House of Commons photo

Elsewhere

Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was correct.

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

Lost his last election, in 2015, with 30% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Business of Supply March 24th, 2009

Mr. Speaker, my friend across the way, the member for Markham—Unionville, made good use of quotations. It seems to me there is another quotation that might be relevant to the House and it reads as follows:

I feel entirely principled in doing the right thing which is to do everything in our power to get the money out the door. When the economy is as bad as we've been saying...priority number one has to be to get that billions of dollars of support in the economy. I have no apologies whatsoever for that position.

It was the member for Markham—Unionville who said that. I do not know when he changed his mind and decided that it was more important to get a one day report after spending was done.

He said that he has seen the list and I have not heard him raise any alarm about the list. I want to make sure that he is not raising any alarm about the list that he has seen and that he would not expect Canadians to raise any alarm. If he did want to raise an alarm, is that just going to delay these billions of dollars from getting out the door?

The Environment March 4th, 2009

Mr. Speaker, earlier this week the Minister of the Environment travelled to Washington to meet with key officials of the Obama administration, as well as Senator Kerry and Representative Waxman, to continue the clean energy dialogue.

Could the Minister of the Environment please update the House on the success of his visit to Washington?

Natural Resources February 26th, 2009

Mr. Speaker, this week my premier, Dalton McGuinty, announced a plan to boost investment in green energy and deliver green jobs. Ontario's green energy act will create growth in renewable energy sources like wind, solar, hydro and biomass. It will promote energy efficiency and encourage businesses to build green.

My question for the Minister of Natural Resources is, what is this Conservative government doing to work with the provinces, including Ontario, to make Canada the destination for green energy development?

Marine Liability Act February 25th, 2009

Mr. Speaker, I also have a question for my hon. colleague across the floor.

The fact is that this bill would increase the compensation amount for tanker oil spills up to $1.5 billion. That is pursuant to the international convention that the bill would ratify. In addition, it would increase compensation amounts for oil spills from other ships up to $250 million. This is all to do with combatting pollution.

I suppose it is possible for the opposition to ask why are we turning this into an environmental bill. It seems perfectly clear that what we are trying to do is to increase protection for the environment.

I listened carefully to my friend's comments and through the whole of them I did not hear him raise any objection to these apparently laudable praiseworthy goals for this legislation.

I would like to know from my colleague opposite whether he thinks there is anyone, outside of perhaps the big polluters who might disagree with this kind of protection for our waterways, who disagrees with it. If he does not know of anyone who disagrees with it, does he disagree with it? If he does not disagree with it, will he help us get it passed so we can move on to other issues?

The Environment February 6th, 2009

Mr. Speaker, can the Minister of the Environment please explain to the House today how our investments toward fighting climate change are moving us forward to a cleaner environment?

Business of Supply February 5th, 2009

Mr. Speaker, I very much appreciated my friend's comments about the importance of working together in the House. I think she is dead-on. Our Prime Minister has taken the very same approach. My comments are not meant to reflect on that at all. I am going to give my friend the benefit of two questions and she can choose to answer one or both of them.

First, I was intrigued by the member's observation about the outdated ideology of the NDP. Somewhat like the previous questioner, I wonder when my friend came to that conclusion, whether it was before or after she signed the famous memorandum regarding the coalition and whether she could possibly find herself in a government which was in coalition with that kind of ideology.

Second, and more to the point of this debate, does my friend acknowledge that the President of the United States would not have had this issue come front and centre to his radar without the very strong representation from our government in Washington?

The Budget January 29th, 2009

Mr. Speaker, I want to commend the member on her desire to tone down the rhetoric and I want to ask her to just stop and reflect on her own comments when she remarks on that desire.

I also want to just begin by going back historically. My friend mentioned that the financial crisis began last fall. If my friend thinks that, then our government was even more wildly successful than I knew because in reality the financial crisis began a year ago in the fall and Canada was protected from it.

I want to ask my friend to think about not calling it goofy to shut down Parliament because in fact I think there are very many Canadians who think it was exactly the right thing to do in order to give the government time to reflect on the budget and come up with a plan.

If my friend is serious about toning down her rhetoric, I would like to ask her if she does not think there are some good things in this budget which are worthy of support: for example, $1 billion over two years for renovation and retrofits to social housing; $75 million to build social housing for persons with disabilities; $200 million over two years to support social housing in the north; and more particularly, enhancing the working family tax credit and measures of that nature. Could my friend admit that there are at least some very good things in this budget?

The Budget January 29th, 2009

Madam Speaker, I think the member may have overlooked one or two items that are in the budget. I am going to mention them briefly.

For example, there would be a $50 million allotment over two years to cover severance pay owed to eligible employees of bankrupt companies. This is something new. It has never been done before, to my knowledge at least. It will in fact expand beyond the EI system to give relief to Canadians who may have, unfortunately, been laid off. Also, there will be grants for training for people even outside of the EI system. That will benefit people who do not access EI directly.

The Budget January 29th, 2009

Madam Speaker, I am aware of Mr. Obama's stimulus package and its impact on Canada. I am also aware, as he is, that the protectionist provision in that package is limited to one or two sectors. It is not a wide-open protectionism. Our industry minister is on top of this file and has commented on it. He is aware of it. He is intent on ensuring that the American government will comply with its international obligations under NAFTA and other trade agreements.

It is interesting to see at this time, 20 years after NAFTA was hotly debated in this country, how important it is to our country to ensure that we maintain that good, open, free trade with the United States. I am glad that my friend on the opposite side of the House is concerned about that, too. I assume he will be supporting NAFTA in any efforts to reopen negotiations on it. Having said all of that, it is premature in that the American package is yet to be finalized.

In any event, our good news budget today provides a great deal of access to credit and financing to the industries in my riding which will help them ride out this storm.

The Budget January 29th, 2009

Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to speak today in support of the government's economic action plan. This budget will be a test of political maturity. Canadians have been watching with great interest and quite literally praying that we parliamentarians get it right.

This budget is a test of our Conservative government. It is also a test of the Liberal Party, the Bloc and the NDP. More important, it is a test of minority government itself.

What is the standard against which we are being tested? What do Canadians want? How will we know whether we have passed?

Two results are important to Canadians. First and foremost, Canadians want us to work together. Second, we must respond competently to the worldwide economic slowdown. If we do not work together, we will be incapable of any response whatsoever.

We will not succeed if we insist upon a mean-minded lack of trust. If we harbour grudges over past disagreements, if we refuse to even listen to one another, that will be picking up one's marbles and storming off home, and Canadians will recognize that for what it is. We also will not succeed if we play power games, if we all try to be king of the hill, if we insist that this budget must be exactly what we want.

My community of Kitchener has a pioneering tradition of conflict resolution. As a lawyer for almost 30 years I have learned that a good compromise is one where everybody feels disappointed. If any party in the House thinks it will get everything it wants in the budget, then it has failed the test.

Ironically, that is why minority government fails the test. Many good ideas that would serve our country well cannot be pursued because they will offend one party or another. Despite the luck of one or two minority governments 45 years ago, good ideas succeed more in spite of minority governments than because of them.

My favourite example is the abolition of the anti-democratic state funding of some but not all political parties. This excludes many people who would like an equal voice in our politics, but I know that this democratic reform will not pass in this minority government. Therefore, I am glad that the Prime Minister had the political maturity to take it off the table.

Has our government passed the test in this economic action plan? Resoundingly yes. Has our government set aside some good ideas because they were not acceptable to the opposition? Of course. Has our government incorporated some ideas that some of us might have wished not to? Of course.

The government is not going into this by ignoring what our parliamentary partners and others have had to say. We are not trying to be king of the hill. That is not what Canadians want. The government has listened.

This plan is the product of greater consultation than any other in Canadian history. The government consulted with over 680 groups. There were 84 ministerial trips across Canada to gather input. Opposition leaders and first ministers were consulted. Over 70 formal round tables were held to solicit ideas. We heard from business, labour, taxpayer groups, farmers, the auto sector, and the list goes on and on.

The Minister of Finance conducted an electronic consultation with over 7,200 online submissions and over 5,400 emails and letters.

In my own riding I held two round tables jointly with the hon. members for Kitchener—Conestoga and Kitchener—Waterloo. I also held one public meeting with the citizens of Kitchener Centre alone.

A number of New Democratic Party members accepted my invitation to make presentations at our public meeting and their ideas were forwarded by me to the Minister of Finance. Some, like extended EI benefits, more retraining opportunities and greater tax breaks for the working poor, have been incorporated into this budget.

This economic action plan contains many ideas gathered through such consultations, from investments in social housing, roads and bridges infrastructure to modest tax cuts. It includes measures to provide needed financing to businesses and to individuals.

This is an economic action plan to create opportunities for Canadians. Our plan will stimulate housing construction and provide support to business and communities. This budget will take action for aboriginals.

For the first time in Canadian history, southern Ontario, hard hit by this recession, will get an economic development agency to provide seed money for new job creation. This could be called Canada's first knowledge budget. It dedicates almost $4 billion to enhance post-secondary education and Canadian research. I am happy to say this includes $50 million for Waterloo region's world-class cutting-edge Institute for Quantum Computing.

All of this builds on our Conservative government's far-sighted planning over the last three years. Reducing the GST has provided ongoing stimulus that kept us out of a recession while all around us others were failing. Cutting business taxes kept us creating net new jobs. Paying down $37 billion of debt in just three years gives us room to manoeuvre now. Think of what that means. Even after this challenging year with a $34 billion deficit, Canada will still have less debt than when our Conservative government took office. Our economic plan responds to global economic turmoil that worsened so quickly it was referred to as gale forces by the deputy chief economist at BMO.

Since this October, every private forecaster has been amending their forecasts downward almost every week. If any party pretends that it saw this much difficulty coming this quickly, it is kidding the public and Canadians will see right through it. If any party pretends that these problems were created by our Conservative government, it is kidding the public and Canadians will see right through it. If any party pretends that it could have produced solutions more quickly than this action plan in this complex time, it is kidding the public and Canadians will see right through it.

Is this plan completely agreeable to everyone's principles? No. Is it absolutely the best economic action plan that any government in a minority could produce? Resoundingly yes. Does this plan take action to protect Canadians? Resoundingly yes.

Our Conservative government has passed the test. The Liberal Party has also passed the test. Putting aside these humourous little jibes about being on probation, the Liberal Party has responded favourably to Conservative efforts. I respect the hon. opposition leader for admitting, “These measures stand to offer actual hope for actual Canadians”. I further agree with the hon. opposition leader in saying the political system did work. It would disappoint fans of the hon. opposition leader's eloquence to hear him try to claim credit for all the many good things in this budget.

If we all focus on the economy and on protecting Canadians, we can agree that this is not a Conservative budget, it is not a Liberal budget, it is not a coalition budget. This is a Canadian budget.

In my address in reply to the throne speech and on the fiscal update, I invited all hon. members to travel the path through this dark forest of economic peril together with a common focus on the needs and well-being of all Canadians. Through the skilful and generous leadership of our right hon. Prime Minister and the goodwill of the hon. leader of the official opposition, a majority of us have now put a foot on that path together.

I call on the remaining members of the House to join us in a noble consensus in these unprecedented times. It would make all Canadians even more proud of us.