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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

Military Contribution Against ISIL March 30th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, from an air force officer to an infantryman, the role of the air force is to support the ground forces, in this case, the Iraqi ground forces, the equipment and the advantages that ISIL currently maintains on the ground, and enable the Iraqi troops to move forward and retake their own territory. The role, quite simply, is to destroy ISIL so it is no longer be effective and pose a threat to Canada.

Military Contribution Against ISIL March 30th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, the opposition continues to be astonished and amazed because, quite frankly, it does not understand the threat posed to the world. It is a threat that we have seen on our TVs. It is a threat that the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs has laid out in terms of the humanitarian cost that faces the indigenous people there.

We are expanding this mission into Syria because it is the right thing to do. We must degrade the opportunities for ISIL to carry out warfare. To do that, we have to destroy the assets it has on the ground. If it is hiding them in Syria, that must be addressed.

Along with our American colleagues and others, we will address this issue as we engage in sorties in Syria. That has all been taken care of through our allies and ourselves. We are not tacitly supporting anybody. We are supporting the Canadian people. We are supporting freedom, peace and democracy, and the right of people everywhere, including those people in the Middle East—the Yazidis, the Christians, the Chaldeans and others—to live in peace and raise their families without the fear of terrorism.

Military Contribution Against ISIL March 30th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I take to the floor today to seek recognition by this House of Commons that the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL as it is more commonly called, represents a clear and a continuing threat to Canada.

I fully support our government's decision to extend the current military mission in Iraq. It is clear to all of us that ISIL poses a significant threat to local and regional stability and to international peace and security overall.

We have just to turn on our TV sets to witness the barbarity of these ultra-radicalized jihadists. By displacing more than two million people they have created a severe humanitarian crisis in Iraq and in neighbouring countries. By systematically persecuting ethnic and religious minorities, they have caused the death of thousands of innocent men, women and children, as the parliamentary secretary who spoke before me very clearly and very articulately laid out.

By conducting barbaric acts against western hostages and the Jordanian pilot, we all remember his fate, they have signalled to the world that they are prepared to go to any length to cultivate and to spread terror.

This group has issued an edict to their followers to attack Canadians. ISIL is active on social media and the Internet, spreading their hateful ideology and their propaganda, encouraging their followers to target innocent people wherever they live, and calling on would-be fighters to rise up and join them on Middle Eastern battlegrounds.

They have inspired the terrible tragedies that took place in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu and Ottawa. They gleefully cheered when Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent and Corporal Nathan Cirillo, men in uniform who pledged to defend our country, were felled by the cowardly and terrorist actions of radicalized Canadians.

It is clear that ISIL represents a continuing threat to Canada and Canadians. This is why Canada needs to extend the mission in Iraq, expand its operation to Syria and do its part to deter and degrade this threat. Canada will always do her part and the brave men and women of the Canadian Armed Forces are playing an exceptional role in the coalition against ISIL.

As the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence said, Canada is punching away above its weight, and we should all be proud of all of our men and women serving abroad today.

I would like to go into some detail about the contribution being made by our air assets. To date, CF-18 Hornets have conducted over 436 sorties, resulting in the destruction of ISIL vehicles, heavy weapons, IED factories, storage facilities and fighting positions. By damaging or destroying assets like these, the Canadian Armed Forces not only degrades ISIL's combat capability and prevents ISIL fighters from establishing safe havens, but they are also enabling the Iraqi forces to go on the offensive. Ultimately it will be the responsibility of the Iraqi forces to bring sufficient pressure to bear on ISIL and eliminate the threat that it represents.

The CP-150 Auroras, outfitted with advanced imaging systems, radar and other sensors, have conducted over 122 reconnaissance missions, collecting the critical intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance data that is used to identify and strike targets accurately, as well as to assess the battle damage that they cause. The modernized Aurora is a cutting-edge platform. The information this aircraft collects not only enhances the effectiveness of air strikes, but also helps avoid collateral damage by ensuring that targets are limited strictly to military objectives. In fact, our Auroras have made a crucial contribution to what is considered the most precise, close air support campaign in history.

Last, the CC-150 Polaris refueller has conducted over 111 sorties, delivering more than six and a half million pounds of fuel to coalition aircraft. That is absolutely stunning. By delivering fuel to fighters in the air, it acts as a force multiplier by allowing these aircraft to lengthen their sorties and fly further into the battle space. Our Polaris is helping the coalition to maintain pressure on ISIL throughout Iraq. Moreover, our special operations forces on the ground are working to advise and assist the Iraqi forces to make them more effective. They are increasing their confidence and ability to plan, to mount and to execute operations against ISIL, and they are making a real difference, a difference that both opposition parties oppose.

Given all of this overwhelming evidence, I quite frankly do not understand how the opposition opposes what clearly is the right thing to do. The contributions of the Canadian Armed Forces have not only been highly effective, but highly valued by the coalition. For the past six months the coalition is seeing real signs of progress. Through the aerial campaign, the coalition has hit ISIL targets in Central Iraq and northwest of Baghdad in areas that are both controlled and contested by ISIL. These efforts have reduced ISIL's freedom of movement and ability to make territorial gains.

Meanwhile, the Iraqi forces have wrestled the city of Al-Baghdadi back from ISIL control and are working to regain Fallujah. In northern Iraq, Iraqi forces are gradually taking back the ground east of Mosul where ISIL is in a defensive posture. This demonstrates improvement, but there is still much more to do. Our participation in this multinational mission is in line with Canadian values and Canadian interests.

As the Prime Minister has said, it is not the Canadian way to sit on the sidelines and let others do the heavy lifting for us. Indeed, a broad international coalition of more than 60 partners, approximately 30 of which are contributing to military efforts led by the United States, is working together to confront ISIL head-on.

Canada is collaborating with some of our closest allies and partners, including the governments of the United States, France, Netherlands, Denmark and many others, which are all committed to degrade and to defeat ISIL. This fight against ISIL is not about the politics of right or left, as the opposition would have people believe. It is about doing the right thing and acting in Canada's national interest. Many of our allies are left-of-centre governments and they are fully committed.

Moreover, Middle Eastern countries are playing a vital role in the coalition, demonstrating that this is not a western conflict against Islam, but rather a fight that pits broad international concern for Iraq and Syria, regional stability and humanitarian assistance against murderous extremism. Most of ISIL's victims are other Muslims, including its own members who fall out of favour with the leadership.

Any mission carries with it a degree of risk, but the men and women of the Canadian Armed Forces are prepared so they can face these challenges. They are rigorously trained prior to deployment overseas, equipped to the highest standards and operate within specific rules of engagement that mitigate risks wherever feasible.

I would also note that the risks to Canadian personnel will be alleviated by dedicated personnel recovery capability, which is provided by the coalition and includes a high readiness combat search and rescue capacity prepared to respond should it prove necessary.

ISIL is a group that decries modern civilization and it equally abhors anything that does not accord with its world view. As part of this relentless campaign to eradicate culture over the last few weeks, we have borne witness to the destruction of the 3,000 year old Assyrian city of Nimrud, the seventh century statues from the ancient city of Nineveh, housed in a museum in Mosul, and most recent, the bulldozing of the ancient city of Hatra, which is dated the second or third third century BC.

The head of UNESCO has declared that this deliberate destruction of cultural heritage constitutes a war crime.

ISIL is not merely content to threaten the present and the future of the people of the Middle East. It is determined to erase their culture and their past in an attempt to revise history. We must prevent and contain this peril before it leads to the entrenchment of oppressive rules across this region.

As the Prime Minister has said, we have helped feed 1.7 million people in Iraq, provided shelter and relief supplies to 1.25 million people and given education to at least half a million children. We have also helped to support 200,000 refugees in Iraq with food, water, shelter and protection.

The choice between military action and humanitarian aid is not a one or the other proposition as the Liberals and NDP would have people believe. Our experience in the recent past has shown that we cannot expect quick and decisive victories and if we falter now, ISIL will continue to gain strength, increase its brutality and ruthlessness.

We must remain resolute in our determination to assist the people and the government of Iraq, and remain firm in our belief that innocent lives must be saved.

Journey to Freedom Day Act March 23rd, 2015

Mr. Speaker, on April 30, 1979, when Saigon fell to the North Vietnamese army, it set off a massive exodus of people, many of whom had only one means of escape, on the water. It was the beginning of a journey that would be fraught with peril and tragedy for millions

In the first few years that followed, a few thousand made their escape from the communist regime, but by 1978 to 1979, those Vietnamese refugees were fleeing from their homeland in the tens of thousands. They arrived in a number of neighbouring countries, such as Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines, Singapore, and Hong Kong. Their plight created a massive humanitarian crisis across southeast Asia, as many refugees left in overcrowded boats that were, in many cases, unfit to withstand the harsh conditions of the stormy seas.

More than a quarter of a million perished. Some died from illness, some were victims of pirates and kidnappers. It was, by all accounts, a nightmare for all involved.

An influx of so many refugees to those countries was more than they could handle. The “boat people”, as they became known at the time, were sometimes turned away. If they were allowed to land, they were not allowed to integrate into those countries, which led to the creation of several squalid refugee camps.

This vast humanitarian crisis required action on a global scale, and the world responded. With the aid of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, government officials in each country began the process of resettling the refugees in a number of developed countries, including the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Australia, the United States and, of course, Canada.

Canada played a significant role in aiding tens of thousands of refugees after the fall of Saigon. During the humanitarian disaster that followed, Canadians rallied to offer whatever assistance they could. We ultimately brought more than 60,000 Vietnamese refugees here to settle and build new lives across our great country. It is estimated that 34,000 were sponsored by Canadian families, Canadian charities, religious groups and non-governmental organizations, while another 26,000 were assisted by the Canadian government.

The arrival and resettlement of the Vietnamese refugees in Canada is a shining example of how Canadians responded to a global calamity. Canada's compassionate response included families, church groups and community organizations that took the refugees into their homes, helped them find a place to live, to find employment and to get their kids into school.

This exemplary moment in Canada's history of humanitarian protection was a contributing factor in the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees' awarding its Nansen Refugee Award to the people of Canada in 1986. It was the first and only time that this prestigious medal was awarded to an entire nation.

Canada was forever changed and enhanced by the events following the fall of Saigon and the exodus of the Vietnamese refugees, not just demographically and culturally. In addition to the development of strong and vital Vietnamese-Canadian communities thriving in many cities across Canada, the Government of Canada enshrined its private sponsorship of refugees program as a fundamental part of Canada's refugee and humanitarian resettlement program. The community and church groups that sponsor refugees to come to Canada continue their compassionate work today, to the betterment of Canada, refugees and their families from around the world.

This bill would designate April 30 as “journey to freedom day” in Canada, and it would honour our Vietnamese-Canadian population by showing our support to a community that has flourished in our country economically, culturally and socially. The Vietnamese community in Canada has demonstrated its loyalty and love of Canada.

We are building on a tradition of commemoration well established in communities of displaced Vietnamese people from across the globe. It would also be a significant day for all Canadians, many of whom united in the mid to late 1970s in the face of a humanitarian catastrophe to welcome more than 60,000 Vietnamese refugees to a new land and a place to call home. It was an inspiring time as the Government of Canada and the people of Canada exhibited their humanitarian spirit to the world.

All Canadians deserve a day to remember, to show their considerable efforts and to show the world that we are a caring and compassionate nation. Journey to freedom day would not be a legal holiday nor a judicial day, but a day that would solemnly acknowledge the events of that dark time in history with respect to the sorrows of those refugees who were lost to illness, malfeasance or the cruelty of the turbulent sea. It would also be a day with a deep sense of hope for those who became Canadian, and a strong sense of pride for those who helped make that happen. It would also serve as a fitting way to begin Asian heritage month, which would begin the following day, on May 1.

With the passage of Bill S-219, April 30 will be a special day of commemoration for the Vietnamese-Canadian community, followed directly by a full month of reflection and celebration of the contributions of all Canadians of Asian heritage.

Canada values its relationship with the country of Vietnam. Grounded in mutual respect and partnership, we look forward to building on this very key relationship into the future. We owe it to those who have become Vietnamese-Canadians, however, to also acknowledge their true journey to freedom.

Today, there are more than 220,000 Vietnamese-Canadians who have integrated into and enhanced our country, who contribute to our growth and prosperity as vibrant members of Canadian society. The bonds that they have forged here have been deep and enduring, and Canadians are rightfully pride of our role in their journey to freedom, which began almost 40 years ago.

I strongly encourage all members to join me in supporting Bill S-219.

Journey to Freedom Day Act March 23rd, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I very much appreciate the opportunity to participate in the debate on Bill S-219, journey to freedom day bill.

I very much believe that this is a very important piece of legislation regarding a period in history that was a great tragedy for the people of Vietnam, however it also serves as a recognition of an event in which all Canadians should be proud.

On April 30, 1975, when Saigon fell to the North Vietnamese Army, it set off a mass exodus of people, many of whom—

[Disturbance in gallery]

FIRST Robotics Canada Competition March 12th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, it is with great pride that I rise to congratulate the hard-working students from Martingrove Collegiate Institute's robotics team on their fourth place finish at the FIRST Robotics Canada competition in Toronto last week.

Under the mentorship of technology teacher Mr. Dean Gunby, the robotics team, the Iron Bears, worked long and hard, giving up their weekends and free time over several months to build a robot and compete in this tournament.

Our government's economic action plan has invested in programs like FIRST Robotics, which has inspired over 30,000 Ontario students across 725 school teams to cultivate a passion for science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and entrepreneurship. This program partners students with engineers, programmers, and technology entrepreneurs to imagine, design, and build robots that compete in regional tournaments across North America.

I would like to thank the team for inviting me, as their member of Parliament for Etobicoke Centre. I was very proud to see these brilliant young Canadian minds compete, achieve, and realize their potential under the guidance of caring and dedicated teachers and professionals.

Go Iron Bears go.

Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices Act March 12th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I am entirely confused by what the member actually stands for. That might actually epitomize the third party.

We are a nation of values. We are a nation of laws. We are a nation of freedom, democracy, and human rights. We allow people to have free choice and personal liberties. That is what this government stands for.

Nobody should be forced into any practices that violate Canadian laws. I understand some of these other practices may occur around the world, and many of them are barbaric. Many of them do not stand in Canada, because they violate Canadian values and they violate Canadian sensitivities. We will not stand for that. Bill S-7 will not stand for that. This government will not stand for it.

Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices Act March 12th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I of course acknowledge that all members in this House stand against violence against women and girls. Those are Canadian values, and that is what we stand for.

No government and no prime minister has been stronger in making sure that our Canadian values, our laws, and, as I just mentioned, peace bonds are in place to protect victims. They are in place to protect the sanctity of women and girls and to protect them from being forced into marriages or otherwise subjected to barbaric practices that are against Canadian values everywhere in this country.

Although I appreciate the hon. member's point of view, I reject the premise of her question. This government stands for women and young girls. We stand firmly against violence and barbaric practices, which are against Canadian values. Bill S-7 supports all of those things.

Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices Act March 12th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I am grateful to have this opportunity to speak to Bill S-7, the zero tolerance for barbaric cultural practices act. Bill S-7 introduces important legislative measures to protect potential and actual victims of early and forced marriage. These measures would also provide protections against other harmful practices and forms of violence that predominantly and adversely affect women and girls, such as polygamy and so-called honour-based violence.

Bill S-7 proposes to set the absolute minimum age of marriage at 16 in the Civil Marriage Act and codify in the same act the requirements that the marriage involve free and enlightened consent and that all previous marriages be dissolved prior to entering into a new marriage.

The bill also introduces changes to the Criminal Code to criminalize active participation in an underage or forced marriage and criminalize removing a child from Canada for these same harmful purposes.

Moreover, Bill S-7 would expand the peace bond regime in the Criminal Code to provide for a new court order designed to prevent an underage or a forced marriage from taking place in Canada and to prevent a child from being taken out of the country to be forced into a marriage.

Additionally, Bill S-7 proposes to limit the defence of provocation in the Criminal Code so that it could not be raised in cases involving so-called honour killing and in many spousal homicides, for which the alleged provocation often consists of verbal or offensive but otherwise lawful behaviour.

Finally, the bill puts forward important changes to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, IRPA, that would specify that a permanent resident or foreign national is inadmissible if they practice polygamy in Canada.

I would like to focus my remarks today on the proposed forced and earlier marriage peace bond provisions of the bill.

The prevention of violence has been a key aspect in our Conservative government's action on violence against women and girls. Expanding the peace bond regime in the Criminal Code by way of the proposed amendments in Bill S-7 is consistent with these important efforts.

Peace bonds are preventive court orders under the Criminal Code that require a person to agree to specific conditions to keep the peace. A peace bond does not require a finding of guilt or result in a criminal conviction unless the conditions of the peace bond are proved to have been breached.

When a peace bond is issued, the court imposes a mandatory condition to keep the peace and be of good behaviour, and may also impose any other reasonable condition necessary to ensure the good conduct of the offender.

The new peace bond would provide guidance to the court and the types of optional conditions that may be imposed. Some of these are the same as the other peace bonds in the Criminal Code—for instance, no contact or communication with a person who fears for their safety—while others have been designed for the types of circumstances that would specifically assist in preventing a forced marriage, such as preventing the defendant from leaving the jurisdiction of the court; preventing the defendant from making plans or arrangements related to the underage or forced marriage, such as booking a wedding venue or a plane ticket to leave the country for the ceremony; requiring the defendant to surrender passports or other travel documents to the court; and requiring the defendant to participate in a treatment program that includes family violence counselling.

The proposed peace bond could last for a period of one year, and up to two years if the defendant had previously been convicted of a forced or early marriage offence. Subsequent peace bonds could be taken out on behalf of a victim should the threat of an early or forced marriage persist.

The new peace bond would play an important role with respect to victims who might be reluctant to engage the authorities because they do not want their family members prosecuted. In some cases, family members may be otherwise law-abiding individuals whose actions are simply misguided and not intended to be harmful.

The availability of a peace bond would encourage potential victims to seek out the support of the criminal justice system without fear of criminally prosecuting family members. However, peace bonds are enforceable through the threat of a criminal sanction. A violation of the terms of the peace bond is an offence under section 811, punishable by a maximum of a two-year prison sentence. Bill C-26, the tougher penalties for child predators act, proposed to increase the maximum penalties for breaching a peace bond to four years of imprisonment on indictment.

The proposed forced marriage peace bond provisions in the Criminal Code are similar to the highly successful civil forced marriage protection orders available presently in the United Kingdom. Apart from that fact, the U.K. forced marriage protection orders are civil, while the proposed forced marriage peace bonds in Bill S-7 would be under the Criminal Code. However, they are otherwise alike in many respects. For instance, both are preventative court orders that do not constitute a criminal charge. Both are available by way of an emergency application on behalf of the victim, and conditions can be applied against a defendant prior to a hearing on the merits. Both require a hearing before the court and both rely upon a civil standard of evidence, which is the balance of probabilities, as opposed to a criminal one, which requires establishing the facts beyond a reasonable doubt.

It should be noted that any individual may make the application, including the victim, relatives, or any other person. The victim would not be required to apply for the peace bond personally. In many cases, it would be expected that a police officer would swear the information against the defendant, although a child protection or victim service worker might also do so.

As members can see, peace bonds are just one essential part of this very important piece of legislation.

It is this government, under this Prime Minister, that is taking steps to strengthen our laws to help ensure that no young girl or woman in Canada becomes a victim of an early or forced marriage, polygamy, so-called honour-based violence, or any other form of harmful cultural practices. While the opposition refuses to even call these acts “barbaric”, our government is taking action.

I hope that all members appreciate the importance of this bill, and I encourage all members to give Bill S-7 their full support.

National Defence March 11th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, this morning there were reports that ISIL is on the verge of retreat. Those reports say that the Iraqi security forces and allied Shiite militias have now seized large parts of Tikrit and as a consequence of that bold action ISIL fighters are beginning to retreat.

Could the Minister of National Defence kindly provide an update to this House as to the current situation?