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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

Polish Independence Day November 7th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, for Canadians, November 11 is the day we remember the brave men and women who helped build our nation and gave us strong democratic foundations.

In Poland, November 11 is independence day. Poland shook off its oppressors and regained its independence in 1918. Since that time, Poland has served side by side with Canadians in World War II and suffered through decades of Soviet rule.

The Solidarity trade union helped break Communism's back, and today Poland has served by Canada's side in Afghanistan and on other missions. Poland has fought for its freedom for centuries, and Poland's democratic drive is deeply rooted.

Today Poland again stands alongside Canada in helping Ukraine in its struggle, and Poland stands stalwart as Vladimir Putin threatens global security and makes threats towards the Baltic States. Canadian and Polish soldiers are presently serving in Poland as part of Operation Reassurance, and our pilots are patrolling the skies over the Baltics together.

I am proud that Canada has an ally like Poland, which shares our values and love of freedom. I ask all Canadians to join me in congratulating Poland on its 96th anniversary of independence.

Jeszcze Polska jeszcze nie zginela.

Committees of the House November 6th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I agree with the hon. member, and we are at the top of the list. If we compare the care that other nations provide to their veterans, we will quickly find that Canada is absolutely at the top of the list.

We continue to invest. I have some quick figures. We have invested $2.1 million through the 2014 action plan for the delivery of programs and $108 million to increase the burial benefit to over $7,300, and there is much more. Since I am out of time, I will leave it at that.

In response to my hon. member's comment, I would say absolutely that the way this country treats its veterans is among the top in the world.

Committees of the House November 6th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I know the member does deeply support and revere our veterans. However, he is wrong.

Throughout the economic action plan, all the figures are very clearly laid out as to what has been allocated to veterans affairs. Our hard-working and dedicated Minister of Veterans Affairs has worked very hard on this file to ensure that our veterans in Canada receive all the care and all the support they need. The 14 points that have been agreed to by all parties on the committee are going to address that.

Committees of the House November 6th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, the government understands that sometimes mistakes have been made and that issues can arise with individual veterans.

However, the government is working very hard at cutting the red tape to ensure that veterans get the help and services they need from Veterans Affairs Canada as quickly as they need it. That is part of the 14-point plan. That is part of the mission of our Minister of Veterans Affairs. He has listened to veterans through veterans committee testimony and through testimony at the defence committee about the care of the ill and injured, and these things are being addressed.

All veterans have an option to access the veterans ombudsman when they feel they are not getting the kind of services they deserve.

Committees of the House November 6th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, the member is absolutely correct. When the House brought in the veterans charter in 2005, all parties supported this measure unanimously, because regardless of the direction that debate may sometimes take in the House, all members of the House care about our veterans in Canada. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that the NDP members, the Liberals, and the Independents all believe that our veterans are a national treasure and that all of us believe they deserve the best care.

We also unanimously agreed at committee to adopt 14 new points. Once again all members of that committee agreed unanimously to upgrade the veterans charter with 14 key critical points that are needed to enhance it because we all recognized that times have changed, veterans have changed, and generations have changed. The way people live today compared to the way they lived at the end of the Korean War, at the end of the First World War, or at the end of the Second World War is different, so we need to evolve our programs to be able to serve our veterans to the best of our ability.

It may not always be easy to do that, but as members of the House, we have to collectively and together ensure that our veterans get the best care possible. The new veterans charter and the new committee report supporting all 14 new points will help us address those issues.

Committees of the House November 6th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. friend for his question, but that is absolutely preposterous. This government has invested over $4.7 billion in veterans over the years, as well as all the other monies that I talked about. There was $108 million for the burial program alone. This government is absolutely committed to our veterans. It is absolutely committed to investing in our veterans.

As I said in my speech, we have endured some of the most difficult belt-tightening in recent years, yet this government continues to invest in our veterans because it is our veterans who have preserved the foundations of our democracy.

In that speech I also mentioned freedom, democracy, human rights, the rule of law, and balanced justice. It is our veterans who provided that framework for the rest of us to live in. This government will always invest in our veterans, now and in the future.

Committees of the House November 6th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, as a veteran, I am delighted to be here to speak on behalf of veterans today, and I am delighted that the parliamentary committee produced the unanimous report we are discussing today. The report, “The New Veterans Charter: Moving Forward”, charts a common path forward for veterans' programming in Canada. It represents an incredibly important and significant achievement, and I am proud to have been able to contribute my insights as a veteran, and I thank members of all three parties for producing such a thorough report. Unfortunately, what surprises me is that so much of it seems to be forgotten in what I have been listening to today. If I may, I would like to take a few moments to confirm some of the basic facts for the rest of this debate.

For example, Canadians should know that if any of our men and women in uniform are injured in the line of duty, they are eligible for an upfront disability award worth as much as $301,000, tax free. As well, these same individuals may receive ongoing disability benefits and other supports that can climb to as much as $10,000 per month. It is also important to note that under the new veterans charter, ill and injured veterans and still-serving members now have access to comprehensive rehabilitation programs. This includes full physical, psychosocial, and vocational rehabilitation services, as well as health care benefits and one-on-one case management services for those who require such help.

These are just some of the highlights of the new veterans charter that was implemented by our government in 2006 with the unanimous support of Canada's Parliament the year before. It is this comprehensive and modern nature of the new veterans charter that convinced the members of this House's Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs to clearly restate support for it. It is the right way to go with veterans' programming in Canada.

However, the care and support Canada provides to its veterans and their families goes well beyond the new veterans charter. For example, more than 100,000 veterans, survivors, and caregivers are receiving our help with everything from year-round housekeeping services to the shovelling of their driveways in the winter and the cutting of their grass in the summer. In fact, the list of services available to veterans and their families is astonishingly long. I have heard some call it cradle-to-grave care that extends from benefits and supports for young families to long-term care and funeral and burial programs. What is more, we have been consistently enhancing these programs. We have been improving the benefits, services, and programs that are so essential to the men and women and the families we serve. Simply put, I believe I can rightly claim that no other government in our modern history has done more to meet the needs of our veterans and their families.

In fact, since 2006, we have invested almost $4.7 billion in new funding to enhance our veterans programming. While this increased funding is significant by itself, it is even more remarkable when we consider the uncertain global economy we have been operating in for well over the last half-dozen years. We have been increasing our spending on veterans even as we have been engaged in some of the most difficult belt-tightening exercises.

Canadians saw that in our 2014 economic action plan. It included, for example, another $108 million over three years to ensure that modern-day veterans of modest means have access to a dignified funeral and burial. It also allocated $2.1 million to enhance our delivery of vital services through our online My VAC Account, so that veterans and their families can conduct a variety of transactions with Veterans Affairs when it is most convenient for them. Just this past spring, the Minister of Veterans Affairs also announced a $500,000 pilot project to study the use of psychiatric service dogs to assist in the treatment of veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder.

Our list of accomplishments in support of veterans is not just lengthy but very wide ranging. Among other things, we currently have legislation before the House to give veterans greater access to good jobs in the federal public service. We want to move qualified veterans to the front of the hiring line when they are released from the Canadian Armed Forces due to service-related injury or illness. We are also working closely with other employers to do the same.

At the same time, we are continuing to recognize and honour all veterans and currently serving members for their service and sacrifice. That is why we held a National Day of Honour on May 9. It was so that all Canadians could express their pride and gratitude for the more than 40,000 men and women who served during the 12-year Afghanistan mission, and to pay tribute to the 158 brave Canadians who made the ultimate sacrifice for our shared values of freedom, democracy, human rights, the rule of law, and balanced justice.

That is why we also helped approximately 100 Canadian veterans return to France this past June for international ceremonies to mark the 70th anniversary of D-Day and the Battle of Normandy. It is why we launched the World Wars Commemoration period, with ceremonies and events on August 4 and September 10 to mark the 100th anniversary of the First World War and the 75th anniversary of Canada's engagement in the Second World War respectively. Our veterans have contributed so much to our history, and we truly need to know where we have been to understand where we are going.

Between now and 2020, we will commemorate the many milestone anniversaries of Canada's extraordinary role in Allied victories of the First and Second World Wars. This includes a new national tribute we have unveiled for living veterans of the Second World War. Eligible veterans will receive a commemorative lapel pin and personalized certificate of recognition signed by the Prime Minister.

In short, we are striking an appropriate balance between commemoration and ensuring that veterans and their families receive the full support that they deserve.

As the Minister of Veterans Affairs has said, there is no better way to recognize and honour our veterans' service and sacrifice than to ensure that they are receiving the benefits and supports that they have earned. However, our government also readily recognizes that even the best programming needs to evolve if it is to keep pace with the constantly changing needs of those it was designed to serve. This is a message the committee heard many times in listening to the testimony of more than four dozen witnesses from all walks of life, including veterans and their various representatives, academics, and individual Canadians.

If there is one conclusion Canadians can take from the report, it should be our central finding on the effectiveness of the new veterans charter. I would like to read a paragraph from the report that expresses this point very well:

The Committee members unanimously agree that the principles of the NVC should be upheld and that these principles foster an approach that is well suited to today’s veterans. This does not mean that improvements cannot be made. However, the legitimate criticisms of various aspects of the NVC should not overshadow the fact that it is a solid foundation on which to help veterans transition to civilian life when a service-related medical condition prevents them from continuing their military career.

That is what all members of our committee concluded: that the new veterans charter is a solid foundation.

Canadians can be proud of the work that the Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs did. Members of Parliament from all three federal parties rolled up their sleeves to work collaboratively. We invited Canadians from across the country to weigh in and, as the Minister of Veterans Affairs has said, our government supports the spirit and intent of the vast majority of the committee's 14 recommendations. He has promised that our government will leave no stone unturned as we find innovative ways to build upon the substantial new funding we have already invested in our veterans programming since 2006.

In the short term, we will immediately adopt a number of measures. This means, for example, that we will be improving family access to psychological counselling services and developing a new training program to better assist the caregivers of our injured and ill veterans. We are going to help families care for their loved ones with the kind of insight and support they need and deserve. We are also going to work with our key partners and stakeholders to find the right policies and programs to meet the more complex issues and challenges facing veterans and their families.

We value the ongoing input and advice of the Veterans Ombudsman and veterans' organizations and we want to make sure that Canada's brave men and women in uniform, past and present, can always count on the services and support they need. Our government's formal response to the committee's report delivers that today and beyond.

When I was on the defence committee, we had a study on the care of the ill and injured. Many of these issues came up at that time as well, and our obligation to support our veterans in every way we possibly can struck me profoundly as a member of that committee.

Times change, wars change, conditions change. This government is committed to being flexible in ensuring that the needs of our veterans today, tomorrow, and beyond are going to be met.

Protection of Canada from Terrorists Act November 5th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, my friend is right about one thing. There is room for improvement, and that is why we are having this debate. We are looking to improve the ability of our security agencies to protect us, to give them the necessary tools to robustly defend us, to look ahead, to ensure they detect the threats facing Canada and eliminate them before they come to our soil. After the events of the last few weeks, I have absolutely identified areas that we have to work on. That is why I gave my speech today and why others will also rise to speak to this.

In terms of the robustness of our ability to oversee and manage our security agencies, I agree that we have to work very closely with our allies, which we already do. CSIS and others extend outward. They work with our allies and others to share information and make sure that as an allied group we are protected and have mutual support in the defence of terrorism and criminality that threaten Canada.

Protection of Canada from Terrorists Act November 5th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I disagree. There is oversight through the Security Intelligence Review Committee. Of course, CSIS is an important element in the security of Canada. Keeping us safe, looking forward, looking within the bounds of this nation and outside of it, and scanning for the threats that have very recently affected us all in Canada.

Our having civilian oversight to look into CSIS, monitor its activities, and make sure it complies with Canadian law is strong and robust, and will remain in place.

Protection of Canada from Terrorists Act November 5th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in this House to debate Bill C-44, the protection of Canada from terrorists act. I am confident that in the bill before us we have effective legislation that will go a long way toward improving our national security.

This bill contains two separate elements. Let me turn to the first part of the bill, which deals with the changes to the CSIS Act.

This act is the legislation that governs CSIS's activities. It was introduced three decades ago when CSIS was first established, and the act itself has not changed. Given what has occurred in the last few weeks, I would submit that it is certainly time.

When this was done 30 years ago, it was the era of the rotary phone. The Internet was just in the experimental stage. Social media did not exist, so social media were not applied toward the recruitment and radicalization of people across the world. Therefore, as all Canadians can appreciate, the nature of the environment in which CSIS must operate has changed. As an example, the terrorist threat has evolved considerably. All the way from the Cold War, we expected a peace dividend, but threats are more dangerous now, and with Mr. Putin and others threatening global borders, we have to be vigilant.

Mr. Speaker, please let me state that I am also splitting my time today with the great member for Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound.

Canada has had some notable successes in this country in detecting and disrupting terrorist plots, but the reality is that Canada is not immune to violent extremism. This is especially clear now that it has touched us on our very own soil, including on the very day and in the very place that we had planned to introduce this carefully considered legislation in this House.

While it is true that we have always been vigilant about the threat of terrorism, in recent months we have become particularly seized with the task of moving beyond vigilance to decisive action. This is something that we have an obligation to do for all Canadians. As parliamentarians, we can and we must take action to ensure that our security and intelligence agencies have the tools they need to protect Canada. Our government has been clear about its commitment to doing that.

With keen awareness of the challenges that CSIS faces in investigating threats to Canada, we have proposed measured yet critical amendments to the CSIS Act. It is evident to us, as I hope it will be to members on all sides of this House, that CSIS must have clear authority to investigate security threats to this country, whether they originate here or they originate abroad.

How would this bill allow for that? First of all, the bill would allow confirm CSIS's authority to carry out investigations outside of Canada. Specifically, it would amend the CSIS Act to state, for greater certainty, that CSIS has the authority to perform its duties within or outside of Canada for the purposes of investigating threats to the security of Canada or conducting security assessments.

Another important change would see to it that the Federal Court need only consider relevant Canadian laws, such as the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the CSIS Act, when issuing warrants authorizing CSIS to undertake certain intrusive activities in order to investigate a threat to the security of Canada outside of Canada.

In addition, the bill would address a shortcoming in the act as it stands with respect to the disclosure of human sources in court proceedings. At the present, there is no automatic protection for the identity of CSIS human sources similar to the common law privilege available to police informers. This is problematic, given that human source intelligence is so central to CSIS's work.

To address this problem, we have proposed an amendment that would create a prohibition on disclosing in court proceedings the identity of any CSIS human sources who have provided information to CSIS on the condition of confidentiality.

There are two exceptions that would allow this information to be disclosed. One is if a person is not in fact a confidential human source; the second is if the information is needed to demonstrate the innocence of the accused in a criminal proceeding. Overall, with these exceptions included, we believe that this amendment would successfully balance the need to protect the identity of CSIS human sources with the need to ensure fairness in legal proceedings.

Finally, we have proposed an amendment to safeguard the identity of CSIS employees who are likely to become involved in covert operational activities in the future. This is critical. Our operatives are serving in perilous situations on our behalf, so it is incumbent upon us to ensure that their families are safe as they do their very important work to ensure that our families remain safe.

Our government is convinced that these amendments are needed to ensure that the CSIS Act provides CSIS with the means to use reasonable and necessary measures to investigate threats to the security of Canada for the safety and security of our nation.

Nevertheless, as we make these carefully considered changes that will help CSIS investigate threats to Canada, I want to reassure Canadians that some fundamental elements will not change.

First and foremost, the rule of law applies. A judicial warrant is absolutely required in order to authorize CSIS's more intrusive activities. To be sure, this requirement serves as an important safeguard on the rights of Canadians. The CSIS Act clearly states that in order for a warrant to be issued, CSIS must satisfy a judge that, among other things, there is reason to believe the activity constitutes a threat to the security of Canada.

Second, I want to stress that CSIS's activities will continue to be consistent with the rule of law and Canadian values.

Last, CSIS will remain subject to robust oversight by the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, just as it will remain subject to external arm's-length review by the Security Intelligence Review Committee, SIRC.

For the safety and security of Canadians, we need to move forward with these targeted and limited amendments to the CSIS Act to ensure that CSIS has the tools it needs to investigate threats to the security of Canada.

At the outset of my remarks, I mentioned that there were two elements to this legislation. Now I am going to turn to the second part.

The bill also contains technical amendments to the Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act, which received royal assent earlier this year.

These amendments will allow for quicker implementation of the citizenship revocation provisions in that act, including provisions to enable the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration to revoke Canadian citizenship from dual citizens convicted of terrorism, treason, or spying offences. We believe that an earlier timeline to implement these important provisions is warranted.

Citizenship is a pledge of mutual responsibility and shared commitment to the values rooted in our history and to our fellow Canadians. Dual citizens convicted of serious crimes such as terrorism should not continue to benefit from Canadian citizenship, a citizenship that provides foundations of democracy, human rights, and the protections afforded to all Canadians in this great nation.

In closing, I would like to clearly state that it is imperative that all parties support this legislation. In the past, both the Liberals and the NDP have been guilty of under-reacting to the threat posed to Canadians by radical extremists. Clearly both parties, I hope, have now come to realize the true threat that we face and will work with us to ensure that all Canadians are protected and safe.

The Liberals opposed taking citizenship away from terrorists. Bizarrely, they claimed that it was an affront to Canadian values. I am quite sure that they may have re-evaluated that position. Even further afield, the NDP opposed the Combating Terrorism Act, which was well ahead of its time. It effectively criminalized what we have now come to know as foreign fighters. What is more, the NDP leader has rejected the assessments of the President of France, the U.S. Secretary of State, and even the Commissioner of the RCMP, who said what Canadians knew all along: that the horrific events of late October were the acts of deranged terrorists bent on establishing an Islamic caliphate.

I hope that in the coming days, all parties in the House will take this opportunity to stand up for security and to stand up for all Canadians. Our nation must be preserved, and to do so, we must ensure that we provide those who protect us with the right tools to enable them to do it.