House of Commons photo

Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was french.

Last in Parliament October 2015, as Conservative MP for Ottawa—Orléans (Ontario)

Lost his last election, in 2015, with 31% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Holidays Act June 19th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, it is always a pleasure to have the opportunity to rise in the House to talk about veterans issues. However, before I do, I would like to pay tribute to you and the wisdom you have shown in the House in chairing the 40th and 41st Parliaments. I will always remember fondly that I gave you your first tabs. You have worn them proudly. The House is better for the service you have given it, and I thank you very much.

Thank you to my Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs members for working together to move this bill as expeditiously as possible. It is good to see everyone working together for Canada's veterans.

While on the subject of this committee, I would like to take a moment to express how much I enjoyed chairing our meetings. No one can deny the earnestness of each and every person sitting at the committee table, and this is to the credit of its members. Thank you for your commitment to helping veterans.

Furthermore, when Parliament is dissolved, two members of this committee will be leaving to face new challenges. I wish the member for Edmonton Centre and the member for Guelph much success, and I thank them for their contribution to the high-quality discussions of this committee. I thank them for their wisdom and for their passion.

Bill C-597 would not create a statutory holiday, as the member for Scarborough Southwest said. That is a day off work or out of school.

For anybody who might be unclear on that point—it could not direct the provinces to let everyone out of school and out of work. That is because letting people out of school and out of work is provincial jurisdiction, not federal jurisdiction.

Thanks to the knowledgeable witnesses we heard over the past several months, we have learned there is a great divide over whether Remembrance Day should be a statutory holiday.

That is a debate for another time and place.

In getting to where we are today, we had some great ideas come forward on how Canadians can best honour the fallen and our veterans.

The whole debate has been very informative and has inspired a healthy conversation about remembrance. Thanks to the members of the committee for that.

We have heard how commemorative ceremonies take place across Canada, in all major cities and towns. Some of these are led at the grassroots level by young and old, military and civilians, by various levels of government, schools, churches, and private businesses. These events depend largely on the organizational culture and leadership.

As we heard from the witnesses, some groups broadcast the last post and reveille—combined with a moment of silence—over the internal PA.

Some employees take time off to attend the local cenotaph ceremony, but anything more organized, on a larger scale, requires strong leadership. Certainly with the hire a veteran initiative and the Veterans Hiring Act, both of which were spearheaded by this government, we will begin to see more veterans in the workplace in the future. Perhaps that leadership will come from them and it will only be a matter of a few years before we see more organized commemoration activities in the workplace.

As an aside, I wonder how many in this room know about the last post ceremony in Ypres, Belgium. The Last Post Association ensures that those who died in the First World War are remembered to this day, in a simple ceremony that takes place every evening.

At 8 p.m. all traffic through the Menin Gate is halted, and two buglers move to the middle of the street and sound the last post.

On July 9, this simple 15 minute act of remembrance will be performed for the thirty-thousandth time. Now, that is leadership. That is dedication.

Would it not be wonderful if we could duplicate the last post ceremony in at least one Canadian community every night, like the citizens of Ypres?

I believe we all agree that the present system in Canada is not perfect and could and should be improved, especially in the public school system. Imagine how much more meaningful Remembrance Day would be with a little leadership, imagination, and dialogue.

The tools are there. Veterans Affairs Canada creates some excellent learning materials for schools and education authorities.

The Tales of Animals in War and the Canada Remembers Times are great resources, which do a good job of engaging students in remembrance. On the learning section of the department's website, schools can also find information on how to plan a successful remembrance ceremony. In reality, there is no amount of commemoration we can give to the fallen, our veterans, and our Canadian Armed Forces members to make up for their sacrifice.

The Minister of Veterans Affairs has worked extremely hard since his appointment to create a more respectful and veteran-centric environment.

The government introduced some new measures this spring to help provide security and peace of mind in retirement.

We broadened eligibility criteria for a financial benefit called the permanent impairment allowance.

As well, financial benefits for injured part-time reserve force veterans have been enhanced. These men and women who have careers in the civilian world now receive the same minimum income support payment through something called “earnings loss benefit”.

We also introduced the critical injury benefit, commonly known as CIB, which will provide a $70,000 tax-free payment to support the most severely injured and ill Canadian Armed Forces members and veterans. The family caregiver relief benefit will provide veterans who have a service-related injury with an annual tax-free grant, to provide caregivers in the home with flexibility or relief while ensuring that the needs of the seriously injured veterans are met.

As well, the process has begun to hire more than 100 case managers and locate them in key sites across the country. By increasing the number of case managers, we will be able to provide improved one-on-one service and better meet the individual needs of veterans. The government is working hard every day to provide the supports and necessary benefits so that Canada's veterans and their families have the right amount of assistance, income, and peace of mind.

Veterans deserve the highest respect we can give them. This conversation on how we can best honour the tremendous sacrifice made for our country over the years by countless individuals is certainly an important dialogue to have and to continue to have. In fact, it would be an honour for me to personally lead that conversation if given the opportunity.

Our nation's serving military and veterans are an inspiration to Canadians. Those I meet at the friendliest Legion in the region, branch 632 in Orléans, prove it to me every day. They inspire us to embrace freedom.

They inspire us to oppose oppression.

And they inspire us to do the right thing. We will remember them.

Holidays Act June 19th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the hon. member for Scarborough Southwest for presenting this bill, and maybe even commend the people of Scarborough Southwest for sending to this place a member who is so passionate about veterans affairs.

I have some questions, and I will do them without preamble.

The sponsor of the bill said that he would contact the provinces after second reading. First, I would like to know, what did the affected provinces, particularly Ontario and Quebec, where November 11 is not a statutory holiday, have to say about this bill?

Second, what did the member hear from the Ontario school boards about this bill? My understanding is that school boards have been clear in saying that they want to keep students in school on November 11.

Third, has the member calculated how much it would cost small businesses to make November 11 a statutory holiday?

Islamic State June 19th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, the vote last October 7 to launch air strikes with our allies against the so-called Islamic State will have been the most important vote of the 41st Parliament.

On June 9, it was reported that the Islamic State's Libya branch carried out another kidnapping, targeting 88 Eritrean Christians.

In February, jihadists had beheaded 21 Coptic Christians, showing once again their deepest contempt for the human race.

We can say unequivocally that the leaders and militants of the Islamic State are specifically targeting Christians, Jews, and even Muslims who do not toe the ISIS line.

In Orléans, whether at the Legion, on the street or by email, many constituents are telling me that the actions of the so-called Islamic State remind them of the rise of Nazism.

We must continue to support air strikes by Canada and our allies in this fight against evil.

Committees of the House June 18th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the sixth report of the Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs in relation to the study of a continuum of transition services.

Pursuant to Standing Order 109, the committee requests that the government table a comprehensive response to this report.

I, too, would like to thank all the members of the committee for their thorough and non-partisan work. I particularly want to signal the work of the hon. members for Edmonton Centre and Guelph, who are not only leaving the committee but leaving this House. I want to thank them for their wisdom and for their passion for this issue.

I would also like to thank the hon. member for Sackville—Eastern Shore for the grace he has shown me in chairing the meetings.

Petitions June 17th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36, I am honoured to present the attached petition.

This is a petition presented in the House of Commons calling for respect for the rights of small family farmers to preserve, exchange and use seeds.

Samuel de Champlain June 12th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, this year we are celebrating 400 years of French presence in Ontario. In this House seven years ago, I talked about this anniversary.

To mark this anniversary, in the company of Ontario's minister responsible for francophone affairs, Madeleine Meilleur, I had the pleasure last night of unveiling a new silver coin engraved with the image of explorer Samuel de Champlain.

Champlain visited the Great Lakes area in 1615. This gave him the opportunity to build lasting relationships with our first nations.

He also created conditions that favoured economic growth for a vibrant francophone community in Ontario, one that is still thriving today. This newest silver coin issued by the Mint sheds a new light on the explorations of Samuel de Champlain in Huronia. It also serves as a reminder that, four centuries later, Champlain’s heritage lives on and is reflected in the richness of the French culture in Ontario.

Foreign Affairs June 10th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, though separated for a time by the Iron Curtain of the Soviet era, Canada and Poland again have an increasingly strong defence relationship.

In fact, Canada was the first country to ratify Polish accession to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

Yesterday, Canada and Poland signed a declaration of intent to cement their commitment to strengthen their defence co-operation, promote security and contribute to international peace.

This follows last year's declaration of intent signed with Ukraine, exploring opportunities to conduct joint military training and capacity building in response to the Putin regime's aggression toward Ukraine.

On behalf of the good people of Orléans, I am pleased that Canada continues to stand united with its allies.

Orléans Para Athlete June 5th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, it is with emotion that I pay tribute to Kevin Frost of Orléans, who contributes to the immense richness of our community.

Kevin proves each day that one can be blind and deaf and still serve others.

In the last 15 years, Kevin has competed as a speed skater and was twice blind long-track champion and three times world blind short-track champion. He holds nine world records and has been awarded 18 gold medals and one silver.

Kevin has also competed with the Canadian development para team for rowing and the para track team in running, and this year he has made the para tandem cycling team.

Kevin has done missions to help 28 Mexican and Nicaraguan children hear again with new hearing aids.

In 2012, Kevin, a recipient of the 2010 United Way Community Builder Award, established the Impaired Speed Skating Association of Canada in order to help hearing impaired and visually impaired skaters.

Committees of the House May 25th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the fifth report of the Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs in relation to its study of the main estimates for 2015-16.

Economic Action Plan 2015 Act, No. 1 May 14th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, the shortest response is that Canadian families right across the country know that budgets do not balance themselves. There is one fellow who thinks they do. He sits in the corner over there, and that is probably where he is going to stay.