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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 11th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague from Sault Ste. Marie for his speech and for his family's combined service of over 100 years. Serving alongside him on the veterans affairs committee is an honour, because I know the member is seized with veterans, as many in the House are.

I would like to point out members in Veteran Affairs who are veterans, starting with our minister, who is an RMC grad and a veteran; our parliamentary secretary, who is an RMC grad and a veteran; and our deputy minister, who is an RMC grad, a veteran, and the former CDS. I myself am a former infanteer. We have a fighter pilot, and of course, there are members, like the member for Sault Ste. Marie, with a long family tradition. I am delighted to be serving along their side.

I am delighted to have the opportunity to speak to the motion. I am pleased to also lend my support to it, though I do share some concerns about the political undertones of the motion from the opposite side.

Our government places the highest priority on the health and well-being of all members of the Canadian Armed Forces. There are many veterans in the House, and as I said, some with recent service, me included. We are seized with ensuring that our veterans get the care and services they so rightly deserve from a grateful Canada. From the day they enrol, through basic training and their progression through the ranks, through deployments at home and abroad, through to when their service ends and they are back into civilian life, we want to ensure that our men and women in uniform, as well as their families, have everything they need.

We ask a great deal of those Canadians who serve in Canada's Armed Forces, both regular and reserve forces, those members who are so highly dedicated and serve concurrently with civilian occupations. We often forget that reservists make up 25% of Canada's missions abroad.

As part of the rigours of military life, they face a number of unique challenges unfamiliar to most of us. Military service and the needs of the nation require them to deploy when needed to locations near and far, as they are presently, as part of domestic and overseas missions.

While visiting Canadian Armed Forces members stationed in Kuwait last week, our Prime Minister said:

Your courage, like the courage of generations of service personnel before you, is the currency in which our freedom, our lifestyles, have been bought and paid.

For that, the Canadian people offer you our deepest admiration and our eternal gratitude.

These are words we can never forget, in particular as we have just observed the 70th anniversary of VE Day in which Canada played a major role in the Second World War.

Present day Canadian Armed Forces personnel often move their residence frequently throughout their careers as part of their service both inside and outside the country. This process is generally disruptive to family life. It means new neighbours, friends, schools, sports teams, and so many normal family-related activities that many of us who are settled take for granted. Their families are constantly moved. As the member for Sault Ste. Marie pointed out, for 17 years his family moved around the world.

They often work irregular hours and complete difficult tasks. Their job to defend and protect Canada's interests is inherently stressful, and of course, they may face great physical danger as part of the job. Sometimes they are in life-threatening situations.

Our Canadian Armed Forces members never fail to respond when they are needed, and we hear from around the world over and over the high regard our service members are held in for their professionalism and their skills. Because we demand so much from them, we have a moral imperative to ensure that there is a strong system to care for them when they become physically or mentally ill or injured.

Allow me to take a few moments to outline some of our existing services in several areas. In my time of service, I personally relied on the military health care system for many of my own injuries. It is a great system.

There are also our compensation and support services, our comprehensive mental health services, and our ongoing support to military families. Because of the comprehensiveness of our health care system, the vast majority of our military personnel are very well and very healthy indeed. However, for those who require ongoing physical and mental health care, we are committed to continuously improving the system.

The old maxim, “prevention is better than a cure”, is still a guide for military health care. In fact, prevention is a top priority, particularly when it comes to operational stress injuries. We address operational stress injuries through regular screening but also through fitness and safety programs. In addition, personnel are medically evaluated when they enrol and when they are taken on strength in the military.

They are medically evaluated before and after deployments, and they are medically evaluated on a routine basis throughout their careers. This is something that I have personally experienced.

Our military health care system is both comprehensive and collaborative. It supports our men and women in uniform in a wide variety of ways and through many different mechanisms, and it is highly adaptive.

As serving members' needs evolve mission to mission, our medical expertise has evolved, and we have responded by renewing and modernizing our services. For example, following an increase in the number of severe musculoskeletal and other combat injuries during our engagement in Afghanistan and indeed throughout a service career in terms of training, we established a Canadian Armed Forces physical rehabilitation program, creating seven centres of rehabilitation excellence across the country by partnering military health service units with pre-eminent civilian institutions.

Until recently, this has not had the attention that it really deserved. Weight, quite frankly, is weight, and in the past we have had load-bearing systems that were inadequate, which over time provided a lot of damage to bodies, backs, knees, ankles and to all kinds of things, especially for those people in the infantry who had to carry their homes, houses and all of their kit on their back. Nowadays, although the kit and equipment is much better, it is recognized much more through a study in science. It is being addressed and is no longer just anecdotal stories about injuries that soldiers sustained while on the job. We have also enhanced our post-deployment screening to ensure that any physical or psychological problems are quickly identified for early intervention.

The Canadian Armed Forces health care system is truly world class, and is committed to constant modernization and adaptation to best practice. It is far superior to anything that was provided decades ago, because it has been informed by modern medicine and disability management.

In partnership with Veterans Affairs, our presently serving members, veterans and all of their families benefit from a comprehensive system of support. However, more can and must be done to ensure that process, that seam that currently exists between these two huge entities, the military and Veterans Affairs, is as close together as we can make it in order to stop transitioning personnel from falling through the cracks. This work is occurring in earnest, and regular and constant improvements are being realized within this process.

We have strengthened and expanded our member and family supports in other areas. For example, financial assistance, often critical in times of illness or injury, is offered to military personnel and their families through the service income security insurance plan, which is commonly known as SISIP. This delivers life and disability insurance, vocational assistance and financial counselling through 18 offices across Canada.

In 2011, we introduced a new suite of benefits designed specifically to help severely injured personnel, by providing for home and vehicle accessibility modifications and monetary support to their spouses and caregivers. We also make on-base employment opportunities available to Canadian Armed Forces spouses and dependants throughout Canada and Europe, helping to improve the financial situation of our military families.

Indeed, whenever we reflect on the health of our military personnel, we know family support is absolutely vital to their well-being. In recognition of the fundamental role played by military families, we have worked hard to renew the military family services program by increasing its funding and expanding its services, especially through our 32 military family resource centres, which provide youth programs and activities; parenting support; daily emergency and respite child care; counselling and referral services; deployment and separation support; and education, training and employment assistance.

I wish that the NDP members were focused like us on delivering results rather than the games they have been playing in Parliament and elsewhere that only serves to confuse and misinform. Veterans should know that every MP on all sides of this House supports them. The political rhetoric that has been applied should become obsolete, because it is inaccurate and unfortunately it does mislead.

In that bipartisan light, I am pleased we are supporting this motion, largely because it was virtually copied from the text of our support for veterans and their families act, but also because I believe no one in this place should use our veterans as political talking points, as the other side does. I believe we should be striving to improve, because it is the right thing to do for all of our veterans, past, present and future. I hope that ultimately this is the case for the politically charged NDP motion.

Business of Supply May 11th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I listened to the speech of the hon. member with interest. I would like to ask her how she accounts for the fact that, through Service Canada offices now, there are 600 more points of contact for veterans than there were before, especially in small towns where some of the older vets in particular would have to travel to larger centres to access these services.

Would she explain why 600 more points of access is not a good thing for veterans?

Foreign Affairs May 11th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, Canada is unequivocal in its support for the people of Ukraine and Ukraine's territorial integrity. We will never, ever accept its invasion of Eastern Ukraine or the annexation of its sovereign territory. This is precisely why Canada continues to have the strongest sanctions regime in the world and why we have made significant contributions to NATO's Ukrainian assurance measures.

My question is for the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs. What further action has the government taken to show our support for the people of Ukraine?

Anti-terrorism Act, 2015 May 5th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, we have multiple quotes from multiple stakeholders across Canada, Justice Major being just one of them. We have all kinds of testimony from other stakeholders such as the former assistant director of CSIS, people in universities, and those who are acquainted with security protocols and study this for a living, including, as I just pointed out, Louise Vincent, who is possibly and probably the most poignant of these folks.

Anti-terrorism Act, 2015 May 5th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, that is a distinct possibility, because as I spoke to this individual, it was noted and noticed that where the peace bond process comes in, if there is an opportunity to seize upon an individual ahead of the commission of a crime, or a potential crime in a terrorist context, that is indeed possible. I have spoken to our police in Toronto, in my area, and others who are involved in the intelligence field, and friends I have amongst police officers through long acquaintance and service with them, and I learned that this very important legislation would allow them to identify early anybody who is suspected of being in commission of a potential terrorist act and to intervene and interdict in order to protect Canadians.

I do not want to be the guy to have to explain why a whole bunch of people got killed when law enforcement would have been able to act sooner.

Anti-terrorism Act, 2015 May 5th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I am astounded that the hon. member understands so very little. I used to be a member of the Canadian Forces and worked in a domestic operations cell, so I understand something of how our agencies work together and the co-operation and intelligence sharing that happens. I can say from my experience then and my experience today as a parliamentarian that this legislation is needed. It is common sense. We have arrived at a very different point in our history and we have to be nimble in our legislation and in the defence of our nation, our democracy, and our citizens. We have to modernize our security protocols so that all of our security agencies interact, so that all of our coordination is done with the sole intent of keeping Canadians safe and maintaining our security, our prosperity, and above all, our liberty.

Anti-terrorism Act, 2015 May 5th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I left off by remarking that I had heard members of the NDP stand in this place and say that no experts support this important legislation, Bill C-51.

I would ask them if they do not believe that Justice John Major is an expert, and he said:

I don't think Parliament is equipped as a body to act as an oversight body, which is what is being proposed.

I would ask what they think about former assistant director of CSIS Ray Boisvert, when he said C-51:

...will be a very effective tool to get...[jihadist propaganda] material off the Internet.

I would ask what they think about the Canadian Thinkers' Forum, which said:

The government's proposed Bill C-51, when passed by Parliament, shall help Canadian Muslims to curb extremist elements....

The fact of the matter is that credible experts are fully in support of this very important legislation.

As my time is drawing to a close, I would like to draw my colleagues' attention to the most important thing I heard from witnesses who came to speak on the anti-terrorism act 2015. Louise Vincent, sister of slain Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent said:

Had Bill C-51 been in force on October 19...Martin Couture-Rouleau...would have been in prison, and my brother would not be dead.

That is probably the most poignant quote. That is what I will be keeping in mind when I vote on this legislation. I call on all members to put aside their ideology and support this important legislation on behalf and for all Canadians and all of Canada.

Second World War May 5th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, on May 8, 1945, the Second World War ended in Europe. It began on September 1, 1939, when Nazi Germany attacked Poland, later joined by the Soviet Union, their infamy consummated by the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact. World War II unleashed evil of an unimaginable scale, with a cost so high it is still difficult to comprehend: the Holocaust; Stalin's gulags; the rape and slaughter of millions; forced deportations; the assault on language, culture and national identities.

The war ended and a new Cold War began with half of Europe shrouded in darkness until Communism was defeated. Today, Vladimir Putin threatens global peace and security once again, as he wages an illegal war in Ukraine and annexes territory, just like Hitler did.

World War II provided us with many lessons, and those remain relevant today and we should listen. It is fitting that the commemoration of the war's end takes place where it began: in Poland.

It is our solemn duty to Zachor to remember the sacrifices of those who fought and those who perished for our freedom and never again allow evil to flourish.

Anti-terrorism Act, 2015 May 5th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to rise in the House to speak in favour of this very important bill before us today.

The anti-terrorism act, 2015, is all about making Canadians safer. We must remember that the international jihadi movement has declared war on Canada and her allies. We heard my hon. colleague say that a little earlier in her speech. Canadians are being attacked; we have been attacked. We are being targeted solely because the jihadi terrorists hate our values. They hate our freedom and they do not want us to have it.

We must also remember what brought about this discussion. If we had asked most Canadians a year ago or more whether they wanted more action to protect our national security, they would likely have said that the previous strong actions by our Conservative government would have been enough. However, October 22 changed all of that. We were attacked twice in three days by admitted jihadi terrorists, in their own words.

Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent and Corporal Nathan Cirillo were killed in cold blood by jihadi terrorists. These attacks made it clear that our security legislation had to change and evolve with the times. Evidently, that is not clear to some.

The NDP member for Marc-Aurèle-Fortin said that these attacks were merely unfortunate events. These comments are shocking and quite frankly offensive. I hope the member or the NDP leader will do the right thing and stand in his place and apologize to the families of the victims of these attacks.

Back to the topic at hand, I would like to highlight the fact that budget 2015 has invested nearly $300 million to combat jihadi terrorism. This is above and beyond the fact that we have increased our funding for national security agencies by one-third since coming to office.

Given that there has been a substantial amount of misinformation spread by the opposition, I would like to highlight, in the simplest terms, what exactly Bill C-51 would do.

The bill would allow for information possessed by one agency of the government to be shared by another agency of the government when national security would be at risk. It would modernize the passenger-protected program, colloquially known as the no-fly list. It would criminalize the production and distribution of jihadi terrorist propaganda. It would also give CSIS new tools to stop terrorist attacks before they happen. These are very common-sense measures that strike the right balance.

As members know, there is no liberty without security. Contrary to what has been suggested by many members of the NDP, it is ISIS and not CSIS that poses a threat to the lives and security of Canadians, and we in the House have a duty to look to that.

The first duty of any government is to protect the safety of its citizens, and that is exactly what our government will do. The bill would ensure that our police forces would have the tools they need to protect Canadians against the evolving threat of jihadi terrorists. I have spoken to police officers in Toronto and they have told me just that. They need this bill to pass. They need these tools.

We reject the argument that every time we talk about security, our freedoms are threatened. Canadians understand that their freedom and security go hand in hand. Canadians expect us to protect both, and there are safeguards in the legislation that would do exactly that.

The fundamental fact is that our police forces are working to protect our rights and our freedoms, and it is the jihadi terrorists who endanger our security, who would take away our freedoms in a heartbeat. We have only to look overseas to see what ISIS has been doing.

What is more, we will never apologize for taking jihadi propaganda out of circulation. In fact, if websites that provide content hosting services or other businesses are profiting from the dispersal of this type of horrific material, they should seriously reconsider their business model and their lack of commitment to the values that bind us as Canadians.

Across the country, businesses, large and small, depend on a strong economy, clear rules of marketplace conduct, dependable transactions and secure data. The reality is that there is no profitability without a stable security environment, both physical and virtual. The bill would strengthen our niche in security and would benefit businesses as well as consumers.

I have heard the members of the NDP say that no experts support this important legislation, and that is simply not true. I would ask them if they do not believe that Justice John Major is an expert. He said, “I don't think Parliament is equipped as a body to act as an oversight, which is what is being proposed.”

Canadian Armed Forces May 4th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, ISIS is a brutal death cult that carries out unspeakable atrocities against children, women and men. It has specifically called for brutal attacks against Canadians here at home.

On behalf of my constituents in Etobicoke Centre, I wish to thank the men and women of the Canadian Armed Forces who are far from home and are working to stop this death cult. They stand on guard to protect us all.

These are the types of missions our men and women are engaged in: advising and assisting, a mission that is carried out by our special forces; our CF-18 Hornets have conducted over 500 sorties; our Polaris aerial refuellers have delivered over eight million pounds of fuel to coalition aircraft; and, our Aurora aircraft have conducted over 140 reconnaissance missions.

Our heartfelt thanks to our brave men and women, to our army, our navy and air force personnel.