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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was public.

Last in Parliament October 2019, as Independent MP for Parry Sound—Muskoka (Ontario)

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

Statements in the House

Canada Elections Act June 15th, 2017

No, Mr. Speaker, that is a term of art, the hon. member knows that. Please amend the Hansard so that I said “pay to play”, rather than “cash for access”, if it makes the hon. member feel better.

The point, and what people watching at home should know, is that the Liberal Party created a system where it was expected, in order to get access to high-ranking individuals in the Liberal Party and the Liberal government, an individual had to write a cheque, use their credit card, or whatever. That is pay to play. If the hon. member does not want me to use “cash for access”, I will use “pay to play”.

Canada Elections Act June 15th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, I always like to have more of an audience, so thanks to the members of the House.

As I was saying, that is where this came from, and it was transferred holus-bolus in full form to the governing Liberal ethos once it obtained power here in Ottawa. When this came to light, the reaction of the Liberal government was to say that it was going to fix things. However, and the member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley said the same thing, what the Liberals have done in their “fix” on this is to actually sanctify the situation where they were shaking down people for money, making sure that stakeholders and lobbyists were contacted, and telling them if they wanted to see the Prime Minister, the Minister of Justice, or the Natural Resources Minister they would have to pay to play.

I want this to be very clear for those who might be listening or watching. Cash for access is not going away. The bill somehow creates a hardened resin of legitimacy over what is essentially a rotten process. Now we have amber hardening on this illegitimate process through the bill. That is why we are objecting to the bill.

This is not about us wanting to have more cash for access fundraisers. We want the opposite. We want a bill that works. That is why we were so disappointed to see that the solution of the Prime Minister, his cabinet, and the Liberal backbench was to merely say that these cash for access fundraisers would go on, but there are hoops to jump through.

I have been up in the House over the last week talking about the Norsat deal, where, in a mystifying way, absolutely baffling, the Liberal government has refused to do a national security review before accepting and allowing an investment from a Chinese company, Hytera, to take over Norsat, a very specialized IT and tech company involved in our own national defence, with our friends to the south, and the Department of Defense in the USA and elsewhere. It would be normal practice to have a national security review.

I will tie this together to the bill, I assure you, Mr. Speaker.

We have been asking the government why it is doing this. Why not just have a review and let the security agencies do their jobs, and talk to our allies, not just perfunctorily to say it has made its decision but actually have a dialogue with our allies? When the same company, Hytera, was taking over a British company, the British government added five pages of conditions after a full national security review prior to that takeover taking place. Nothing of this order is happening here.

Forgive us on this side of the House for connecting the dots, because of course many of these cash for access fundraisers involve individuals who have been connected to the official mainland People's Republic of China government. We know part of the motive here is that the Liberal government is enamoured and has a fetish—if I dare use that term—for a free trade deal with China. Let me put on the record right now that it will not end well if the government pursues and concludes a free trade deal with China. I predict, we will be losing our shirts, and more.

That is why we wanted real reform in political fundraising so that no one is suspect, even if it is not true. I do not know facts. I do not know whether there is a connection between political fundraisers with Chinese nationals and their surrogates who have deep connections with the People's Republic of China's government. I do not know whether there is a connection, but we have to be Caesar's wife in this place, perhaps an old term, maybe not as appropriate now, but the point is that we have to be cleaner than clean. We have to make sure that the public has confidence that public policy decisions are being made for the right reasons, for the reasons built after a public policy debate has taken place by government. Maybe I would disagree with their decision, but the government would be making a decision with full legitimacy and full credibility. That is what we want. I know we are going to disagree, but it is so important to have the legitimacy of decision-making unquestioned.

I would say to members opposite that they are not doing themselves any favours by creating this regime and continuing this regime of cash for access because then every decision they make is susceptible to question, to delegitimization, to incredulity, and to cynicism. It is a government that professed to be the answer to cynicism. The hon. members rode in and were going to slay the dragon of skepticism and cynicism in our polity.

However, now they are doing this. They created this system of cash for access, imported it from the province of Ontario from the McGuinty-Wynne era, which I state for the record I hope to be drawing to a close but that is up to the voters of Ontario. They imported it, improved upon it, and created a cash for access machine and I dare say, while we on this side of the House have every right to question any decision that we think is contrary to the Canadian interests, it pains me that part of that dialogue is always going to be about the underlying motive of the Liberal government decision-making because of this cash for access racket, which will continue under the bill.

My friends who have stood up already talked about some of the details. I want to state for the record that this is different from the way the previous government raised money in degree as well as function. We just did not do things this way and we are proud as the Conservative Party that most of our donations are smaller donations, $10, $20, $30, $50, $100, that is what we rely on overwhelmingly and the statistics prove that out.

I would encourage hon. members on the other side to think before they vote on the bill. There is still time to amend and to have a better bill that will actually do what the Liberals promised it would do, but we are a far journey away from seeing that in the bill today.

Canada Elections Act June 15th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to participate in the debate on Bill C-50. I will not be sharing my time, so I will be taking the full 20 minutes.

Let me start by making a comment about the debate as I have heard it this morning so far. The gist of the defence of the bill by the Liberal side appears to be, “Everyone's been doing it, so what's wrong with us doing it?”

That is actually not accurate. Everyone is not doing it. What the Liberals in government have done is create a whole system, a racket, of shaking down lobbyists and stakeholders to gain access. I want to be absolutely clear and on the record on this. The previous Harper government did not do that. Stephen Harper, as prime minister, did not attend these events. Full stop. Period.

When I was in cabinet, which I was for the duration of the Harper years, it was absolutely required and understood that if we were to attend a fundraising event, people who were lobbying our department were not allowed to attend. They were forbidden from attending. It was the practice in my office, and I dare say this was the common practice throughout Stephen Harper's ministry, to have a vetting process to go through the names of the attendees who were signed up to attend an event, who had bought a ticket. If there was any hint that a particular individual, or the individual's organization, was registered to lobby me, as a minister, the money was refunded before the event and the person was not allowed to attend the event. That was the practice under the previous Conservative government.

As we have learned through the past months, that is not the practice that has been exhibited by the current Liberal government. Indeed, when I use the word “racket”, I am not trying to convey a criminal enterprise. I want to make that clear. The racket I am trying to convey is a systematic approach to shake down these stakeholders and lobbyists to enrich the coffers of the Liberal Party of Canada and to thereby help fund their pre-election and election activities.

How did this come about? Where did this come from? As my colleagues have already mentioned and as my colleague from the NDP has already mentioned, this came about because this was the practice in Dalton McGuinty's and Kathleen Wynne's Liberal Ontario.

I was an Ontario PC cabinet minister. We were given a nominal target. For example, a cabinet minister could perhaps find a way to raise $10,000 for the PC Party of Ontario during the course of a year. What did Wynne, and Dalton McGuinty before her, do? They made it $500,000. The target for Dwight Duncan, the Liberal finance minister, was $1 million.

By the way, if I did not meet my $10,000 target as a PC minister, there was no sanction. Nobody said anything. It was, “If you're raising money for your own riding, you might want to make sure you give a little bit to the central party.” That was the suggestion.

In Dalton McGuinty's and Kathleen Wynne's Ontario, if a Liberal cabinet minister did not make the target, he or she would be drummed out of cabinet. It was made explicitly clear to these individuals. Dwight Duncan wrote in his memoir or in his commentaries that one of the reasons he left provincial politics was that he was sick and tired, as a finance minister, of the obligation to fundraise for the Liberal Party of Ontario. That is how pervasive it was in Liberal Ontario until finally, the public became fed up and the media trained its attention on this, and the laws were changed.

Eric Hoskins, a successor of mine as provincial minister of health, had a target of $500,000. From my contacts in the health sphere in Ontario, I know that hospital presidents, deliverers of other health care services, and retirement homes all felt pressure. The only way they could talk to the minister about a public policy issue was to pony up dough. That is how pervasive the system was in Ontario.

As my colleagues have already outlined, the people who helped set up that system in McGuinty-Wynne Ontario set it up for the federal Liberal government once it obtained power across this country.

If people watching today are wondering how this came to be, it came to be because that rot that was part of the McGuinty-Wynne era, which hopefully is drawing to a close, which will be up to the voters of Ontario to decide, was transferred holus-bolus to--

Foreign Investment June 14th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, why will the Prime Minister not be open and transparent in this House about who exactly was consulted on this deal? Which elements of the U.S. administration were consulted? What did they say?

We know that through this transaction, the Liberals are trying to appease Chinese official interests as they move forward with a free trade deal with China. We know that, but we are concerned about Canadian security, and we are concerned about North American security. Who did they consult with? Let us know.

Foreign Investment June 14th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister's story on the Norsat takeover is getting murkier and murkier by the day, indeed, the hour.

We know these facts. It was the Liberal cabinet alone that chose to forego the national security review. That is a fact. It is a fact that the Prime Minister is claiming that our allies have somehow approved this, yet those same U.S. allies are saying publicly that they have grave concerns, so something is not adding up.

We ask again. Take away the speaking notes, I would encourage the Prime Minister, and answer the question in the House: Who did they consult with? Which allies--

Foreign Investment June 13th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, the Americans are the latest to sound the alarm bells over this takeover, and just yesterday, before the national security committee of this Parliament, when I asked the question directly to the acting director of CSIS, he made it clear that the decision around security due diligence was not made by CSIS, was not made by the security agency. It was made by the Liberal cabinet. It made the decision. That was the testimony before committee.

When will the government make it clear to everyone that it put Canadian security interests ahead of Chinese security interests?

Foreign Takeovers June 12th, 2017

Speaking of doing homework, Mr. Speaker, funnily enough the U.K. authorities had a similar case involving the same investor. It did a full national security review. It added three pages of conditions to the approval of the investment. That is what our closest ally has done.

When will the hon. member listen to what our allies are doing and protect Canadian national interests?

Foreign Takeovers June 12th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, the hon. minister quite frankly is conflating an analysis memo with a full national security review. The two are very different. The hon. member knows that. When he says that in this House, he is seeking to deceive members of the House about what is actually going on.

Therefore, I will ask the hon. member again. Is this just an analysis memo? If it is not, when is he going to do a full national security review?

Celebrating Youth Awards June 6th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, it was my great honour this past Saturday, June 3, to attend the second annual Celebrating Youth Awards event hosted by hockey legend Bobby Orr at the hall of fame that bears his name in Parry Sound. This event recognizes and celebrates the contribution of youth 17 years of age and under in the west Parry Sound area. It is always inspiring to hear the accomplishments of these local young people.

As the member of Parliament for Parry Sound—Muskoka, I have had the great privilege of getting to know my hockey hero, Bobby Orr. While his accomplishments during his career were truly remarkable, what he has given back to his hometown of Parry Sound is even more amazing. Bobby Orr's generosity is only outdone by his great humility. As such, I feel it is important to rise in this House to recognize his tremendous support for youth in my riding and the many other significant contributions he has made to Parry Sound and all of Canada.

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.