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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

CBC/Radio-Canada March 25th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, the member makes some sort of argument that the success, quality, growth, independence and delivery of service that is completed by a crown corporation is going to vastly improve just because money is offered and put on the table. She can say that her party is going to contribute more. That does not mean quality moves up. That does not mean that Hockey Night in Canada stays at the CBC.

What the member needs to understand is the rapidly changing development of programming, of what Canadians want to see, whether it be the demographic of young or old in the country.

What is important to understand is the responsibility of the CBC as a public broadcaster but also the quality of programming that it offers, the quality of programming that it delivers on and the quality of programming that individuals and families across the country watch. When we turn to the CBC we want to make sure that people are going to stay and watch. It is based on quality.

The red herring argument is that somehow money is going to solve all. I think you know, Mr. Speaker, as you have been around here a long time, that money is not the answer to everything. It is quality.

CBC/Radio-Canada March 25th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I am not quite sure what the question was there. It kind of jumped all over in about four, five or maybe six different areas. However, what I will do is give a brief overview of the CBC and then certainly respond to a direct allegation that the member has made on two occasions, including here, now, and once in question period.

Mr. Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to discuss the matter of our national public broadcaster. Our government provides the CBC with incredible funding on a yearly basis. The CBC is responsible for its own operations. It is up to the CBC to provide programming that Canadians actually want to watch and listen to in either of our two official languages.

Canada enjoys a sophisticated and complex broadcasting system within which CBC/Radio-Canada exists. The role of CBC/Radio-Canada as a national public broadcaster is enshrined right within the Broadcasting Act. In fact, the act affirms that the national public broadcaster has the freedom of expression and journalistic creativity and programming independence from government. That does not mean that it is not subject to journalistic standards. The member needs to clearly understand that. These principles are stated multiple times in the Broadcasting Act itself.

The corporation is governed by an independent board of directors appointed by the Governor in Council. In Canada, the role and mandate of the national public broadcaster also stem from the country's particularities. These include our two national languages and a large and sparsely populated territory, and reflect the needs and interests of our increasingly diverse population, our aboriginal population, and the different realities within all of our regions.

CBC/Radio-Canada is expected to inform, enlighten and entertain Canadians and should be distinctly Canadian. It is also expected to actively contribute to the exchange and flow of cultural expression. The public broadcaster is charged with reflecting Canada and its regions to national and regional audiences, while serving the special needs of particular regions. It must strive to produce programming of equal quality in either English or French, and reflect the needs of each official language minority community.

It is a broad mandate, which our national public broadcaster strives to meet by reaching Canadians through a myriad of over 30 television, radio and digital services in both official languages, in eight aboriginal languages and in five languages on an international service. Again, it does not make it immune to the principles stated within the Broadcasting Act.

In order to fulfill its mandate of serving Canadians, CBC/Radio-Canada must manage its various services in a professional and responsible manner in the current environment. Our government provides the corporation with, literally, over $1 billion in annual funding. It is an independent crown corporation. It is responsible for managing its funds effectively to meet its mandate and deliver content of interest to Canadians.

Our government does expect the CBC/Radio-Canada to use these funds as effectively as possible and provide Canadians with content they find interesting and content they want to see and hear.

Let me be clear about the matter the member mentioned though. The CBC ombudsman was very clear on the matter. With respect to this documentary, the ombudsman found that the rules of journalistic standards and practices had not been correctly applied. We respect the ombudsman's finding, so should the member opposite.

Public Safety March 25th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, we could stand here and do this all day and all night. The fact is that it is clear that the member is trying to find specific issues. I have relayed them back. She gave an example. I stated the example. In this case, it was an American example, Rosa Parks, who certainly would not have been arrested under any kind of conspiracy or any kind of national security act. The member knows it.

Instead, I would love to hear her speak about the issue of national security we face here in this country from a jihadist movement that has actually acted here in Canada on two occasions that we know of. We have prevented other terrorist activities from happening. What I would like to hear from her, instead of getting into the intangibles of the legislation, which it is clear she has an opinion on, is whether she supports the direction this government is moving in. That is certainly the direction most Canadians believe we should be moving in.

Public Safety March 25th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I will attempt to respond to the member's question, although I think it is fairly straightforward and understandable. It is in the notes here, but I am surprised she would not actually realize it.

The international jihadist movement has declared war on Canada. Canadians are being targeted by jihadist terrorist simply because they hate our society and the values that we hold dear.

We reject the argument that every time we talk about security, our freedoms are threatened. Canadians understand that their freedom and security go hand in hand. Canadians expect us to protect both, and there are safeguards in the legislation to do exactly that.

There is the fundamental fact that our police and national security agencies are working to protect our rights and freedoms, and it is jihadist terrorist who endanger our security and want to take away those very rights and freedoms. Under our government, Canada is not sitting on the sidelines, as the Liberals and NDP would have us do. Instead, we are joining our allies in the international coalition to fight ISIL.

I would like to take this opportunity to dispel some serious misconceptions about the important bill.

First, the definition of activities that undermine the security of Canada applies only to part 1 of Bill C-51, which would enact the security of Canada information sharing act. Under the security of Canada information sharing act, information could only be shared if it related to a specific activity that would undermine the sovereignty, security or territorial integrity of Canada, or the lives or the security of the people of Canada. Information that meets this threshold may only be shared if it is relevant to the recipient organization's jurisdiction or responsibilities for national security.

First and foremost is national security. The security of Canada information sharing act notes for clarity that lawful advocacy, protest, dissent and artistic expression do not fall within the definition of activities that undermine the security of Canada. Even if some activities of advocacy, some that the member spoke about, protest, dissent or artistic expression are unlawful if they violate the Criminal Code, they would also need to have a national security impact to qualify. Therefore, in addition to being criminal, they would actually need to undermine the sovereignty, security or territorial integrity of Canada. As Rosa Parks did by sitting in her seat, while it may at the time have been deemed unlawful, it certainly would not have met any of those three thresholds.

The act would not authorize any new collection or use of personal information, and recipient institutions would still limited by their lawful mandate in the collection and use of information, including information received under the act. The act does not override specific limitations respecting collection or sharing of information and recipient institution statutes.

Part 4 of Bill C-51 would amend the CSIS Act. This is not linked to the security of Canada information sharing act. In fact, part 4 of the bill would mandate CSIS to disrupt threats to the security of Canada. The concept of a threat to the security of Canada is clearly defined in the act and includes terrorism, espionage, sabotage and foreign-influenced activities. It also includes violent or unlawful covert acts to overthrow our system of government.

Canadian Heritage March 13th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, the member is well aware of the rapidly changing media environment, to which no industry is immune in our country.

We are carefully reviewing the decision, but to come back to the main point, we created the Canada media fund specifically to assist Canadians in the industry. When we look at the 125,000 jobs that come out of that industry, it is because they understand, they know, they create, and they produce, all with Canadian content, and it is for Canadians. We should let them make the decisions in terms of how we drive forward in the industry.

Canadian Heritage March 13th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, Canada's television, film, and digital media industry contributes nearly 125,000 jobs to the Canadian economy. That is why we proudly created the Canada media fund in 2009 to help with the creation of quality by Canadians for Canadians.

Our government has worked tirelessly to better serve Canadians, bringing them better consumer choice in television while protecting Canadian jobs. We have always been clear: Canadians should not have to pay for the channels they do not want. They should get the ones they choose.

Halabja Massacre March 13th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to commemorate the Halabja massacre, also known as Bloody Friday.

March 16 marks 27 years since the brutal chemical weapons attack perpetrated by Saddam Hussein's regime on Kurdish civilians, which killed as many as 5,000 innocent people and injured almost 10,000 more.

Kurdish Canadians will be gathering across the country over the next week to remember this horrific crime against humanity and its victims.

As we reflect on what took place at Halabja, we also recognize the determination of the Kurdish people, who are today facing off against ISIL in northern Iraq. Kurdish forces have played a crucial role in protecting civilians and religious minorities from ISIL.

Canada is proud to be advising and assisting our Kurdish allies as they combat this genocidal death cult, and we stand with them and Kurdish Canadians in commemorating the Halabja massacre.

Canadian Heritage February 27th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, that is actually not true. Consultation has taken place on this monument, and the fact that it was brought forward by the organizations involved should be respected by the member across. The memorial will honour more than 100 million lives lost under communist regimes and will pay tribute to the Canadian ideas of liberty, freedom, democracy, and human rights.

Our government committed to honouring the victims of communism in our Speech from the Throne in 2010. We look forward to fulfilling that commitment.

Stratford Festival February 24th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I am hearing from across the floor, in a very non-partisan way, that we can share the honour.

I think if Niagara or Stratford were to be displayed to the rest of the world, they would show an amazing example of what culture, theatre, and heritage are, not just to our country but to the world.

Finally, to the member for Perth—Wellington, who announced that he is retiring at the end of this Parliament, to quote Shakespeare, “No legacy is so rich as honesty.” If that is true, the member has left a great and distinguished legacy, and I am proud to have served with him in this House. The member of Parliament for Perth—Wellington has been a dedicated public servant, serving his community as a counsellor and as a local firefighter. He was a champion for his constituents and, of course, in the very essence of the motion this evening, a champion for the Stratford Festival. His efforts are appreciated, and his presence in this House will be missed.

To borrow from Shakespeare one last time:

Farewell, my [brother], fare thee well:

The elements be kind to thee, and make

Thy spirits all of comfort! Fare thee well.

Good luck to my good friend, the member for Perth—Wellington.

Stratford Festival February 24th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I do not know if my colleague, who is the critic for the Liberal Party on the Canadian heritage committee stole a little of my thunder or whether I will reiterate some lines he may have used, not only because they are famous and great and written by Shakespeare but also because they speak volumes to the topic that we are addressing tonight.

Friends, parliamentarians, countrymen, I come not just to praise the member for Perth—Wellington but to ask for support for Motion No. 545:

That the House recognize the Stratford Festival's distinct cultural and economic contributions to Stratford, southwestern Ontario and Canada since its inception in 1953.

My good friend was right: we must decide to support or not support, and that is the question this evening. By putting forth this motion, the member is highlighting the importance of the cultural sector to the Canadian economy in creating jobs. The Stratford Festival is a standout example of an organization that historically had an incredible cultural impact locally, nationally, and internationally.

I would like to speak about the economic impact of this festival, especially for the city of Stratford. In 2010, a Conference Board of Canada study concluded that just under $140 million of spending can be attributed to the Stratford Festival. That $140 million is a significant contribution to the Stratford community, which has a population of just over 30,000 people.

What is more, $76.5 million of revenue goes directly to local businesses as a direct impact of this festival. Revenue flows through various industries, including hotels, bed and breakfasts, local cheese and agricultural producers, and local shops and restaurants. Local businesses like these are the heart of our communities. These businesses are what help our communities succeed.

The Stratford Festival achieved this by following a vision of co-operation with local business to come together and demonstrate the value of art in the community and by working hard to make this vision come to life.

The Government of Canada has been a proud supporter of the festival for many years. This government and previous governments have funded arts organizations to ensure that Canadians can enjoy our shared culture and heritage. We recognize that arts and culture give us an identity that makes us proud to be Canadian.

This House's recognition of the cultural and economic impact of the Stratford Festival is also the recognition of the positive impact that private sector partnerships with a not-for-profit community can produce: a vibrant, innovative, resilient arts organization that makes a long-term positive social, cultural, and economic impact on its community.

Since 2006, through funding programs at the Department of Canadian Heritage and the Canada Council for the Arts, our government has invested significant taxpayer dollars into the Stratford Festival. This funding helps generate thousands of jobs in Ontario, including 2,500 jobs in Stratford alone.

Considering the $139 million economic impact, it is a strong return on that investment. We know that our investment is delivering concrete economic results, and the Stratford Festival continues to think about ensuring its long-term sustainability by considering ways in which it can build other revenue streams.

The Stratford Shakespeare Festival Foundation has used this program as leverage for private sector support and for the festival's endowment fund, which is now valued at over $62 million, making it one of the largest endowment funds held for a not-for-profit cultural organization in our great country.

I encourage members to support this motion to recognize the Stratford Festival, the tremendous contribution that our cultural sector makes in our communities with the support from their public and private partners, and the hard work of the member for Perth—Wellington.

I will finish my remarks a little early to help speed along the passage of this motion, but I have one final thought. Before I conclude with that final thought, I want to indicate how much I have enjoyed debating and arguing with the member for Perth—Wellington as to whether the Shaw Festival in Niagara is actually this country's epic display of both theatre and art or whether it is the Stratford Festival.