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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word is isis.

Conservative MP for Parry Sound—Muskoka (Ontario)

Won his last election, in 2015, with 43% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Public Service Labour Relations Act May 16th, 2017

Madam Speaker, I believe I prefaced my remarks by saying that we, as a caucus, are not opposed to the Supreme Court of Canada decision. It is a fact that there will be collective bargaining for the RCMP and, of course, there will be a right to organize for RCMP officers.

The issue before us is the amendments that were proposed by the Senate that have been adopted by the Liberal government. Our point on this side of the House is very clear. While we accept certain of the amendments and accept the position of the government on certain aspects of it, a crystal clear point of demarcation is on the right to a secret ballot. On that, we cannot have any kind of compromise. We think it is fundamental to the expression of will by RCMP officers, just as it is in democracy as a whole.

Public Service Labour Relations Act May 16th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, I sense that was a trick question. The hon. member has cut me to the quick: he has exposed a bias that I have. My bias is for a secret ballot. My bias is for true democracy within the rank and file of the RCMP. That is my bias, and I stand by that predilection that I have, however bizarre it may seem to those in the Liberal ranks. That people could vote in secret whether or not they are members of a union is a fundamental right and privilege.

Forgive me, but I have to reiterate that the RCMP is in crisis right now. Reports issued just this week indicate intimidation, harassment, and dysfunctionality up and down the line. This is not the time for hon. members to expose the rank and file of the RCMP to further harassment and intimidation because of the lack of a secret ballot. The government is at cross purposes with the needs of a fully reformed and modernized RCMP by presenting this bill.

Public Service Labour Relations Act May 16th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to be here this afternoon to participate in the debate on Bill C-7, which is about labour relations within the RCMP.

For those watching at home, if they just joined this mini melodrama involving the bill, we are debating the Liberal government's response to amendments that were made in what we call the other place, in other words, the Canadian Senate.

To begin, I would like to say that Conservatives do accept the Supreme Court decision in the Mounted Police Association of Ontario v. Canada case. It is clear that members of the RCMP, despite the force's paramilitary heritage, have the right to collectively bargain. The key, however, is making sure it is done right. That is where I believe that the Liberal government has failed the test. It is completely unacceptable that we are considering denying RCMP members a secret ballot vote on the decision of whether and how to unionize.

Why could this be problematic? Let us look at the report that was released yesterday from Ian McPhail, the chair of the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the RCMP. May I say that I have known Mr. McPhail in various capacities for over 40 years? I know that is hard to believe, but it is true, and he has done a great deal of service to the Canadian public, I should say at the outset. Mr. McPhail and his team reviewed numerous complaints of workplace harassment, intimidation, and bullying within the RCMP. He even found that “the RCMP lacks both the will and the capacity to make the changes necessary to address the problems that afflict its workplaces”.

Of course, this report is of great concern. We believe that the government must take action now to restore the confidence of front-line officers in the RCMP in their management, and to restore the confidence of Canadians in the RCMP as a federal organization. That means a number of things. It means making sure that RCMP pay is in line with the pay of other police forces. It also means working to ensure the appropriate recruitment and retention programs.

There are many ways in which we can work toward this goal. Many ideas have been put forward in this regard. For instance, we could explore separating the RCMP into two forces, one that deals with contract policing on the ground and one that deals with federal policing. We could explore new recruitment methods that allow experts in various fields to move laterally into similar positions in the RCMP without having to start at the bottom. We could explore new ways of allocating caseload so that the level of burnout is not nearly as high as it is currently.

Unfortunately, the legislation before us today does none of these things. What these amendments will do is to strip the approximately 28,000 members of the RCMP from the right to vote in secret on unionization. As I said before, it is completely unacceptable that rights that serve as the cornerstone of our democracy are being taken away from those who get up every day and go to work to keep us safe.

Why is the secret ballot so important? It is because that is the only guaranteed way to ensure there is no coercion, no intimidation, applied from any side of the argument. It would be to ensure that, no matter the rank and file or the seniority, all members of the RCMP are treated equally and fairly and, most of all, without any fear of repercussions on how they proceeded on collective bargaining.

A report was just tabled on the bullying culture that goes on in the RCMP, and yet the government is moving full steam ahead to deny the secret ballot, which of course guarantees further bullying in the future.

Many members in the House represent constituents who have been or who are currently serving members of the RCMP. In fact, there are currently RCMP members posted to Parliament Hill. They are part of our daily lives while the House is in session.

It seems passing strange to me that we would take action that would limit the rights of these people. There is no particular reason that the government would want to take away this democratic right of these members of the RCMP. It almost causes me to wonder whether there is some sort of ulterior motive, whether the government is using RCMP unionization as a bargaining chip with other public sector unions, which of course would be unfortunate.

Studies have shown that, when Canadians are given the right and the opportunity to choose by secret ballot whether to unionize, more often than not they choose to represent themselves. It seems that this old Liberal philosophy that, because workers may not make the same choice the government-knows-best Liberals in Ottawa want them to, they should not be entitled to make that choice at all.

We have seen this on many different files. From my perspective and the perspective of my colleagues, this is an intrinsic right that should be found in our legislation to make sure that the RCMP members have access to the secret ballot. This is not new law. This is not something that has come out of the mind of the caucus on the Conservative side that has no precedent. This is the precedent to allow the secret ballot on issues of importance that affect people's daily lives as employees, and certainly as people who wake up every morning to protect their community.

In closing, while there are some meritorious aspects of this bill—and let me explain again that we accept the Supreme Court decision with respect to the allowing of collective bargaining with the RCMP; we respect that decision; we accept that decision—this is a fatal flaw in the legislation that has been put forward to us, a fatal flaw in the legislation put forward by the Liberal government that denies a simple and well-accepted standard right, that of the secret ballot. This should not be allowed to happen.

I encourage my colleagues to vote against this piece of legislation. I encourage those on the other side to have a last-minute change of heart.

Ron Atkey May 15th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House today to mark the passing of the hon. Ron Atkey. Sadly, he died this past Friday.

Ron Atkey was first elected to the House of Commons for the Toronto riding of St. Paul's in the 1972 election as a Progressive Conservative. After being defeated in 1974, he was re-elected in 1979 as part of the Joe Clark minority government, and appointed minister for employment and immigration. Under his and the hon. Flora MacDonald's ministerial leadership, with the backing of the prime minister, Mr. Atkey was instrumental in large numbers of Vietnamese refugees, then known as the boat people, being admitted to Canada.

After accomplishing this great political achievement, Mr. Atkey was defeated in the 1980 election and returned to practise law. From 1984-89, he served as chairman of the Security Intelligence Review Committee.

I knew Ron for over 35 years. I know I speak for many friends and colleagues of Mr. Atkey in the House when I say how thankful we are for his many years of dedicated service to Canada.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family, including wife Marie, and children Erin Tait, Matthew Atkey, and Jennifer Price. He will be greatly missed.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship May 12th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, our illegal border crossing problem from the U.S. is actually getting worse. People are streaming north across the Canada-U.S. border with no end in sight. Now we know that more than 50% of these non-refugee border crossers are staying in Canada and are not being deported as the law requires.

Has the minister had discussions with his U.S. counterpart to stop illegal immigrants before they cross? If so, will he present Canadians with a plan that works?

Public Safety May 12th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, Canadians recently learned that our national security agencies went into scramble mode after finding out from the media that there were radicalized employees who were working at Montreal's Trudeau international airport. Conservatives called for these pro-ISIL airport workers to be fired, but the Liberals refused to act. Now we learn that the security agencies themselves were caught off guard.

Why are the Liberals sweeping these serious concerns under the rug? When will the government get serious about confronting radical jihadist terrorism and do something to keep Canadian air travellers safe?

Privilege May 2nd, 2017

Mr. Speaker, I am taking part in this discussion reluctantly because it is truly unprecedented. I find myself agreeing with my colleague from Hamilton Centre to a great degree because he and I spent years together in the Ontario Legislature and now we spend our time here in Canada's Parliament. In the 20-plus years that I have of parliamentary experience, I must say that this is an unprecedented debate and an unprecedented discussion that we could be curtailing the right of members.

The hon. House leader is correct: we have to take our parliamentary responsibilities seriously. She says “unfettered access” to Parliament, but why do we want access to Parliament? We want access to Parliament so that we can speak and we can vote. That is why we are here. We need access so we can vote, and I am glad she agrees, but we also need access to speak, including on matters of privilege. She asks, perhaps rhetorically, why we would want it to go to the committee. It is because members of the House of Commons want to speak on a matter of privilege. This is one of the most fundamental rights that we have as parliamentarians.

It reminds me of the Seinfeld episode when Jerry was trying to rent a car and he had difficulty getting his car rental done. He said to the car rental agent, “You know how to take the reservation; you just don't know how to hold the reservation”, which is the most important part of the reservation. The hon. members on the government side know how to talk about how we should have parliamentary rights; they just do not let us have those parliamentary rights, which is the most important part of parliamentary rights.

We are reasonable people. We want to have a discussion with the government on our parliamentary rights and privileges. We wish to have that discussion in a civilized manner that befits the importance of this institution. When will the member have a serious conversation with us—not a rhetorical conversation, not firing off letters to the opposition House leaders—so we can then have a resolution of these issues? Otherwise we continue to talk about these issues.

Committees of the House May 2nd, 2017

Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the Conservative Party, Canada's official opposition, in response to the hon. member's report, I have the honour to table a dissenting report, entitled “There Can Be No Liberty without Security”.

Unfortunately, while the aforementioned study on the national security framework was an opportunity to examine ways to make our laws work better so that Canadians are safer, the Liberal government members chose to focus on ways to handcuff our security services and take away necessary powers. For this reason, among others, the Conservative members of the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security could simply not support the report as tabled.

Government Appointments April 13th, 2017

Anne McLellan is a former Liberal cabinet minister, and now we know she has close connections to the pot industry. While she was designing the framework for this new system, her legal colleagues were waiting in the wings to make big pot profits.

Is this new legislation merely a smokescreen for Liberal cronies to fill their pockets?

Government Appointments April 13th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, I will attack the integrity of Anne McLellan when she and her law firm partners stand to make millions of dollars because they are connected—