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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 March 15th, 2012

Mr. Speaker, first of all, the internment of refugees is not something that happens every day. By having strong laws, we discourage people from the practice of hiring criminals to transport them here and then having to pay for the transportation for the rest of their lives.

I hope the hon. member opposite agrees that once people on a boat land in Canada, this country has a duty to ensure that the identities of the people on the boat are well established and that our country is protected.

Protecting Canada’s Immigration System Act March 15th, 2012

Mr. Speaker, first of all, we are dealing with very complicated issues here and in order to be fair both to refugees and to our own citizens, we have to act on the problems that exist. We cannot hide our heads in the sand and pretend there is no problem. There is a very serious problem of abuse of our generous refugee system which we are witnessing right now. We have to protect genuine refugees and our hard-working citizens who finance the system. There is no reason that we should offer our very generous system to anyone who claims to be a refugee without any basis for the claim.

As I indicated in my remarks, there are many people who come from safe countries. European Union countries generally are safe countries. Why would people come here and claim refugee status when there are safe countries in Europe?

Protecting Canada’s Immigration System Act March 15th, 2012

Mr. Speaker, it is with great pleasure that I rise to speak to this important bill, Bill C-31, the protecting Canada's immigration system act.

Every single day hundreds of thousands of people apply to immigrate to Canada. Who can blame them? After all, Canada is the best country in the world. These people fill out the paperwork and wait in line.

Unfortunately, every single year there are also thousands of people who choose not to fill out the paperwork. They choose not to wait in line with everyone else. Instead, they decide to jump the queue. They know that Canada's refugee system is broken and easily abused, so they choose to file bogus refugee claims in the hope that the lengthy processing times and endless appeals will result in their obtaining permanent residence in this country.

Immigrants to Canada, like myself, 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.

Our government has listened to Canadians, including those in my riding of Mississauga East—Cooksville, who have told us very clearly they want us to put a stop to this abuse. This is exactly what we are doing with Bill C-31.

It is unfortunate but not surprising that the opposition NDP and Liberal members conveniently ignore the facts when they speak against Bill C-31. It is not surprising because the facts 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 and human rights respecting European Union. That is more than Africa and Asia. Canada's top source 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, 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, 2,300 of which were made in Canada. That means only 100 refugee claims were made in all 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 themselves, a clear sign they are not in need of Canada's protection. These claimants are, by definition, bogus.

Instead of travelling to neighbouring safe countries which are easy to reach, these claimants are making the trip all the way to Canada. Instead of seeing their claims to completion, these bogus claimants are abandoning their claims and heading back home.

There is a reason these bogus refugee claimants are targeting Canada. In fact, I have been told of an instance in which a CBSA officer asked someone who landed at the airport and claimed refugee status the reason for the claim. The response was, “Free income”. Well, it is not free. It is paid for by hard-working Canadian taxpayers. Canadian taxpayers pay upward of $170 million per year for these bogus refugees from the European Union. Taxpayers fund their welfare, education and health care.

Hard-working Canadian 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 these bogus refugees.

It is not just the tax dollars that are being wasted that is of concern; it is also the severe impact these bogus claims are having on genuine refugees. Those who are truly in need of protection are waiting a long time to receive Canada's help because the system is being bogged down by these bogus refugee claimants. Fortunately, Bill C-31 would make Canada's refugee system faster and fairer.

Among other things, Bill C-31 would provide the authority for the minister to designate countries that are generally safe and democratic and respect human rights. Refugee claimants from these designated countries would have their claims expedited.

Under Canada's current asylum system, it takes on average more than 1,000 days to process a refugee claim. This is unacceptable. Under Bill C-31, refugee claims from generally non-refugee-producing countries, such as those in the European Union, would be processed in 45 days. Every single refugee claimant would continue to have his or her claim heard and decided on its merits by an independent immigration and refugee board.

Bill C-31 would also do away with endless levels of appeal that currently exist. All refugee claimants would still have the ability to apply for judicial review of a negative decision, as they do now, but the refugee claimants who come from countries that are considered generally safe would not get access to the refugee appeal division. In addition, the bill would enable more timely removal from Canada of failed refugee claimants.

These improvements are just common sense. These measures would help prevent abuse of the system and would ensure that all of our refugee determination processes are as streamlined as possible. This would be accomplished without affecting the fairness of the system and without compromising any of Canada's international and domestic obligations with respect to refugees.

Bill C-31 would save Canadian taxpayers $1.65 billion over five years. It would result in genuine refugees receiving Canada's protection much sooner. Anyone who has the best interests of real refugees at heart should support this bill.

To maintain the support of Canadians for our generous immigration and refugee system, we must demonstrate that Canada has a fair, well-managed system that does not tolerate queue jumping. All of the reforms included in the bill are aimed to determine abuse of Canada's generous immigration and refugee system. With these measures, the integrity of Canada's immigration programs and the safety and security of all Canadians would be protected.

Bill C-31 would put a stop to bogus refugees, foreign criminals and human smugglers abusing our immigration system and receiving lucrative taxpayer-funded health care and social benefits. The bill sends a clear message to those who would abuse Canada's generous asylum system that if they are not in need of protection, they will be sent home quickly.

Canadians gave our Conservative government a strong mandate to protect Canada's immigration system and we are acting on our mandate. I urge all members to support this important piece of legislation and ensure its timely passage.

Emergency Debate March 12th, 2012

Mr. Speaker, Sandoz is providing regular updates on the supply situation to its provincial and territorial customers.

For information on actual or potential local impacts, we encourage Canadians to contact their local health care authorities and their health care professionals.

Sandoz is committed to posting the information for health professionals on current and potential drug shortages on its website, and on the website of the University of Saskatchewan, Saskatchewan Drug Information Services, and Ruptures d'approvisionnement en médicaments au Canada. This information can be accessed.

Emergency Debate March 12th, 2012

Mr. Speaker, the member opposite mentioned that she has been around for a long time and was on the government side. I am surprised she is actually asking the question because the regulations are the same as they were when she was in government. Nothing has changed in that respect.

It is the responsibility of the federal government to regulate the safety of drugs. The hon. member knows very well that all the contracts and purchases are done by the provincial bodies under provincial jurisdiction.

To answer the question, the minister showed great leadership to help in the situation in any way she could. That is great leadership.

Emergency Debate March 12th, 2012

Mr. Speaker, I do not know how many times during this debate it has been mentioned that we are dealing with provincial jurisdiction.

Health Canada is not involved in contracts with drug companies to buy drugs for hospitals, clinics or doctors. If the hon. member had listened to my speech, he would have heard the last sentence of my speech, which I will repeat. If necessary, the government will regulate mandatory advance notification in order to ensure Canadians get the information they need and deserve.

Emergency Debate March 12th, 2012

Mr. Speaker, I would like to inform you that I will be splitting my time with the member for Lotbinière—Chutes-de-la-Chaudière.

When I rise in the House to address an issue I am pleased to do so, but not tonight. The very serious shortage of medically necessary drugs that has brought us to this emergency debate could have been mitigated if only Sandoz Canada had planned ahead and had been transparent with its customers. I must say that the more I learn about the company's behaviour, the angrier I get.

We can discuss every aspect of the drug shortage issue tonight. We understand that it is a complex global phenomenon with many causes.

We know of the serious work that our Minister of Health has done to bring purchasers and suppliers together to find a co-operative Canadian solution to this global challenge. These solutions are based on information sharing and solid contingency planning. They are direct, efficient solutions based on a clear and logical understanding of how the drug approval and supply system works in Canada. The minister's goal has been to help ensure that the right information gets into the right hands at the right time so that advance planning and notice can take place, alternative sources of supply can be found and treatment plans for patients can be adjusted if necessary.

I read the newspaper over the weekend. The warning system does not work well when the warning comes too late. Sandoz clearly did not warn the world about a looming shortage until it was too late to avoid it.

Last November, four months ago, Sandoz was notified by the U.S. FDA of concerns about production quality standards related to one product at its Boucherville plant. This product is not even produced for the Canadian market. Similar FDA findings were made at the Sandoz plants in the United States. It is important to note that at no time did the FDA find that the production issues were of such gravity to require Sandoz to cease production at any of these facilities.

As we all know, Sandoz is a virtual sole supplier of many medically necessary drugs for hospitals and clinics across the country. However, members now know that because of the painful events of the past few weeks, Sandoz was presumably aware of these facts in November. Nonetheless, before the middle of February, the company did not give full details of its plan to shut down its plant in Boucherville. This is especially concerning, considering it would have major supply consequences for all Canadians.

Following up on the FDA findings, Health Canada inspected the plant and found it to be compliant with our rules for safe, quality production. The department's officials held discussions with the company about how it planned to address the FDA findings, but never during those discussions were the full details or plans of the company's production cutback revealed, that is until February 15. That is when Sandoz simultaneously informed Health Canada and its customers that it was significantly cutting the output of medically necessary products from the plant.

When the company was asked what alternative sources of supply it had secured to make up shortfalls for customers, it said that it was starting to do that. So the company dropped a bombshell like this on the Canadian health care system and then said it was just starting to identify other suppliers. Sandoz did not even include an estimate of how long the shortages would last. It had to be asked.

The House has been aware of the work that the minister has done to encourage drug makers to be more transparent with customers and Canadians about drug shortages. Early last fall, she received a commitment from several professional and industry associations for a voluntary plan to provide more timely, accurate and comprehensive information about drug shortages to health care professionals and patients across Canada.

Sandoz Canada is a member of the Canadian Generic Pharmaceutical Association which contributed to the development of this plan. However, I have to say that the abject failure of Sandoz to date to provide clear, precise and timely information on the massive impact of its production cutbacks is completely contrary to the spirit and principles of the pledge made in the fall.

The information provided to Health Canada officials, the media and the public has been, at best, reactive, fragmented and incomplete. As a result of this information vacuum, health care providers across the country find themselves having to piece together the full scope and extent of the supply situation and scramble to maintain patient care. Hospitals and clinics, bulk drug purchases, provincial and territorial governments and Health Canada have had to poke and prod Sandoz at every turn. Supply pledges made by the company have frequently not been met by distributors. Sandoz has promised to provide updated supply information to health professionals, but their worried calls to Health Canada for help indicate that either the information or the supply, or both, are not getting through.

Then on Sunday, March 4, Health Canada became aware of a fire at the Boucherville plant through media reports. Health Canada also received an email from Sandoz on March 4 confirming there had been a fire. Health Canada urged Sandoz to go public with information about the fire, especially with its customers, the provinces and territories.

When it became clear that information was not forthcoming, at noon on March 6, Health Canada advised the provinces and territories of the fire. At the urging of Health Canada, and only after Health Canada had advised the provinces, Sandoz finally issued a press release on March 6. Only then did it publicly concede that the fire had forced the suspension of all production at the plant for at least a week.

It took the company almost three weeks after the February 15 notification to deliver to Health Canada submissions for alternative supplies to be assessed for safety and effectiveness.

Health Canada is expediting its authorization process during the shortage to help hospitals and doctors access alternative sources of supply.

Through the various networks supported by the health portfolio, we have been taking a leadership role by bringing together purchasers, provinces, territories, health care professionals and Sandoz to exchange the latest information on supply and to ensure that our collective efforts to address shortages are coordinated. Health Canada has a team of experts assigned to deal with shortage requests.

We are providing guidance to purchasers so they have a clear understanding of the safety information we require when a new source of supply is found. Through our co-operative relationship with other trusted regulators with high safety standards like Canada, such as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the European Medicines Agency, we have ready access to a wealth of information that will expedite our approval of foreign sources.

I want to assure Canadians that, notwithstanding these urgent circumstances, we will never compromise safety. The last thing anyone wants is for patients to be harmed by unsafe drugs authorized in a rush to fill supply gaps.

In Canada, the federal government has taken a leadership role in encouraging enhanced co-operation among all players in the drug approval and supply system. The Sandoz situation shows there is still a lot of work to do to improve information sharing and contingency planning by purchasers and suppliers. It is still our hope that this will happen. We believe that a voluntary purchaser-supplier solution is the most effective and efficient way to handle shortages. If necessary, the government will regulate mandatory advance notification in order to ensure Canadians get the information they need and deserve.

Business of Supply March 5th, 2012

Mr. Speaker, of course, I am in touch with veterans in my riding. All veterans are looking for services to be simplified. Cutting red tape is very important.

Many veterans are confused with some of the paperwork they have to fill out. Therefore, they have asked that the red tape be cut to simplify the procedures so that they can access their benefits faster. They do not want to spend a lot of time on bureaucracy. Enhancement of these services is required.

Business of Supply March 5th, 2012

Mr. Speaker, the answer is very simple. As to whether there is room for improvement, there is always room for improvement. The Minister of Veterans Affairs stated many times that the goal of this government is to improve services for veterans. Of course, there is room for improvement. We are working to improve services, provide more services and continue to provide more and better services to our great men and women in uniform who serve this country.

Business of Supply March 5th, 2012

Mr. Speaker, I would like to repeat what was said in the House many times before. There will be no cuts to services provided for veterans. This government has been increasing the quality of services for veterans. The hon. member may remember that the greatest cuts of services for veterans occurred in 1995 by the previous government. Some of those services were fully restored. Some are being restored by this government. We have been dedicated to providing and enhancing services for veterans. This is what we are doing now.