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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 7th, 2017

Madam Speaker, my hon. colleague is asking me about results. I will go back to my earlier comments. Forty-one thousand transactions, totalling more than $12 billion, have been looked at by the CRA. Currently, 820 audits are going on, and there are 20 criminal investigations on tax evasion. These are a direct result of our government investing $444 million in the CRA, giving it the resources it needs to conduct these audits and to hire auditors to do investigative reporting. This is after 10 years of the previous government reducing the budget of the CRA time and time again.

When CRA officials appeared before the finance committee, we directly asked them what is hampering their ability to catch Canadians who are not paying their fair share of taxes, and they specifically said it was the cuts made to the CRA's budget by the previous government. That is why I am so proud of our government's investment in the CRA, which will ensure tax fairness for all Canadians and ensure that they all pay their fair share.

Business of Supply March 7th, 2017

Madam Speaker, it is always a privilege to rise in this House.

In an uncertain future, our government is working hard to ensure that Canada's economy works for the middle class. We believe that when we have an economy that works for the middle class, we have a country that works for everyone, and that means ensuring everyone pays their fair share of taxes.

Over the last year, our government has done some big things. We were elected on the platform of growing the middle class, and that is exactly what we have been doing.

We started by raising taxes on the wealthiest 1% of Canadians so we could cut taxes for the middle class. Specifically, we reduced the 22% federal income tax rate to 20.5% for 2016 and all subsequent tax years, and we raised the taxes on the wealthiest Canadians by introducing a new top income tax rate of 33% for individuals with a taxable income of over $200,000. As a result, nearly nine million Canadians pay fewer taxes today.

In today's economy, Canadian families need all the help they can get. This is why we introduced the Canada child benefit, which is a real game changer. The Canada child benefit is making a real difference in the lives of Canadians and their families' budgets. Compared with the old system under the previous government, the Canada child benefit is simpler, fully tax-free, more generous, and better targeted to those who need it most. Because the government is no longer sending cheques to millionaires, nine out of 10 Canadian families are receiving more child benefits than they did under the previous government. Families benefiting saw an average increase of almost $2,300 per year. On a monthly basis, that is almost $190, on average, that families receive directly into their pockets. That is extra money to help Canadian families pay for school supplies, their children's education, and child care expenses.

Furthermore, on March 2, the final step to strengthening the Canadian pension plan was put into force. This means that strengthening the CPP is no longer an idea, but a reality. This historic agreement between Canada's federal, provincial, and territorial governments will ensure that today's young Canadians will be able to count on a strong public pension plan when they retire in the future. At maturity, the CPP enhancement will increase the maximum CPP retirement benefit by about 50% which, in today's dollars, represents an increase of nearly $7,000 to a maximum benefit of $20,000.

It is evident that we are working hard to deliver real change for Canadians. In that time, significant early progress has been made. However, more hard work lies ahead.

Paying our fair share of taxes is essential to financing the measures that enhance the lives of all Canadians. When certain individuals or corporations find ways to skirt the system, it is the middle class that usually picks up the tab. That is totally unacceptable and counterproductive to our country's goals. That is why making the tax system more fair is an ongoing priority of this government.

As announced in budget 2016, the Government of Canada is conducting a comprehensive review of federal tax expenditures. It is doing so in recognition of concerns that have been expressed regarding efficiency, fairness, and the complexity of the tax system. The objective of the review is to ensure that federal tax expenditures are fair for Canadians, are efficient, and are fiscally responsible.

External experts have been engaged to provide evidence and advice to the government. This approach ensures that the review is informed by a range of perspectives, both inside and outside government.

In addition, the government is committed to strengthening the efforts to combat international tax evasion and avoidance. We have taken, and we will continue to take, measures to do this. These efforts help protect the revenue base and give Canadians greater confidence that the system is fair to everyone.

Budget 2016 invested $444 million over five years directly into the Canada Revenue Agency to crack down on international tax evasion and combat tax avoidance. This investment is enabling the CRA to hire additional auditors, develop robust business intelligence infrastructure, increase verification activities, and improve the quality of its investigative work. These new investments to support the CRA's efforts to crack down on tax evasion and combat tax avoidance are expected to generate around $2.6 billion in taxes over five years.

With the benefit of these new resources, the CRA has set up teams to focus exclusively on promoters of offensive tax schemes. As a result of these new reporting requirements, the CRA has been tracking information on electronic fund transfers over $10,000. Based on the information collected, audits of the highest risk taxpayers moving money between Canada and offshore jurisdictions are under way.

So far, a total of 41,000 transactions have been analyzed, totalling over $12 billion. Overall, the CRA is currently conducting audits of over 820 taxpayers and criminally investigating 20 cases of tax evasion related to offshore accounts.

That said, we also recognize that assessing tax revenues alone is not enough. Once we do an assessment, we need to be able to collect the unpaid amounts. That is why budget 2016 invests an additional $351 million over five years to improve the CRA's ability to collect these outstanding tax debts.

The Standing Committee on Finance, of which I am a member, tabled a report just last October on the study of tax avoidance and evasion. The report concluded with 14 recommendations to the government, including, but not limited to, the following: conducting a review of the voluntary disclosures program; requiring all tax advisers to register their tax products with the CRA; improve relationships between the CRA and the Department of Justice, which prosecutes these cases of tax evasion; improve statistical reporting requirements at the CRA on their efforts on tax evasion and avoidance, for transparency; and taking a lead in ensuring global implementation of the OECD and Group of 20's recommendations on the issue.

Just two weeks ago, the government provided its official response to the report. I am proud to share that in the response, the government affirms its support of all 14 recommendations. Additionally, the government shared the work that has already been done or is currently being undertaken to ensure all Canadians pay their fair share of taxes in our great nation.

Before I conclude, let me emphasize that our government is focused squarely on Canadians and the things that matter most to them. Things like growing the economy, creating jobs, strengthening the middle class, and helping those working hard to join it. Part of this responsibility includes making sure Canada's tax system works for everyone and that we all pay our fair share.

Going forward, we will continue to monitor and strengthen the tax system, so that we can continue to bring real change to the middle class and to all Canadians.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship February 23rd, 2017

Mr. Speaker, when we formed government, the average processing time for family reunification was 22 months. Time and time again in Brampton East I hear that this is putting immense pressure on parents, spouses, and children.

Could the hon. Minister of Immigration please give this House an update on our government's commitment to reducing the wait time for family reunification?

Business of Supply February 16th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, it is clear that there has been a campaign of fear and division from some members who sit in this chamber to really instill fear in Canadians when it comes to Motion No. 103. I too have received countless emails in an organized campaign, but they will not change my perspective but rather strengthen my resolve. We can take an opportunity to clear up some of the misconceptions. Motion No. 103 is not only about Islamophobia, but it seeks to address all forms of systematic racism and religious discrimination.

It is important for all Canadians to remember that Motion No. 103 is a motion that says that Islamophobia and all forms of religious discrimination are not accepted in Canada. We would like to send the issue to a committee for further study. One of the most important things about the motion that Canadians should understand is that it encourages a committee to collect data and to present that data in a contextualized manner, so we as members of Parliament elected to this chamber can study it and propose laws that would help to strengthen the concept of free speech and ensure that throughout this nation our fellow Canadian brothers and sisters are not living in a society of fear but are proud of their identities, can worship peacefully, can go to mosques and pray peacefully, and not be afraid of being targets of hateful speech.

When we are talking about religious discrimination, oftentimes we become really passionate. There are competing views on all sides of the political spectrum, but we should all be able to agree that Canada's strength is its diversity.

Business of Supply February 16th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, I have a lot of respect for the member across the way. He represents everything that is great about our democracy.

We can be prepared. We can do our research. We can advance an argument and have a thorough and thoughtful debate in the House. I fundamentally disagree with the member on 90% of everything he says, but I will say that he always does come prepared.

The core of the issue is simply this. I mentioned in my speech that many things in the two motions overlap. All of us in the House would agree that systematic discrimination and religious intolerance are not acceptable in Canada from coast to coast to coast. By saying that Islamophobia does not exist, by not naming Islamophobia, we cannot address the problem. We cannot refuse to call it by its name. We cannot overcome the challenges our communities face if we refuse to name the issue, which clearly is Islamophobia, and understand the issue. Motion No. 103 proposes sending this issue to a committee for further study. I would encourage my colleague to convince all of his colleagues to support Motion No. 103.

I also want to take this moment to congratulate the member across the way for all of the great work he does on human rights.

Business of Supply February 16th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Edmonton Centre.

I am honoured to rise today to speak to the issue of systemic racism and religious discrimination. This conversation is vital to ensuring that all Canadians feel safe, welcomed, and at home here in Canada.

For me personally, racism and religious discrimination have been a part of my life since I was a young kid. Having grown up as a practising Sikh who wears a turban, whose father wears a turban, whose friends wear turbans, the Sikh community and my family have always stood out for their identity. However, just like my Jewish friends who wear the kippah or my Muslim friends who wear the hijab, we are all proud of our identities, but all recognize that our identities also make us easy targets.

I vividly remember kids making fun of me because of my turban, or being bullied on the playground for being different. I remember being the subject of racist taunts as a young soccer player, or witnessing my dad being verbally abused shortly after 9/11. But that is not the Canada I know. Each instance of discrimination was rooted in mistrust, intolerance, and fear. Each instance was unacceptable then and is unacceptable now.

I am pleased to represent the second-most diverse riding in the entire nation. Brampton East is home to five Sikh temples, five Sikh gurdwaras, four Hindu mandirs, three mosques, and two churches. It is the definition of diversity. When we walk around Brampton, we see diversity for which the world knows Canada. We see people from all walks of life peacefully co-existing with the freedom to hold their beliefs, practise their traditions, and share their cultures. In their own way, each of them contributes to the fabric that forms our great nation.

The Prime Minister, when addressing the United Nations, stated:

Strong, diverse, resilient countries like Canada didn't happen by accident, and they won't continue without effort. Every single day, we must choose hope over fear, and diversity over division.

This government's policies over the last 16 months have been grounded in ensuring that diversity is our strength, that we are a welcoming and inclusive nation, and that we are all treated as equals, regardless of our race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, and economic status.

However, there is a harsh reality we must face. Even in 2017, racism and religious discrimination are far too often common in Canada. Posters at the University of Alberta targeting the Sikh community, taunting women who wear hijabs, anti-Islam vandalism at the Cold Lake, Kingston, and Quebec City mosques are just a few examples.

If some of our fellow Canadian brothers and sisters are worried about being attacked, whether verbally or physically, because of their identity, that makes me feel like we are failing as a nation, because that is not the Canada I know, and we need to do better.

The motion we have before us today is one that every member in the House has seen before. Just yesterday, Motion No. 103 introduced by my good friend, the member for Mississauga—Erin Mills, on December 1, 2016, was debated. These two motions have much in common.

They both recognize that there is an increasing climate of hate and fear in Canada. They both condemn all forms of systemic racism and religious discrimination. They both request that the Standing Committee on Heritage undertake a study on how the government could develop a whole-of-government approach to reducing or eliminating systemic racism and religious discrimination. Last, they both recognize that the standing committee should collect data to contextualize hate crime reports and to conduct needs assessments for the impacted communities at a local level.

Like most committee studies, upon completion, the committee will submit a report and recommendations to the government, based on what it heard from witnesses, which the government will take into consideration, followed by an official government response to be tabled in the House.

When we know that in recent years hate crimes against Muslims have been increasing while hate crimes against other groups are decreasing, we cannot pretend that Islamophobia is not a legitimate concern. My personal example far too often occurs in Canada.

Sikhs are often confused for Muslims, and are too, in fact, victims of Islamophobia. However, it is not good enough as Sikhs to say “Don't attack us. We're not Muslims.” We are all Muslims when our Muslim brothers and sisters are being attacked for their faith. That is not just my Sikh value speaking; that is my Canadian value speaking.

The vast majority of Canadians have a long-standing tradition of rising to the occasion to denounce attacks of discrimination. That is what built our great nation. But diversity requires effort. It requires us all to have the difficult conversations at our dinner tables about treating all people with respect and compassion, regardless of their faith, race, or culture. It requires us to ask questions if we do not understand, and answer responsibly when asked tough questions. It requires us to make it known that it is not acceptable to act in a discriminatory or hateful manner toward anyone.

What makes this opposition motion so cynical is that it feeds into the very deliberate misinformation campaign surrounding Motion No. 103. Individuals have tried to spread misconceptions about how the motion could limit free speech, lead to the adoption of sharia law here in Canada, and more. I would like to take a moment to clear up some of these misconceptions. Motion No. 103 is not only about Islamophobia, but also seeks to address all forms of systemic racism and religious discrimination. Motion No. 103 does not expand or change the Criminal Code in any way. Motion No. 103 is a motion and not a bill. As such, it is not legally binding.

We cannot address a problem when we refuse to call it by its name. We cannot overcome the challenges our communities face if we refuse to name the issue, understand the issue itself, study it, and propose solutions. That is a fundamental reason our democracy has been successful.

I am pleased to be a seconder of Motion No. 103, for this is not about them or us, or all of us collectively. It is about improving the lives of a generation of Canadians until stories of racism, religious discrimination, and intolerance are rare occurrences.

I ran in 2015 to be the MP for Brampton East because I wanted future generations to have the same opportunity I did. I want the sons and daughters of immigrants and all Canadians to have the opportunity to attend some of the best secondary institutions in the nation. I want them to start new companies. I want them to pursue careers as doctors, lawyers, and engineers. I want them to change the world. I want them to pursue public service. What I do not want for them is to grow up in an atmosphere of hate, which breeds fear in our fellow Canadians. I want them to be proud of their identity. I want the saying to always be true that I am a proud Sikh, or Muslim, or Hindu, or Jew, believer or non-believer, that at the same time, I am equally proud to be Canadian, and most importantly, that I am so proud I live in a nation that does not make me choose between my faith and my devotion to my country.

I call on all my colleagues to support Motion No. 103 and to reject the politics of fear and division.

Sikh Youth Federation February 1st, 2017

Mr. Speaker, it is great to be back. The holiday season is always a time of joy for Canadians as they get an opportunity to reconnect with their families.

The Sikh Youth Federation did something really special over these holidays. On December 27, 200 high school students spread warmth and hope by participating in the Downtown Seva Initiative. The group donated over 300 care packages to the homeless, including food and warm clothing. These students used their break from school to spread hope and warmth to the less fortunate and spread the message of seva, selfless service, all across the city of Toronto.

I am incredibly proud of these young Canadians. They are truly leading today and will be prepared to lead tomorrow. Join me in congratulating the Sikh Youth Federation.

Controlled Drugs and Substances Act January 31st, 2017

Madam Speaker, before I present my thoughts on Bill C-37, I do want to say that I come from Brampton East, which has the second most diverse population in the entire country. We have five Sikh gurdwaras, four Hindu temples, four mosques, two churches, and we all live in great harmony. The events that happened in Quebec affected all of us across this country. A place of worship where people go to pray is no place for violence. We stand with our Muslim brothers and sisters and we pray for all of them that we recover united as Canadians.

I am pleased to rise today to speak to Bill C-37, an act to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act and to make related amendments to other acts.

The bill proposes important legislative changes that would help to support the new recently announced Canadian drugs and substances strategy, a comprehensive, collaborative, and compassionate strategy made up of the four key pillars of prevention, treatment, harm reduction, and enforcement, all of which are built on a strong foundation of evidence.

We are in the midst of a national public health crisis in Canada. In 2016, thousands of Canadians tragically died of accidental opioid overdoses, and more will die this year. Just last year in British Columbia alone, more than 900 people died from drug overdoses. That is an 80% increase from 2015. This is proof that the situation is getting worse. Deaths from overdoses will now be greater than deaths by car accidents. This tragic crisis continues to move eastward in Canada, with increasing drug seizures of fentanyl across our country.

As every member in this House knows, problematic substance use and addiction are serious public health issues. It seems that not a day goes by without seeing a story published in a Canadian newspaper about yet another overdose, another life lost, or another new dangerous drug on the streets. At the heart of these stories are everyday Canadians, their families, our communities.

Our government has taken action from day one. We are building on our five-point action plan to address opioid misuse. We have taken concrete steps, such as granting section 56 exemptions for the Dr. Peter Centre and extending the exemption for Insite for an additional four years. We made the overdose antidote more widely available in Canada. Last autumn, the Minister of Health co-hosted a conference and summit on opioids which resulted in 42 organizations bringing forward concrete proposals of their own. However, we must continue to respond to this tragedy in a way that is comprehensive, collaborative, and compassionate.

Bill C-37 would provide the government and law enforcement with the tools needed to support Canadian communities in addressing problematic substance use, including the opioid crisis.

With the dramatic increase in overdose deaths due to opioids occurring in Canada right now, it is crucial that the bill be passed swiftly.

Bill C-37 would demonstrate true support for communities grappling with the crisis by, among other things, removing unnecessary barriers to establishing supervised consumption sites. These barriers were put in place by the previous government in 2015.

When Bill C-37 passes, it will streamline the application process for supervised consumption sites by replacing the current 26 criteria set out in the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act to establish such a site with the requirement to submit evidence related to the five factors set out by the Supreme Court of Canada in its 2011 decision regarding Insite. These factors include: impact on crime rates; location conditions indicating need; a regulatory structure in place to support the facility; resources available to support its maintenance; and expressions of community support or opposition.

By reducing the number of criteria, the administrative burden on communities seeking to establish a supervised consumption site would be lessened. However, the health and safety of those operating these sites, their clients, and the surrounding community would not be compromised.

I want to take a moment to address the misunderstanding about these proposed amendments.

Some members of this House have contended that the views of a community would no longer be important in the assessment of an application to establish a supervised consumption site. Nothing could be further from the truth. The Supreme Court of Canada determined that the Minister of Health must consider expressions of community support or opposition when reviewing such applications.

Our government is respecting the Supreme Court of Canada's decision by proposing to include these factors in the legislation. The Government of Canada supports the need for community consultation in the application process for considering the establishment of supervised consumption sites. We understand and respect that communities may have valid concerns about a proposed site and that these concerns deserve to be heard and should be adequately addressed by applicants in their applications.

The proposed amendments would demonstrate that respect for communities is a multi-faceted issue. Yes, it means that the concerns of the community must be considered and addressed by the applicants; however, it also means that the federal government should not place any unnecessary barriers in the way of communities that want to establish a supervised consumption site as part of their local drug strategies.

Under Bill C-37, communities can be assured that their voices will be heard and that each application will be subject to a comprehensive review, yet it would do so without inevitably stalling the implementation of these life-saving programs in communities where they are wanted and needed. Just like any other regulated program, our government has a responsibility to the public.

Controlled Drugs and Substances Act January 31st, 2017

Madam Speaker, I just have a question. Does the hon. member agree with the Supreme Court of Canada's 2011 ruling on Insite? In that ruling, the Supreme Court laid out five criteria for safe injection sites. I would like her comments on that, and specifically whether she agrees with the Supreme Court.

Canada Pension Plan November 28th, 2016

Madam Speaker, my hon. colleague is a man of towering intellect and has a fierce passion in advocating for his constitutes. Unfortunately, we fundamentally disagree on a lot of items.

Although I appreciate the fact that he thinks I am open to the NDP suggestion, I very much support CPP enhancement. As I have mentioned numerous times throughout this debate, the most important thing is that we are strengthening Canadians' retirement. We are increasing CPP enhancement, and all Canadians across the country will benefit from our plan.

I encourage all members, irrespective of their party ideology, to support this bill.