House of Commons photo

Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was correct.

Last in Parliament October 2015, as Conservative MP for Kitchener Centre (Ontario)

Lost his last election, in 2019, with 24% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Kitchener Multicultural Festival June 18th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, this weekend Kitchener will host our annual multicultural festival, a celebration of the customs that Canadians bring from all around the globe.

This is similar to the multi-faith prayer breakfast held every year in Waterloo region. In contrast to the recent court decision on prayer, Waterloo embraces pluralism, inviting each faith to offer its own prayer.

When we approach our diversity most closely, we learn how much we are alike. When we learn not to fear our differences, we discover our common humanity.

As a free society, we let everyone live the way they choose, absent some compelling need. We do not tell people how to pray or what to eat or even how to dress, unless there is a strong reason to limit freedom.

If we disagree about limits to freedom, we disagree with respect and judicial process.

Let every parliamentarian join Kitchener-Waterloo in affirming these principles.

Port State Measures Agreement Implementation Act May 28th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I compliment my colleague, the member for Malpeque, on raising an important issue. In fact, what he points to is the real necessity for Canada to work collaboratively on a global basis with our partners around the world. He is quite correct about that. These issues are not confined to a single coastline or a single area of the high seas; they do cross borders.

In point of fact, the legislation would allow Canada even to co-operate with distant conservation authorities, of which we are not members, to adopt their standards and to work with them in enforcing their measures against illegal fisheries. We are on the right track.

Port State Measures Agreement Implementation Act May 28th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I cannot respond very adequately to the question about the Arctic Council. The Arctic Council is dealing with a vast variety of issues involving borders, land claims, pollutant controls and other issues. I confess that I cannot say whether the Arctic Council has specifically dealt with this issue of illegal fisheries.

As to the question of boat procurement, I know the member opposite, who is thoughtful about environmental issues, at least will understand the necessity to proceed in a manner which avoids some of the fiascos of the past and which in fact carefully costs out the options and looks for ways to maximize the benefit of the shipbuilding program economically to Canadian communities.

In the meantime, as I have mentioned, our fisheries officers work with a very robust enforcement program. In the last three years they have issued 5,529 charges. They have issued 2,638 tickets. They have obtained 2,972 convictions, with $6 billion in fines for both charges and tickets.

Port State Measures Agreement Implementation Act May 28th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, before I begin, I would like to note that I will be sharing my time today with my hon. colleague, the hard-working and principled member for beautiful Langley, British Columbia.

I rise today to also provide my support for amendments to the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act. It appears that we have the support of many other members on this critical piece of legislation. It is my hope that the opposition will not only talk the talk but walk the walk and join us in voting this bill through quickly.

As a former member of the parliamentary fisheries committee, and as the longest-serving member of the parliamentary environment committee, I understand the critical importance of defending sustainable fisheries from damaging activities.

As we are all well aware, it is difficult to estimate precisely the total catch from unlawful fishing. It is an illegal market, and estimates are therefore naturally unreliable. However, studies indicate that the global figure could be from 11 million tonnes to as much as 26 million tonnes every year. As my hon. colleague mentioned earlier, this represents a significant portion of the world's total catch.

Illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing is a wide-ranging problem with serious impacts on marine environments and law-abiding fish harvesters.

By illegal fishing, we mean contravention of the conservation and enforcement measures of international fisheries management organizations. Unreported fishing refers to fishing activities that have not been reported or that have been misrepresented by vessels to the relevant enforcement authority. Unregulated fishing is self-explanatory. It includes fishing activities that are not adequately regulated or controlled by any responsible flag state. Of course, from a criminal perspective, this kind of fishing operation can be highly attractive. They do not pay licence fees, taxes, or duties on these catches.

Developing countries are at particular risk of having their resources illegally exploited. Canada has built its own capacity to effectively enforce its rules, but by supporting international efforts to cut off port access for these high-seas bandits, we can help countries that are still building their critical infrastructure.

When customers around the world order fish in a restaurant or buy it in a store, they probably assume that it was legally harvested. Once illegally caught fish enter the supply chain, there are very few ways to tell how it was harvested. Therefore, these amendments to the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act will further strengthen our controls on the import of fisheries products into Canada that are suspected of being illegally harvested. This will not only help our Canadian harvesters protect their economic interests but will also assist those in other countries in the protection of their fish stocks.

Turning to the subject of port controls, it is important to note that stemming the trade in illegal catches is complicated by the fact that not every vessel needs to enter a port to land its catch. Smaller fishing vessels can offload their catches onto larger ships with refrigerated holds while still at sea. This is known as trans-shipping. It can be used by criminals and can serve to disguise the origin of illegally caught fish. Through Bill S-3, Canada will address this issue by expanding the definition of a fishing vessel to include all of these types of container ships.

Another feature of the problem of illegal harvests is that vessels operate under so-called flags of convenience. Some countries allow foreign fishing vessels to operate under their flags but then take little or no responsibility for the activities of those vessels. It is in response to this gap in flag state enforcement that other measures, such as the port state measures we are discussing today, have been proposed as a highly effective option in the fight against illegal fishing.

The issue of illegal fishing has been on the global radar for years. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations adopted the code of conduct for responsible fisheries in 1995, and that was endorsed by around 170 member states, including Canada. In 2001, the organization adopted an international plan of action to prevent, deter and eliminate illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.

Under this framework, member states agreed that a concerted approach by all port states was needed to make it more difficult for illegal fishing vessels to land their catches without fear of any serious repercussions. The agreement on port state measures to prevent, deter and eliminate illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing is a treaty that promotes this coordinated global action.

Some regional fisheries management organizations now maintain illegal fishing vessel lists containing details of vessels that have supported illegal fishing activities within that region. This name-and-shame policy is another means to make it difficult for criminal fishing vessels and their support ships to find ports in which to offload their catches. However, the amendments that would be made to the act by Bill S-3 would provide enhanced clarity for our fisheries officers to share information on those who committed illegal fishing offences with the Canadian Border Services Agency and with our international partners.

No single measure on its own will succeed in eliminating illegal fishing. All possible avenues must be explored, otherwise strong market demand and high prices, especially for the world's most sought after species, will continue to attract illegal fishing operations to the long-term detriment of the world's fish stocks. Therefore, Bill S-3 would further deter illegal operators with new powers for the court to order to significant financial penalties upon conviction.

It is clear why all of this matters to Canadians and to our fishing industry. First, as a responsible fishing nation, we need to ensure that we are part of the solution and a leader in combatting illegal fishing, which is also an important priority for our key trading and enforcement partners. Second, the aspects of illegal fishing that I have mentioned put our industry at a competitive disadvantage, and we have to do what we can to level the playing field. Third, we all have an interest in protecting the health of the world's oceans.

Bill S-3 would strengthen the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act, aligning it with the new global standards articulated in the port state measures agreement.

Of course, states are free to take more stringent measures than those outlined in the agreement, and as part of meeting our international obligations, this bill would enable us to further protect the livelihoods of law-abiding fish harvesters, not just in Canada but all around the world, by supporting global efforts to prohibit the entry of illegal fish into international markets.

The amendments to the act contained in Bill S-3 would allow Canada to ratify the port state measures agreement and to improve our already robust control measures in regard to illegal fishing and the products derived from this destructive activity.

This is a necessary, important step for Canada to take. I urge all hon. members, not just to talk about this problem but to join me in supporting these critical amendments to the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act, and vote for Bill S-3.

Port State Measures Agreement Implementation Act May 28th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, in fact, the fisheries program continues to recruit new talent to protect our fisheries. The government's approach to fisheries protection and enforcement is working. Over the past three years, fisheries officers have issued 5,529 charges, issued 2,638 tickets, obtained 2,972 convictions, and issued $6 million in fines for both charges and tickets.

I would like to know if the hon. member will stand with us in the House and commend our fisheries officers for their great work.

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

Mr. Speaker, quite frankly this question demonstrates one of the worst aspects of this particular Parliament, which is when one descends to personal slurs and attacks. It does not bother me, as I am used to hearing it, particularly from the Liberals. I respected and appreciated the comments made by my NDP colleague earlier, because he did not take the same low road that the member who just asked about my reading ability has done.

Just to establish beyond a doubt, let me read some of the things that I have read about this budget to my Liberal colleague, particularly with respect to Canadian manufacturing.

The Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters stated:

...this year’s budget backs up the importance of both manufacturing and exporting with a number of important tax and investment measures that will have a very positive impact for CME members.

Most importantly, the budget provides an Accelerated Capital Cost Allowance over the next ten years for investments in manufacturing and processing technologies.

Aéro Montréal stated it is:

...proud that the Government of Canada recognizes the importance of deploying such a program nationwide. This will...[provide a funding boost to programs] already in place in Québec.

Let me close with the Greater Kitchener Waterloo Chamber of Commerce, which stated:

From the business perspective, this is a good-news budget. Economic growth in Canada is delivered—

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

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his confidence in my legal expertise. I did spend almost 30 years practising law, so I have a good sense of how the law operates. Having been here for seven years now, I also have a sense for how things get spun out of all proper proportion in the political world.

My colleague is placing unfounded fears before the House. With respect to labour negotiations, the budget of course sets the framework. As a lawyer, he will know that the frameworks establishes parameters, negotiations continue, and it is still open to the parties to reach a negotiated solution.

With respect to the long gun registry, my colleague knows full well that the intent of this honourable House was to abolish the long gun registry and to get rid of the data that went with it. This implementation bill would correct any oversight in that regard.

I want to close by reminding my colleague that this budget would reduce the small business tax rate to 9% by 2019. I know that, on his side of the House, he has recently become a convert to low business taxes. Will he support that in this budget?

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

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to have the opportunity to comment on another great budget from a strong, stable, majority Conservative government.

The budget has been described in my community as centrist, cautious, keeping old promises as well as making new ones, and at times surprisingly compassionate.

The first budget of Minister of Finance, the first balanced one since the great recession of 2008, provides substantial benefits to many Canadians. The budget helps seniors by giving them more flexibility and withdrawals from retirement income funds, and a new tax credit to make homes more accessible. Seniors will also benefit from the new $10,000 contribution limit for a tax-free savings account, as well as new help for people caring for seriously ill relatives.

Families with children will receive improvements for the universal child care benefit and the child care expense deduction, in addition to the previously announced family tax cut. There is help for post-secondary students seeking loans through the Canada student loans program.

To stimulate the economy, the budget offers tax breaks for small business, investment incentives to manufacturers and new infrastructure spending. There will also be more money spent on security measures, both in Canada and abroad.

Despite losing $6 billion in anticipated revenue due to plunging oil prices, the government squeezed out a small surplus in this budget. Now the question is how can we boost the economy? I can tell the House, further deficits are not the answer. No one knows how long such deficits would have to continue, meanwhile increasing debt charges continue to drain economic resources.

The Conservative government promised to balance the budget, and it did. We promised to save money for taxpayers, and we have. We said that we would improve the quality of the lives of people, and we did. We said that we would protect Canadians from security threats and defend democratic values against totalitarian states and terrorist groups, and that is exactly what we are doing. Promises made; promises kept.

Economic action plan 2015 emphasizes supporting Canada's families through tax relief and benefits. Here are some important measures: increasing the tax-free savings account contribution limit to $10,000; introducing the family tax cut to allow a higher income spouse to transfer taxable income to his spouse in a lower tax bracket; tax relief of up to $2,000 per family for couples with children under the age of 18; increasing and expanding the universal child care benefit to provide every family in Canada with $2,000 per year per child under the age of six, and $720 per year per child between the ages of 6 and 17; increasing the child care expense deduction limit by $1,000; doubling the child fitness tax credit to $1,000 and making it refundable; renewing the mandate of the Canadian Mental Health Commission for another 10 years to help tackle mental health issues that affect some Canadian families; and enhancing support for child advocacy centres across Canada to deliver community based programs helping children and families recover from victimization.

Over 11 million Canadians are currently earning tax-free income in their tax-free savings accounts, saving for a down payment on a home, for their kids education or for their retirement. In 2011, the Prime Minister promised to double the contribution limit of the tax-free savings account once the budget was balanced, another promise kept.

The opposition threatens to reverse this increase, claiming it only benefits the rich. However, the Department of Finance has shown that the vast majority of maximum contributors are low to middle-income earners, and many are seniors. It is little wonder that the Canadian Association of Retired Persons strongly endorses the increases to the TSFA limit.

Here are some interesting statistics that contradict the assertion that such measures only benefit the very wealthy. Almost 60% of TSFA maximisers make less than $60,000 per annum. Just under half of TSFA maximisers, 46% of them are seniors. Overall, 80% of the 11 million Canadians who hold tax-free savings accounts have incomes of less than $80,000, and 50% have incomes less than $42,000. All of them will benefit from an increase in the limit.

These measures do not involve taking money from the government, as some oppositions members claim. These measures simply ensure that hard-working families across the country get to keep more of their own money.

The family tax cut will permit a higher-earning spouse to transfer taxable income to a lower tax bracket spouse. Tax relief is capped at $2,000 for couples with children under 18.

Now the opposition asserts that income splitting only benefits 15% of Canadian families, but two things are misleading about that assertion.

First, 15% of Canadian families represent approximately two million households. Any single tax measure that provides relief to two million households is extremely far-reaching. The NDP's proposed child care measure by contrast would benefit only half of this number of Canadians, and that does not even take into account the grandparents who will see the benefit of this in their children's families.

Beyond even that, the Parliamentary Budget Officer found that middle and middle-high income households would benefit most from income splitting. Most of the tax relief would be provided to middle-income families. More than one million families, representing 83% of those earning between $60,000 and $120,000, would qualify for the family tax cut.

Instead of calculating income on an individual basis, the family tax cut would provide moderate relief based on household income, widely accepted as the fairest measure of any family's resources. This is a question of fairness. Families with the same income should be taxed at the same rate. The current system forces some families, which are exactly equal to others, to pay significantly more in taxes, and that is simply unfair. The family tax cut would solve this problem.

Another important facet of economic action plan 2015 is its emphasis on manufacturing as a key engine for the Canadian economy, and this is good news for my residents of Kitchener Centre and Waterloo region. In this budget, the government has delivered an incentive for manufacturers, which provides them with an accelerated capital cost allowance to spur continued investment in required equipment. This measure alone is expected to reduce federal taxes for manufacturers in Ontario by $473 million over the period of 2016 to 2020.

The government's new economic action plan would create an automotive supplier innovation program to deliver $100 million worth of support over five years for automotive part suppliers. The government will also develop a national aerospace supplier development initiative, a made-in-Canada solution, working with industry and government stakeholders, to aid aerospace firms.

Manufacturing is also be assisted by the most ambitious pro-export plan in our country's history so Canadian businesses can pursue global opportunities. Since 2006, the Conservative government has concluded free trade agreements with 38 countries, compared to just five before taking office. Canadian exporters will soon have preferential access to more than half the global marketplace. Opening up new markets is just one of the many ways this government is fostering growth and job creation for Canadians.

As members can see, economic action plan 2015 builds on Conservative government strategies that have helped the Canadian economy emerge stronger and more quickly than any other G7 nation from the worst global recession in over 80 years. That is why every member of the House should support Bill C-59.

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns May 13th, 2015

With regard to government funding in the riding of Kitchener Centre, for each fiscal year since 2007-2008 inclusive: (a) what are the details of all grants, contributions, and loans to any organization, body, or group, broken down by (i) name of the recipient, (ii) municipality of the recipient, (iii) date on which the funding was received, (iv) amount received, (v) department or agency providing the funding, (vi) program under which the grant, contribution, or loan was made, (vii) nature or purpose; and (b) for each grant, contribution and loan identified in (a), was a press release issued to announce it and, if so, what is the (i) date, (ii) headline, (iii) file number of the press release?

Taxation April 27th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, last week the Minister of Finance delivered our government's plan for trade, training, and tax cuts. While the opposition is focused on raising taxes, the Conservative government is focused on giving more money back to hard-working Canadian families. I do not want a single Canadian family to miss out on these cuts and benefits.

Would the Minister of State for Social Development please update this House and all Canadians on the important deadline that is coming up for Canadian families?