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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was jobs.

Last in Parliament October 2015, as Conservative MP for Cumberland—Colchester—Musquodoboit Valley (Nova Scotia)

Lost his last election, in 2019, with 36% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Anti-terrorism Act, 2015 May 4th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak today to Bill C-51, the anti-terrorism act, 2015. During my time today I will be addressing the elements of part 4 of the bill. These elements would broaden CSIS's mandate to include the authority to disrupt threats to Canada's national security. In particular, I would like to outline the legal parameters of this new authority as well as the robust accountability framework from which threat disruption measures would be taken by CSIS and how these would be authorized and reviewed.

I want to be clear. The international jihadi movement has declared war on Canada and its allies. Canadians are being targeted by terrorists simply because these terrorists hate our society and the values it represents. That is why our government has put forward these measures to protect Canadians against jihadi terrorists who seek to destroy the very principles that make Canada the best country in the world in which to live.

Throughout its history, CSIS has played a vital role in investigating and advising the government on national security threats, but it has also been limited to those functions of collection and advice, even as it has encountered early opportunities to disrupt threats in the course of these investigations. How frustrating that must be.

Today we must reconsider this narrowly constructed mandate and the tools required to protect Canadians. The threats from terrorism we face today demand that we do this. These threats are also the reason we are investing $292 million over the next five years in our intelligence and law enforcement agencies, as announced in this year's budget.

In the context of this bill, and specifically of the new mandate for CSIS, we must consider the rigorous framework in which CSIS's threat disruption activities would take place.

CSIS has established a 30-year history as an intelligence service. It is respected globally and is known for its rigorous framework of ministerial accountability, judicial authorization, and independent review. I want to expand on that point.

Canada is unique in that judicial, not executive, authorization is currently required for CSIS to engage in intrusive investigative techniques. That means, for example, that for the past 30 years, before CSIS has tapped a phone, it has been required to seek a warrant from the Federal Court, which is a rigorous and thorough process. The key tenets of the current warrant process are laid out in the CSIS Act. Among other things, the law requires that warrant applications to the Federal Court first be approved by the minister.

All of the activities of CSIS are also subject to ministerial direction, and the minister is kept apprised of CSIS's operations, routinely and through a detailed annual report. These reporting requirements are laid out in both the CSIS Act and through ministerial direction. In addition, as set out by the CSIS Act, all CSIS activities are subject to review by SIRC. This model of judicial authorization review is routinely cited as embodying the best practices in the area of intelligence service governance.

I would like to direct members to the 2010 report of the United Nations Special Rapporteur on good practices in legal and institutional frameworks for intelligence agencies, in which CSIS received positive mention several times. It is in this context, and in today's threat environment, that we introduce this legislation to expand CSIS's mandate.

Pursuant to this bill, CSIS would have the authority to disrupt threats to our national security. This would provide the government with an invaluable and flexible new tool to combat threats to our security and safety, which we know have now increased, both in tempo and in complexity. We saw another tragic attack in the United States today.

Make no mistake, this bill would not give CSIS a blank cheque to do whatever it wishes; far from it, in fact. This legislation, in numerous provisions, would require that all threat disruption measures undertaken by the service be reasonable and proportionate. These measures would not be arbitrary, and they would be narrowly focused on disrupting a particular activity that constituted a threat to the very security of our nation. This threshold is clearly articulated in law.

Ray Boisvert, the former assistant director of CSIS, said:

...the warrant process is the most onerous warrant process of its kind, in my estimation, around the world.... The enhancements being proposed will add layers of requirements, giving direction to the judiciary and...those who are composing the warrant.... [Seizure] warrants typically go on for hundreds of pages per target, explaining the rationale and making the case to be able to obtain those powers that allowed lawfully intercept some of these communications.... I am still encouraged that this will not change. My sense from reading the legislation is that those safeguards are protected and are further enhanced.

I would also like to point out the key differences between CSIS's collection mandate and the proposed disruption mandate of this legislation.

CSIS may investigate activities suspected of constituting threats to the security of Canada, an entirely appropriate threshold for its investigative mandate. The threshold for engaging any threat diminishment activity, however, would be much higher. For CSIS to disrupt a threat, the bill states that there would have to be reasonable grounds to believe that a given activity constituted a threat to the security of Canada. That is an important distinction between those two roles and those two activities.

Let me be frank. Some have raised the spectre of what are, quite frankly, disturbing scenarios or outcomes due to this legislation. I want to put those concerns to rest here and now.

The legislation would specifically prohibit certain activities. Let me emphasize that this bill would also not make CSIS a law enforcement body. Our Conservative amendments have reinforced this point for greater clarity.

Further, this new threat disruption mandate would be subject to new ministerial direction, managed within a rigorous framework and subject to an independent review by SIRC.

The bill clearly states that when a warrant was required, a judge would determine if a measure was reasonable and proportionate in the circumstances in regard to the nature of a threat, the nature of the measures, and the reasonable availability of other means.

In addition, the judge could include any terms or conditions deemed advisable in the public interest: judicial authority; judicial power. Further, these warrants would be narrowly time bound, with a maximum duration of 120 days, and would only be able to be renewed twice, as they would be time limited.

To provide added assurance about the nature and implementation of the threat disruption measures, this legislation would also impose specific reporting requirements on both CSIS and SIRC. CSIS would be specifically required to report to the minister on the measures it has taken. SIRC would then be required to annually review at least one aspect of the service's performance in taking these measures and to report on the number of warrants issued for these activities.

For added assurance, as members will know our government just announced its intention to double the budget of the Security Intelligence Review Committee, providing an additional $12.5 million over five years to further strengthen SIRC's capacity to review the activities of CSIS. This is on top of announcing $300 million that we put in place to combat terrorism here at home. These elements combined, namely our rigorous system of judicial authorization, enhanced independent review by SIRC, and specific statutory prohibitions, are designed to assure Canadians that this mandate would be exercised by CSIS responsibly.

This is a regime Canadians can feel confident is in keeping with their values and is a framework in which the imperatives of national security will always be duly balanced with the rights of an individual.

This legislation would protect Canadians, enhance our national security, and keep in place what we value dearly: our rights and freedoms.

The Budget May 1st, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the hard-working member for Whitby—Oshawa for her support for Canadian moms and dads across the country.

The member is right that both the Liberals and the NDP have been full-throated in their outright disdain for our plan to provide more money directly to parents in Canada. The NDP leader actually claims that these tax breaks are giveaways. He does not think that Canadians deserve to have the money that they earn.

The Liberals and NDP want higher taxes on middle-class families. That is their plan. High taxes on the middle class: on this side of the House, we will not do that. Instead, we will continue to reduce taxes on middle-class families.

Employment Insurance May 1st, 2015

Mr. Speaker, of course, the EI fund was supplemented by the general revenue from taxpayers during the recession. Now it is being returned to the general revenue for taxpayers.

The focus of our EI program is to make sure that if people lose their jobs through no fault of their own, the EI program will be there for them, for Canadians. The EI program is sound. It works. Please stand up and support the EI program. Support the workers in this country.

Taxation May 1st, 2015

Mr. Speaker, earlier this week the leader of the NDP claimed that our new family tax cut and enhanced universal child care benefit were “giveaways”. The NDP is actually upset that, thanks to our budget, people will have more money in their pockets to spend as they wish. It thinks it is entitled to their money.

That is the NDP plan and the Liberal plan for Canada. They want higher taxes on Canadian families, higher taxes on middle-class seniors and higher taxes on middle-class consumers.

We all know their plan is not right for Canada. That is why our Conservative government is reducing taxes, making life more affordable for every hard-working family in the country. We will never apologize for leaving 100% of the families in our country better off.

Citizen Voting Act May 1st, 2015

Mr. Speaker, all pieces of legislation take input from anyone in the House of Commons. Legislation is brought forward, either by the government or by private members in this institution. If it is passed by the House of Commons, it goes to committee, where all recognized parties have the ability to put forward amendments that can be debated there. When it returns to the House, it is once again open to debate by all members of the House.

There is a set process for legislation. It is a long and gruelling process to make laws in Canada, as we all know in the House of Commons and in the other place.

However, to say that there are is no option or opportunity for opposition members to comment on legislation is false. They have every opportunity in the House, in the Senate, and at committee to comment on and make recommendations and possible amendments to legislation.

Citizen Voting Act May 1st, 2015

Mr. Speaker, committees are masters of their own destiny, so when the report goes to committee and comes back to the House, we will have to see what the committee suggests and recommends.

It is incumbent on the Government of Canada, and all Canadians, to ensure we have integrity within our democratic system of elections. The way the legislation is currently worded, it does open up loopholes where people could attempt to game the system, and we are closing that loophole to stop that potential.

I was asked what the intent of the government is and why we are doing this. We are doing these changes to make sure that all Canadians have the right and ability to cast a democratic ballot in all federal elections, whether they reside within Canada or they currently reside outside of Canada.

We also have to ensure the integrity of that vote. That is the very basis of our democratic system. That makes sure that the elections can be reflected as being democratic, fair, and also having the integrity that all Canadians deserve.

Citizen Voting Act May 1st, 2015

Mr. Speaker, as I said in my remarks, it is an extensive list of identification that can be used by Canadians, both domestically and internationally, to make sure they can prove who they are and where they live, or where they used to live when it concerns citizens abroad, so that their vote will be counted in the electoral district where it rightfully deserves to be counted.

In addition to the extensive amounts of different identification, attestations, oaths, and also declarations that can be written and sent in, the Chief Electoral Officer does have the flexibility to add other pieces of identification he sees as necessary to ensure that all Canadians, both domestic and abroad, would have the ability to vote in the election.

We also need to have integrity in the system. As I mentioned, the way that the rules are now, there is the ability for people who are casting their votes internationally through a special ballot to name the district where that vote should count. That would open up the opportunity for an abuse of the system. That is a loophole that this legislation seeks to close.

Citizen Voting Act May 1st, 2015

Mr. Speaker, the process being put in place is to ensure that people who are voting abroad through a special ballot will have their vote count in the electoral district where they last resided in Canada. That requires some proof of when they actually emigrated to another country to reside in a different place internationally.

By providing identification which shows their previous address, that makes sure that their ballot and vote is being counted in the right electoral district. This stops anyone from trying to game the system by collecting a lot of international votes from many citizens abroad and putting them all in one single or a very few electoral districts.

This way, if an individual left a certain electoral district in Canada, went abroad and cast a ballot, which they are rightfully able to do, it will count in the same electoral district where they used to reside.

Citizen Voting Act May 1st, 2015

Mr. Speaker, as we know, it is incumbent upon all of us to ensure that we have integrity within our democratic system. During an election, we must ensure that people are rightfully and dutifully casting a ballot, and that they have the integrity to cast that ballot in a fair and democratic manner. That means that Canadians in Canada who come to vote must be able to prove their residence and identity. That is the very fabric of a democratic system. Literally millions of Canadians have voted in subsequent elections, both provincially and federally, and have produced the appropriate ID to do so.

We continue to expand the list of authorized identification so that seniors, young people, middle-income Canadians, low-income Canadians, and Canadians from all walks of life, are able to cast their ballot. To do so, they must be able to demonstrate that they are rightfully on the voters list and live in the electoral district where they are casting their ballot. That is the integrity of the system.

A number of lists and the flexibility have been provided by the Fair Elections Act, and now, through Bill C-50, we will ensure we have an equal and level playing field for Canadians voting in Canada and Canadians voting abroad. We must ensure that there is integrity in both systems, domestically and internationally.

Citizen Voting Act May 1st, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to participate in the debate on the second reading of Bill C-50, the citizen voting act.

Bill C-50 proposes important reforms to Canada's election act. These reforms would reinforce the integrity of a special ballot voting system while at the same time showing fairness for resident and non-resident voters alike.

In doing so, the citizen voting act would follow in the footsteps of the Fair Elections Act. In particular, Bill C-50 would ensure fairness by providing that non-resident voting procedures are consistent with the procedures for resident voters that were brought in with the Fair Elections Act.

Among these key provision, the citizen voting act would require that electors applying for a special ballot must include within their application for registration proof of identity and residence, and, if they apply from outside Canada, proof of Canadian citizenship. Electors who are resident outside of Canada would only receive a special ballot for the address at which they last resided within Canada.

In the debate thus far, some concerns have been raised about the potential negative impacts that could arise as a result of the new identification requirements for non-resident voters. I would like to demonstrate that these concerns are unfounded. Accordingly, I will focus my comments today on the voter identification requirements in the Canada Elections Act and what is proposed in Bill C-50 for special ballot voters.

Before addressing any specific concerns, I think it is worthwhile to again briefly review the voter identification requirements in Bill C-50. The voter identification provisions would require that electors voting by special ballot, non-residents and residents, must include within their application for a special ballot proof of identity and residence, similar to that set out in the Fair Elections Act. Further, Canadians living abroad would be required to prove the place of residence in the riding in which they would be voting, using the same documentation that voters living within Canada must also provide. The same general identification scheme that was established in the Fair Elections Act would apply to applicants wishing to vote by special ballot.

Under the first option, a voter may provide one piece of government-issued identification with the voter's photo, name, and address. An example would be a driver's licence or a provincial or territorial ID card. Under the second option, a voter may show two pieces of ID authorized by the Chief Electoral Officer, one with the voter's name, and one with the voter's name and their address. An example would be a health card and a phone bill, or a debit card and a bank statement. Under the third option, a voter would provide two pieces of ID with the voter's name, and an oath or declaration of residence that is attested to by a properly identified voter from the same riding.

For non-residents, the attestation process would enable them to provide proof of their last residence in Canada by means of an oath or written declaration. A person providing the attestation could be either a resident of Canada or another non-resident who is qualified to vote in the same electoral district as the person applying for the special ballot. In either case, both the applicant and the person attesting for their residence would have to provide either an oath or a written declaration. An oath would have to be administered by a qualified official, either in Canada or abroad. On the other hand, a written declaration could be completed by the applicant abroad, and it would not require that an official be present in order to administer it.

To sum up, the provisions of Bill C-50 would ensure that Canadians living abroad follow the same rules as those living in Canada. It is only fair that non-resident Canadians be required to comply with the same rules that are followed by other Canadian voters.

I would now like to address the concern that has been raised about potentially disenfranchising voters as a result of the new identification rules set out in Bill C-50. The amendments contained in Bill C-50 would simply ensure that the same clear identification rules that apply to voting in person would apply to voting by special ballot.

I understand that there are now 47 approved identification documents listed on the Elections Canada website, some of which were added recently. The website lists 28 pieces of approved identification providing a voter's name, including, to name a few, a health card, a Canadian passport, a birth certificate, an Indian status card, a Veteran's Affairs health card, a student identity card, and an identity bracelet issued by a hospital or long-term care facility.

The list of pieces of identification providing both name and address currently includes 19 items. Examples on that list are a utility bill; a bank statement; a credit card statement; a residential lease or sublease; an income tax assessment; a letter from a public curator, public guardian, or a public trustee; a letter of confirmation of residence from a first nations band, reserve, or Inuit local authority; a letter of confirmation of residence from one of several designated establishments, including a student residence, a seniors residence, a long-term care facility, a homeless shelter, or a soup kitchen, and the list goes on. This demonstrates the sheer number of pieces of identification that may be used as voter identification, and the breadth of options which are captured by this list. The Chief Electoral Officer is always at liberty to authorize further pieces of identification for the purpose of voting as he sees fit.

I recall an empirical study, conducted by Professor Ian Lee of Carleton University last year, in which he examined the numbers and types of identification that are accessible by Canadians. He concluded that there are identity cards well in excess of 200 million for 18 million voters, and that excluded millions of monthly utility bills. Apart from these sheer numbers, the list that has been approved demonstrates that a lack of identification should not be a barrier to voting in Canada. None of these would change because of the provisions of the citizen voting act.

To conclude, the citizen voting act is designed to reinforce the integrity and fairness of the electoral system for all voters, resident and non-resident voters alike. The new measures will help ensure that non-resident voters have a direct connection to Canada and are subject to similar voter identification rules that all other voters must also follow.

The right to vote is at the very foundation of our democracy. It embodies a responsibility and duty on all of us to familiarize ourselves with the voting process. In that spirit, I encourage all Canadians to become familiar with the identification rules and to ensure that they have the proper ID to vote, whether at the polling station or through a special ballot. It is incumbent upon all of us to support integrity measures aimed at ensuring that ballots are legitimately cast by eligible voters.