand why the Liberals cannot see that, why they will not accept that, and why they will not push back against ISIL. Why will they not stand up and defend the interests of Canada and of Canadians?

Military Contribution Against ISIL March 26th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, that question proves that the NDP does not understand what is happening with the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, and the threat that it poses here in Canada.

The NDP is completely disassociated from Canadians and their understanding of what is going on with ISIL. As I mentioned in my speech, ISIL presents a very clear and present danger to the people of the region in which it operates, and it presents a very clear and present danger to Canadians.

Just before Christmas, we saw the results of its threats to Canada. I do not know why the NDP will not admit that ISIL has targeted Canada. It has to account for that to Canadians.

The NDP members will have the opportunity to vote on this motion. I ask them to change their ways, be reasonable and support the motion we have put forward in Parliament.

Military Contribution Against ISIL March 26th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak to the motion the government moved to ask the House of Commons to recognize that the terrorist group called the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, or the Islamic State, has called upon its members numerous times to attack Canada and Canadians. I would also like to express my support for our government's decision to extend Canada's military mission in Iraq.

The Islamic State is a serious threat not only to the security of the Middle East, but also to international peace and security. The group has caused a serious humanitarian and security crisis in Iraq and neighbouring countries. It has displaced over 2 million people. It persecutes religious and ethnic minorities and has killed thousands of innocent men, women and children. It has committed acts of incredible barbarity by beheading journalists and humanitarian workers on camera and burning a Jordanian pilot to death.

The Islamic State's behaviour is sending us a clear message. By destroying the remnants of ancient civilizations, it is showing its contempt for culture and history. Every time it enslaves a woman, it shows its contempt for human equality. Every time it kills an innocent person, it shows its contempt for the sanctity of life.

ISIl claims to have established a caliphate in the territory it controls. It sees this as a means to legitimize its rule, enact sharia law and provide a rallying pride to foreign fighters who believe it is their duty to live under the aegis of the Caliph. They are extremists who believe that anyone who follows a different interpretation of Islam, including moderate Muslims, are all apostates. ISIL seeks to eradicate all people thus identified in the Middle East. We have seen extremely disturbing examples of the atrocities it has committed in the territory it controls, including the death of more than 10,000 civilians.

This terrorist group has called for direct attacks against Canada and Canadians. It inspired and applauded the terrible tragedies in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu and Ottawa and was delighted by the attacks against innocent people in Sydney, Paris, Copenhagen and, just recently, Tunis. Its propaganda incites terrorists to attack civilians and encourages potential fighters to join its fighters on the battlefields of Iraq and Syria.

It is clear that the Islamic State poses a real threat to Canada and Canadians. Our government, together with our allies, has resolved to address this threat directly. We want to respond with force and show that, individually and collectively, we have the necessary determination to significantly degrade their operations.

Last August, the Royal Canadian Air Force began transporting essential military equipment provided by our allies to the Iraqi forces. In total, 25 Hercules transport flights and one Globemaster strategic airlifter delivered more than 700 tonnes of equipment, which was desperately needed.

In September, at the NATO summit held in Wales, the Prime Minister announced that Canada's special operations forces would be deployed as part of an advise and assist mission and would provide tactical and operational advice to improve the effectiveness of the Iraqi forces and the Kurdish peshmerga on the ground.

Then in early October, the government moved a motion asking Parliament to support the extension and expansion of Canada's military contribution to the Government of Iraq.

Canada's current military efforts are part of Operation Impact. This mission is composed of approximately 600 Canadian Armed Forces personnel and it includes a strike force of six CF-18 Hornet fighters, with associated aircrew and logistical support elements, which conducts air strikes against ISIL targets in Iraq in co-operation with coalition partners. An aerial enabling force, comprised of a CC-150 Polaris aerial refueller, up to two CP-140 Aurora aerial surveillance aircraft, and an associated support crew, as part of a key coalition reconnaissance and support capability, contributes to situational awareness, command and control, and logistical support as well as assist with coalition air strikes against ISIL targets in Iraq. The contributions of the Canadian Armed Forces have not only been highly effective but are also highly valued by the coalition.

Over the past six months, the coalition has seen real signs of progress. Through the aerial campaign, the coalition has destroyed ISIL targets in central Iraq and north and northwest of Baghdad in areas that are both controlled and contested by ISIL. These efforts have reduced ISIL's freedom of movement and territorial gain. Thanks in part to Canada's military efforts, ISIL's ability to raise funds for its reign of terror has taken a major hit. Iraqi forces have wrestled the city of al-Baghdadi back from ISIL control and are working to regain Fallujah. In northern Iraq, Iraqi forces are gradually taking back ground east of Mosul, where ISIL is now in a defensive posture.

This progress proves that the situation is improving, but there is still work to be done. More than ever, we must remain steadfast. More than ever, we must demonstrate our commitment, and more than ever we must recognize the importance of continuing this fight that will define a generation. We are combatting a radical interpretation of Islam, an interpretation that results in innocent people being subjected to unbelievable violence and that inspires terrorist threats against Canada and our citizens.

That is why our government is asking Parliament to approve an extension of the Canadian Armed Forces mission in Iraq for a maximum of 12 months, until March 30, 2016. We are also asking Parliament to approve the expansion of the scope of the mission.

As we all know, the Islamic State poses a serious threat to regional security and peace. Although the coalition has managed to stop the advance of the Islamic State, it continues to control a vast territory that covers part of Syria and Iraq. It draws its strength from its presence in these two countries. Since the coalition's air strikes have depleted its reserves and weakened its strongholds in Iraq, it has no choice but to rebuild its forces, take refuge and resupply in Syria.

If we stop the fight at the Iraq border, we will never be able to eliminate these support bases and we will never be able to eliminate this threat. That is why our government is calling on Parliament to support an extension of the air mission so that we can hit targets in Syria. We will not be alone in this mission. The United States is already carrying out air strikes in Syria, with the co-operation of Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Morocco and the United Arab Emirates. We will certainly make a considerable contribution, especially if we consider our targeting capabilities with precision munitions.

There are those within the opposition parties who would reject such action in Syria for fear of even indirectly helping the barbaric regime of Bashar al-Assad. What the opposition MPs refuse to admit is that ISIL is a threat to Canada and Canadians and that we must therefore engage ISIL not only in Iraq, but also in Syria. We continue to hope the Assad regime will be replaced by one that respects human rights and democracy, but in the meantime, we will not allow ISIL to take advantage of the situation in Syria to further victimize people in the region and we will not allow it to continue its threats against Canada.

The terrorist group that we call the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant has asked its members to attack Canada. The Islamic State targets ethnic and religious minorities, commits crimes of sexual violence and massacres civilians. That is why we, together with our coalition partners, must deny them freedom of movement in Iraq. We must eliminate its hiding places in Syria and we must do everything in our power to put an end to the horrific violence that it is inflicting on innocent civilians.

We cannot let the hate and fanaticism of the Islamic State spread, take root in the weak and the easily influenced, and create terrorists ready to attack those who do not share their beliefs. That is why we are asking Parliament to support our government's decision, a decision that will continue to help the people of Iraq, a decision that will weaken the Islamic State's threat that looms over Iraq and Syria as well as the threat it poses to Canada, and, lastly, a decision leading to action to combat the atrocities that the Islamic State is committing in the name of a jihad that seeks to spread nothing but death.