House of Commons photo

Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was tax.

Last in Parliament October 2015, as Conservative MP for Mississauga East—Cooksville (Ontario)

Lost his last election, in 2019, with 34% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Protecting Canada's Immigration System Act May 17th, 2012

Mr. Speaker, it is with great disappointment that I rise to speak to the amendments put forward by the opposition at report stage. I say “disappointed” because the opposition is playing exactly the sort of petty and blind partisanship that turned Canadians off politics. It is important to explain to Canadians the negative consequences that would result if these opposition amendments were adopted.

The opposition will not admit it, but Canadians know that Canada's immigration and refugee system faces challenges and is open to abuse. The protecting Canada's immigration system act would make Canada's refugee system faster and fairer. This bill would put a stop to foreign criminals, human smugglers and refugees with unfounded claims from abusing Canada's generous immigration system. At the same time, this bill would provide protection more quickly to those who are truly in need. Canadians take great pride in the generosity and compassion of our immigration and refugee programs, but they have no tolerance for those who abuse our generosity and seek to take unfair advantage of our country. The facts speak for themselves. Canada welcomes more resettled refugees than almost any country in the world. In fact, we are increasing that number by an additional 20%. Our tradition of compassion and protection will continue and will grow.

However, our immigration system is open to abuse. Every year, thousands of bogus refugee claimants come to Canada. They choose to file bogus refugee claims in the hope that their lengthy processing times and endless appeals will result in their obtaining permanent residence in this country. Immigrants to Canada, like me, are very welcoming and fair but we have no tolerance for people from safe countries who abuse our refugee system as a way to jump the queue and get into Canada without having to wait and follow the proper process like everyone else. We have no tolerance for those who take unfair advantage of our generosity.

It is unfortunate, but not surprising, that the opposition parties, NDP and Liberals, conveniently ignore the facts when they speak against Bill C-31. The amendments they introduced at the report stage prove that. These amendments show that the opposition members continue to ignore the facts that underscore the need for this important piece of legislation and undermine the opposition's criticism of it.

These are the facts. In 2011, Canada received 5,800 refugee claims from the European Union alone, a 14% increase from 2010. That means that a quarter of all refugee claims were from the democratic European Union, where human rights are respected. That is more than Africa and Asia. Canada's top source country for refugee claims was Hungary, an EU member state. In fact, in 2011 Canada received 4,400 refugee claims from Hungary alone. In comparison, Belgium received only 188, the U.S. only 47, and France and Norway only 33 each. It is very telling that in 2010, Hungarian nationals made a total of 2,400 refugee claims around the world and 2,300 of those claims were made in Canada. That means that only 100 refugee claims were made in other countries around the world. Canada received 23 times more than all other countries combined.

What is more, in the past few years virtually all of these claims were abandoned, withdrawn or rejected. The majority of these claimants chose to abandon or withdraw their claims, a clear sign they were not in need of Canada's protection. These claimants are, by definition, bogus. They are paid for by hard-working Canadian taxpayers. Canadian taxpayers pay upwards of $170 million per year for these bogus claimants from the European Union. Taxpayers fund their welfare, their education and their health care. Hard-working taxpayers are sick and tired of footing the bill for bogus refugee claimants who abuse the system at everyone else's expense. Too many tax dollars are spent on bogus refugees.

Bill C-31 would put a stop to this abuse. Allow me to illustrate. The bill would help speed up the refugee claims process in a number of ways. It would challenge the designated country of origin policy and enable the government to respond more quickly to increases in refugee claims from countries that generally do not produce refugees. Claimants from designated countries of origin would be processed in about 45 days compared to more than 1,000 days under the current system. The less time claimants spend in Canada awaiting a decision, the less incentive there is for people to abuse our generous asylum system and use it to jump the queue in the regular immigration process. Bill C-31 would also stop the ability of bogus claimants to use endless avenues of appeal to remain in Canada, receiving generous taxpayer-funded health care and social assistance benefits.

Bill C-31 would prevent refugee claimants from submitting a refugee claim at the same time as they apply for humanitarian and compassionate consideration. It would also bar claimants from submitting humanitarian and compassionate applications for one year following a final negative decision from the IRB. In addition, under the balanced refugee reform act, individuals with a final negative decision from the Immigration and Refugee Board would be barred from applying for a pre-removal risk assessment for 12 months.

Taken together, these measures send a clear message to those who seek to abuse Canada's generous refugee system. Those who do not need our protection would be sent home quickly. They would not be allowed to remain in Canada by using endless appeals to delay their removal. At the same time, for those who need refuge, these measures would help to get protection even faster. Every eligible asylum claimant would continue to get a fair hearing by the Immigration and Refugee Board. Again, even with these needed changes, Canada's refugee determination system would remain one of the most generous in the world.

Human smugglers are criminals who operate in the underworld and charge large amounts of money to facilitate illegal immigration. The protecting Canada's immigration system act would help crack down on these smugglers in a number of ways. It would enable the Minister of Public Safety to designate the arrival of a group of individuals into Canada as an irregular arrival. It would establish mandatory detention of those individuals in order to determine their identity, admissibility and whether or not they have been involved in illegal activities.

As my hon. colleagues know, the detention provisions in Bill C-31 were recently amended and now reflect that the first detention review would occur within 14 days and subsequent reviews every six months.

I note that NDP members supported these amendments at the committee but now they are trying to gut the very amendments they supported. This is more proof that their main goal is to play games rather than work in good faith in the best interest of Canadians.

As before, a person would be released before this time upon being found to be a genuine refugee. As an additional safeguard, the Minister of Public Safety, on his own initiative, at any time, can also order the release of a detained individual when grounds for detention no longer exist. Mandatory detention would also exclude those designated foreign nationals who are under the age of 16.

The government is sending a clear message that our doors are open to those who play by the rules, but we will crack down on those who threaten the integrity of our borders. With these proposed measures, the integrity of Canada's immigration programs and the safety and security of Canadians would be protected.

Unfortunately, by introducing these irresponsible amendments, the opposition has shown that it does not support strengthening the immigration system. It has shown that it does not support genuine refugees getting protection more quickly or protecting hard-working Canadian taxpayers from having to foot the bill for bogus refugee claimants and human smugglers.

I urge the opposition to stop playing games, listen to the will of their constituents and vote against these amendments.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act May 7th, 2012

Mr. Speaker, I do not think my constituents are much different from the constituents of other members on both sides of the House. They are looking for stable employment, safe communities, safe streets and a good future for their children, and that is what this government is giving them and that is why we were re-elected a year ago. We are implementing responsible economic policies. This is the plan that has been working for the past five years and we will continue it for the future of our great country.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act May 7th, 2012

Mr. Speaker, I think that question was raised several times during today's question period.

The answer is simple and our Minister of Finance answered it. This is a large budget that affects a high number of implementation bills. That is what we are discussing here today. After we debate it here in the House, the bill will go to committee where everybody will have time to discuss it and look at the details.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act May 7th, 2012

Mr. Speaker, I do not know why the member would be confused with the document.

In my speech I focused on the process. This is not a two year, one year or half a year process. This has been going on since 2006 and it is a process that will be going on for many years to come.

It takes planning and a certain implementation to ensure that this country grows, businesses grow and that people find suitable employment to take care of their families and put food on the table. This is what we are implementing. It is not a process that will end today or after this bill. This will continue for many years to come.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act May 7th, 2012

Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to rise today in the House of Commons to speak to budget 2012, which reflects the unique needs of all Canadians and the strengths of our country, rich in diversity, talent, innovation and resources.

This is a budget we should all be proud of and excited about as we excel into the future. There are several components of budget 2012 that I would like to speak to today, areas that are of particular interest to my constituents, who, over the last year, have shared with me their priorities and concerns and their vision for the future, a vision which can be captured by key measures introduced in economic action plan 2012.

An important part of this budget announces $150 million over two years for a new community infrastructure improvement fund to support repairs and improvements to existing community facilities.

The city of Mississauga, located just outside Toronto, is easily accessible by highways and close to an international airport. This gives the city a strong competitive advantage in attracting business investment. However, to accommodate this growth, investments in infrastructure are imperative.

Through the economic action plan, over 30,000 projects were completed to build and enhance infrastructure across the country. These projects created jobs for Canadians and will facilitate growth and prosperity for many years to come.

Our investments have not taken a one-size-fits-all approach. They have been carefully focused to address the individual needs of communities across this country.

Since 2006 our government has made several important and impactful investments in Mississauga. To name a few, we have invested $15.6 million in Sheridan College and $35 million in the University of Toronto Mississauga Campus. Over the last year, thousands of residents have gathered in the new city square, where our government invested $13.3 million. Since being there to mark the completion of the project last year, I have visited several times for community celebrations. This project has really contributed to the spirit of community in downtown Mississauga. Furthermore, many residents have been impressed by investments in the redevelopment of the Burnhamthorpe branch library, where our government invested $5.5 million.

As Mississauga continues to grow, it has been important to recognize existing infrastructure that needs maintenance in order to keep up with the growing interest of individuals and families in settling here. Across the city, over $12.3 million dollars was invested in replacing old water mains, which will be necessary to accommodate the great future we have envisioned for the city.

As a result of our government's investments in critical infrastructure, many jobs were created and citizens in my riding experience a better quality of life. We have become aware of what can be accomplished when there is collaboration between all levels of government and a focus on the specific needs of a particular and unique community.

Our government's continued investments in infrastructure provided through budget 2012 will ensure that we will build on the improvements I have highlighted and that our cities can continue to prosper.

The budget also addresses the need for driving innovation and small business investment across Canada to secure our economic advantage. While Canada's GDP is well above pre-recession levels, we still lag behind the other G7 countries in driving innovation. That is why we are focusing resources in ways that the private sector needs them most, through direct investment. This will ensure that we are at the forefront of research and development and that jobs that result from these advancements are brought to Canada rather than lost to foreign firms.

Our government's investments in innovation and small business through budget 2012 will help these companies grow in their capacity to serve and employ residents of Mississauga, which is important to the long-term prosperity of our city.

Building on actions taken since 2006, budget 2012 provides direct investments for research and development to the tune of $1.1 billion over the course of five years, allowing for investments in the industrial research assistance program to be doubled.

Additionally, budget 2012 would help small businesses invest in growth opportunities by investing $500 million to help them in accessing early stage risk capital.

Because of our government's focus on driving economic growth and creating jobs, 700,000 more Canadians are working now than in July 2009, exemplary of Canada's position in having the strongest job growth among the G7 countries over the course of recovery.

However, our government understands that many Canadians are still unemployed or underemployed. Economic action plan 2012 shows our commitment to helping Canadians find meaningful employment.

Another part of our plan to support job creation, budget 2012 intends to reduce disincentives to work by investing $74 million over the course of two years to introduce a new national working while on claim EI pilot project. This pilot project would cut down the clawback rate in half and be applied to all earnings while an individual is receiving employment insurance. This would make it easier for Canadians as they search for permanent and meaningful full-time jobs.

The riding of Mississauga East—Cooksville, which I am proud to represent, is an excellent example of the contributions immigrants have made to this great country, to building our economy and to Canada's strength of diversity in heritage. Canada is attracting some of the world's best and brightest immigrants who have the potential to address our labour needs, supporting the growth of innovative and knowledge based industries.

Budget 2012 expands on the accomplishments of budget 2009 where funding was given to support the recognition of foreign qualifications. Budget 2012 would add six additional occupations to the list by the end of 2012, ensuring that the provinces and territories can address labour shortages quickly and effectively. This proves our government's attention to the evolving needs of our economy.

Over the last year, I spent a great deal of time working with the settlement organizations in my riding that often speak to the difficulties foreign trained professionals have in becoming accredited in Canada and bringing their education and experience to the benefit of Canadian business. In February 2012, our government launched the foreign credential recognition loans pilot to provide funding to these community groups to help them grow in their capacity to provide financial assistance to those professionals who are on the road to bringing new business and innovative ideas to Canadians.

Today I have highlighted only a few of the ways that budget 2012 would impact my constituents and all Canadians in real and meaningful ways in their everyday lives, bringing to light many of the priorities of my constituents.

However, it is also important to note that the budget is not short-sighted. It takes into consideration a long-term view for the prosperity of Canada. Budget 2012 introduces measures that would lay the foundation for the prosperous future of our economy. It builds on the momentum and accomplishments we have realized over the last few years and demonstrates a strong vision for building the long-term future of Canada.

It is clear that budget 2012 builds on the accomplishments of our government to support the economy and job creation. Ellen McGregor, chair and co-owner of Fielding Chemical Technologies, Canada's leader in chemical and refrigerant recycling, a business located in my riding, has applauded our work to date and the measures taken in the budget by stating, “Our government is approaching the management of the country like the management of the best-run company, or for that matter, a best-managed household. This budget's measures focus on debt reduction balanced against the goals for increased growth and prosperity. I applaud [the Prime Minister] and his government for the courage it takes to reduce government spending while stimulating job creation and supporting key social programs, for which Canada is proud”.

Budget 2012 not only reflects our government's focus on job creation and economic growth, but also proves a sound understanding of the needs of Canadians, the challenges we face and the realities of a global economy. I am thrilled for the benefits it will bring to my riding and to all Canadians.

Polish Constitution Day May 3rd, 2012

Mr. Speaker, today is Polish Constitution Day. On May 3, 1791, Poland adopted Europe's first democratic constitution only four years after the constitution of the United States was signed.

Soon after its adoption, Poland would lose its freedom to foreign occupation. However, the constitution of May 3 would continue to serve as a symbol of freedom, democratic rights and the fight for Polish independence.

Today May 3 is celebrated as a national holiday in Poland, where major streets and monuments throughout the country are dedicated to its memory.

Here in Canada, Polish Canadians reflect on the long-standing historic legacy of the fight for liberty and democracy. They also celebrate the fact that Canada reflects those same values and that Poland is now a free and prosperous European ally.

I join with Polish Canadians in celebrating this holiday and would like to take this opportunity to remind Canadians that we must always stand on guard for individual freedoms and always resist the forces that seek to limit it.

Floradale Public School May 1st, 2012

Mr. Speaker, this weekend I had the pleasure of attending the 50th anniversary of Floradale Public School, an elementary school in the riding I am proud to represent, Mississauga East—Cooksville. The school's gymnasium was packed full of students, parents, staff, alumni and former staff. I was privileged to see performances by some of the school's many very talented students, all of whose parents must be very proud.

Floradale is located near the heart of Cooksville, one of the most diverse parts of Mississauga. Its motto is “Diversity is our strength”, which sets a great example to the students and to us all, and embodies the spirit of Canadian multiculturalism.

I am happy and proud to congratulate the principal, Carolyn Sossi Grant, and all her staff on this milestone anniversary. I look forward to seeing many more classes of Floradale students move on from strength to strength and work toward a brighter future.

Jan Karski April 26th, 2012

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to pay tribute to a true hero, Jan Karski.

In 1939, Karski joined the Polish Home Army as a liaison officer. During the war and at great risk to his own life, Karski was smuggled, in disguise, into a Nazi German concentration camp in eastern Poland where he saw with his own eyes mass extermination taking place.

Scarred by what he had seen, Karski delivered an impassioned plea on behalf of Poland's Jews to the top allied officials in November 1942 and to President Roosevelt himself in July 1943. Unfortunately, his pleas went unanswered.

At a time when so many were silent, Karski, a righteous among the nations, spoke out. And so it is fitting that this year he will posthumously be awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in the United States.

Pope John Paul II April 2nd, 2012

Mr. Speaker, today marks the seventh anniversary of the death of Pope John Paul II.

During his papacy, he had a profound impact on people of all faiths and cultures all over the world, who continue to admire and revere him.

Many remember that Pope John Paul II was strongly committed to building understanding between the Catholic church and other faiths. His efforts, whether through his historic visit to the Great Synagogue of Rome or his meetings with the Dalai Lama, are seen as having opened new avenues for positive dialogue.

He played a vital role in inspiring Eastern Europe to resist Communist tyranny, which contributed to the success of the democratic transformation of that region.

As we know, blessed John Paul II is now on the road to sainthood. I would like to take this opportunity to remember the tremendous contributions that he made to the world and to the promotion of values that we as Canadians cherish.

Protecting Canada's Immigration System Act March 26th, 2012

Mr. Speaker, after listening to the speeches from the other side, I truly believe there is a great misunderstanding of what a refugee is and how a refugee should be treated. I would stress the fact that Canada does more than its share in the international community to help those who need help.

We are talking about people here who arrive in this country, make false claims, clog up the system and delay the claims of those who need our help.

Why would the member opposite not support a bill that would benefit those refugees who are stranded in refugee camps around the world and who are under the protection of the United Nations High Commissioner?