House of Commons photo

Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was respect.

Last in Parliament October 2019, as Conservative MP for Niagara Falls (Ontario)

Won his last election, in 2015, with 42% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Business of Supply February 4th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, I guess the hon. member forgot to mention this, but the Dairy Farmers of Canada estimate that the new NAFTA agreement will cost them $190 million per year. It will cost Canadian farmers $190 million per year.

The hon. member should check them out. If he does not like the Fraser Institute, why does he not invite them into his office and sit down with them about this? If he wants to see what is going to happen when the Liberals start implementing this carbon tax, he will see Canadians right across this country, from coast to coast, saying the same thing—that this is costing them and that they have to spend more money on these things.

The hon. member should check it out, because we are not alone when we say that the government is taxing Canadians much more.

Business of Supply February 4th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour of splitting my time today with the member for Perth—Wellington.

I rise in the House today to speak to the motion on the floor and call upon the Prime Minister to provide written confirmation that his government will not raise taxes on Canadians. In order to do this, we should look at the record of the Liberals when they are in power. Indeed, it is a tale to tell.

As writer and philosopher George Santayana penned, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” If we look at the Liberal government of the 1960s through to the 1980s, under the Liberals, federal spending rose from 30% to 53% of GDP. I am sure that many people in the chamber can remember that incredible inflation. Prime lending rates skyrocketed to an incredible 22%. Subsequently, the inability to pay such exorbitant rates resulted in both corporate and personal bankruptcies. It would be two decades before Canadians would crawl out of this economic black hole and begin to reduce the country's debt. In fact, by 1984, Canada's international debt had grown by 700%.

If we fast-track to 2019, the current Government of Canada is on the same trajectory. There is 81% of middle-income Canadians who have experienced the economic pain of higher taxes, and the Prime Minister has promised Canadians that he would not raise taxes but lower them.

Another obvious comparison to years ago is the now failed and infamous national energy program. Starting in 1980, the national energy program, with the Liberal Party behind it, single-handedly destroyed the thriving economic engine that benefited all Canadians, putting thousands of Canadians out of work and causing many to not only lose their livelihoods but their homes as well.

Enter the current Liberal government and its pipeline debacle. Because of the Prime Minister's failure to secure a pipeline, thousands of Canadians have lost their jobs. It sounds familiar, does it not? Currently, Canadian taxpayers are on the hook for a $4.5-billion pipeline that may never be built. Last week, the Parliamentary Budget Officer said that the government has probably overpaid for the Trans Mountain pipeline by an unbelievable $1 billion. This is costing the Canadian economy about $50 million a day.

Doug Porter, the chief economist and managing director of BMO Financial Group, predicts the following: “I think Canada has a very weak competitive position. I think we’re going to get crushed in the next recession”. Canadians are already feeling the crush. The average income tax increase for middle-income Canadians is $840. In addition, Canada pension plan premiums have gone up to $2,200 per household, and employment insurance premiums are up by $85 per worker.

The outlook is even bleaker as the Liberals insist upon this new carbon tax of theirs. This will end up costing households about $2,500. Sadly, the carbon tax fails to address the environment and serves to make life even more expensive for Canadians, and yet the Prime Minister has promised that he will not raise taxes. This is not the Liberal record. Fifty years ago, the Liberals inherited a strong, growing and varied Canadian economy, and when they left in 1984, Canadians were still feeling the effects of Canada's worst recession since the Great Depression.

The current Liberal government inherited Stephen Harper's zero-deficit balance sheet a little over three years ago, and over the last three years, the government has added $60 billion to the national debt. The Prime Minister promised that the budget would be balanced this year. Instead, the deficit will hit $21.3 billion. Again, he has promised that he will not raise taxes. This is why we are here today. We are calling upon the Prime Minister to provide written confirmation that his government will not further raise taxes on Canadians. In light of how he has bungled our coffers thus far, it is simply not credible to believe the Prime Minister when he says that he will not raise taxes. The question that I think Canadians have to ask is, by how much? According to Finance, the budget will not return to balance until 2040, and by then racking up an additional $271 billion of debt.

Financial trends are cyclical. Most economists believe Canadians and the world will be facing an economic downturn. The Prime Minister has left nothing to cushion Canada from such a forecast. Last year Canada's national debt reached an all-time high of $670 billion, or a massive $47,600 per Canadian family. A recent Fraser Institute report states that a very serious downturn could add more than $50 billion per year to the government's deficit forecast. Canada's national debt would be nearly a trillion dollars by the year 2023. That is unfathomable and should be unthinkable.

When the recession hit Canada in 2009 we were largely insulated because of the prudent economic planning by the former Conservative government. I remember travelling with prime minister Stephen Harper, and it was astonishing to see world leaders lining up to speak with the prime minister. Presidents and prime ministers from around the globe would line up to ask Mr. Harper how it was that Canada was the only country in the G7 able to withstand the worldwide economic downturn. It was due in part to ensuring that we had a good financial cushion to rely on in the event of a fiscal recession. The Liberals, on the other hand, seem hell-bent on employing any fiscal policy so long as it is not in line with what the Conservatives implemented.

In addition, I remember back in 1988 when the Liberals were against implementing the GST. They had just finished coming off an election where they were against the free trade agreement, and we remember how they changed their minds on that one. All Liberal leaders at the time were against implementing the GST. Liberal leader John Turner said the GST was an attack on the weaker regions of the country, that it was regressive, against lower-income groups, invisible, sneaky and of course an administrative nightmare.

It gets better. Paul Martin stated in the chamber the following: “Mr. Speaker, the goods and services tax is a stupid, inept and incompetent tax”. He went on to say he would abolish the GST.

It did not stop there. In 1990, then Liberal leader Jean Chrétien said on September 27 of that year, “I want this tax dead”. He went on to say the following: “I am opposed to the GST. I have always been opposed to it, and I will always be opposed to it. It is a tax that is both regressive and discriminatory”.

We cannot believe any of those Liberal leaders. What they did when they returned to power was to be completely onside with implementing the GST. What I have been saying about them is that they cannot be trusted in these areas.

I was told many years ago that the Liberals would say whatever it takes to get elected. If they think it will get them elected to be against the free trade agreement, they are against it. If it helps them to be against GST, wage and price controls, name it, over the years it was whatever they felt was necessary. However, they would always go with something afterward that was completely out of line with that.

NAFTA is just another example of their bungling of their international obligations for our country. We can see that the new NAFTA that is being presented to us is weaker than the existing one. It will raise the price of condos through the steel and aluminum tariffs. That is just one example. American farmers will have tariff-free access to 3.6% of Canada's dairy market. It will send hundreds of millions of dollars more of their product into our country, and not a single concession was made by the United States.

Why do we want to have a written confirmation from the Prime Minister that he will not raise taxes? Just have a look at the last 50 years of Liberal governments. The Liberals say one thing during an election and do something different after the election. It is our job to hold them accountable as much as we can. That is why we want to have this in writing.

Cancer Diagnosis January 30th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, it is my great honour to rise in the House today to give a well-deserved tribute to Hugh Segal. He is known to all of us as a senator, an educator, an author, a champion of the less fortunate and a leader. We know him to be a kind, decent and honest man, whose love for his country and family is unparalleled.

As a columnist and political pundit, Hugh always provides a balanced view and profound insight into Canada and our world beyond. His well-deserved awards include the Order of Canada, honorary doctorates from the Royal Military College of Canada and Queen's University, the Order of Ontario, and the Peace Patron Award. Put simply, Hugh Segal embodies the very best of humanity, and the world desperately needs more Hugh.

Today we learned that Hugh is battling cancer. I want him to know we are praying for him and his family as he continues this fight.

We all know cancer can be beaten. If Hugh's history is any indication, it does not stand a chance.

Sheldon Kennedy Child Advocacy Centre December 12th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, in my 23 years as a member of Parliament, I have had the occasion to work with some truly remarkable Canadians. Sheldon Kennedy stands out among them. As justice minister, I worked with him and valued his input on the rights of victims.

Yesterday, he announced he will be stepping down from the child advocacy centre that bears his name. I am truly honoured to stand in this House and thank Sheldon for his outstanding activism and tireless work on behalf of victims from across this country. The centre has been responsible for saving the lives of many Canadian children by providing care and services after experiencing the trauma of abuse. Sheldon made the decision to better the lives of other children rather than remain a victim of sexual abuse at the hands of his hockey coach.

As he steps aside to focus on his own health and family, we are assured the centre and solid foundation that Sheldon built will continue. Sheldon's efforts have left a lasting legacy, and we are grateful for it. On behalf of all Canadians, I thank Sheldon.

Hanukkah December 5th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in this House today to pay tribute to the Jewish people and the celebration of Hanukkah. The word “Hanukkah” is Hebrew for dedication. The holiday commemorates the festival of lights, when one day's supply of olive oil miraculously lasted for eight days during the dedication of the second Jewish temple in Jerusalem.

Last Sunday, I was honoured to be asked by Rabbi Zaltzman to light the first candle on the menorah in Queen Victoria Park in Niagara Falls. At a time when people of faith are being persecuted around the world, celebrating our heritage and religions is critical. I would like to thank Rabbi Zaltzman, from Chabad in the Niagara region, for putting together this event each year.

As the word Hanukkah denotes dedication, may we dedicate ourselves to ensuring religious freedom in Canada and around the world. I would like to take this opportunity to wish a happy Hanukkah to my colleagues in this House and across our nation.

Criminal Code November 27th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, I want to begin by thanking my colleague, the member for St. Albert—Edmonton, for introducing this bill and giving me, as well as so many of my other colleagues, the honour of seconding the bill.

I remember my first time in Parliament, back in 1984, when my colleague Pauline Browes asked if I would second her motion to erect a statue to John Diefenbaker here on Parliament Hill. Needless to say, I was very proud to have that honour, and I am very proud to have this honour. I thank my colleague for that.

This is the first time we have introduced legislation to Parliament to address this critical oversight with respect to jurors in our justice system. I appreciate that my colleague from St. Albert—Edmonton and all those we have heard here are addressing this situation, which up to now has been basically ignored. I was justice minister for six and a half years. I do not remember any reports or memos with respect to the health and well-being of jurors. I am so pleased that we are taking steps, as my colleague, the member for Victoria, just pointed out, on something that makes common sense.

What we can get out of Bill C-417 is the protection members of a jury need. The member has proactively taken this issue that has been ignored for too long. The legislation effectively speaks to section 649 of the Criminal Code, which prohibits jurors from disclosing jury deliberations to anyone, other than in relation to obstruction of justice under subsection 139(2) of the Criminal Code. This new legislation would allow jurors, for the first time in Canada, to seek the help of licensed practitioners, such as psychiatrists and psychologists. I am so pleased to hear of the support.

When we were on the justice committee and heard some of the testimony and evidence, everyone was affected in some way or another. My colleague, the member for St. Catharines, still remembers, as we all do who live in the Niagara Peninsula, the gruesome details of the Bernardo trial. I remember that trial. Indeed, my colleague is correct when he says that the wounds from that trial have not healed. All I can say is thank God that man was not released on parole just recently. As a matter of fact, there are people who are still suffering and are still impacted by that trial. I heard from a constituent who was a friend of Kristen French. She reiterated that the nightmares from that trial live on in her family, friends and jurors.

We had compelling testimony at the justice committee from Mr. Mark Farrant and Mr. Patrick Fleming. Mr. Farrant has been an advocate for jurors and is one of those who has suffered PTSD, in addition to anxiety, depression and nervous shock, due to the distressing and disturbing evidence presented at the trial in which he served as jury foreman. The 2014 trial was that of Farshad Badakhshan, who was convicted of second degree murder in the death of his girlfriend, Carina Petrache. She was stabbed multiple times before her body was burned in a fire. Mr. Farrant was subjected to viewing gruesome evidence over and over again. It should be no surprise to anyone that jurors are traumatized by being obliged to sit and watch graphic horrors repeatedly.

Tina Daenzer was another witness we heard from. She was the first one to be selected for the Bernardo trial. She had to listen and see all the terrible evidence introduced at that trial. She wanted to close her eyes and look away, but she could not, because she knew it was her duty to watch the evidence. At one point during the trial, Judge LeSage had to call a recess on her behalf, as she was having severe heart palpitations due to stress. She was referred to counselling. In his 29 years as a judge, Justice LeSage had ordered or recommended counselling for a juror on only two occasions, and the Bernardo trial was one of them. It should be noted as well that he himself sought counselling after that trial ended.

Ms. Daenzer ended her testimony by saying that counselling had helped her manage the trauma and anxiety and to get back to living her life. This speaks to the reason why Bill C-417 is critical to protect our jurors. If we want to continue to have jurors serve and to value their service, we need to ensure that they are provided avenues to reduce their stress, including the opportunity to talk about it and debrief afterward.

Many provinces do have juror support programs such as providing free counselling to former jurors. The bill would increase the effectiveness of those sessions, as it would allow jurors to further discuss the reasons why they had become significantly stressed. Many of our health care professionals who testified at committee supported this change, as they felt it would improve the health of former jurors without compromising the sanctity of our jury system, which medical professionals are bound to by confidentiality requirements.

I thank all the members who have been involved with this, the member for Mount Royal, the member for Victoria and, of course, the member for Cowichan—Malahat—Langford, for encouraging and moving forward with this at the justice committee. Because of that report, we are seeing Bill C-417 here today.

It is not without precedent. As members have heard, there are other jurisdictions that are having a look at this issue. In Australia in the State of Victoria they have had similar secrecy rules to Canada's, but its Juries Act 2000 now allows jurors to discuss juror deliberation in the course of their mental health treatment undertaken as a result of their jury service. As justice minister it was always very helpful to see what our colleagues in Australia did. They face many of the same issues we do in Canada. Both countries adhere to the Westminster model of Parliament and are in fact similar in many ways. I always remember when the Prime Minister of Australia was here about 10 years ago and addressing Parliament. He mentioned that Canada and Australia were like identical twins separated at birth. Indeed, having a look at what they do in other countries such as Australia is very helpful for us here in Canada.

One of the things I want to touch on, which I was pleased that my colleague from Mount Royal raised as well, is the lack of remuneration for members of the jury. To ask someone to sit on a jury for two weeks and then not pay them or to pay them $50 a day contributes to the stress these individuals suffer from. As my colleague pointed out, some provinces have not raised this amount since the 1970s. That is absolutely wrong. These people are an essential part of our justice system and they should not have that added stress of not being able to look after their homes. Even employers are stressed because they are losing their employees for perhaps long periods of time. I am hoping that in our discussions with our provincial counterparts to say that time has moved on, that will be one of the areas where we do get these people the kind of financial support they need.

The bill is within the complete jurisdiction of Parliament, and I am so pleased and honoured to be a part of this. Again, I thank all of my colleagues here for all of their wonderful support for this important bill.

Criminal Code November 8th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, it is the role of Parliament to set guidelines for the courts.

Back in the early 1990s when I was part of the government, we introduced a bill to put stalking into the Criminal Code and make it a specific crime. I believe the maximum sentence for that was five years. However, one of my own colleagues said that maybe a judge would want to give a sentence of more than five years. Why would we limit it to five years? I said that it was our job to set guidelines for the courts, whether it is the maximum or minimum sentence. That is what we do as a Parliament.

The hon. member will ask how we can do this. For example, why would we limit it for someone who commits first degree murder and insist that it be 25 years? Again, these things reflect the seriousness of the crimes.

Here is the other thing. When a court imposes a very light sentence on someone who has committed a serious crime, it hurts people's confidence in the criminal justice system. They have a problem with that. One of the things we always wanted as a government was that people would have confidence in the criminal justice system and believe that it would do what it is supposed to, which is to hold people accountable for what they have done, to protect the public and to stand up for victims. That is exactly what we did in our 10 years, and I am very proud of our record.

Criminal Code November 8th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, the member said he was confused when we were talking about the protection of religious freedom. I was completely confused when I saw the bill repealing a section of the Criminal Code.

I checked the section in the Criminal Code, and the Liberals would repeal the section that specifically protects members of the clergy and people from having their religious services disrupted. I asked the question, and one of the members said that it would still be mischief if one caused a disruption at a religious service, and that if one threatened a member of the clergy, it would still be assault. I said that it was not the same thing as causing a ruckus at a hockey game or a disruption somewhere else or a fistfight at a bar. It is not the same. Even people who do not attend religious services agreed with me that this is more egregious. It is more serious if one disrupts people's right to practice their religion.

Therefore, I say to members of the government that if they want to better protect religious institutions, then make sure that the laws do not weaken those protections. Do not make it a hybrid offence for someone to go after a member of the clergy. That is a mistake and sends the wrong message.

Criminal Code November 8th, 2018

Madam Speaker, I enjoyed my work on the justice committee for these past three years. It was very rewarding and very insightful.

With respect to Bill C-75, there are sections of the bill that we, on this side, are in favour of.

One of those is the reform of intimate partner violence cases, which will basically reverse the notice of bail on someone who has been convicted of assaulting or other crimes against their partner. I like the idea because it does give better protection. There are a number of procedural changes with respect to preliminary hearings and jury selection. Again, we will continue to review those changes here and get input from people.

As we heard from my colleagues on this side, we continue to be quite concerned about the hybridization of some very serious crimes.

I think most Canadians would agree with us in the Conservative Party that there are serious crimes that are currently listed as indictable offences with a maximum of up to 10 years and that it does reflect the seriousness of those crimes. Some of those offences include, but are not limited to: participation in a riot, or concealment of identity; breach of trust by a public officer; municipal corruption; selling or purchasing offices; influencing or negotiating appointments or dealing in offices; prison breach; assisting prisoner of war to escape; obstructing or violence to or arrest of officiating clergyman; keeping a common bawdy house; causing bodily harm by criminal negligence; bodily harm; impaired driving causing bodily harm; failure to provide sample and blood alcohol level over legal limit; material benefit from trafficking; withholding or destroying documents; and abduction of person under age of 14 or under the age of 16.

I think most Canadians would agree with us that these are very serious offences. Some others are marriage to someone under the age of 16, arson for fraudulent purpose and participation in the activities of a criminal organization.

The government has backed down on a couple of those issues. They are the ones related to terrorism and genocide. The problem I have with the government is that we told them a long time ago that Canadians are not going to agree with hybridizing and reducing the possible penalties for criminal activities like genocide and terrorism. We were very clear that it is a mistake to go forward with this. It took the government a long time, approximately a year, before it would back down on this.

A piece of advice I would give to the government is that just because an idea comes from the opposition does not mean that it is a bad idea. Some time ago we started pointing out that a person who is convicted of murdering, torturing and raping a child should not be then transferred to a healing lodge. We told the government that it was a huge mistake. All we got was pushback from the government and the minister saying no.

However, I found out a few minutes ago that Terri-Lynne McClintic has been transferred out of a healing lodge and placed back in prison where she should be. All I can say to the government is that this idea is no better than it was when we told the Liberals a long time ago about these things. I had said it was a mistake to put genocide and terrorism in as hybrid offences, and again, we were right.

I remember, in June 2017, the government came forward with another omnibus justice bill, and part of it was to remove the protection of members of the clergy and the protection of people disrupted during a religious service. We told the government it was a mistake. I remember standing here, telling some of my colleagues to please go home this summer and ask constituents, even if they do not go to a religious service, if they think it is a good idea that we would repeal this section.

It took about a year, but then finally the government did agree with us. Unfortunately, I see that threat against a member of the clergy is now part of the hybridization, so the government has reduced the penalty for this. Again, I believe this is inconsistent.

We hear the Prime Minister and others saying we have to protect religious institutions, synagogues, churches, temples and mosques. However, at the same time, the government's record, now on two occasions, is to reduce or, in a sense, eliminate the specific penalty dealing with that. It is completely inconsistent, and I think it is a mistake.

I was going to ask my colleague a question, since he gets overwhelming support at elections and is very in tune with what his constituents say. I was going to ask, “Are any of your constituents saying that we should open up the possibility of a lower sentence for people who traffic in children under the age of 14? Did anybody say that to you, or say that we have to go easier on these people?” The hon. member says that nobody came forward to ask for that.

We talk about the challenges with respect to impaired driving. Now the government's priority this year has been to legalize marijuana. Everyone in this chamber knows that this is going to make it more complicated, with respect to impaired driving and the associated challenges. Yet, at the very same time, the government has legislation that says that if people are driving impaired and they cause bodily harm, they now have the possibility of facing a summary conviction offence, which would result in something even as low as fine. I would say that nobody wants something like that.

On the section on trafficking in persons, the justice committee is doing a study right now on human trafficking. We heard from Canadians across this country, different groups and individuals saying what a terrible problem this is and that it has to be addressed. However, at the same time, the government is reducing the penalties.

One of the things I heard from the government over a year ago, when it introduced this, was that it would speed up the criminal justice system. I say, “Sure, if you are a terrorist.” If somebody says they have the possibility of getting a fine of $1,000, they will ask where they can sign up for that. That is great news for them. Let us not hold up the justice system.

My point is these are very serious crimes. They were treated as such when Conservatives were in government. As my colleagues have said, we always stood up for victims of crime to better protect victims and to increase people's confidence in the criminal justice system. When somebody who has committed a horrific crime is let off, when they get the minimum possible sentence, it does not increase people's confidence in the criminal justice system. It has the exact opposite effect.

We had a very good run at this. We stood up for law-abiding Canadians. We stood up for victims. We wanted the system to work. I am very proud of all that we have done. My advice to the government is, when the Conservatives have good ideas that the Liberal members can run by their own constituents and they agree with them, the government should adopt those, and it should not have to wait to change its mind.

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns November 5th, 2018

With regard to reports of a data breach at Public Services and Procurement Canada in August 2018, after a device containing personal information was stolen: (a) on what date did the theft occur; (b) on what date was the theft reported to the law enforcement agencies, and to which agencies was the theft reported; (c) on what date was the Office of the Privacy Commissioner notified; (d) how many employees were affected by the data breach, broken down by department or agency; (e) on what date were the affected employees notified; (f) why was there a delay between the breach and the notification date for employees; (g) how are affected employees being compensated for the breach; (h) what type of information was contained on the stolen device; (i) has the government recovered the device; (j) how many data breaches have occurred since January 1, 2016, broken down by department, agency, Crown corporation or other government entity; and (k) for each data breach in (j), what are the details, including (i) how many people were affected, (ii) date of breach, (iii) date those affected were notified, (iv) summary of incident?