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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was veterans.

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

Lost his last election, in 2019, with 35% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Business of Supply May 6th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I am delighted that the member for Papineau mentioned the economy and immigration, because this government has the best record on the economy, an economy that is absolutely unparalleled. When it comes to immigration, nobody has opened more pathways to immigration than this government.

I am pleased to have the opportunity to speak today on the Liberal motion on the temporary foreign worker program. I will be splitting my time with the member for Huron—Bruce.

Frankly, I am surprised that the Liberals chose this motion for debate today, because their position on the temporary foreign worker program is confusing, to say the least. Let me try to lay out some of the Liberal views on this program.

On the one hand, the member for Markham—Unionville has said, “We”, meaning the Liberals, of course, “have always said that it is a good program”. On the other hand, the member for Winnipeg North, just last week in the House, said that literally tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of Canadians, have been displaced. Which is it? Is this a good program or a program that has displaced hundreds of thousands of Canadians?

The Liberals do have a talent for exaggeration. The member for Markham—Unionville commented that the NDP likes to blame them for many things. There is so much to blame them for.

Next they criticize the government for the swift action taken to place an immediate moratorium on the food services sector's access to the program when serious allegations were raised in the industry. I cannot understand why the Liberals have an objection to swift, decisive action and leadership. Why is it suddenly not good enough now?

Last week they supported an NDP motion to place a complete moratorium on the entire low-skills stream of the temporary foreign worker program, which would have impacted seasonal, agricultural, and many other streams.

What is so strange about this is that the member for Kings—Hants himself is on the record as saying “that reducing access to temporary foreign workers could actually threaten Canadian jobs...”, and that “Temporary foreign workers are an important part of the production chain and the value chain.” Which is it? The Liberals cannot decide.

The Liberals claim that this program is “hurting the middle class”. It seems as though as soon as all the academics and experts dispel their myth that the middle class is being squeezed here, they turn and blame temporary foreign workers. If policy was a chair, they would all be sitting on the floor.

The confusion from the opposition continues. After they alleged that this program displaces hundreds of thousands of Canadians, they went on to say that they are fine with this program, so long as these temporary foreign workers become permanent residents. Let me quote the member for Markham—Unionville: “allow more temporary foreign workers and international students to become permanent residents”. It seems to me that the Liberals want to take the “temporary” out of the temporary foreign worker program and do not care if Canadians are displaced in the process.

The hypocrisy continues. The Liberals in their motion are asking for stronger rules for employers on looking for Canadians. In fact, let me read off the list of stronger rules the Liberals have voted against. One is the authority to conduct on-site inspections to make sure employers are meeting the conditions of the program.

69th Anniversary of the Liberation of the Netherlands May 5th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to mark the 69th anniversary of the liberation of the Netherlands. Approaching the conclusion of the Second World War, the Netherlands were one of the remaining countries German forces continued to retain as a stronghold.

Due to the valiant efforts of many serving Canadians, German forces ultimately surrendered. This triumph led to the liberation of a country and ended tyranny across Europe, but it is a solemn one, with more than 7,600 Canadians giving their lives.

Lest we forget the courageous Canadians who made the ultimate sacrifice for the freedom and the liberation of the Dutch.

Foreign Affairs April 28th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, Canada fully supports the efforts of the international community to find a political solution to the situation in Ukraine, and of course Canada is also a very committed NATO partner and ally. Recently the Prime Minister announced that Canada will contribute six CF-18s as part of the ongoing support to NATO and as a way of showing Canada's solidarity with the people of Ukraine. Can the Minister of National Defence please update this House as to the status of this most important mission?

National Capital Act April 28th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to share my thoughts with this House on Bill C-565. It is flawed, it is inefficient, and it would cost taxpayers an estimate of up to $100 million, if not more, which is unacceptable. It also would create administrative confusion between provincial and federal jurisdictions, and of course, the National Capital Commission.

The National Capital Act was passed over 50 years ago, in 1959. It continues, without major updates, to successfully govern one of the most important crown corporations in the capital region, the National Capital Commission. The NCC is mandated by the government to prepare plans to assist in the development, conservation, and improvement of the national capital region so that the nature and character of the seat of the Government of Canada reflect its national significance. The commission is the steward of all federal lands in the national capital region, including Gatineau Park. In collaboration with the NCC, the Government of Canada is committed to ensuring that the NCC can continue to effectively fulfill all of its functions, including the protection of Gatineau Park.

That being said, Bill C-565 does not offer any proposals to assist the NCC in accomplishing its mandate in the capital region as a whole. In more specific terms, Bill C-565 lacks any effective or appropriate mechanisms for future generations.

First, the bill would result in the misspending of millions of dollars of taxpayer money. The bill would amend the mandate of the NCC to require it to purchase all available properties in the park. There are currently 377 privately owned properties in the park. In a normal market, and extrapolating from the prices of acquisitions in the past, the cost to purchase all of these 377 properties would be over $100 million. If that figure were not big enough, multiply that $100 million many times over, based on the strong possibility that this legal obligation of the NCC to purchase properties would lead to exponential inflation of private property prices in the park. The result of this scenario would be the NCC being legally obligated to buy hundreds of properties at prices far above their normal market value. Meanwhile, this money could be better spent on the park's protection and maintenance while acquisitions continue to be prioritized based on how they contribute to the long-term sustainability and well-being of the park.

Second, the bill goes into great detail concerning the NCC's obligation to protect biodiversity and to promote education and leisure activities in the park. These ideas are far from revolutionary, as the previous government bills introduced in 2009 and 2010 proposed similar obligations. However, these previous government bills took a more appropriate approach by utilizing the concepts of ecological integrity and environmental stewardship, which are foundations of existing federal parks legislation, including the Canada National Parks Act. The forthcoming government bill would continue to make use of these concepts.

Third, although I appreciate that the bill sets out the same boundaries for the delineation of Gatineau Park used in our previous bills, that is where the similarities end and the problems with the member's bill begin. The bill would absolutely prohibit a sale or transfer of any public lands within these boundaries. This inclusion shows a lack of understanding of how a park with the size and unique character of Gatineau Park needs to be managed. Sometimes it is necessary, in the public interest or in the interest of the park itself, to perform minor alterations to the boundaries. The NCC requires a mechanism that allows government oversight of the transfer or disposition of a piece of property, as long as the overall area of the park remains the same. Our government bill would ensure that the integrity of the park was protected while the NCC was provided with this necessary flexibility.

In the meantime, the NCC already has in place a designation called a national interest land mass, or NILM. A property designated NILM cannot be sold or transferred without government oversight and approval. Gatineau Park is designated an NILM. This designation has been successfully used for many years in the capital region to protect and manage property the government wishes to maintain for future generations, which includes, of course, Gatineau Park.

Fourth, the bill would create preferential treatment in Gatineau Park for aboriginal peoples and local communities regarding rights of subsistence. It is my opinion that this refers to hunting and fishing rights in the park.

At this time, no hunting is allowed in the park, while a few provincial lakes allow licensed fishing.

Hunting is inappropriate and unsafe in a park that hosts more than 2.7 million visitors per year from around the world. Clearly, there is a safety hazard there.

Furthermore, the bill would put the NCC in the precarious position of deciding who is allowed to do what in the park and who would require regulation and enforcement, at a very high cost to taxpayers. This provision would effectively pit the local community against visitors in a park that is meant to be enjoyed equally by everyone as part of a capital region shared by all Canadians.

Fifth, the bill could potentially infringe on provincial jurisdiction as well as federal relations.

The bill states that the NCC may not, in pursuing its objectives, infringe on real property rights. I would like to remind members that real property rights in Gatineau Park are already protected by the Code civil du Québec. This inclusion in the bill is therefore redundant and unnecessary. I do not know why the chief opposition whip thinks it is necessary for the federal government, through its legislation, to pronounce and interfere on issues of provincial jurisdiction.

The final issue with the bill is its unnecessary amendment of the Department of Canadian Heritage Act. The rationale for this inclusion comes from the transfer of the activity and events mandate in the national capital region from the NCC to the Department of Canadian Heritage, pursuant to economic action plan 2013. However, the member should know that subsequent to this transfer, the NCC and the Department of Canadian Heritage entered into a memorandum of understanding under which the NCC would continue to handle these responsibilities for, among other places, Gatineau Park and the Mackenzie King Estate, while the Department of Canadian Heritage would be responsible for these activities in urban areas of the capital region. This is another example of the lack of understanding and nuance that permeates the opposition whip's bill.

In conclusion, the bill is irreparably flawed. It must be opposed, as it would be extremely costly to taxpayers. It is unnecessarily rigid, blunt, and at times, quite redundant. It could potentially present issues relating to provincial jurisdiction and federal-provincial relations and could create favouritism and controversy regarding hunting and fishing rights in the park. It is unnecessarily narrow in addressing only Gatineau Park within a much larger national capital region.

Shortly the Government of Canada will introduce an act to amend the National Capital Act and other acts that will be similar to the previous government bills. The intention of this forthcoming legislation is to provide the National Capital Commission with all the tools it needs to continue to successfully fulfill its mandate.

For these reasons, I would like to inform the chief opposition whip and members of this House that I oppose Bill C-565.

St. John Ambulance April 8th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, today is the second annual St. John Ambulance Day on the Hill . The Order of St. John is one of the world's oldest humanitarian organizations, and it continues its tradition of important work today by promoting the importance of first aid training. Representatives from St. John are meeting with members of Parliament and senators today. This spring they will be offering first aid and AED training to parliamentarians and their staff.

For their hard work in organizing this event, I would like to thank the hon. Minister of State for Science and Technology, and the members for St. John's East and Ottawa—Vanier, as well as Senator Mercer and Senator Meredith.

I encourage all members to attend the reception this evening, which will be hosted by both Speakers. We will recognize the important work of St. John Ambulance and present a life-saving award to a young Canadian who used first aid training to save a life.

St. John Ambulance plays a vital role in enabling Canadians to save the lives of their friends, neighbours, and family members. I hope that all members will join us in celebrating the lives that have been saved and will be saved, thanks to this important work by St. John Ambulance.

Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 1 April 3rd, 2014

Mr. Speaker, we know that since the depths of the recession, Canada has had the best job creation in the G7 under this government's leadership. Over one million net new jobs have been created since July 2009, overwhelmingly full-time, well-paying jobs in the private sector. Private sector employers across Canada say that the biggest challenge they are facing is a lack of skilled workers. This is particularly problematic in certain sectors and regions, where thousands of jobs are going unfilled, because not enough skilled workers are available to fill them.

Given this government's success in previous years in job creation and in connecting Canadians with available jobs, would the Minister of State (Finance) please tell this House about the measures in the bill that would contribute to this aspect of the economy?

Former Canadian Forces Members Act April 2nd, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I am delighted to speak to Bill C-568 today. As other hon. members have already said, we owe a great deal to our brave men and women in uniform, both past and present, who have served our country and sacrificed so much.

That is why I am baffled by the hypocrisy from the Liberals. I lived through the decade of darkness and before and their experiments with trying to make sure it was just a peacekeeping army. They almost destroyed our entire military. It was this government that rebuilt the pride and the combat capability of our forces, and that was the Conservative Party of Canada.

Our men and women in uniform have sacrificed so much for what they have done, and they have made Canada what it is today: a free and democratic nation admired around the world for its values and its great riches. Indeed, Canada's veterans personify so many of the things that we hold most dear: courage, commitment, honour, and service.

That is why our government is so proud to stand with each of them every day, and why we are so proud to recognize their service and honour their sacrifices with the care and support they need. Indeed, that has always been our record.

As the parliamentary secretary has noted, our government has increased Veterans Affairs Canada's annual budget to almost $785 million more this fiscal year than in 2005. In total, our government has invested nearly $5 million in additional funding to enhance veterans' benefits, programs, and services.

Budget 2014 builds on this record of investment by committing $108.2 million over three years to expand eligibility for the funeral and burial program.

Additionally, budget 2014 invests $2.1 million in 2014-15 to enhance our delivery of online services to veterans and their families. It provides veterans with greater access to rewarding jobs in the federal public service and it ensures this country properly recognizes the historical significance of Canada's mission in Afghanistan. In fact, our Prime Minister has declared May 9 the national day of honour for our brave Afghanistan veterans.

As these measures demonstrate, we have made sure, without exception, that programming for Canada's veterans continues to evolve with the needs of the men and women and families we serve. In fact, that is one of the primary purposes of our cutting red tape initiative for veterans. It is about constantly streamlining and simplifying the way Veterans Affairs Canada operates in order to provide veterans and their families with better and faster service in more modern and convenient ways.

The measures implemented through this cutting red tape initiative have reduced wait times, eliminated unnecessary bureaucratic processes, increased transparency, and introduced new technologies that have made it easier for veterans and their families to access benefits and programs.

What has been the result? Turnaround times for processing veterans' disability benefits have been significantly improved and the approval time for access to rehabilitation services has been reduced by nearly half.

Quite simply, our government has been implementing a comprehensive new approach to serving veterans that is responsive, inclusive, and flexible. It is based on a commitment, indeed a pledge, to Canada's veterans that their hard-earned benefits and services will be delivered quickly and efficiently.

The minister has repeatedly said that there is all kinds of room for improvement. There is an initiative on the Veterans Affairs committee to examine all of these issues, and these improvements will continually, constantly be made over time. It does take time to implement some of these changes that are identified as time goes on. This government has responsibility for the changing situations and circumstances of our veterans. Our minister is doing a tremendous job making sure that all of those pieces are falling into place and that this government maintains the initiative and ensures that our veterans get everything they need.

What has been the response by the other side? On March 10, 2013, the NDP voted against $39.1 million in funding for the veterans independence program, and on March 20, 2013, the members opposite, the NDP, voted against $1.1 billion in health care funding for Canadian veterans. However, the parliamentary secretary has already mentioned the opposition's shameful record of support for Canada's veterans by voting against more than $1.5 billion for veterans' pensions on June 6, 2012, the anniversary of D-Day. The irony is certainly not lost on me. It is absolutely shameful that they voted against these tremendous initiatives for our veterans, but this government, our Prime Minister, and our Minister of Veterans Affairs stood up for veterans.

A recent opinion piece in The National Post on February 6, 2014, offered this assessment:

It’s almost pathetic to witness the NDP seeking to capture the military constituency, with their defeated motion to keep those veterans’ affairs offices open, after they have systematically opposed a host of Conservative military spending bills. The same goes for the Liberals, who in the last election proposed to return Canada’s peacekeeping to its Pearsonian glory days, without committing the necessary resources.

I will say it again. The Liberals have had ample opportunity over the decades to do right by our men and women in uniform, and they have failed each and every time.

That is the state of affairs in our country when it comes to veterans and the issues that matter the most to them. We have every reason to be proud of our record, but we have no plans to rest on our laurels. That is why the minister has asked the Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs to conduct a comprehensive review of the new Veterans Charter. We want to hear what Canadians have to say, particularly regarding care for our country's most seriously injured veterans and what more we should be doing for veterans' families.

As a veteran myself, I have a keen interest in the work of the committee. Members of the committee have heard a wide range of comments and suggestions, and I am proud to continually contribute to this initiative.

There is a robust debate going on, and as a veteran, I personally appreciate the carefully considered opinions that have been rendered.

Bill C-568 is meant sincerely as another way Canada could be there for our nation's veterans, but unfortunately, it really misses the mark. This private member's bill would force the government to completely rewrite its veterans health care regulations, an exercise that, on its own, would be a time-consuming, unnecessary, and potentially expensive proposition. Furthermore, it would entirely change the department's focus from assisting those who most need our help to creating a new health care provider, with a duplicate bureaucracy, which would needlessly cost Canadians millions of dollars. It is a redundancy that is absolutely not needed, and it would force us to intrude into provincial jurisdiction.

Perhaps this would be justified if there were some pressing need to do so, but as colleagues have already demonstrated, the existing eligibility criteria for our veterans' programming are working and do not need to be overhauled.

For example, the new Veterans Charter and related mental health services provide a comprehensive sweep of wellness programs for veterans, a comprehensive approach that helps restore and maintain their health, independence, and quality of life. Thousands of veterans and their families are accessing these programs and are getting the help they need.

We do not need to spend millions of dollars to create a duplicate bureaucracy, as I just said, in an area of provincial jurisdiction.

Simply put, Bill C-568 would only do a disservice to those veterans most in need of help, adding additional bureaucratic red tape, not reducing it, and barriers to the care and support they so richly deserve. For these reasons, I most certainly cannot support Bill C-568.

Business of Supply April 1st, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I thank my friend for his question and the great work he does as Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence. As a member of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs, I am very much looking forward to the appearance by the hon. Leader of the Opposition.

With regard to the Challengers, absolutely, their use has been reduced, which goes to the judicious use of this aircraft for good reason. However, all of those missions where the aircraft are used are looked at thoroughly and completely and the missions evaluated for their cost-effectiveness.

Business of Supply April 1st, 2014

It is zero, Mr. Speaker.

Business of Supply April 1st, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for her dissertation, which highlights the incredible lack of understanding on that side about what government business involves and what our aircraft do. I just laid it all out, including their use for international purposes, aiding civil powers, securing and protecting Canadians, and projecting the image of Canada and our great Canadian Armed Forces abroad. It just demonstrates that the members opposite do not understand, and the very new House leader is possibly just smarting at the fact that he lost the other week.

Other than that, if the hon. member needs further clarification on what the Canadian Armed Forces are and what some of their equipment actually is, I am prepared to sit down over a coffee and explain it to her.