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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was tax.

Last in Parliament October 2019, as Independent MP for Brampton East (Ontario)

Won his last election, in 2015, with 52% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Business of Supply March 21st, 2017

Mr. Speaker, my colleague across the aisle started his question by talking about tax fairness. Our government is extremely committed to tax fairness. The finance committee, of which I am a proud member, did a study on tax fairness and made 14 recommendations that were tabled in the House. I am pleased to announce that the government accepted all 14 recommendations to ensure that Canadians pay their fair share of taxes.

When it comes to the Canada infrastructure bank, it will make sure that we make smart and wise decisions to ensure that not only are we leveraging private investment to build public transit and infrastructure projects across this country but also that these projects are creating good, well-paying middle-class jobs. That is a commitment our government has had from day one.

The member opposite and the entire NDP caucus keep talking about working-class Canadians. They keep using the rhetoric that they used in their campaign, but when the time came to vote in favour of a middle-class tax cut, they voted against it. I would like to ask them a question. How can they tell their constituents, when we on this side are helping the middle class by increasing support for families, that they voted against it? They should be ashamed of themselves.

Business of Supply March 21st, 2017

Mr. Speaker, I want to make it clear that my reference to the LRT was used as an example of something that was funded through public and private infrastructure. I did not speak about the fact that it was ready to go completed. Attention to detail is something members opposite should pay particular attention to.

I also have a soft spot in my heart when it comes to Alberta, because I was born in Alberta. I have a lot of pride in that province.

I will say that we will take no lessons from the party opposite on job creation or economic growth. For 10 years, it had the worst record when it came to job creation and economic growth. It had low economic growth for 10 years. What has our government been doing? In the last six months, we have created 220,000 jobs. We have decreased unemployment. We have decreased taxes for the middle class, a middle-class tax cut the party opposite voted against. Why? It is because it wanted to reduce taxes for rich Canadians. Our government made a commitment to raise taxes on the wealthiest 1%. That is exactly what we have done. That is exactly what we are going to do in tomorrow's budget. We are going to keep fighting for the middle class. I encourage my colleagues on the other side of this House to support us.

Business of Supply March 21st, 2017

Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Rivière-des-Mille-Îles.

Mr. Speaker, it is always a pleasure to rise in this House regarding the Government of Canada's ambitious plan to make smart investments that will create jobs, grow our economy, and provide more opportunities for the middle class and those working hard to join it.

Over the past year, the government has put in place a plan to grow the economy in a way that works for the middle class and those working hard to join it. Our government has raised taxes on the wealthiest 1% so that we could reduce taxes for the middle class. We have introduced a new Canada child benefit that gives more money to nine out of 10 Canadian families and lifts 300,000 children out of poverty. We have strengthened the Canada pension plan to help Canadians have a more secure and safe and dignified retirement, which they deserve.

We are supporting strong communities by using innovative solutions to help meet pressing infrastructure needs. We are investing in infrastructure that creates good, well-paying jobs that help the middle class grow and prosper.

By making it easier to move people and products, well-planned infrastructure can deliver sustained economic growth for years to come. We put in place an ambitious long-term infrastructure plan that will invest more than $180 billion in federal funding over 12 years. This plan focuses on five key areas: public transit, green infrastructure, social infrastructure, trade and transportation, and rural and northern communities.

Under the first phase of this plan, budget 2016 invested more than $10 billion toward public transit and social and green infrastructure projects. We wasted no time in rolling it out and have made considerable progress. This includes investments toward nearly 550 public transit projects that will make it easier for Canadians to get to work on time and will ensure that public transportation is there when Canadians need it the most; more than 700 projects under the clean water and wastewater fund that will improve access to clean drinking water and will reduce pollution in our lakes and rivers; and 1,000 projects to retrofit and renovate social housing to repair more than 48,000 social housing units. These projects are already making a difference in communities across our country.

To maximize the benefits of infrastructure investments and to ensure that more money flows into infrastructure, the Government of Canada is committed to finding new and innovative ways to fund infrastructure and mobilize private capital. As part of our fall economic statement, we announced the creation of a Canada infrastructure bank. We have consulted broadly with experts on the creation of the bank and will continue to work with our partners to ensure that the bank meets their needs and the needs of all Canadians.

Canada has a very mature market when it comes to infrastructure projects, and partnerships between the public and private sectors have always been a key to the success of infrastructure. Many key pieces of infrastructure, including the Edmonton light rail transit system, were financed in part by the private sector.

In terms of moving the yardstick even further, we believe that there is an opportunity for the federal government to crowd in private sector investment in infrastructure through loans, loan guarantees, and equity participation. The bank will do just that.

The bank will also create more options and opportunities for provinces, territories, and municipalities across the country to undertake transformative infrastructure projects. The bank will invest $35 billion in new projects across Canada, projects such as major public transit in our largest cities, energy transmission corridors, major corridor projects, and more. Of the $35 billion planned to capitalize the bank, $15 billion will be sourced from the announced funding for public transit, green infrastructure, social infrastructure, trade and transportation, and rural and northern communities. This $15 billion is less than 8% of the total commitment of infrastructure funds under our long-term plan.

In addition, $20 billion in capital will be available to the Canada infrastructure bank for investments that will result in the bank holding assets in the form of equity or debt. This $20 billion will therefore not result in a fiscal impact on the government.

The bank will serve as a single federal government point of contact for the private sector and will employ private sector experts to enable the government to invest effectively with private capital. The bank's funds will be over and above the commitment this government has made to double infrastructure funding. Most important, it will offer our funding partners a new way to help meet pressing infrastructure needs. By using private capital to build those new projects, public money will be freed up to build more public infrastructure.

The bank will be a centre of excellence in infrastructure investment by the private sector. It will provide advice to project proponents to allow for better planning and procurement decisions. The vast majority of the infrastructure funding will still be delivered through traditional financial contributions through bilateral agreements or national programs. As such, many infrastructure projects will not need the bank.

I want to be clear. We will not impose the bank on any of our partners, but we will work with willing partners who think this can offer them additional value. The bank is just another tool in our tool kit that our partners can use to invest in the infrastructure they need.

The Government of Canada remains committed to building a fairer, more inclusive country that reflects the priorities of Canadians. We want to put an ambitious plan in place to grow the economy and to build healthier and more livable communities. We are already taking unprecedented action to invest in Canada, our communities, and Canadians. With these smart investments and a commitment to fairness, the government will ensure that Canada's best days are ahead.

National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians Act March 20th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, the bill clearly states that the minister will have the prerogative to ensure that national security is still maintained, which is an important piece of the bill. It also states that after the national security risk has passed, the committee has the opportunity to revisit the minister's decision.

Again, Bill C-22 and this new committee will have the balance that we are trying to achieve, which is ensuring we are keeping Canadians safe while at the same time protecting the rights and freedoms we cherish so much.

National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians Act March 20th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, Bill C-22 and the government's commitment to setting up this committee, which is independent of government, is extremely important, especially if we look at the current security landscape in the world we live in today.

Canadians expect their government to ensure they are protected. The first job of any government is to protect its citizens. The committee will be able to do that. It will ensure that Canadians are safe and secure, while at the same time protecting their rights and freedoms.

I look forward to the committee being set up. I look forward to parliamentarians of all political parties serving on it and ensuring they carry out their mandate to protect Canadians.

National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians Act March 20th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the hon. member for making the analogy to a jar of olives. As I know, he is an afficionado of olives. On our recent trip to Israel, we learned a lot about them.

However, getting to the member's question, I want to reiterate that our government is making an historic commitment to Canadians to fulfill an election promise. However, it is not just our commitment. Other governments have tried to set up this committee, which we have needed for quite some time now, to ensure there is independent oversight over our security and intelligence. Just like our allies in the Five Eyes, every other country already has this committee. We are setting one up to ensure we protect Canadians. At the same time, we are ensuring that our rights and freedoms, which as Canadians we cherish so much, are protected.

I truly believe in Bill C-22, and I encourage the member opposite to support it.

National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians Act March 20th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to rise today in support of Bill C-22, an act to establish a national security and intelligence committee of parliamentarians.

After second reading consideration and committee scrutiny, we now have the opportunity to review the bill at report stage. The robust parliamentarian process has served us well. The bill has been carefully studied by members on all sides of the House. Advice has been heard from expert witnesses and the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security has proposed amendments.

As the legislation stands today, it will move our country toward a more accountable and effective national security system. As many have said today and prior to today, the legislation is long overdue. We have heard stakeholders call it “crucial” and affirm that it will establish a committee in Canada that is stronger than its international counterparts. It will fill a significant gap that has existed in Canada for far too long. It will enable us to achieve our twin objectives of ensuring that our national security agencies are working effectively to keep Canadians safe and that the rights and freedoms of Canadians are protected.

Creating a new national security and intelligence committee of parliamentarians honours a major commitment of the government to Canadians. The committee will be an enormously important addition to our parliamentary landscape. It will have: extraordinary access to classified information in order to closely examine intelligence and security operations; enhanced scrutiny of national security and intelligence activities; a broader mandate than counterparts in other modern democracies; the ability to set its own agenda fully independent of government; the responsibility to report annually to Canadians through Parliament; and the power to examine activities government-wide, including ongoing operations.

As the legislation stands now, the committee will meet the dual objectives we set long ago, which is to ensure our national security apparatus is working to keep Canadians safe and secure, while protecting the rights and freedoms of Canadians.

When the bill was first introduced, it proposed a stronger committee than those that existed with many of our international allies. With amendments, the scope, authorities, and access we are proposing for the committee will be broadened even further. The government has indicated that it will accept most of these amendments.

With respect to scope, for example, we agreed with the committee that the committee must be empowered to review national security and intelligence operations. As amended, that will include the operation of crown corporations. Further, as amended, if the minister determines that the examination will be against national security, his or her power to delay it will be limited to the period of time during which the operation is under way. Afterward, the committee can review the operation.

Another important amendment is whistle-blower protection that will require the committee to inform a minister and the attorney general about any national security or intelligence activity undertaken by a department that may not comply with the law. Like my colleagues, I was pleased that this amendment was widely endorsed. I also agree that the chair of the committee should be given a vote only in the case of a tie. I also agree with many of the changes regarding access to information exemptions for the bill initially proposed.

With the recent amendments, for example, the committee will now be able to receive information about ongoing defence intelligence activities that support military operations. It will also have access to relevant information collected by the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada and to privileged information under the Investment Canada Act.

The government has also agreed to amend the legislation so that reasons must be given for any redaction. Indeed, the government has been open to reasonable amendments throughout the parliamentary process.

We have not only conducted a careful examination of this crucial legislation, but we have also benefited from many years of consideration in creating this committee and from long collaboration with our international partners. Every other member of the Five Eyes alliance, including Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States, has a legislative body with access to classified information to oversee security and intelligence matters.

Canada has tried to create a committee for over a decade now. It is time we give Canadians and parliamentarians the mandate to review these activities that we all want and need. Today, we are all taking one step closer to bringing this important new body into existence. We are closer to a system in which parliamentarians are better able to hold the government to account. We are closer to ensuring that concrete actions are taken when deficiencies and problems with our security framework and operations are identified.

Having learned from some of the best practices of our allies, we are closer to a truly developing a Canadian approach to national security accountability. This is a significant step forward for Canada. The legislation before us is as bold and progressive as it is thoughtful and balanced.

I am very proud to be part of the legislature that will, hopefully, at long last, put this critical accountability mechanism in place. I thank all members and parties for their support, advice, scrutiny, and debate in creating a better bill. I encourage all colleagues to support the passage of this important legislation.

Business of Supply March 7th, 2017

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for his passionate speech, but I have a simple question for him.

We were elected on a platform to help the middle class, and we committed to raising taxes on the wealthiest 1%. New Democrats, time and time again, speak about helping Canadians. I ask the hon. member one simple question. Why would New Democrats vote against raising taxes on the wealthiest 1% and reducing taxes for nine million Canadians who had a tax cut because of our government? That was the first piece of legislation we passed. Why do you not answer that question? Why do you not vote in favour of raising taxes on the richest Canadians and cutting taxes for the middle class?

Business of Supply March 7th, 2017

Madam Speaker, all my hon. colleagues in the House would agree that tax fairness is extremely important. It is important to send a message to Canadians that if they work hard, they have to pay their fair share. No matter if one is a taxi driver or a truck driver or a CEO of a Fortune 500 company, if one lives in Canada, one is going to pay one's fair share. That is what our government is committed to.

Business of Supply March 7th, 2017

Madam Speaker, my hon. colleague is 100% correct. Over the last 10 years, under the previous Conservative government, the CRA's budget was drastically reduced, and that is why a lot more tax avoidance and tax evasion occurred. The CRA did not have the resources to combat it. Now our government, in its first budget, has invested $444 million, and from that $444-million investment, we are expecting $2.6 billion back in collected unpaid taxes, which will help and strengthen the middle class and bring real change to all Canadians. It will ensure tax fairness for all Canadians from coast to coast to coast.