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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was mississauga.

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

Lost his last election, in 2015, with 35% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Journey to Freedom Day Act March 23rd, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to take part in this debate on Bill S-219.

Before I read my notes, I would like to comment on some issues that were raised by the previous speaker. I do not think that she has a full understanding of the issues surrounding that journey to freedom.

I will speak on more of a personal note, because I came to Canada from a Communist country and regime. The many people who came before me were escaping or trying to escape a regime that they did not want to live under.

The same thing happened with those poor boat people. They were escaping because they did not want to live in a Communist regime and face oppression. A quarter of a million people died trying to escape from that Communist regime in unsafe boats. Does that not speak for itself? I do not know who would need an explanation.

The comment that was made was that the ambassador of Vietnam was not invited. The ambassador of Vietnam represents the current Government of Vietnam. It is not a democratic government. Let us make that clear. Therefore, I would not be surprised if the ambassador of Vietnam would not be in support of this bill or of creating a day to commemorate those brave people who were trying to escape to find a safe haven here, as many others have.

After the war, Canada opened its arms to a lot of people who came from Polish territories, people who took a terrible journey. They were sent by the Russians to Siberia. Hundreds of thousands of them died. No one ever knew the real number. They joined the army and fought alongside Canadians. After the war they had no country to go back to, so many of them came to Canada. We are very grateful for this. People of our generation, in the 1980s, were able to leave Communist Poland. They were stranded in refugee camps across Europe and other countries in the world. They found a safe refuge here.

We can repeat these stories with many groups from many places in the world. Canada has always been strong in supporting those who are oppressed and denied basic human and democratic rights. That is what this bill is about. Let us not confuse anyone. This is not a bill to divide communities; we have to fully understand who is a part of the community and who is not.

On April 30, Canada's Vietnamese community commemorates the end of the Vietnam War, a day that this legislation would recognize as “journey to freedom day”. It was on this day in 1975 that the fall of Saigon led to the exodus of over 840,000 Vietnamese citizens. They were prepared to take great risks. Many were even prepared to die, rather than suffer at the hands of the Communist regime. Many of those who fled the brutal regime had to resort to extreme measures. They fled on crowded, unseaworthy boats in the hope of escaping to their freedom.

Tragically, many of the Vietnamese boat people did not survive the perilous journey. More than a quarter million of them drowned, starved, or were attacked by pirates. Miraculously, more than 60,000 Vietnamese refugees did succeed in making their way to Canada. Canadians welcomed these refugees with open arms and even invited the refugees to stay with them in their homes. More than half of the refugees were privately sponsored by generous individuals and groups of Canadians from all walks of life.

Thanks to the overwhelming generosity and support of Canadians, entire refugee families were able to resettle here and build a new and peaceful life.

Resettlement of such a large number of refugees in such a short amount of time was a tremendous achievement, and Canada's humanitarian efforts and compassion were recognized internationally. In response to these efforts in 1986, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees awarded the Canadian people the Nansen Medal, which is the refugee equivalent of the Nobel Prize. This is the only time an entire country has been recognized with this honour, and for this we should all be proud.

Bill S-219 aims to designate April 30 as the journey to freedom day. Not only would it commemorate the perilous journey 40 years ago of Vietnamese refugees to Canada, but it would also pay tribute to an incredible humanitarian role played by thousands of Canadians in community and church groups, who opened up their hearts and found ways to welcome Vietnamese refugees here in our great country.

As April 30 is already recognized by our Vietnamese community, it is appropriate to designate this day as a national day of remembrance. It would serve to commemorate the lives lost and the suffering experienced by people during the exodus. It would also mark their arrival to freedom and the gratitude of the Vietnamese people to Canadians for their generosity.

It is a Canadian tradition to commemorate tragic lessons in history so that they are never repeated. We believe we must not ignore the past, and this includes the shameful past of our country's history. Indeed, perhaps it is the memory of one of our own darkest moments that contributed to such an outpouring of generosity from Canadians toward the Vietnamese refugees.

It is with great shame that Canadians recall the tragic decision to turn away the MS St. Louis in 1939. The outcome of that disturbing decision should not be forgotten. After being turned away by Cuba, the United States, and finally by Canada, the ship was forced to return to Europe, where almost one-third of its passengers ultimately perished in the Holocaust.

To memorize and educate Canadians about the MS St. Louis incident, a powerful memorial is now located at Pier 21 in Halifax, where the ship should have landed. On this day we would mark a tragic period in history, but we would also commemorate a very important part of our country's proud humanitarian tradition.

The outpouring of support from Canadian people during this time underscores our country's commitment to providing protection to the world's most vulnerable. A memorial would also serve to remind all Canadians of how fortunate we are to live in one of the most free and democratic countries in the world, and that we are proud to stand up for our values of freedom, democracy, human rights, and the rule of law.

It should also be noted that this period in Canadian history is one that is not as well known among younger Canadians today. Unlike the First and Second World Wars, the Korean War, and the Cold War, the Canadian connection to the Vietnam War is often overlooked.

In conclusion, I would say that the resettlement of Vietnamese refugees is a very important part in our Canadian history. That is why so many Canadians have voiced their support for the bill and are enthusiastic about the national day of commemoration. For this reason I urge all my colleagues to support the bill. It is a great bill, and we all, as Canadians, will be proud of it.

Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices Act March 12th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the hon. member about the provision included in the bill about the defence of provocation. We have heard from opposition members that this is an unnecessary provision in the bill. If the member could enlighten us, why is it needed, and why is it important?

Tibet March 11th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, yesterday many parliamentarians and Tibetans from across Canada gathered on Parliament Hill to mark the 56th anniversary of the uprising of the Tibetan people against the Chinese communist invaders and the occupation of their country. During this gathering, we were reminded that in Tibet today, the very basic human rights of Tibetan people are being violated by the Chinese communist government.

I am sad to say that this past Thursday, a 47-year-old wife and mother of three living in a Tibetan county in western China's Sichuan province burned herself to death in protest against communist policies in Tibetan areas. She is the 137th known case of self-immolation by a Tibetan since the fiery protests began in 2009.

These deaths are a grim reminder of the struggle of the Tibetan people against the Chinese communist government and the ongoing fight for human rights in the world. Canada will always remain committed to standing up for human rights and freedoms. Canada stands with Tibet.

Ben and Emma's Benefit Concert March 10th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, last Saturday, March 7, I was truly honoured to be a part of a very special event in my riding—Ben and Emma's benefit concert. These two young people are both courageously battling serious illnesses. Ben, a young boy of four, has cerebral palsy, Emma, an eleven-year old girl, was recently diagnosed with leukemia. Proceeds from this concert are going to the families of these two precious children to help with the costs related to dealing with these difficult situations.

I am excited to say that over $13,000 was raised.

I wish to extend my appreciation to the organizers of this event, along with the local artists who offered their talents and performed, and of course to the attendees and supporters of the Ben and Emma benefit concert. Their support and dedication to the nurturing and goodwill of others in times of need not only helped to raise much needed funds, but also raised the spirits for all in our community.

Rise in anti-Semitism February 24th, 2015

Mr. Chair, yes, I was born and raised in Poland. I was born nine years after the war, not very far from Auschwitz, actually, 120 kilometres more or less. I remember visiting Auschwitz when I was 12 years old more or less. I do not think I fully understood, at that time, the magnitude of what happened there.

Growing up, I visited it again several times. The question I always ask myself, and I do not think I will ever find the answer to it, is how people could do these things to other people. The other question I always ask myself is how it was possible that those terrible things, those atrocities, were committed by one of the most or the most advanced nation in Europe. How is it possible that it used its science and its resources to build a place, an industrial place, to kill and process other human beings?

We all know, or we should know, what we should learn from history and from what happened there. It is that propaganda of hatred and racism can lead to unthinkable things as a result, and we should always remember this, and we should all teach our young generations what can happen when we try to turn people against each other because they are different, they pray differently, they worship differently, they look different. This is something we should never let happen again, in the future.

Rise in anti-Semitism February 24th, 2015

Mr. Chair, I am very honoured to rise in this House to take part in this debate.

Just a few weeks ago, people around the world reflected on the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, one of the most notorious sites of the uniquely sadistic, brutal, and unspeakable atrocities perpetrated by the Nazis. They gathered together to recognize and honour the victims and survivors of this horrific and inhumane period of history. I was honoured to be among them to commemorate this most horrific of crimes.

Auschwitz-Birkenau was originally intended as a large concentration camp primarily for members of Polish resistance and intelligentsia, and in 1941-42 it was expanded for what the Germans called “the final solution”, which meant extermination of Jews. Six million men and women, including three million children, were murdered during the Holocaust for the simple fact that they were Jewish. This was what anti-Semitism had led to in supposedly civilized Europe. It was a time of horrendous nightmares.

As the world saw the end of the Second World War nearing, the enormity of the Holocaust began to be exposed through efforts of people like Jan Karski. It is critical that we continue to reflect on history in the modern context. As our Prime Minister said, our memory of the Holocaust and the suffering endured by its victims and their families:

...helps keep strong the conviction in our hearts to do everything we can—through our actions and our words—to stand firm against the forces of intolerance and remain vigilant against genocide. Only through these continued efforts can we ensure that such atrocities never happen again

To put it simply, we must never forget; we must do all we can to prevent another genocide, another Shoah, from occurring. This is the kind of resolution we must make every day and at every opportunity. This is all the more critical at a time when anti-Semitic incidents and Holocaust denial persist around the world.

Seventy years after the liberation of the German Nazi concentration and extermination camp of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the members, observer countries, and permanent international partners of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance collectively reaffirmed our unqualified support for the Stockholm declaration of 15 years ago and our commitment to remembering and honouring the victims of the Holocaust, to upholding its terrible truth, to standing up against those who would distort or deny it, and to combatting anti-Semitism and racism in all its forms.

It is why we also partner with B'nai Brith Canada to invest in the national task force on Holocaust research, remembrance, and education. The task force brings together scholars, legal experts, educators, Holocaust survivors, and community representatives to further Holocaust research and education in Canada. Canada is at the forefront of the international fight against anti-Semitism. We were the first country to announce its withdrawal from the tainted Durban process at the United Nations because we would not lend the good name of this country to a process supposedly to combat racism, which in fact promoted anti-Semitism.

This is what parliamentarians from around the world declared here in Ottawa four years ago in developing the Ottawa protocol, as we hosted the Inter-parliamentary Coalition for Combating Antisemitism. Among its commitments, the protocol called for leaders of faith groups to combat all forms of hatred and discrimination, including anti-Semitism. It called on governments to establish an international task force to identify and monitor hate on the Internet, to record all hate crimes including anti-Semitism, and to express concern over anti-Semitism on campuses.

The Holocaust was a crime against humanity unlike any other in human history, and it fundamentally altered how the world views and treats acts of genocide.

As more and more survivors can no longer share their stories, we have the moral obligation to teach future generations about the horrors of Shoah and to draw lessons from this dark chapter in history, in order to prevent it from ever being repeated.

Rotary Club of Mississauga-City Centre February 24th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I was pleased to join the Rotary Club of Mississauga-City Centre on February 15 for a special ceremony celebrating Canada's national flag and the one-year anniversary of the extending seniors' horizon program, which offers training to seniors on how to use modern communication technologies and social media.

It is common for seniors to feel isolated, and that is especially true for immigrant seniors. Extending seniors' horizon allows seniors to lessen their feelings of isolation by communicating with their friends and families, often very far away. I have had the privilege of meeting happy seniors who participate in this program. Our government's funding has allowed them to purchase equipment used in special training sessions.

I applaud the Rotary Club of Mississauga-City Centre for this excellent initiative, led by Tim Iqbal, and the work of the volunteers for extending seniors' horizon. Their work is greatly appreciated. I wish the Rotarians in Mississauga, Canada, and around the world congratulations on the Rotary's 110th anniversary.

Lunar New Year February 19th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, last night at midnight, thousands of Canadians across the country, including our Prime Minister, gathered together to ring in the lunar new year.

Over the next two weeks, Canadians of Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, and other backgrounds are marking the arrival of the Year of the Sheep, known to some as the Year of the Goat. They will celebrate the renewal and optimism that comes with a new year, along with family, friends, and their local communities.

The lunar new year brings with it wonderful expressions of tradition and culture, such as the distribution of lucky pockets. It gives families the opportunity to honour their ancestors and pass along beautiful traditions and customs to a new generation.

The lunar new year is also a fantastic opportunity for all Canadians to share in the richness of Asian culture.

On behalf of the Conservative caucus, I wish all Canadians celebrating the lunar new year good luck, prosperity, and success.

Gong hey fat choy; Gong xi fa cai, Chuc mung nam moi!

Taxation February 4th, 2015

Mr. .Speaker, while Canada's economy is better than many, we still remain on the road to recovery. A carbon tax is not a way to deal with economic issues in our country.

Bringing in higher taxes and higher debt is not the path on which we believe Canadians want to be. Canadians cannot afford more of the NDP and Liberals' risky tax hike schemes.

Our government believes in the importance of a strong economy and refuses to weigh it down with another tax on Canadian families. Bringing in a job-killing carbon tax is reckless.

Our Conservative government is lowering taxes for families and putting more money back into their pockets. Keeping taxes low and creating jobs are essential to keeping this economy on the right track. We will never punish Canadians with a job-killing carbon tax.

Auschwitz February 3rd, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I was honoured to be part of the official Canadian delegation to Poland for the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the German Nazi concentration and extermination camp.

More than a million people were murdered there between 1940 and 1945. At the commemoration, we listened to the testimony of three survivors: Halina Birenbaum, who grew up in the Warsaw ghetto and was imprisoned at Auschwitz; Kazimierz Albin, one of the first prisoners at Auschwitz at age 18, who would later escape and join the resistance; and Roman Kent, who issued a strong plea to world leaders that I would like to relay back to the House. He said, “We survivors do not want our past to be our children's future”. I would ask my fellow parliamentarians to remember Mr. Kent's words.

We must all work together to protect innocent people here and around the world. We should never sit on the sidelines when we face evil, oppression, hatred, or injustice.