- MPconWed 3:25 pm | Ontario, Burlington
Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to speak to my motion, Motion No. 425, in the last couple of minutes. Hopefully, I will not take all my five minutes.
I would like to thank each and every one of my fellow parliamentarians who spoke on the issue. I heard some comments about how the motion did not go far enough and how it did not have enough teeth in terms of what the solutions were. To be frank, I do not have the solutions.
I appreciate the presentation this evening by the member for Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, who also made the point that there could have been more in this motion. However, the fact is, in a very personal presentation on the issue of what this motion would deal with in obesity, I really appreciate the efforts the member made in being here and speaking to the issue.
I brought forward this issue in because of a personal matter. Coming to Ottawa, I gained 30 or maybe 40 pounds. I was not eating healthily. I was participating in all the receptions that go on around here. I was diagnosed with diabetes, as I said in my first speech.
At the time of my first hour, I had two grandmothers who were 96. One passed away between this speech and the last, but we have long life in my family. I thought I was invincible, but none of us are.
The purpose of the motion was to get into a conversation and continue it on all sides of the House about what we needed to do about the issue of obesity and health. For me, physical activity is only one component. I agree with everyone's comments that physical activity is only one component of solving this issue. It is an area where I happen to be able to run marathons and take up running. I have been able to accomplish and challenge myself and to overcome some of my difficulties with obesity and being overweight using physical fitness and better eating habits.
I am encouraging the government to continue to work on this, make it a priority for public health and continue to work with organizations and other government levels to make it happen at all levels. We cannot provide every program federally. We need support from community groups, from other political levels and from other governments to make things happen.
I would appreciate everyone supporting the motion. I hope we continue this conversation after the motion is hopefully passed. The issue of obesity in our children and our health is not just important for individuals; it is also important for their families and for our health care system. I would appreciate everyone's support.
- MPconDec 04, 2013 12:15 pm | Ontario, Burlington
Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the second report of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights entitled “Supplementary Estimates (B) 2013-14: Votes 1b, 5b, 35b and 50b under JUSTICE”.
- MPconDec 04, 2013 11:00 am | Ontario, Burlington
Mr. Speaker, Crime Stoppers of Halton is an independent charitable organization, governed by a volunteer board of directors, made up of citizens representing all areas of the Halton region. Put simply, it is a three-part approach to solving crime problems. Crime Stoppers relies on co-operation between the police, the media, and the general community to provide a flow of information about crime and criminals.
Since its creation in 1988, Crime Stoppers of Halton has helped the police make over 1,000 arrests, recovering nearly $20 million in money and assets, and it has paid $54,000 in rewards. Halton has been named the safest municipality in Canada. Its Crime Stoppers branch receives 600 tips per year.
Norm Bellefontaine, the chair of Crime Stoppers of Halton, said that he would like to think that Crime Stoppers has been a tool in the toolbox to keep his region safe.
On behalf of the citizens of Burlington, I congratulate the Crime Stoppers of Halton for their 25 years of fantastic service to the community.
- MPconDec 03, 2013 1:35 pm | Ontario, Burlington
Mr. Speaker, I actually really appreciate that question from the member opposite.
First, by definition, a tax credit is to credit people for taxes paid. If they do not pay taxes, they do not get the credit. I am not sure if the member opposite knows, but there are, I believe, three non-refundable tax credits in our system now, only three. I could be corrected on that; it could be five, but there are very few.
I agree that support for those with disabilities is very important. In my home, my wife works for Easter Seals, which provides services and support to families with children with physical disabilities. I completely understand the issue, and I am completely supportive of doing what we can. I am not sure that using the tax system, making tax credits refundable or non-refundable, is the appropriate use of the system in solving the issue that the individual has brought forward.
I am in favour of having non-refundable tax credits because people need to be paying taxes to get their taxes back. There are other methods to attack other issues in all public policy, not just for disabilities.
- MPconDec 03, 2013 1:30 pm | Ontario, Burlington
Mr. Speaker, I appreciate my colleague's questions, and I will say hello to her sister-in-law from Burlington when I see her.
The fact of the matter is that the government looks at all programs, including EI, and we look to where there are efficiencies and effectiveness. I was not at the finance meetings to hear what the public service witnesses had to say, so I am not sure what their testimony was.
I am very proud of this side of the House, this government. When we came to office we looked at the EI program, and the member is absolutely right that EI is funded by the employer and the employee, and we set up a fund for that money to go into so that governments could not take that money and use it for general expenses, as has been the case in previous years. So we set that up and I am happy with what we are doing. It is only appropriate for EI and all programs that the government of the day look at how to be more efficient and more effective in providing the services that those programs are to provide, and I am supportive of what we are doing in the EI program.
- MPconDec 03, 2013 1:20 pm | Ontario, Burlington
Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to speak again to Bill C-4. I had the opportunity to speak to it at second reading before it went to committee.
I am happy to talk to my friend from the Liberal Party and ensure that he understands what is in Bill C-4.
What I found funny this week when I was listening was that I was speaker 69 last time and I think the speaker before me wanted to go to the vote on it, and I know we are relatively close to that again this time.
We have had a large number of speakers to the bill. It was funny that we were hearing from the opposition that we were not given enough time to speak on the bill. Then this week, I hear from a number of opposition members that we keep repeating ourselves. We keep repeating ourselves because there is only so much in this bill and everybody understands what is in it. One either agrees or disagrees with it. It is not that complicated.
The opposition says that it is an omnibus bill. Yes, it is a couple of hundred pages: 100 in French, 100 in English. Can they read that? I am not sure. I know I can and I am pretty sure my opposition members can read that much.
Anyway, I want to talk about the areas in Bill C-4, which is the implementation bill of the budget and other measures. People seem to miss the title of the bill, which does say “other measures”. Therefore, it was not just what was in the budget in the spring, but other measures that this government thought were important to bring forward and to get through the House, and I will talk a little about that.
I want to talk about the things that directly affect my riding.
The first thing I want to speak about is the lifetime capital gains exemption basically for small business. The largest employer in my riding has about 600 employees. The municipality, in fact, has about that many employees, or a bit less. The vast majority of employers in my riding are small and medium-sized businesses.
These businesses are often individually owned businesses or group owned. Very few are traded on the stock market, but there are some there, such as financial offices of different organizations in terms of credit. We have components of different larger organizations, but the vast majority are medium-sized businesses owned by small groups of individuals or individuals themselves.
Through this bill, we would increase the capital gains. Business owners could save based on the amount they could retain after they sell their business or pass it on. Small and medium-sized businesses are often passed on to family members. The sale of a business would allow for money to be left in the pockets of the entrepreneurs. They created the jobs and economic activity in my riding and have earned the right to retain earnings. It is their retirement often.
Not all businesses in my riding own their buildings or real estate, for example. Therefore, the retained earnings they would get and the savings they would make on the change to the capital gains exemption would be significant to them, to their families and to their retirement.
We often hear concern about turning a business over, whatever that business might be, because of the cost of capital gains and what would be left in one's pocket after the taxes were paid. This measure would allow for a little more to stay in an owner's pocket, which I think is very important.
The next thing I want to talk about is the accelerated capital cost allowance for clean energy generation equipment.
We have the ACCA on a number of items across the country. It is part of the accounting packages that we allow for accelerated capital cost allowance. Basically, it would allow a company to write-off capital expenditures much faster than it would have been able to under normal charts in terms of expected lifespan. It is an accounting piece that would allow companies to invest in equipment and realize profits from that equipment in a much quicker manner. I am very supportive of that.
Part of it is that we have included clean energy generation and clean energy equipment that did not qualify previously for the accelerated capital cost allowance, and this does that. For companies in my riding, if they are not directly involved in the clean energy generation business but are suppliers of those businesses—for example, parts for equipment they may buy—it makes a significant difference to those small and medium-sized businesses being able to take advantage of that ACCA.
I would now like to talk about the hiring credit for small business. In budget 2011, we brought forward the $1,000 per employee small business hiring credit, and we are continuing that process through Bill C-4. This would allow those small and medium-sized businesses in my riding an opportunity to grow, to provide economic growth not just for Burlington but for Ontario and for Canada.
Growth comes in a number of ways, through sales and so on, and if businesses continue to grow, they often need more people. We want to encourage employment through Bill C-4, through our whole budget, our economic action plan, and this mechanism helps encourage employment, particularly for young people in my riding of Burlington. It is a relatively expensive place to live, and we are having an issue with young people who have grown up and gone to high school in Burlington, have gone away for post-secondary education either at McMaster next door in Hamilton, in the area or across the country, and are having a hard time finding positions to come home to in Burlington. The mayor and the city council have looked at this. The small business hiring credit would assist small businesses in my riding to hire young people and help them get started in their careers after their education.
We are doing what we can federally, as is the municipality through a number of programs, to encourage local employment for young people, particularly ones who have a connection with our community and have added to its quality of life.
The other couple of areas I would speak to are on the other categories in the bill. I am fortunate enough to be the chair of the justice committee, which I will talk about last; but first, I have also been fortunate to be assigned to the citizenship and immigration committee, which is a new experience for me. I had not been on that committee before, and this fall I was asked to sit on the committee. I have enjoyed my time there. Part of the discussion we have been having was with Bill C-4. As members know, there were a number of areas under the “other” category, and the finance committee sent those parts of Bill C-4 to those committees for further study.
At the citizenship and immigration committee, we had the opportunity to talk about two things that are in Bill C-4. One is the passport issue. I think we have done the appropriate thing. People who come into my office to talk to me about passports are somewhat surprised, and even I was surprised, that passports were under Foreign Affairs. In actual fact, we are moving it over to Citizenship and Immigration, where it is more appropriate for it to be managed, and that would make for a better system.
My final point is that the Supreme Court Act was also submitted in Bill C-4 and was referred to my committee. We had excellent committee meetings on this issue. We talked about what we are doing, moving forward, in being able to appoint individuals to the Supreme Court. It was an excellent discussion. We had a number of meetings with a variety of different witnesses, suggested mostly by the opposition, so we were able to deal with that issue and send it back to finance. I think it was the appropriate thing to do.
I am happy to answer any questions that may come my way.
- MPconNov 28, 2013 12:45 pm | Ontario, Burlington
Mr. Speaker, my colleague gave an excellent speech on this particular topic. We heard a number of speeches in the House on it yesterday, including from the opposition.
In general most of us around the table agree that we need to move forward on the cyberbullying bill and continue to tackle this problem. The minister has been at the justice committee, which I chair, even as of today, defending the estimates. There was a discussion about this particular piece of legislation. The minister clearly indicated that there was no such thing as a warrantless search as there had been in previous legislation that had been brought forward.
My question to my colleague is this. At the end of the day the bill is about protecting victims of cyberbullying. Why do you believe it is important for us as parliamentarians to move to help protect victims of these crimes?
- MPconNov 27, 2013 2:30 pm | Ontario, Burlington
Mr. Speaker, I am happy to help support my colleague on this important piece of Canadian heritage. The function of the hon. member's private member's bill is to make sure that we, as Canadians, honour and respect the history and the heritage of hunting and trapping and the individuals who make their living in the heritage industries. It is a way of life in this country that helped to build Canada.
It is important for us, and we have done a very good job over the last number of years as a government to make sure that Canadians understand our historical past and the pieces of history that have shaped this country. I want to make sure Canadians understand what we are doing.
This private member's bill would help us understand where we have come from and would preserve this way of life, the ability of individuals and organizations in this country to continue to fish, hunt, and trap and honour our past and preserve that way of life, whether it is for making a living and actually providing for families and their communities or as a recreational opportunity.
Let us be frank. It is important for me, as somebody from an urban area, from the city of Burlington, Ontario, that I and all members stand together on this private member's bill, Bill C-501, to support those from across the country in honouring a special day of the year, a heritage day for hunting, trapping and fishing. Let me just read out the preamble to the bill, which sums up what we are doing:
Whereas hunting, trapping and fishing are part of our natural heritage; Whereas the Aboriginal peoples of Canada have traditionally participated in hunting, trapping and fishing; Whereas Canada's hunters, trappers and fishers have made a significant contribution to the development of our nation by traversing and mapping the prairies, forests, streams and rivers from coast to coast to coast; Whereas millions of Canadians participate in and enjoy hunting, trapping and fishing; And whereas hunting, trapping and fishing contribute significantly to our national economy....
We would have this special day set aside. I now live in an urban area, and therefore, those who participate in fishing and hunting are recreational hunters and fishers. They are not doing it for a living. However, I grew up in a small town in Ontario, Port Elgin, on Lake Huron. Beside that community is a native reserve, the Saugeen Indian reserve, which I grew up knowing. That reserve actually owns the property that is now Sauble Beach.
Fishing played a very important role in the lives of the first nations, and not just in the past for the aboriginal people fishing out of the Great Lakes. Fishing played a key role in the survival, growth, and development of that aboriginal area, the Saugeen reserve.
I can recall distinctly, growing up, that down at the end of my street, there had been an Indian settlement at one time. We had longhouses redeveloped there. Numerous artifacts from that area were from a fishing village. Their livelihood was not from farming but was from fishing. Most of the artifacts from that area dealt with their fishing existence.
It is important that this heritage day highlight and assist others in remembering where we come from in terms of traditional fishing, hunting, and trapping opportunities and where we will go, as a nation, in the future.
- MPconNov 27, 2013 2:10 pm | Ontario, Burlington
Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the parliamentary secretary. We have two excellent parliamentary secretaries, as was mentioned. As chair of the justice and human rights committee, we have worked very well with all parties in putting aside the appropriate time to deal with the issues that have come in front of the committee. I assume that will continue in the future.
At the end of the day, Bill C-13, which is related to other legislation that our government has done in the past, is to help protect victims. It is not about the perpetrators. It is about the victims and what we as a government can do to help the security and safety of all Canadians and those who have, unfortunately, become victims.
Could the parliamentary secretary comment on why this is important legislation for victims of cyberbullying?
- MPconNov 18, 2013 12:05 pm | Ontario, Burlington
Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the first report of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights, entitled “C-489, An Act to amend the Criminal Code and the Corrections and Conditional Release Act (restrictions on offenders)”.
- MPconOct 29, 2013 2:10 pm | Ontario, Burlington
Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to stand and speak to Bill C-4 today, the last speaker before we vote on this.
Yesterday I heard a lot of discussion from both sides of the House. I want to take a couple of minutes to explain exactly what we are doing here. This is a budget implementation bill. It is the second one. We have one in the spring and one in the fall. It is the traditional way of doing things. We have a budget, and out of that budget, we have to implement what is going on in the budget. That is what this bill does.
I am the 69th speaker to this item. Twenty-two percent of members of the House have spoken to this implementation bill thus far. This is at second reading stage. Then the bill goes to committee, and committee studies the bill. It calls witnesses, has a discussion, and more members of Parliament have an opportunity to comment on the bill. Then the bill comes back to the House for report stage. Then there is another set of speakers to this. Then there is third reading.
More than half the members of the House of Commons have an opportunity to speak to the bill. That is a significant amount of input and debate on this implementation bill.
I have heard over and over about there not being enough time, about closure motions, and about time allocation. The reality is that the public expects us to get things done for them. That is what we are doing here, and that is what the implementation bill does.
I hear about the omnibus bill. The bill is 309 or 312 pages, French and English. I know that I can read 150 pages. I am making the assumption that the opposition members can read 150 pages. I cannot read it in French. I wish I had that talent, but I do not. I do not think there is anything in the bill we need to complain about in terms of there being so much in it that it cannot be understood. Those are not the facts.
We on this side will do our homework. We will do the job we need to do to get things done for Canadians and move things forward. There are many good pieces in this bill. If members do not want to read the whole bill, there are summary pages at the front. In the summary, the very first item is to increase the lifetime capital gains exemption to $800,000 and to index it to inflation. For the first time, it would be indexed to inflation.
We are giving small businesses the opportunity to create jobs and create wealth for them, their families, and their communities. They get to keep it after they have done their jobs. They pass that on to the next generation. They sell it to the next entrepreneur, and they keep building this country through jobs and economic activity. We support small business. We support entrepreneurs, and that is what the implementation bill does. I am very happy that we are getting it done.
Tonight we are voting on it. We will get it to committee and will get it back in this House. Hopefully we will get it passed by Christmas so that people can continue to create good-quality jobs for this country and for our youth, and we will continue to build a great Canada.
- MPconOct 28, 2013 3:25 pm | Ontario, Burlington
Mr. Speaker, I have been here all day, and I have been listening to the opposition members saying that we should be spending more and more and more. Then in the same breath, they complain about the deficits the government has had to incur to get us through the financial crisis. It is not even logical that they would say the same thing on two opposite sides. It is hypocritical. Does the member agree that it is hypocritical for members to say to spend more and reduce deficits at the same time?
- MPconOct 21, 2013 9:00 am | Ontario, Burlington
Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I think that if you seek it, you will find unanimous consent to present the following motion:
That ways and means Motion No. 1 be deemed adopted on division.
- MPconOct 17, 2013 2:55 pm | Ontario, Burlington
Mr. Speaker, that is a very good question. I would agree that the motion is not intended to give specifics. That is what motions, in my view, in the House of Commons are for, which is to generate discussion about particular policies or topics.
There is an area where I disagree with the member. I agree that other jurisdictions, industries and health care providers have identified obesity as an issue, but I am not convinced that the Public Health Agency of Canada has made it a priority. The purpose of my motion is to say that we are thinking about this in the House of Commons and we would like to see some action. I am very happy that in the Speech from the Throne there is actually a line regarding obesity and the security of families and children in the future. It is moving up on the ladder of priorities and I am very supportive of our government moving forward with it.
- MPconOct 17, 2013 2:40 pm | Ontario, Burlington
That, in the opinion of the House, the government should continue to: (a) recognize the long-term health risks and costs of obesity in Canada; (b) support, promote and fund organizations and individuals who are involved in the physical well-being of Canadians; and (c) make the reduction of obesity of Canadians a public health priority.
Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure this evening to rise to speak to my motion, Motion No. 425, regarding obesity, and the issue that is facing this country.
I want to first thank the member for West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country for his work on the issue of health and fitness, trying to make Canada the fittest country in the world, and on initiating a national fitness day, which I believe next year will be June 7. He is doing great work, and I really appreciate his support.
In this House we are usually talking about policy or legislation. Tonight I am going to take the opportunity to talk about something that has personally affected me and why I brought this motion forward--it is not a bill, but a motion--to bring light to the issue and to have some discussion among our colleagues about what could be happening with our health care in terms of the issue of obesity and looking after one's health.
I thought I would start by telling members a personal story.
I have known four great-grandparents. I have two grandmothers still alive; they are both 96. I have known my grandfathers; they lived into their late eighties. I have a picture of myself, my daughter, my father, his mother, and her mother. It is a five-generation picture.
I have very good genes for long life. We have no heart disease in the family. One grandmother, who is 96, did survive cancer at age 40, a long time ago. Other than that, we have been very lucky with our health.
A year and a half ago, I was having some difficulty, so I went to my doctor. I thought there was something wrong with my prostate; however, I found out that I had diabetes, which was a bit of a shock to me. I thought that I was virtually indestructible because of my genes.
However, my lifestyle included drinking five or six Coca-Colas a day, eating improperly, and not keeping proper hours, in the sense that these are long days. It is a really interesting career one chooses in federal politics, and travelling back and forth, not eating breakfast, and just not doing things correctly, I gained weight here, as I know some of us all have. I was about 225 pounds at one point. I hid it well with big suits.
Things changed for me. I went to the doctor; I was having some difficulty. Lo and behold, they claimed that I had diabetes. Of course, my first reaction was to say, “No way. That is not possible. How is that possible when I have no diabetes in my family, when I have no heart disease?” My blood pressure was excellent. It still is excellent. However, my sugar levels were through the roof.
The doctor indicated that if I continued, I had a chance of my pancreas getting worse. I would have to take insulin, and so on and so forth. The doctor diagnosed me with type 2 diabetes—not type 1, of course, which is juvenile diabetes—and put me on a pill, Metformin, which is the standard thing they start a diabetes patient on. I told the doctor I did not want to take pharmaceuticals if I did not have to and asked if there was a way for me to do something about it.
He indicated that it was possible—not likely, but possible—that if I lost weight and exercised regularly, I might be able to get off Metformin.
I took his advice. I started exercising again. I set a goal for myself to run a marathon in every province; I have run six. I just ran one this past weekend, in Victoria, British Columbia. I do not advise everyone that they have to run marathons to get healthy, but I have taken on that task. I eat better, I have lost weight, and I am not on Metformin anymore. It has been about a year.
What woke me up to this issue is that I really did not pay attention. I have two daughters who are athletes. One is on a sports scholarship at a university in the United States. The other plays competitive volleyball. They are both in very good shape. Obesity and diabetes were never an issue around our house. All of a sudden there was something there.
I started thinking that if it could happen to me, what about everybody else? I started looking around and talking to different individuals and organizations about what is happening. In that time frame, even the United States had announced that obesity was actually a disease and that if it did not get on top of it, it would become a real health care issue for them.
Based on the motion, I have broken it down into three pieces. This is just to get people to think about where we are going from a health perspective.
The first part of the motion is to recognize the long-term health risks and costs of obesity. I can put a lot of statistics out there and talk about the costs of obesity and the like. However, it is just common sense. If people are not healthy, they will be using the system. There is no magic to it or statistician's formula. I am always a little nervous about statisticians. If I give my friend a dollar today and a dollar tomorrow, there is a 100% increase yet it is still only a dollar, so one has to be careful with that.
The reality is that if we look around at what we are eating and what we are doing in terms of being healthy, there will be a long-term cost to our health care system. Members may not like the way I put this but at the federal level health care is writing cheques to the provinces that deliver the actual health care. That is a lot of pressure, not necessarily on the federal system but on the provincial system. In general, we need to worry about the costs with respect to health care.
We also need to worry about the health risks. It is claimed, and I hope it is not true, that we might be the last generation with the ability to outlive our children. Imagine a generation that is unable to outlive its children. That is just not right and not what I think should happen. However, if we do not do something in terms of looking after our health, that is an actual and real possibility. I do not think that is something we want.
The second part of the motion is about supporting the promotion of health and healthy living, not just financially but in other ways. There are a number of great organizations. Some are not for profit and others are for profit. I have no issue with that. I just want to highlight a couple.
There are organizations that are oriented toward health issues. For me, the Diabetes Association has been fantastic. It provided me with a lot of information about what diabetes was, what I could do about it and the two different types. There is the Heart and Stroke Foundation and the lung associations. There are a number of organizations that do great work.
My motion asks that all levels of government, federal, provincial and municipal, continue to support those organizations in their efforts. That does not necessarily mean we have to write them a cheque. Rather, it means going to their events and supporting their efforts in the communities. If one has a neighbour or friend who is running in a marathon, which I do, in support of diabetes, support that individual. Those groups are doing great work in their areas of expertise and are important in terms of not only helping those with the disease or health issue they are dealing with but at promoting awareness and education and they need to do that.
Another organization, which I am very excited about and which the Government of Canada has supported, is ParticipACTION. I am a keen supporter of organizations that get people moving and healthy. It does not have to be running. It can be karate. It can be whatever activity one wants to do. I want to encourage people to take advantage of what these organizations do. We do not have to be experts at whatever we are doing.
I ran my marathon this weekend in four hours and 42 minutes. The gentleman sitting beside me in the plane coming back ran it in two hours and 19 minutes. I was exactly halfway when he was finished. We have to just get out there and get involved. If members could, I want them to encourage neighbours, friends and communities. Whatever is happening in a community, if members of Parliament could, they should help support those organizations.
There are for-profit organizations that are helpful, and I'll use the Weight Watchers organization as an example. I think it is an excellent organization. I have not personally used it. I lost my 25 or 30 pounds basically by eating less and not drinking Coke, which I miss. However, people do need help and there are organizations that will help and they are doing a great job.
Another organization in my community that has recognized this issue is Big Brothers Big Sisters. It has a program for the clients they serve, the young people, because youth is a big issue. If we do not convince youth to take care of themselves both by eating healthily and keeping physically fit, there will be a problem. Big Brothers Big Sisters has a program for those young people to make sure they understand what good health is, what good fitness is and what good eating is. I applaud its efforts.
As I mentioned before, one of my daughters goes to school in Indiana and she is in an education program. It was interesting to hear this past week that in one of the courses she takes, which talks about introducing healthy eating and activity into the classroom, it used Canada as an example of how it is done well. I am very supportive of our education system, and I think it does a good job, but we need to continue to support it to make sure physical activity does not leave the curriculum of our Canadian school children, particularly those at a young age, and ensure that other things do not ease it out, being more of a priority. Health is a priority and we need to teach young folks that piece.
The last piece I have to talk about is the public health priority. I think it is fair to say that the public health policy here at the federal level has been somewhat lacking in the obesity and fitness area over the last number of years. It just has not made it to the top as a priority piece. I am hopeful that will change under our government and with the support of all members.
If members look at the throne speech from yesterday, under safeguarding families and communities, they will see that the government will also work with provinces, territories and not-for-profit sectors to encourage young Canadians to be more physically active. I did not know that would be in the speech. I have had this motion in front of the House for a while, because it kept getting bumped for other private member's motions that I felt were of higher priority in terms of timing. So this was a very pleasant surprise for me, and as a member of Parliament, I am going to use it to encourage my government to be proactive in making sure we meet the mandate we have put in this throne speech over the next number of years.
I thank members for their attention and for their attention to their own health and their family's health. I would be happy to answer any questions.
- MPconOct 17, 2013 2:25 pm | Ontario, Burlington
Mr. Speaker, I hope my colleague on the other side can explain to this side of the House why the Liberals are so confused about prorogation.
Let me just go through it. The 37th Parliament, which was a majority with Chrétien and Martin, had three sessions and two prorogations. The 36th Parliament, which was a majority with Chrétien, had two sessions and one prorogation. The 35th Parliament, which was a majority with Chrétien, had two sessions and one prorogation.
Let us go to Trudeau. The 32nd Parliament, the Trudeau-Turner majority, had two sessions and one prorogation. The 30th Parliament, with a Trudeau majority, had four sessions and three prorogations.
I could go on and on. It is a process that has happened year after year in this House. Why is the Liberal Party claiming we did something that is not normal? Do the Liberals not understand Canada's history? Do they not understand how it works around here?
- MPconOct 17, 2013 12:00 pm | Ontario, Burlington
Mr. Speaker, for too long the voices of victims have been silenced while the system, and yes, that includes the Liberals and the NDP, coddled criminals. The opposition even opposed us repealing Pierre Trudeau's faint hope clause which gave murderers a shot at an early parole.
Will the minister explain our upcoming agenda to support and protect Canadian families?
- MPconOct 17, 2013 9:55 am | Ontario, Burlington
Mr. Speaker, there were two parts of the hon. member's speech. The end of the speech was about trust and having Canadians trust what is going to be done for them, and as an opposition leader should do, the member criticized the government's plans. However, the only plan we have heard from the third party is that the member would legalize drugs.
Were there any economic plans he would like to share, and build trust with Canadians, that he has developed? Are we waiting? What are we waiting for, or do the Liberals just not have any?
- MPconOct 17, 2013 7:10 am | Ontario, Burlington
Mr. Speaker, I have a petition here signed by a large number of constituents of mine from the Roman Catholic faith who were upset and appalled by the CBC program This Hour Has 22 Minutes when it made fun of the sacrament of Holy Communion, which they found to be a very objectionable and disrespectful attack on their faith. I would like to put that on the table.
- MPconJun 18, 2013 4:20 pm | Ontario, Burlington
Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague in the Conservative Party, who is a very good member of the justice committee. I mentioned that to make sure people know that just because he sits on that side of the House it does not mean he is not a Conservative. In fact, he is more Conservative than many of us on this side of the House.
The member is good at reading legislation placed in front of a committee and challenging witnesses on statements. Why is it important to have the facts in front of witnesses, or a member of Parliament, when dealing with a legislative committee like the justice committee?
- MPconJun 18, 2013 9:30 am | Ontario, Burlington
Mr. Speaker, there has been consultation among the parties and I believe it is possible that you could find unanimous consent for the following motion:
That Bill S-15, an act to amend the Canada National Parks Act and the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Resources Accord Implementation Act and to make consequential amendments to the Canada Shipping Act, 2001, be taken up at the report stage later today.
- MPconJun 17, 2013 8:50 pm | Ontario, Burlington
Mr. Speaker, I found one of my hon. colleague's comments interesting. Maybe the member is not aware, so I would like to bring his to attention this. It was the discussion about medical experts and having them comment. The review panels at present are composed of three members, and one of them is a judge and not a medical expert. There was an amendment put forward that the committee did not accept because it would have limited the panel to medical experts only. However, the review panels already have judicial expertise on them.
Based on the presentation tonight, is the member recommending that those voices not be heard and that, for example, there would be changes to the review panels so they would consist of all medical experts and no longer have judicial representation on them?
- MPconJun 17, 2013 8:30 pm | Ontario, Burlington
Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for attending those meetings and for bringing forward amendments. I also thank her for her professionalism at committee.
The fact is that the minister came to committee and talked about consultation. There was consultation across this country with every provincial government of every stripe, and the discussion was that we needed to move forward on this high-risk designation.
We as a Conservative government like to take action. We like to move forward. We like to make decisions on what we should be doing and address whatever problem comes to our attention. In this case, there have been a number of issues across this country with respect to those who have been found NCR committing brutal, serious, personal criminal offences. We consulted with the provinces and with those in the business of prosecuting those offences. We asked what solutions they would like to see come forward in terms of changes to the legislation. Consultation was done, as the minister put forward, and that is why this bill is here today. We heard over and over again from victims at committee that we should pass this legislation as soon as possible.
- MPconJun 17, 2013 8:25 pm | Ontario, Burlington
Mr. Speaker, there are a number of things in this legislation for victims, including one of the amendments that was brought forward by the New Democratic Party, which we unanimously accepted.
The amendment included a notification, if a victim asked to be notified, of where someone with a high-risk NCR designation would be living afterwards.
There is notification of when that discharge would happen. There are non-communication changes so that victims do not have to run into or have communication with someone who has a high-risk designation. We are ensuring the safety of victims.
One area I heard mentioned over and over again as I was chairing the justice committee was the review board. Every year victims go and listen to the review board's recommendations. They listen to the discussion and the evidence. They have to relive their victimization. They have to relive the serious offence that happened to them or their family.
This legislation allows for a longer-term period of healing for those victimized families.
- MPconJun 17, 2013 8:20 pm | Ontario, Burlington
Mr. Speaker, I have had the opportunity to be at the committee that she chairs. She does an excellent job as chair. I wanted to point that out.
I am guessing that there will be some costs. If it is a provincial court, the provincial court will bear those costs. If it is Federal Court, we will bear those costs. For the small number of people who I think will be designated high-risk NCR, I think the Canadian public would be more than willing to spend a few of their hard-earned tax dollars to make sure that the public is safe. There is a sense of safety in designating someone as high-risk NCR.
This is not about dollars and cents. This is about the security of mentally ill individuals, the public and the community, and rightly so. I did not even get to this part of the bill, but there is a section on protecting victims from being re-victimized. I do not think it is a tax issue. It is something that we need to do, something that this bill would do, and it is long overdue.
- MPconJun 17, 2013 8:05 pm | Ontario, Burlington
Mr. Speaker, it is my honour this evening to speak to Bill C-54. It is also my honour to be the chair of the justice committee, which has recently dealt with the discussion on this piece of legislation.
I want to thank the committee for its work. We had extended hours. We invited a number of witnesses from all sides of the debate on this particular issue. The committee worked very well together and very hard at hearing everyone out. We had a number of interruptions with bells and a number of other votes that happened within, but we were able to get through the presentations in a very respectful way as a committee. We heard from all sides, whether they were victims, victims' family members, those representing the mental health side of the equation, such as associations, legal opinion and health care workers in the mental health area. It was a very good discussion.
I also want to thank our clerk, Jean-François Pagé, who did a fabulous job on very short notice, making arrangements for very balanced panels for us to see. Also, the analysts and the legislative clerks helped us.
I also want to thank the leader of the Green Party who joined us at committee with a number of amendments. It does not happen that often. It is some sort of a new process for committees to have independents sit at the table with us when we go through legislation and contribute to the discussion on amendments that they bring forward. I appreciate that.
I do appreciate the professionalism of the committee in dealing with a number of amendments. I believe there were 52 or 54 amendments in front of us. We did accept amendments. One came from the government side, one from the New Democratic side and one from a Liberal member. They were accepted and in fact there was some crossover between the two opposition parties.
Let me take just a few minutes to review exactly what Bill C-54 actually would do. There is lots of rhetoric about what the bill would do; we heard some of it this evening. I want to be as factual, as clear and as precise as possible on the changes to the NCR regime that now exists. These would be amendments to an existing not criminally responsible regime, which we think are needed to make our system better. It is not to change, to stigmatize, as we have heard from others tonight. It is actually to improve the justice system.
There is nothing wrong with improvements to the justice system. There is nothing wrong with improvements to any system. That is why we are here as legislators. We look at what is happening. We see what is actually happening on the ground after we make laws. Sometimes we do not get it completely right. Sometimes, over time, things change and we need to make changes. That is all we would be doing. We would be making some amendments to this to deal with a few high-risk accused situations.
Bill C-54 would create a new application process to obtain a finding from a court that an NCR accused is a high-risk accused. The high-risk accused finding would result in the disposition requiring detention of the accused in a hospital until the court revokes the findings.
Let us be clear about this. There is an NCR regime at present. A court can find someone not criminally responsible at present, or NCR. They do not go to jail. That is what NCR is about. They need help. They have a mental issue through no fault of their own. Based on the evidence that is provided, a court can make a judgment that this individual is not criminally responsible for the actions he or she has taken. Some of them can be very horrific, some at a different level, but it is still their mental capacity that has been the issue.
Do they go to jail? What the previous speaker said, that the system would send them back to sort of rot in jail longer, is not the case. In the present regime, someone who is designated NCR gets help. He or she gets hospitalized, basically.
At present, there is a review board to see how they have done. It is an annual review. The victims would have to come and listen to the progress the individual has made, and a review board would decide whether the individual needs to continue treatment. It is not punishment, it is treatment.
All we are doing is, first, saying that in some very specific situations, some NCR-designated individuals are of high risk, both to themselves and to the public. We are defining a different and added category in this piece of legislation. Would it apply to everyone who is designated NCR? Absolutely not. That is not what it is designed for. That is not how we expect it to be used. There was some discussion about a burden on the courts system. That would not be a result. There would be very few cases in Canada annually. In fact, I hope it would never be used, to be honest. It would be great if the high-risk designation in NCR were never required. However, it may be required and we need to have the legislation in place to provide that designation for a court to determine.
The application would have been made by the prosecutor before an absolute discharge could be ordered. That means that the government prosecution would have to decide whether someone really is high risk, so there is a burden of proof in terms of whether the individual is high risk before a prosecutor could bring it forward.
The high-risk accused finding would only be available in cases involving serious personal injury offences that resulted in a verdict of NCR. Therefore, they need to know that the person has been found NCR already. As well, it is what we call an “incident”, not a crime that leads to jail, because these people need hospitalization. The incident would have to be an offence that involved serious personal injury and the accused would be 18 years of age or more. Therefore, it would not be used for children or young offenders, it would be for adults. We need to ensure that everybody understands that.
To determine a finding of high-risk accused, the court would have to be satisfied that there is a substantial likelihood that the accused would use violence that could endanger the life or safety of the public. The safety of the public would become paramount in this high-risk category. I would suggest that also safety of oneself would also have some consideration. At committee, we did hear it stated that, based upon actual court cases in the past, public safety is a priority. All this legislation would do is codify that and put it in the legislation, not just by jurisprudence of what has happened in different court cases.
The court could also make the high-risk accused finding if it were of the opinion that the acts that constitute the offence were of such a brutal nature they would indicate a grave risk of harm to another person. Therefore, an individual is found NCR and based on the evidence the court has determined that the individual needs hospitalization and needs help with the mental illness that has caused this serious offence. It is not just any serious offence, but one of a brutal nature that would cause the court to look at whether the high-risk category should apply. The court would consider all relevant evidence, including the nature and the circumstances of the offence, any relevant pattern of repetitive behaviour, the accused's current mental condition, the past and expected course of treatment and the accused's willingness to follow treatment, as well as expert opinions.
We heard in the last speech about the committee not accepting the amendment on medical experts. Based upon the input we got on that amendment, we had a full discussion on that amendment. Experts from the ministry of justice were there. They indicated that by putting medical experts as an amendment it may limit who we could ask on this and that not everyone who may have expertise on determining some of these criteria would be a licensed medical individual. There could be others involved, from a social services point of view, from other areas, who would be able to help in determining some of these circumstances and the nature of the offence, the pattern or premise, who may not have a medical designation. That is why we wanted to leave it open, so that all expert opinions could be sought. They would still have to be experts. We would not just be asking anyone.
If the court makes the high-risk accused finding, a disposition requiring detention of the accused in a hospital must be made. I think that is an important thing to indicate.
We are not talking about removing the hospitalization aspects and sending people to jail because they are high risk. It is determining that they go to a hospital that would handle their NCR issue if the offence were brutal in nature and that there were a high risk it may reoccur or that they could hurt themselves. And so, it is still a hospitalization. This does not remove that aspect of NCR and send them to jail but give them help.
No conditions permitting absences from the hospital would be authorized unless a structured plan was prepared to address the risk to the public, and only with an authorized escort.
If we were to go down my street in Burlington, Tuck Drive, and told people that, at present, somebody who has committed a brutal offence and has been found NCR, within the year, without a structured plan, would be able to go on an unescorted release, I would say the people on my street would be shocked that is what the law is at present.
All this is saying is that for those who are found NCR and then high risk, there would be a structured plan to address the public aspects and authorized escorted release. That is not saying they would not get to go out in public. We would try to help them with their plan to be reintegrated, but not on their own at that particular time as a high-risk NCR individual. They would have to be escorted so we could review what they were doing.
I think that is common sense. I do not think the public would be upset that those escorted absences were only a decision-making process and could impose a non-communication, non-attendance condition in order to ensure their own safety.
It just makes sense to me that we would have that ability, that condition in this bill, and it is surprising that it does not exist at present.
I want to talk briefly about what the bill does not do. Bill C-54 does not seek to punish individuals who have been found by the courts to be not criminally responsible on account of their mental disorder. It is not jail time. We want to make sure that is there.
I can tell members the witnesses we heard from were all excellent witnesses. They all brought an expertise to the table, whether a victim or an individual representing the legal field or the mental health field. However, when questioned on the specifics of the wording of the bill, of the different clauses, it was interesting to see that this is what they thought could happen but it was not actually the wording of the bill.
Nothing in Bill C-54 would affect the access of mentally disordered accused persons to mental health treatment. There is no prohibition to their getting help. With this bill, accused persons would still be NCR. They would get a high-risk designation and they would still be hospitalized. The government would be there to help them overcome the mental illness that caused the serious and brutal actions to take place. The government wants them to get better and to be integrated back into society. We have a responsibility as a government to make sure that high-risk individuals get the treatment they need.
Bill C-54 does not seek to stigmatize the mentally ill. The bill does not suggest that mentally ill people commit crimes or are dangerous. The bill does not say that. People came to see me in my office. I agree that the messaging from all of us here is that the support in this bill does not suggest that we are stigmatizing mental illness.
We know people need help. We know that happens. As a government, we put together the mental health strategy, and the high-risk category does not apply to everyone who has a mental illness. It would apply to very few individuals. The new high-risk NCR accused finding does not create the presumption of dangerousness. Rather, it focuses on a relatively small group of NCR accused persons who qualify for the high-risk finding.
The other item that is important to understand is twofold. One, the review board still exists and the review board is still required to provide information on how individuals are progressing through their treatment. The review board change is simple. Right now it is every year that victims attend to hear how the perpetrators are doing. They are re-victimized over and over again. The bill would make it up to every three years. We are adding two years. The review board could make a decision of up to three years.
The only other major change, which was highlighted by a question from my colleague in the Conservatives, is that a judge would determine whether a person is high risk. I have faith in the court system, and if that happens, a judge would decide, based on the evidence, including the review board evidence, whether individuals have accomplished what they needed to do in that high-risk designation, at which point the NCR designation can be removed and people can be reintegrated into society.
Those are two of the changes. If a judge determines that someone is high risk and NCR, that judge has the ability, the authority and the responsibility to determine when those designations will be removed.
- MPconJun 17, 2013 7:30 pm | Ontario, Burlington
Mr. Speaker, whether it is 7%, 9% or 30%, does the public not deserve protection from that 7%, 9% or 30%, whatever the percentage is? Do we just forget about these people? These are high-risk individuals. There will be very few designations under this new category. Do those 7% of victims not deserve this government's protection?
- MPconJun 17, 2013 7:20 pm | Ontario, Burlington
Mr. Speaker, the hon. member participates on the committee, and I thank him for the efforts he puts forward. I have a speech in a few minutes that will highlight the work we did together as a committee.
I do not want to say I take exception exactly, but I disagree a bit the the wording that says we were stigmatizing those with mental health issues, and there was an issue with statistics; for repeat offenders, it was a question of whether it was 7% or 40%.
This bill focuses on a very narrow group of individuals who are potentially dangerous through no fault of their own, but due to mental issues that they are facing. It is a very small group. Whether 7% or 40%, does the member not agree that the victims of these individuals still require the protection that this bill would offer?
- MPconJun 17, 2013 11:10 am | Ontario, Burlington
Mr. Speaker, in my community, the charitable sector makes a significant impact. As a member of Parliament, I like to volunteer in support of these organizations.
I have been a celebrity dancer in the Dancing with the Stars Halton competition for Easter Seals, which I lost, by the way. I was a model and auctioneer for the Joseph Brant Hospital fashion show. I think I was the "before" of the before and after models. I walked a kilometre in women's high heels as a participant in the Hope in High Heels fundraiser for Halton Women's Place. Those shoes hurt and they were red. I was a young Elvis in an Elvis-impersonator contest for the Compassion Society of Halton. I sang Hound Dog, and I sounded like one.
I want to thank the charities in my community for allowing me to volunteer to be part of their efforts to raise money and awareness in Burlington. As a member of Parliament, I should be an asset to my community's charities and not an expense.
- MPconJun 13, 2013 2:20 pm | Ontario, Burlington
Mr. Speaker, I will not comment on the comments by the member for Malpeque. I will go to his retirement party when he has it.
Mandatory minimums were not invented by this government. They existed in many parts of the Criminal Code prior to our attaining government. In fact, the Liberal Party of Canada instituted a number of mandatory minimums in a number of areas.
We have, and I think we have done the right thing, increased some of those mandatory minimums throughout the Criminal Code. I am confident that keeping criminals in jail for a longer time protects people, including those in my riding.
- MPconJun 13, 2013 2:15 pm | Ontario, Burlington
Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for meeting with his constituents and discussing different issues, which we all do. We all get input on a variety of issues.
I can honestly say that I have not heard that suggestion before. I am not fortunate enough to have a large native population in my riding. There are no reserves in my riding. I have not heard about the issue of taxation, but I think this issue is more than about taxation. It is about more than whether the government is losing out on taxation on the sale of cigarettes. There are more important issues. Making this part of the Criminal Code, making the trafficking of this particular drug illegal, sends the message that this is a health issue and not just a tax issue.
- MPconJun 13, 2013 2:10 pm | Ontario, Burlington
Mr. Speaker, we have had a very full legislative agenda, and this is one item. There is nothing wrong with legislation being introduced in the other place and brought here. It speeds things up. It makes things more efficient and effective.
On that point, the member opposite should ask her House leader why New Democrats did not agree to a certain number of speaking slots and agree to move this bill forward. It would be a very good question for the member to ask her own House leader.
I am looking forward to the report from the RCMP task force to see what resources are needed to solve this problem.
- MPconJun 13, 2013 2:00 pm | Ontario, Burlington
Well, the Liberal Party member at the committee was grateful for that and we made a significant difference. We did hear from the NDP on the same thing. However, our House has offered on a number of occasions recently that we would take a number of spots.
The Liberal Party was offered a number of spots. This was not a secret. It was presented in the House. A number of spots, which was significantly more, maybe seven to 10 times more than the other two parties, were offered to move things forward so that we did not have to move time allocation. That was rejected. Why was that rejected? I do not know why.
I have no issue on bills on which I think there is a significant political difference. However, this bill, and I am using it as an example, I think everyone in the House would like to see go to second reading so that they can have witnesses, have a discussion and move forward on it. We may not completely agree to it in the end, but this is at second reading.
There is an opportunity to move this forward. In my view, that would give us opportunities, in terms of the timeframe, since we only have so much time in the House to debate issues, for other more divisive issues.
Listening to the speeches today, everyone has been pretty much in favour of getting this to second reading. To be frank, as a backbencher, I do not know why time allocation had to be an issue. We should all have been able to agree to a different number of time slots. However, that did not happen.
My hope for the fall is that everyone, from all sides, will work together to make sure that bills on which there is general agreement, at least to go to second reading, we will be able to move forward. Bills on which we have a more fundamental difference of opinion we would spend more time on. After seven years of being here, that has been my frustration as an individual member of Parliament. There have been some issues in that area.
I am looking forward to the bill going to second reading. As chair of the justice committee, I am looking forward to getting that organized early in the fall. This will be one of the first pieces of legislation we will deal with. I am looking forward to learning what people and different organizations believe this will do. I am also looking forward to our coming together as a Parliament and promoting this so that we can get the task force in place to target organized crime, go after these issues and make a difference.
The RCMP is an excellent choice to be doing this. I know that there was talk about the Canada Border Services Agency and their role here, and they do have a role. However, I think when we, through this bill, put an emphasis on the fact that it is a criminal offence and that the nation's police force is in charge of that task force, it gives it the authority, the significance and the attention it needs.
I am looking forward to supporting the bill going to committee. Hopefully, it goes to my justice committee, we have a great discussion on it and we get it passed early in the fall.
- MPconJun 13, 2013 1:50 pm | Ontario, Burlington
Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to speak today to Bill S-16, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (trafficking in contraband tobacco) and the proposed amendments to the Criminal Code to create a new offence of trafficking of contraband tobacco.
I have been here for most of the day listening to the speeches on Bill S-16. As chair of the Standing on Justice and Human Rights, it is my understanding the bill will go to the justice committee for review and just as we reviewed Bill C-54, we accepted amendments from both the Liberal Party and the New Democratic Party last night. Today I tabled the report in the House. It was well analyzed with a number of witnesses, From those witnesses, a number of amendments were proposed and in fact accepted. The amendments from the Conservative Party, the Liberal Party and the New Democratic Party all passed.
Bill S-16 started in the Senate and we are debating it at second reading right now. There will be a vote, hopefully in the very near future, and Bill S-16 will move to committee where a number of the questions that have been asked today will be properly vetted with witnesses and bureaucrats who are responsible for implementing these changes so we understand what the effect will be on the Criminal Code.
The bill would provide mandatory minimum penalties of imprisonment of persons who are convicted for a second or subsequent time of this offence. It is important for everyone to understand that the mandatory minimum approach we have taken on a number of bills is important to give gravitas to the issue in front of us.
It is very important that we send a message to those who are in the business of contraband tobacco, whether they are traffickers, or selling it in small components to individuals, that it is illegal. It was indicated earlier that those who were in the business of not obeying the law often took into account what the penalties would be and used that as part of the cost of doing business. If there are no mandatory minimums, just fines, they price that risk in their product. They will decide what risk level they are willing to take.
It is important, not just in this case, but in many cases that the Government of Canada look at mandatory minimums, and we are doing it in this bill, so we let those who are willing to break the law and circumvent it know that there is a real penalty to be paid, a much more difficult penalty they cannot include in the cost of doing business.
I am fully in favour of mandatory minimums and in this case new mandatory minimums for this new level of offence. I believe it is fair. We are saying that it only will apply after people's second offence. Let us for argument sake, that individuals who make a mistake, are caught up or there is peer pressure, whatever the issue might be and they become involved with contraband tobacco. There is no mandatory minimum for that. However, if people make the mistake twice, they have consciously made that effort. They have built in the cost of making that mistake the first time and are now doing it another time.
It is time for the Government of Canada, through the Criminal Code, to say to them that they knew what they were doing. They broke the law and faced a penalty previously, but now they face a much more severe one with a mandatory minimum. I have no issue with that. My true belief is that the vast majority of the people of Burlington also believe in mandatory minimums.
There is another very important piece to the bill. As member of Parliament, every two or four years if we are in a minority position, we have a platform. Every party has a platform. We go to the people and talk about what we will accomplish if they give us the confidence to form government.
Fortunately for us, in 2011 the public gave the Conservative Party of Canada a majority in the House of Commons. Part of that decision making of the people of Burlington and the rest of Canada was our platform. What did the party stand for?
There are certainly other factors. There is the leader, the policy of the party, the platform during an election and the individual candidate. I would hope that some people in Burlington voted for me because they liked me, but I cannot prove that. It might be my wife and maybe my daughter, but I cannot prove that either.
People talked to me during the election about the platform and what we were proposing to do if we formed government. Part of that 2011 election platform was a commitment to reduce the problem of trafficking of contraband tobacco by establishing mandatory jail time for repeat offenders of trafficking in contraband tobacco.
It was clearly stated in our platform. In fact, part of my literature and part of the campaigning I did included a discussion on mandatory minimums. This was part of what we promoted.
That was two years ago. Some people think it has taken us a while to get here. I do not hear much about in my riding, but my colleagues in caucus were persistent that we needed to move on this, that it was a real issue for them in their ridings. It could be an issue in my riding of which I am not aware.
I am fortunate enough that I and my wife are non-smokers. My two daughters who are young adults are non-smokers. They will have a number of their peers over to our house. There could be as many as a couple of dozen and there are no smokers in that group. I do not have the exposure to that. However, I have been told that it is an important issue at the high schools in my area.
We have the ability to look at what we promised during the election and what we are able to deliver to the people of Burlington and to the rest of the people of Canada. We are moving on that. It took some time. I think we took the appropriate amount of time to look at options to tackle this problem.
This is not an easy problem to tackle. As we have just heard, there are a number of sources for contraband tobacco. It could be offshore or domestic. It could be from south of the border. The sources are difficult. The ability to track and find these sources is a difficult one for police and border services officers.
We promised mandatory minimums in our election platform. We have brought forward some legislation that will meet the commitment we made to the public. We have also said that we cannot just put mandatory minimums in without providing some resources to ensure we can implement them. That is why we have created a special task force, I believe it is up to 50 officers from the RCMP, to tackle this problem.
Having 50 officers will not end the problem overnight, but it is a great start for us to tackle this issue. It has put a focus on the problem that we have been having in our country and, in particular, in certain parts of Ontario to a greater extent than others. It has affected not only certain ridings based on production, but also the distribution. A number of small business owners have come to me and have sent me letters. I have had them in my office talking to me about what this is doing to their businesses.
I am not a proponent of smoking. My mother-in-law had lung cancer. She has had one lung removed. She was a smoker. She has been very fortunate as she is a survivor of cancer. Her lung cancer was over 12 years ago and she lost her brother to lung cancer through smoking. Therefore, smoking, from our family's perspective, is very much frowned upon. We have been lucky that, through the health system, she went on some experimental drugs and her cancer was cured, and we are very grateful for that. We are not big proponents, and that is why I am very much in support of this bill.
I started the conversation of there being mandatory minimum sentences. Let us be honest, some are more significant than others. For those caught in the trafficking aspects, it is up to six months. If it is an indictable offence, it is up to five years. It is significant and I do not deny it. However, it is a significant problem that these individuals have created. We talked about the cost to the health care system and so on, but to me personally it is not about the cost to the system, it is about protecting people's health when contraband tobacco products hit the market.
We know cigarettes are better regulated, produced and properly labelled by a licensed facility. We know they are a health issue. People are well warned on the packaging, which we have increased as a government. It is not any surprise to anyone at any age that these are health hazards. However, the health hazards of tobacco products that are not labelled, and we do not know where they came from and what is in them, are tenfold what the legitimate cigarette producers ensure on those warnings. We have not a clue what is in those other products. That is why we need these penalties to be significant and severe, and I believe this bill would do that.
We have heard from other members today. I do not want to repeat the number of cigarettes that are involved or the kilograms. That information has all been put forward.
The other thing I would like to talk about is why we are moving on this. There was discussion about time allocation on this bill. I believe it is a two-way street in the House, maybe even three-way if there is such a thing. We need to start to work together. We had an example yesterday where we looked at Bill C-54. We had amendments proposed by the opposition. The vast majority of them did not past, but we did accept one from each party. We have seen—
- MPconJun 13, 2013 12:05 pm | Ontario, Burlington
Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order.
During routine proceedings today, I was presenting a petition and it was indicated to me that I was a little bit snippy with the Speaker. I just want to stand and apologize for that.
- MPconJun 13, 2013 7:15 am | Ontario, Burlington
Mr. Speaker, I thought I was being brief.
- MPconJun 13, 2013 7:10 am | Ontario, Burlington
Mr. Speaker, I actually have four petitions to present, all on the same topic, so let me just read it once.
The undersigned Canadians, the members of the Roman Catholic faith, feel that we have been negatively targeted, disproportionately misrepresented and have had one of our most sacred sacraments maliciously ridiculed by the CBC and/or its programming.
Recently, we were appalled by the CBC program This Hour Has 22 Minutes on which our most sacred sacrament, the Holy Communion, was the object of an offensive and disrespectful attack, an attack to the very core of our faith, the Holy Eucharist.
We draw to the attention of the House of Commons and the minister of the Crown that as taxpayers, as well as members of the Roman Catholic faith following the principles of Canadian values, we believe that we should not be forced to finance a crown corporation such as the CBC that acts in a discriminatory manner and disrespects our religion, or any religion.
Therefore, we ask the House of Commons to stop--
- MPconJun 13, 2013 7:05 am | Ontario, Burlington
Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 25th report of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights in relation to Bill C-54, An Act to amend the Criminal Code and the National Defence Act (mental disorder).
The committee has studied the bill and has decided to report the bill back to the House with amendments
- MPconJun 03, 2013 11:05 am | Ontario, Burlington
Mr. Speaker, in a few weeks, I will speak to my private member's motion, regarding the relationship between obesity and the long-term health of Canadians. As a Canadian with type 2 diabetes, I am an example of what can happen to a family member, a friend or even you, Mr. Speaker, if personal health is taken for granted.
Poor eating habits, weight gain and a lack of exercise has led to my condition. I was lucky to be diagnosed early in the progression of this disease. It has allowed me to control my diabetes through diet and exercise.
Recently, I had the honour to run the Blue Nose Marathon in Halifax on behalf of Team Diabetes. While I am not recommending that everyone run a marathon, the message is clear: We all have a responsibility to eat properly and exercise.
We need to continue to support and promote organizations like the Canadian Diabetes Association and Participaction, which are all involved with the well-being of all Canadians of all ages. While it is vital to our health care system, more important, we owe it to our families, our friends and to ourselves.
- MPconMay 28, 2013 4:05 pm | Ontario, Burlington
Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from Kingston and the Islands for his speech and for opening the door for me to ask a question that does not actually relate to the bill in front of us. It is based on the member's speech.
There is an important distinction between refundable tax credits and non-refundable tax credits. Before we took office, I looked at how many tax credits were fully refundable, and there were very few refundable tax credits. I would say that there were three. A non-refundable tax credit means that people have to actually pay tax to get the credit. Is it fair that if people do not pay tax, they get a tax credit? Is that not the purpose of a tax credit?
- MPconMay 28, 2013 3:50 pm | Ontario, Burlington
Mr. Speaker, let us look at a bit of the history of the bill.
The hon. member mentioned that it was in front of the House before and was moving forward. It was the opposition that forced the election and put an end to that. It was not our party that did that. I think our friends in the third party were active in forcing the election, and it probably did not work out so well for them.
I do agree with the Auditor General's position on this. One point I would like to make, and I am glad the member opposite brought it up, is my personal view that the Auditor General's reports are an opportunity for government and the opposition. They are performance audits, not financial audits. They show where we are doing well and where we are not doing well. They give us, as a government, an opportunity to improve.
This is exactly what we are doing through this bill. We agree 100% with the Auditor General's report on where we should be going with these technical amendments. In the future that will happen, as long as we have a Conservative majority government.
- MPconMay 28, 2013 3:45 pm | Ontario, Burlington
Mr. Speaker, it is not just this bill; it is a number of bills that this government has faced.
We came to office as the Conservative government with a plan to take action and do things for Canadians: to move the economy, to create jobs. In its foresight, the public decided we would have a minority government for a number of years, which made it difficult to get things done and move things forward.
Now that we have a majority government, we are able to move quickly, efficiently and effectively to put things in place that Canadians need to move forward, to create jobs, create work, create wealth and improve the quality of life we have here as Canadians.
- MPconMay 28, 2013 3:25 pm | Ontario, Burlington
Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to speak to Bill C-48 and participate in this debate.
While this legislation is indeed a technical bill, as its name suggests, it is nevertheless important. The bill before us today has been over a decade in the making and represents over 10 years of miscellaneous tax announcements.
While Canadians have been repeatedly and broadly consulted on these measures, because they have not yet been formally enacted by Parliament, the tax system has become overwhelmingly backlogged. Previous attempts to pass technical tax legislation by governments of all stripes have been unsuccessful for a variety of reasons. Not only have governments attempted to address this backlog, the Auditor General has identified it as a matter of significant concern as far back as 2009.
All members can agree the time has come to formally legislate these technical amendments into our tax system. We all know that a sound tax system is one of the cornerstones of a strong economy and a strong economy is a top priority for our Conservative government. Through Canada's economic action plan, we are helping to ensure that all entrepreneurs and businesses have the opportunity to succeed in the global economy and continue to create jobs. That means keeping taxes low and the tax system predictable, as we are doing through today's legislation.
It also means we should have a tax system that is simple and fair for all. Indeed, our government is firmly and strongly aware of the importance of tax fairness, truly a concept that all members should understand and support. It is a basic principle that our government is committed to upholding, something that everyone, especially members, needs to remember if they try to skip out on their own taxes.
I will address that and other important tax issues in my time today as I discuss Bill C-48 in great detail. As members know, this technical bill would amend the Income Tax Act, the Excise Tax Act and other related legislation to simplify the tax system and make it more predictable, while also closing tax loopholes and creating a stronger and fairer tax system for all Canadians.
I should note that this bill and its measures were previously released for a repeated public consultation before its introduction in late 2012. To highlight the importance of that consultation, especially with tax professionals, the Office of the Auditor General at a recent meeting of the finance committee stated:
It was certainly part of our recommendation that the draft legislation be released for comment so that practitioners could provide input. That's an important part of the process. This means that before it actually gets tabled in the House, it's had input and it's not going to be a surprise to the practitioners. If there are any glitches, they can be straightened out.
As members can see, the proposals in this bill reflect the feedback our government has received from all Canadians, especially those tax professionals. Indeed, Bill C-48 has received its due diligence and our Conservative government is ready to move forward with ensuring tax fairness for all Canadians.
I should note that even the all-party finance committee endorsed this bill, without amendment, after a very detailed study. Witness after witness spoke in favour of the bill. This is what some of those witnesses had to say.
I will first quote from Gabe Hayos, Vice-President of Taxation, Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants, who stated:
We support Bill C-48. The CICA understands how important it is for taxpayers to have greater certainty and a clearer understanding of Canada's federal income tax system.... Bill C-48 helps improve clarity and certainty, and it mitigates the negative effects of uncertainty identified by the Auditor General.
Second, Larry Chapman, executive director and chief executive officer of the Canadian Tax Foundation said at committee:
Bill C-48, the Technical Tax Amendments Act, 2012...represents 10 years of repairs and maintenance in updating the Income Tax Act and the Excise Tax Act. Its passage is important to all Canadians. You heard that in the earlier presentation. I want to emphasize it again. Its passage is very important to all Canadians....Delays in the passage of tax legislation leave taxpayers and their advisers in a no man's land of uncertainty. My message for the Standing Committee on Finance is that you should encourage passage of this legislation...
Paul Hickey, a tax partner of KPMG, added in his testimony at committee:
[I] ask Parliament to act decisively and to pass Bill C-48 to essentially clean the slate of this old pending legislation and to finally bring the Income Tax Act up to date. Taxpayers could then move on and focus on running their business, and the CRA could carry on administering and collecting tax in a more stable system.
Finally, we heard from Carole Presseault, vice-president of government and regulatory affairs, Certified General Accountants Association of Canada, who said at committee:
—I wish to say that we support the tabling of the bill and that we encourage you to move swiftly to pass this important piece of legislation. The bill deals with a massive backlog of unlegislated tax measures. Its passage would, in our opinion, bring greater clarity to the tax system and strengthen the integrity of our laws.
That is just a very small sampling of the support that the committee heard for the bill.
Let me highlight a number of points in the bill. I will do my best to recap it succinctly and as briefly as possible, especially in light of its technical nature.
Part 1 of the bill proposes enhancements to the Income Tax Act to better target and simplify rules relating to the non-residents trust, taking into account comments received during public conversation.
Parts 2 and 3 relate to the taxation of Canadian multinational corporations in respect to their foreign affiliates, the result of which would be a more fair and equitable international tax system.
Part 4 deals with ensuring that the tax rules work well under both common and civil law, while part 5 would close tax loopholes and create greater fairness for taxpayers.
This part of the bill would implement a number of integrity tax measures that were first publicly released in 2010, on which we have consulted extensively since then.
These particular measures would close loopholes relating to specific leasing of properties and ensure that conversion of specific investments flow-through trusts and partnerships into corporations would be subject to rules similar to those governing transactions between corporations.
It would deal with schemes designed to artificially increase foreign tax credits in order to reduce taxes. In fact, it would prevent that from happening.
Finally, it would implement a regime for information reporting on tax avoidance and of transactions.
As an overall package of items, these key initiatives would help crack down on tax avoidance and ensure that every Canadian paid their fair share of tax.
At the same time, part 5 also includes a number of very technical changes essentially designed to ensure that the income tax system functions in accordance to policy that it is intended to operate under.
Most of these technical changes would address issues identified by everyday Canadian taxpayers working through the application of the income tax rules in their own personal or working studies.
Part 5 would also implement an income tax amendment relating to the enactment of the Fairness of Self-Employment Act. It would provide a tax credit in respect of employment insurance premiums paid by self-employed individuals, a change that this government has made.
Part 6 of the bill would implement the technical amendments to the GST and HST, including relieving the GST and HST on the administrative services of collecting and distributing the levy on blank media imposed under the Copyright Act, which we updated.
Part 7 would amend the Federal-Provincial Fiscal Arrangements Act and the First Nations Goods and Services Tax Act to provide for technical changes concerning tax administration agreements.
Finally, Part 8 consists of coordinating amendments that would ensure that the tax amendments in this legislation interact properly with other legislation.
While these measures may seem technical, they are crucial to the fair and efficient functioning of our tax system and they have been consulted on a repeated basis. Now is the time to pass the bill.
Tax professional Carole Presseault again, who was one of the many expert witnesses who appeared before finance committee to speak to the importance of the bill and its passage, said:
—this bill needs to get passed. My concern doesn't result in the study of this bill. This bill has been studied; it's been consulted. My colleagues here, the witnesses, have also expressed that it's been extensively studied. Stakeholders have had an opportunity over the last decade to comment on the various provisions of this bill, and, yes, please, what's required is for it to be passed expeditiously.
Tax fairness and a competitive tax system are important to this government. As taxpayers, we are all forced to give up a part of our hard-earned income to fund government programs like health care, policing and other services for Canadians. We do so willingly and honestly and under the understanding that everyone is paying their fair share. Canadians who play by the rules do not like tax cheats and neither does this Conservative government. That is exactly why today's legislation would help fight tax cheats.
To quote noted tax practitioner Greg Boehmer of Ernst & Young, who also appeared in front of finance committee:
It's very clear that this legislation is aimed at fairness, that it does close a number of loopholes, and that it does broaden the base in certain circumstances.
Additionally, as part of our government's broader efforts to keep taxes low for Canadian families and ensure integrity in our tax system, economic action plan 2013 included a number of measures to close tax loopholes, address aggressive tax planning, clarify tax rules and reduce international tax evasion and aggressive tax avoidance.
As everyone knows, our government is very committed to closing tax loopholes that allowed a select few businesses and individuals to avoid paying their fair share. Ensuring that everyone pays their fair share also helps to keep taxes low for Canadian families and businesses, thereby improving incentives to work, save and invest in Canada.
Since 2006, as has been said before, our Conservative government has introduced a whopping 75-plus measures to improve the integrity of the tax system. Bill C-48 would work in partnership with other governments, improving efforts to promote tax fairness, a fact which did not go unnoticed during finance committee's careful consideration of this legislation.
When it comes to our Conservative government's priorities, the witnesses were absolutely correct. However, in addition to ensuring its integrity and fairness, our government remains dedicated to ensuring the tax system remains competitive so we can attract vital new business investment to Canada and to grow the economy and create jobs.
Lower Canadian taxes are critical in supporting economic growth by enabling Canadian business to invest more of their revenues back into their operations and into their workers. These businesses invest in machinery, equipment, information technology and other physical capital that are components of an improving Canadian productivity.
Taken as a whole, there is no question that our government's actions have made a noticeable difference. Canada now has the lowest overall tax rate on a new business investment in the G7, a policy proven to increase productivity and to contribute to a higher standard of living for all of us.
In conclusion, our government strongly believes that Canadians deserve lower taxes, not just a select few. That is why, since coming into office in 2006, Canadians from every walk of life are benefiting from the tax relief introduced by our government, such as the lowering of the GST and the landmark TFSA.
I would like to add that I have a 22-year-old daughter who is just starting out in the world. One of her questions to me recently was whether she should invest in a TFSA and whether that would that help her in the long run.
Our message is getting out there. I did not give her that message. She came to me about it. There are opportunities and the need for Canadians to invest and save.
Also, one million low-income Canadians have been removed from our tax rolls. This is a fact.
Our strong record of tax relief is saving the typical Canadian family of four more than $3,200 each year.
Also, our government has shut down tax loopholes in the system in order to stop people avoiding to pay their fair share of tax. Ensuring tax fairness is just another way that our Conservative government will keep taxes low for Canadians and their families. I am proud that the bill before us today will help us go even further in meeting that objective.
I encourage all my colleagues to vote in favour of tax fairness and to support this important legislation here this evening.
- MPconMay 27, 2013 12:00 pm | Ontario, Burlington
Mr. Speaker, every day, Canadian charities are working tirelessly to help those in need. Nobody knows this better than the member for Kitchener—Waterloo, one of Parliament's biggest advocates for charities. Indeed, the member initiated a landmark study by the finance committee to examine ways to provide even more support for charitable organizations.
Could the Minister of State (Finance) please update the House on the government's latest action to help Canadian charities?
- MPconMay 21, 2013 12:55 pm | Ontario, Burlington
Mr. Speaker, I loved the member's presentation. It did not make any sense, but I loved it.
This concurrence motion is a discussion of a report on skills shortages in Canada. This government, through the economic action plan, has put forward a number of opportunities, through skills development for aboriginals, for those with disabilities, for students who need employment. I heard that the opposition has some other ideas in the minority report.
Are there things we are doing that members of the Liberal Party approve of that they would like to see happen and are they going to support us in moving forward on the area of work in terms of skills development, or are they opposed because they did not come up with the idea?
- MPconMay 09, 2013 7:05 am | Ontario, Burlington
Mr. Speaker, I have two petitions to present this morning.
The first is signed by a group from my riding. They state that recently they were appalled by the CBC program This Hour Has 22 Minutes in which the most sacred sacrament of the Holy Communion was the object of an offensive and most disrespectful attack on the very core of our faith, the Holy Eucharist. Therefore, they ask the House of Commons to stop the federal funding of CBC, which is financed by our tax dollars.
- MPconMay 02, 2013 3:55 pm | Ontario, Burlington
Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to speak to Motion No. 430 this evening. I want to congratulate the member for Brant for bringing this forward.
I was listening to the speech, and I think the important part of today's motion is that we are endorsing and supporting the panel on labour market opportunities for persons with disabilities. We do require the private sector to come to the table to help with these individuals and their opportunities.
I have had a number of opportunities in my day, but one of them was to work for Easter Seals Ontario, which is a charitable organization that helps disabled youth up to the age of 18. My wife works for them now as a development officer, raising money for their needs. I completely agree with the mover of this motion that we need to help these young people find opportunities. As an employee there, I met many young people and their families. I continue to meet these young people, not just in my riding but across Ontario.
There is huge potential for success, if we can get not just the government but the private sector on board in terms of recognizing the opportunity, not just for the individual who has the disability but also for the business. We have seen statistics about rates of people not showing up for work. The disabled do a much better job of coming to work every single day over others.
This is a great opportunity for business to take advantage of. It is an opportunity for those young people. I support this motion wholeheartedly.
- MPconMay 02, 2013 3:15 pm | Ontario, Burlington
Mr. Speaker, one of the items talks about youth and the need for youth employment for those with disabilities, under the youth employment strategy.
Could the member share why it is important to focus in on youth with disabilities?
- MPconMay 02, 2013 2:40 pm | Ontario, Burlington
Mr. Speaker, the question tells a story. Not only is the leader of the Liberal Party over his head, but the whole Liberal Party, at least the political arm, is over its head. This country would drown with them in charge, if they ever came back.
They talk about fairness. How is it fair for companies in China and India to get an advantage over our Canadian companies? We are moving forward. We are making it fair for our companies to compete.
- MPconMay 02, 2013 2:25 pm | Ontario, Burlington
Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to stand and talk about Bill C-60, the first BIA. There is normally one in the spring and one in the fall.
I want to say a couple of words before I begin on the actual substance of the bill. We are hearing from the opposition about the length of the bill. That is a legitimate concern. Therefore, I looked at it. It is 115 pages, in English and in French. It is not 115 in English and 115 in French. It is a total of 115 pages.
I am absolutely positive that my colleague from Hamilton Mountain can read 50 pages and understand what it is in it. The argument that this is some sort of big bill that is unmanageable is completely false. If the opposition cannot read 50 pages, then we have something to really worry about.
Let us be fair. This is a 50-page bill, 115 pages in both languages. If members are talented enough, which I am not, to read it in both languages, it is 115 pages. It is not that long.
I want to thank the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance for hosting the overview of the bill on Monday night. There was a decent crowd there of members of Parliament and staff.
Every section was reviewed, not by the political staff but by members of the finance department. They went clause by clause, division by division, and answered questions from the floor from all parties on what was in this implementation bill, Bill C-60. They gave non-partisan answers to what was in the bill.
I would encourage all members of Parliament who are interested in the financial aspects of the budget and the implementation bill to take advantage of the opportunity that the government is providing to all members of the House. The briefings that took place on Monday night of this week made a significant difference in the understanding of what was in these clauses before us today.
Let me go to some of the points I think are very important to my riding, to me personally, to my constituents and to the country as a whole. I will see how much time I have and how far I can go on these.
Let us talk about the adoption expense tax credit that the opposition will vote against. With this tax credit for adoptive parents, we are adding to what they can deduct in their quest as a family to adopt a child or baby. It is an opportunity. We understand, on this side of the House, that there are costs and effort for young families to adopt a child.
We are using the tax credit system to say that we understand what they are trying to do, that they are doing a good thing for their family, that they are doing a good thing for the country and we are providing some assistance in the adoption expense tax credit.
We are also offering a first-time donor's super credit. For people who have not donated before, we are adding an extra 25% to that first-time donation that they make to an organization, if they and their spouse have not donated since 2007. We are encouraging Canadians to support charities.
Where did we get this from? We have done consultations as individual members and the finance committee heard people from across the country. These are the kinds of support for which the not-for-profit charity sector asked. That is what is being delivered. It is in the budget, which is a policy document. The implementation bill is what takes parts of that budget and puts them into law. It implements those changes. I am very supportive of that change.
Another important change we are making has to do with more of a technical issue. We are providing assistance to the registered disability savings plan for adult beneficiaries.
I am very proud of this government for developing the registered disability savings plan that did not exist before we took office. We heard that at the finance committee. In the field we talked to different individuals and organizations about what is needed for disabled adults and disabled children and parents who were concerned about their financial well-being after they had passed.
We developed this registered disability plan, and that plan came back for a review. In my riding there was a meeting to discuss changes that could be made, and one of the issues was somebody being able to take out a registered disability savings plan for another adult who was unable to do it at that time because of physical or mental issues, just not being able to do it. The change we are implementing in this bill will make that happen. I am very proud of this.
In my riding, 50% to 60% of people are over age 55, which is relatively senior. I am not quite there yet, but I am getting closer by the day. In this bill we are adding some services such as bathing, feeding, assistance in dressing, taking medication and so on to the GST-HST exemption for health care services for seniors. This is a very positive piece of relief for those who require those services from publicly funded organizations. In the past and up until this bill passes, they had to pay HST in Ontario, and this bill would remove that. I cannot believe the opposition members are voting against it.
We often hear in the news about how much influence a member of Parliament can have. On tariff relief for Canadian consumers, I have an organization in my riding called Source For Sports, and a gentleman named Randy Hooper, who is now retired from that organization, said to me a few years ago that they were big importers of hockey equipment and they were not competitive with U.S. counterparts because of the tariff on hockey equipment. People in Burlington can easily go to the border, one hour away, cross into Buffalo and buy hockey equipment. I took that issue up and wrote a letter and spoke directly to the finance minister. It did not happen right away, but it did happen eventually. I am thankful that I had the opportunity as a member of Parliament to represent my constituent, represent my constituent business and make the point that we need to look at this issue. I may have had a small influence on making that happen, and that is what a member of Parliament should do. I am very proud of that and I want to make sure, even though Mr. Hooper is retired, that he gets credit for bringing that to my attention.
Another area I would like to talk about, as I said, is that we have a fairly large senior population in my riding, and we also have a fairly large veterans group in my riding. Many of them are naval veterans. For some reason the navy did a very good job of recruiting in Burlington. We have one of the nicest naval monuments in the country in Burlington on our waterfront. I am very proud that the Minister of Veterans Affairs recognized the issue of the disability payment being deducted as income from recipients before they received the rest of the allowance. We are removing that so they can keep the full amount. It is excellent that it is in the budget and we are implementing it. It will have a major impact on many veterans in my riding.
Finally, we are obviously looking at the gas tax. The member who spoke before me talked about the importance of infrastructure. I hear it all the time from my municipality. I hear it from FCM. I have an open-door policy with my local council group. We have a very good relationship, and they talk about infrastructure all the time. We are indexing the gas tax. We are providing support for infrastructure. That is another area that will have a direct impact on my riding.
I appreciate the time I have had to speak to Bill C-60. I hope everyone in the House will support it.
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