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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was actually.

Last in Parliament October 2015, as Conservative MP for St. Catharines (Ontario)

Lost his last election, in 2015, with 38% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Copyright Act May 1st, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I want to acknowledge and thank the hon. member for question because it reiterates the important study that took place at the committee on heritage and culture. The work we did and the recommendations that were made with respect to the music industry helped lead to the decision to extend copyright from 50 to 70 years and protect artists across our country. Those in the industry are supporting us.

For example, Barry Sookman, copyright intellectual property lawyer, said: “The extension amendments will enable Canada to harmonize its copyright laws with the laws in more than 60 other countries..”. We are right on track when it comes to the music industry.

Canadian Heritage May 1st, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I applaud the member for at least taking a look at the budget and seeing within it that there are a lot of measures for arts and culture. We have introduced the Canada 150 fund, which means we are extending the copyright term for artists from 50 to 70 years. It will modernize the Canadian honour system.

There is a lot of good stuff in the budget for culture. He should support it. I know that Randy Bachman likes what we are doing.

National Anthem April 28th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I think the member knows how the vote is going to go tomorrow. This is his last attempt to get a little ink for himself, a little press or whatever he deems necessary.

There are a lot of other things in this House that we need to focus on. Canadians are not asking us to change our national anthem. Canadians are singing our national anthem right the way it is. They do not want to see a change. They want to see this government, this House, and the opposition deal with the issues that matter to Canadians.

Canadians love their national anthem the way it is. They love the way they can stand up and sing it in French and English, and they want it to remain the way it is. Canadians believe in tradition, believe in history, and believe in our country.

National Anthem April 28th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I know the member obviously has done some more writing on his private member's bill. If he had actually checked my speech or listened a little more closely, he would have heard that I referred to the line in the national anthem that has not changed in 100 years, not what he was referring to.

I want to correct him, for the record; he is wrong. Not only is he wrong on the statement and speech I gave yesterday, but he is actually incorrect in terms of his approach on this issue.

In 2010, the government made its position very clear. Canadians love our national anthem. They do not want to see it changed. Our government will honour the wishes of Canadians. Our government will preserve our national anthem.

Again, this is the position the government has held since 2010, when a similar idea was mentioned in the Speech from the Throne, and Canadians made it very clear to us that they want to keep O Canada as it is.

Mr. Speaker, you were part of the government, part of the House in 2010, and I think you could reflect back on the number of phone calls and discussions you had back in your riding regarding a consideration that we were going to make a change to the anthem.

The member for Ottawa—Vanier is asserting in his question that the government based its position, taken in 2010, on a poll completed in 2013. I am not sure if he can travel back and forth in time, but I know that the government cannot and certainly I cannot. We made the decision, based in our throne speech in 2010, to not change the country's national anthem. It was not based on a decision of a poll in 2013. That is obviously false, and the member should know better.

As for the poll he is fond of citing, the questions appear to have been designed to encourage people to say yes. A question from that poll reads:

The original English Anthem uses the word US, the current version uses THY SONS. Which version do you believe is most appropriate?

It is a clear attempt to make people associate the member for Ottawa—Vanier's version with that of Robert Stanley Weir, the original author who wrote the line, “in all thy sons command”.

The poll used leading questions to associate his bill's new version of the anthem with the original meaning of Robert Stanley Weir's version. I understand why, because tradition is important to Canadians

If we wanted to produce a yes, that is exactly how we would ask the question. We might get a different result if we asked Canadians to choose between the 100-year-old words of O Canada author Robert Stanley Weir and the words of the member for Ottawa—Vanier.

All parties in this House believe in gender equality, and our government recognizes the many contributions of Canadian women in many ways, which I mentioned in the debate yesterday. However, as a Parliament we should not alter Canada's national symbols without having substantial support from Canadians. In this case, it does not exist.

NATIONAL ANTHEM ACT April 27th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to address Bill C-624, an act to amend the National Anthem Act (gender).

The official lyrics are based on a poem written in 1908 by Justice Robert Stanley Weir. Although changes to the original poem were made prior to the adoption of the national anthem, it must be mentioned that no changes have been made to the English version since its adoption. Bill C-624 proposes to change the anthem by removing the words “thy sons” and inserting the words “of us” in the English version of the national anthem. This line was inserted in 1914 by Robert Stanley Weir, the original author, and has remained unchanged for a hundred years.

The lyrics to O Canada are symbolic. The anthem in its current form is important to Canadians. O Canada is not only a source of pride and a reflection of our nation, it is loved by Canadians as it is. It is part of our historical legacy.

As studies have shown, the anthem continues to be a sense of pride and belonging. A 2012 survey found that 78% of Canadians believe our national anthem is a great source of pride. Another poll conducted in the same year found that 74% of Canadians believe that our national anthem best reflects what Canada really is. The anthem is a very important Canadian symbol.

As more recent surveys have revealed, the majority of Canadians oppose changing the anthem to make it gender neutral. A 2013 study found that 65% of Canadians oppose the change, including 61% of women. Only 25% supported the change to gender neutrality.

The sponsor of the bill correctly mentioned that this poll used the phrase “her sons” instead of “thy sons”. While this is correct, his reasoning is that Canadians who were asked the question over the telephone instantly thought this was a reference to our queen and opposed the change. Considering that there was an oft-cited 2002 poll that showed only 5% of Canadians actually knew that our head of state was the queen, this line of reasoning shows the member is stretching this issue a little. The core question in the 2013 poll still asked Canadians if they wanted a gender neutral anthem, and 65% of Canadians said they did not. In fact, 61% of women in that survey said they did not want a gender neutral anthem.

Supporting the bill could send a message to Canadians that their opinions do not matter and that Parliament does not want to listen to them. O Canada is an anthem, and Parliament should not swap out its phrases without the support of all Canadians.

I strongly disagree with the NDP member for Vancouver East, who in our previous hour of debate said that O Canada was “offensive”. That is the word that she used. I would point out that the person who sits next to her, the Leader of the Opposition, has been quoted as saying:

I think that when you start tinkering with an institution like a national anthem that you're looking for problems [...] We seem to have agreed on the English and French versions as they are and I think that's probably a good thing.

I did not think I would stand up in the House and say that I agree with the Leader of the Opposition on too many things, but on this issue he has it right. He should share his concerns with the member for Vancouver East, who said in February that opposition to this anthem was “a no-brainer”.

It is outrageous, regardless of one's position as to whether it should be changed, that someone would be calling our Canadian national anthem “offensive”. It is a source of pride for Canadians across the country. In fact, her own leader called the anthem “wonderful”. He stated that the anthem should not be changed and that it is important to Canadians.

While the position of the member for Vancouver East on the anthem is hers to hold, she should apologize to the House and withdraw the remarks she made about our Canadian national anthem.

I cannot think of another country, in any type of parliament or house of representatives, that would have heard any member stand up to say that about their national anthem.

Our government is committed to recognizing women who have individually and collectively helped to build the strong, proud, and free Canada that we have today. Every year, commemorative events, such as the International Women's Day, Women's History Month, and important events such as the Governor General Awards in Commemoration of the Persons Case, represent important occasions when all Canadians recognize the tremendous contributions that women make to all aspects of Canadian life. As an example, initiatives for the commemoration of World War I and World War II include recognizing the invaluable role that Canadian women played in our country's military efforts.

Canada recognizes and celebrates the instrumental role that Canadian women have played to build our great country during Women's History Month. During this month, we recognize the contribution of Canadian women and highlight their achievements in all areas of life: politics, sports, medicine, business, education, and it goes on. That is not to mention the vital accomplishments of the Famous Five: Emily Murphy, Nellie McClung, Henrietta Muir Edwards, Louise McKinney, and Irene Parlby, women whose leadership in the fight for equality paved the way for future generations and whose statues stand just to the east of this building on Parliament Hill.

Our government has done much to help ensure that the many contributions and achievements of women are recognized and that their remarkable role in society is highlighted.

I do believe in gender equality, and so does everyone on both sides of the House. We recognize and highlight the incredible and numerous contributions that women have made to the building of our beloved country. However, I do not believe that changing our national anthem is the way to accomplish this, and neither do the majority of Canadians, including the majority of Canadian women.

Supporting the bill would also open the door to further proposals to changing the national anthem. It would open Pandora's box and weaken the anthem as a symbol. Given that Canadians have already spoken loudly and clearly on this issue, I will not support the bill.

I understand why the sponsor put the bill forward, and our government proposed a similar change in the 2010 Speech from the Throne. The reaction from Canadians was overwhelming. While some members of the opposition may claim from time to time that the government does not listen to what Canadians are saying, on this issue, immediately after learning of the reaction to the change in national anthem, we did react. Do not forget that this was shortly after our huge successes at the Olympics in Vancouver. There was sense of pride. The national anthem was sung many times across this country. There was reaction to the moderate change we had put forward, not unlike the one made by the member. It was a reaction that led us to understand that this is a sacred anthem that is enjoyed by Canadians and should not be subjected to any form of change.

The lyrics to O Canada are symbolic and deeply rooted in tradition. It is a great source of pride to Canadians. We have a responsibility to maintain and protect our national symbols. Our anthem is one of those symbols. Any form of change to an anthem that is memorized, known, and sung literally hundreds of times a day in our country, and it does not matter the geography, should not occur. All Canadian citizens understand, know, and love what our national anthem stands for. They understand the importance, significance, and the symbolism of not changing the anthem.

There are very few countries that delve into changing the symbol that is their national anthem. When we open the door to change, there are going to be those who line up, whether it be on this issue with respect to the anthem or another issue. I believe that the best way to maintain the symbolism and importance of the anthem is to keep it exactly the way it is. Everyone understands it. Everyone knows what it stands for, and everyone loves singing O Canada.

Anti-Terrorism Act, 2015 April 24th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, it is certainly a privilege to invite all members of the House to support Bill C-51, the anti-terrorism act, 2015.

The safety and security of Canada, and Canadians, is being threatened. The international jihadi movement has declared war on Canada. ISIL has named Canada as a target. We have seen its supporters urge their comrades to kill Canadians by any means and at every opportunity. Al Shabaab is urging its followers to attack targets right here in our country. We know these are not idle threats. We have seen the horrific and deadly attacks on innocent people in Paris and Sydney, and elsewhere in the world, including the cold-blooded murders in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu and at our National War Memorial.

It is unfortunate and difficult to accept, but we see a concerning number of Canadians travelling to other countries to join and fight alongside terrorists from Syria to Somalia. Even more worrisome, we know that some of these radicalized Canadians have returned to this country, burning with hatred, and often with military training and combat experience.

Their values may seem medieval, and talk about an earlier time in history, but they show no reluctance to embrace technology to communicate, to terrorize, to recruit and raise funds. The threat is more complex, more insidious and more dangerous than could have been anticipated even a few years ago.

We must ensure that our security and intelligence organizations have the tools to meet this threat. To do otherwise would be to abandon our most fundamental responsibility to Canadians. That is why we must move swiftly to pass this bill. It is essential to assuring the safety and security of Canadians.

As we have heard, the anti-terrorism act, 2015 has a number of elements. I hope to get through the first one, and then re-engage on this when we return.

First, it would create the security of Canada information sharing act. Departments and agencies of the Government of Canada collect information of various kinds on a daily basis. In some instances, this information may be of considerable value to the institutions charged with identifying and responding to threats to the security of this country or its allies. Yet we have no tangible, focused or reliable way to ensure that kind of information gets to the agencies in a timely way.

I am certain many Canadians would be surprised to learn, for example, that when citizenship and immigration receives a passport application that raises security flags, it is prohibited by law from sharing that information with the Canadian Security Intelligence Service.

I will leave it that and return to the discussion when the time is allocated to do so.

Anti-Terrorism Act, 2015 April 24th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I just want to note that the accusation level in the speech is actually completely false and untrue. Not only would the bill in and of itself not put someone who is participating in a legal and lawful protest in a position to continue to do that, but we actually clarified through amendment to the bill to give greater clarity to that exact expression in terms of the ability to protest in a lawful and peaceful way.

For the member to use an example of a protest and somehow try to twist it into something it is not is unfair and it is actually wrong. This should not be brought up in the House in a way that speaks to something that is false as if it were true. Just because one says it again and again does not actually make it true.

I would like to get the acknowledgement from the member on the protest she has indicated, whether or not she has actually checked the legal definition and whether she has actually sought to ensure it by subbing in at committee and asking that very question or making the very comment that she has. It is very clear in the legislation. There is even more clarity by the fact that an amendment was brought forward to deal with this specific issue.

I know that the leader of the Green Party accepts the clarification. I would hope the member would as well.

Canadian Air Transport Security Authority April 23rd, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to speak to the bill. I do not know if the previous speaker, my colleague from the NDP, knows that we are supporting the motion with amendment, so I do not understand why she would so vehemently criticize the government when the folks on this side of the House have the intention of supporting the private member's bill. Sometimes members should engage in the process that happens in this House whereby we do try to work together to come up with solutions. I see the nod of the head of my good friend from the NDP, the critic at the heritage committee. Oftentimes, while we may disagree, we do understand when we need to work together. Therefore, I am very much disappointed by the language of the previous speaker in terms of its tone.

I am pleased to rise in the House to support Motion No. 553, which advocates the development of a mechanism that would allow small airports to receive security screening services from the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority, CATSA.

The Government of Canada supports this motion as it highlights an issue of which it is well aware, and upon which it has been and will be working for a number of years, that is, to promote a safe and economically sustainable aviation industry. Indeed, this motion seeks to give small non-designated airports all the necessary tools to draw commercial flights to their airports and connect their passengers to larger airports. Over the past several years a number of small airports have expressed their belief that the establishment of screening services will help them attract more airlines, encourage commercial growth and improve their economic development opportunities in general.

I want to add that the Niagara regional airport from the region of Niagara, part of the area which I represent, is certainly interested and has advanced this thought through the commission in a strong way. It is working with the Ministry of Transportation at this very time to become one of those small airports that could potentially receive the services of CATSA.

From an economic development perspective, having a link to the main air transportation network can have an important impact on a local economy. It brings visitors and potential investors closer and makes the local attractions and resources more accessible. The potential economic spinoffs can be significant in terms of economic investment and growth. Travel by air also provides an important service to local residents by better connecting them to the rest of Canada. Our government certainly supports those objectives.

While security is the key consideration when the time comes to allocate resources for the protection of our transportation system, other factors should also be taken into consideration to ensure that our aviation security system supports, rather than hinders, economic opportunities for smaller communities.

Canada has one of the largest and strongest civil aviation systems in the world, with over 200 commercial airports and millions of passengers travelling through or within the country daily. It would make little sense to require government-mandated security screening at all of these airports, as it would be an inefficient and ineffective use of security dollars both from a security and a financial perspective. Instead, security screening in Canada is limited to 89 airports currently designated for mandatory screening. The security designation of those airports was first established following the tragic events of September 11, 2001. It included Canada's 29 largest airports, as well as 60 smaller airports that were already screening at that time, which was being conducted either by the air carriers or the airport operators themselves. Together, these airports represent almost 99% of all air passengers in Canada.

The screening provided at these airports is currently government-funded and offset through the passenger-paid air travellers security charge. Several small Canadian airports, including my own, the Niagara District Airport, have recently written to Transport Canada asking that the department explore the possibility of providing screening services at its facilities, not for security reasons necessarily but rather to promote commercial growth and economic development.

As I mentioned earlier, the primary rationale for passenger and baggage screening is risk. Accordingly, any changes to the current list of designated airports would have to be assessed against the risk threshold that would warrant mandatory screening. Currently, none of the airports requesting screening services from CATSA meet that threshold. My colleague, the Minister of Transport, advised these airports that if screening was to be provided at non-designated airports where screening is not required for security purposes, an alternative source of funding would need to be identified.

In response, a number of airports, including the Niagara District Airport , indicated that they would consider paying for the screening themselves, depending on the economic viability of assuming these costs. Transport Canada is currently holding discussions with all of these airports to present them with as much information as possible and to better understand their specific needs.

Nevertheless, Canada's high security standards must be upheld. Therefore, the security screening services requested by these smaller airports, which will allow their passengers to connect seamlessly to larger airports, will need to be delivered by the officially designated CATSA. In addition, the annual operating costs for screening at small airports will depend on a number of factors, such as the number and frequency of flights, passenger volumes, size of planes, and a number of other factors. Once a solution is in place, the decision as to whether it is financially viable will ultimately rest with each individual airport.

Efforts to increase air service from small airports must take into account both market realities and airline objectives. Cities and regions want easy access and price competitive options for inbound visitors as well as for outbound residents. Airlines will need to determine for themselves what routes are worth pursuing.

It is also important that the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority remains the sole screening authority for delivering screening services at Canadian airports. Having a single, centralized organization responsible for screening services allows for greater consistency in meeting security requirements and in managing security incidents. As such, we have asked that the original version of the motion be amended, as it could incorrectly imply than an entity other than the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority could carry out screening services.

In short, small airports' requests for CATSA screening reflects a desire to further economic and commercial growth. The Government of Canada shares these objectives and will do what it can to accommodate these requests. The government continues to be open to exploring mechanisms that will assist in finding ways to drive economic development at smaller airports and in those communities should they choose to invest in these services. I must be clear. “Should they choose to invest in these services” means that those individual airport commissions or boards are going to take on responsibility for the cost. Nonetheless, developing such a mechanism will take a bit of time, as there are still legal and financial challenges to be addressed.

Our aim going forward will be to ensure that the aviation security system continues to be effective, efficient, and responsive to the rapidly evolving industry. It is about getting it right for both air travellers and taxpayers. As such, the Government of Canada will continue its efforts to meet the needs of the small airports, and it is grateful to the hon. member for Sherbrooke for his support on this issue.

I know that there are a number of members of Parliament on this side of the House who have smaller airports in their regions, their ridings, and their districts. I am one of them. On this side of the House, we have worked closely with the Minister of Transport to try to effectively move forward on the security screening that would allow the type of economic development, travel, and options that present smaller airports with the option to land people in their regions, at their airports, to use the great areas they will travel to. This would also allow those who live in those communities to access larger communities and larger airports, both within Canada and potentially outside of Canada.

While original intent of a piece of legislation was to drive at the issue of safety and security at airports, it left out some of the smaller airports across our country. It could be very viable in terms of delivering charter or larger airlines into their regions. The motion speaks to that issue and actually enhances it and moves us forward.

In closing, I would like to comment that the Minister of Transport has been extremely open to looking at these options. I know that she understands the direction and intent of this bill and certainly supports it.

National Anthem April 23rd, 2015

Mr. Speaker, our Canadian national anthem is a source of national pride. On July 1, 1980, O Canada became an official national symbol by royal proclamation in an act of Parliament. Our government has no intention to change the anthem. Our focus is on the economy and jobs. By the way, when the Liberals talk about jobs and the economy, they strike all the wrong chords.

Terry Fox April 1st, 2015

Mr. Speaker, today at the Canadian Museum of History, a special exhibit is opening. It is entitled “Terry Fox: Running to the Heart of Canada”.

For 143 days in 1980, Canadians watched, marvelled at, idolized, mourned, and finally celebrated a nation's hero. Terry Fox's legacy began during that Marathon of Hope.

Over the past 35 years, each and every year, in every community across our country, including my riding and home of St. Catharines, supporters of the Terry Fox legacy continue the Marathon of Hope and together have raised over $700 million for cancer research.

As Terry himself stated on August 2, 1980, day 113 of his Marathon of Hope, “There can be no reason for me to stop. No matter what pain I suffer, it is nothing compared to the pain of those who have cancer and of those who endure treatment, often with little hope of recovery”.

Terry's legacy will be on display at our Canadian Museum of History from today, April 1, until September 20, 2015. I would encourage all Canadians to come and walk through the exhibit on one of our nation's true heroes.