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    Mar 13, 2015 9:15 am | Ontario, Oak Ridges—Markham

    Mr. Speaker, the Privy Council Office identified no contracts under $10,000 granted by the Prime Minister's Office from March 27, 2014 to January 29, 2015.

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    Mar 13, 2015 8:35 am | Ontario, Oak Ridges—Markham

    Mr. Speaker, this is a dispute between three individuals, none of which is the federal government. At the same time, when it comes to accountability, it is the NDP that owes Canadian taxpayers close to $5 million for illegal offices. That is $2.7 million for illegal offices and millions of dollars for illegal mailings, and they refuse to pay that money back.

    When it comes to accountability, they have nothing to talk about. They took illegal money from unions. They have illegally taken money from Canadian taxpayers, and now they are refusing to even pay it back.

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    Mar 11, 2015 11:40 am | Ontario, Oak Ridges—Markham

    Mr. Speaker, talk about not going very well. This particular member owes the taxpayers of Canada over $122,000 for inappropriate mailings and office expenses.

    I know that in every chequebook there are about 30 cheques. He has written 29 of those cheques out to the separatist party in Quebec. If he would just make the last cheque payable to the people of Canada for $122,122, he could clear up that debt. Again, that is $122,122.

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    Mar 09, 2015 11:30 am | Ontario, Oak Ridges—Markham

    Mr. Speaker, what we know is that the NDP owes the taxpayers over $2.7 million, and it will be the taxpayer who is on the hook if NDP members do not do the right thing and pay up. For instance, the member for Trois-Rivières owes $30,000. The member for Honoré-Mercier owes $29,000. The member for Jeanne-Le Ber owes $31,000. The Leader of the Opposition some $400,000. The Leader of the Opposition with the whip owes some $600,000 to the Canadian taxpayer. They should make it easy and just pay it back.

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    Mar 09, 2015 11:25 am | Ontario, Oak Ridges—Markham

    Mr. Speaker, as I just said, we will continue to provide every possible assistance that we can to the Crown in its case against Mr. Duffy. I contrast that to the NDP.

    When the Leader of the Opposition had the opportunity some 17 years ago to come forward with information that would have helped the people of Quebec, he chose to hide that information.

    Again, the NDP owes some $2.7 million to Canadian taxpayers. Instead of just paying the money the NDP members owe to the Canadian taxpayers, they are doing everything possible to hide and ensure that they do not pay it. What they have to do is come clean and pay the taxpayers back the money they owe.


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    Feb 27, 2015 8:05 am | Ontario, Oak Ridges—Markham

    Mr. Speaker, I rise to pay special tribute to Geraldine Seely, a close personal friend who recently lost her battle with cancer.

    Gerri was a fighter. She fought and beat cancer once before. She overcame a kidney transplant. Even with the challenges she faced, she never lost her faith or love of life.

    Gerri married Dennis in 1969, and to see them together was truly special. They were a great team who, until the end, were inseparable.

    As much as we mourn her loss, we can also be inspired by her example. Gerri never stopped giving back to the community and despite the challenges she faced, always found time for others. Although only 67, she volunteered for over 45 years at our community's Markham Fair. She was a member of the church choir, a junior choir leader, hosted Bible studies at her home and facilitated others at her church.

    A full day would not be enough to explain the many ways in which she touched the lives of the people around her. To her entire family, I give thanks for sharing Gerri with us. She will not soon be forgotten.

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    Feb 25, 2015 12:00 pm | Ontario, Oak Ridges—Markham

    Mr. Speaker, today we are pleased to welcome to Ottawa one of our closest partners in the efforts to improve maternal, newborn, and child health, Bill Gates.

    We are proud of the work our government has done with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to keep these critical issues at the forefront of the global agenda and to put an end to the tragedy of women and children dying needlessly from causes that we know we can prevent.

    Work by our government and the Gates foundation has contributed to the immunization of 26 million children in 46 countries since 2011 and will avert 500,000 future deaths. Our Government of Canada will continue to lead in saving the lives of mothers and children.

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    Feb 20, 2015 8:40 am | Ontario, Oak Ridges—Markham

    Mr. Speaker, as I said the other day, that is just simply not true.

    I suspect Canadians, and I know Ontarians, are quite nervous about the approaching Ontario Liberal budget, which, with the support of the Liberals here, will introduce a carbon tax that will cost all Canadians more money and a payroll tax that will kill business and job investment.

    On the opposite token, we have a Minister of Finance who will introduce a budget very soon that will include a balanced budget, reconfirm the investments we have made in the armed forces and the fact that we have put more money into the pockets of every Canadian family. That is good news for families and good—

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    Feb 19, 2015 11:00 am | Ontario, Oak Ridges—Markham

    Mr. Speaker, I would like to draw the attention of the House to an incredible constituent of mine, Nadine Carter. Nadine is a sixth grade student in Stouffville who, through diligent and extensive research, has called upon the town to properly recognize World War I flying ace Captain Roy Brown.

    Brown was born in Carleton Place, but after the war he moved his home in Whitchurch-Stouffville. In Brown's exemplary period of service, he never once lost a pilot under his command and was credited with shooting down Manfred von Richthofen, otherwise known as the Red Baron.

    Since that time, his memory has sadly gone unrecognized in my home town, where he lived out his life. Now, thanks to Nadine, I am working with the town to ensure this oversight is corrected.

    Members of this place, of course, know the importance of remembering our heritage and especially remembering those who risk their lives for our freedom. I ask all members to join with me in thanking Nadine Carter for her exemplary research and service to our community.

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    Feb 18, 2015 2:50 pm | Ontario, Oak Ridges—Markham

    Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to participate in the debate today on Bill C-586, Reform Act, 2014.

    I, too, would like to echo the comments of previous speakers by acknowledging the member for Wellington—Halton Hills for the hard work, dedication and spirit of collaboration he has brought to this process on the bill. The spirit of collaboration is a major reason why we have reached this point today.

    There have been a number of changes to the bill from its first iteration, Bill C-559, as amended, and is much different than the original version that was introduced.

    I believe the changes that were made are extremely important because they recognize that parties must have the freedom to organize themselves as they see fit. What works well for one party may not work well for another. A one-size-fits-all approach does not work, which is why I fully support the bill as amended by the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs.

    With my time, I will focus on some international examples that are relevant to the content of the reform act, 2014.

    It is clear that in developing this legislation the member for Wellington—Halton Hills looked at current practices in Canada and examples in other countries with a Westminster form of government.

    On the review of party leadership issue, the hon. member referenced the existence of rules in other countries to empower caucuses. If we examine the international examples, it is quite remarkable to note the number of different rules that exist in different countries and among different parties. In fact, there are about as many different approaches to issues such as leadership review as there are political parties.

    For example, in the United Kingdom, all of the major parties have different rules for leadership removal. For the United Kingdom Conservative Party, a vote by 15% of Tory MPs can trigger a leadership review and a leader can be dismissed upon a majority of those voting by secret ballot.

    For the Labour Party, a leadership contest can be triggered if a challenger collects nominations from 20% of Labour MPs. The party leader is replaced if the challenger receives a majority of votes using an alternative vote system in an electoral college consisting of Labour MPs, members of the European Parliament, party members and members of affiliate organizations.

    The Liberal Democrats take yet a different approach. A leadership contest can be triggered by a majority vote of Liberal Democratic MPs or if 75 local party organizations write to the party president calling for a leadership contest.

    Political parties in Australia and New Zealand also have rules that set out thresholds for the review of party leaders. However, as is the case with the United Kingdom, the rules are different from party to party.

    The rules of the Australian Labour Party, for example, require the support of 75% of caucus members to initiate a leadership review of a governing leader or 60% to initiate a review of a leader in opposition. These thresholds were increased in 2013 from the previous threshold of 30% because the party believed the threshold was too low and contributed to leadership instability.

    To give an example from New Zealand, the rules of the New Zealand Labour Party provide that a leadership election is triggered upon a vote of 50% plus one of caucus members. The party also has an automatic leadership review by caucus after three months of a general election, where the votes of 60% of caucus members are required to endorse the leader.

    The experiences in Australia and New Zealand, like the U.K., show that a one-size-fits-all solution does not work. It is important that parties have the flexibility to determine the rules that govern them.

    Bill C-586, as amended by the Procedure and House Affairs Standing Committee, respects that important principle.

    Mr. Speaker, I believe there are important lessons that can be taken from the international examples. First, there is the simple fact that while rules do exist in other Westminster systems, they differ quite a lot from party to party. The example of all parties in the U.K. shows us just how varied approaches can be to the same issue in the same country.

    In some cases, the votes on leadership reviews are taken only amongst MPs, while in other cases parties involve the wider party membership in these decisions. There are also considerable differences in how those votes are conducted.

    It is also important to note that the rules that govern the parties have changed over time and I suspect they will continue to evolve in the future. This is best exemplified by the dramatic differences in the threshold for party leader review made by the Australian Labour Party in 2013.

    It is important that political parties have the freedom to make their decisions about what type of approach they would like to pursue. Bill C-586, as amended, would do this.

    I would like to take a moment to turn to our government's strong, democratic reform record. We walk the walk when it comes to empowering members of Parliament to bring forward ideas and issues important to them and to their constituents. For instance, the Globe and Mail analyzed 162,000 votes over almost two years which showed that members on this side of the House were far more likely to vote independently from their party than were opposition MPs. As well, more backbench MPs have passed bills into law through this majority Conservative Parliament than in over 100 years, the time for which such records are available.

    The bill of the member for Wellington—Halton Hills has precipitated important discussion and debate on matters that affect us all. I have listened carefully to the views of my colleagues on both sides of the House regarding the changes that have been made to the reform act, 2014. In my opinion, the changes that were made have improved the bill and take into account concerns that have been raised.

    For this reason, I urge all my colleagues to support the bill.

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    Feb 18, 2015 11:45 am | Ontario, Oak Ridges—Markham

    Mr. Speaker, let me just get this straight. It is 2:45. We are a number of months ahead of an election, and the best the Liberals have is they want to see a copy of a great speech, apparently, that the Minister of Natural Resources gave.

    They do not want to talk about cutting taxes. They do not want to talk about the fact that we are giving parents, every single family in this country, more money in their pockets. They do not want to talk about the massive infrastructure program the Minister of Infrastructure, Communities and Intergovernmental Affairs has brought forward. They do not want to talk about the mission we are taking right now in Iraq.

    The best they have is “Can you please send us a copy of a speech that was given by the Minister of Natural Resources?” I will take a look, and I will see what other great speeches he has delivered.

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    Feb 18, 2015 11:40 am | Ontario, Oak Ridges—Markham

    Mr. Speaker, again, of course we expect all Treasury Board guidelines to be followed.

    When it comes to giving speeches and being paid for those speeches, I suggest that the member actually ask the leader who sits in front of him, who we know accepted huge contracts, while being a member of Parliament, to speak at places like school boards, unions, and churches.

    We are going to focus on what matters to Canadians: safety and security and the economy. Our plan has created over 1.2 million jobs. We are getting people back to work. We are cutting taxes. We are investing in infrastructure. We are going to continue to do that for a very long time to come.

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    Feb 06, 2015 9:00 am | Ontario, Oak Ridges—Markham

    Mr. Speaker, we understand how important these issues are, and that is why we have made significant investments with our provincial partners in mental health issues.

    At the same time, one of the most important things we have done since taking office in 2006 is to reverse the decade of health care cuts that was a hallmark of the Liberal government. We have increased transfers to our provincial partners by about 6% a year. We are going to continue to do that in the future because we understand how important health care is to Canadians.

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    Feb 06, 2015 8:55 am | Ontario, Oak Ridges—Markham

    Mr. Speaker, let me thank the member for Wild Rose for sticking up for Canadian families each and every day in the House.

    We know that the NDP has long advocated a job-killing carbon tax, but recently we also learned that the Liberal leader not only supports a job-killing carbon tax, but is actually encouraging his provincial comrades to bring in the exact same scheme.

    Our government is going to continue to focus on families. The changes that we have made and the investments we are making will give Canadian families an extra $1,200 in their pockets. Those are real benefits, that is real change. Canadians know that they can continue to count on us to provide more money in their pockets so they can invest in their priorities.

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    Feb 06, 2015 8:45 am | Ontario, Oak Ridges—Markham

    Mr. Speaker, our government is listening, and we started listening from the day we were elected. That is why we reversed the previous health care cuts that were a hallmark of the previous Liberal government.

    Again, I would like to commend the member for Oakville for his work on this, and the status of women committee. They have been doing a great job on this.

    We will continue to listen to our health care partners because it is very important. I note, of course, that we have transferred 6% additionally, each and every year that we have been in office. However, for example, Ontario has only reinvested 3% of that 6%.

    We will continue to invest what we need to invest to improve health care benefits for all Canadians, and we will do that by working with the professionals in the industry.

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    Feb 06, 2015 8:40 am | Ontario, Oak Ridges—Markham

    Mr. Speaker, as the member will recall, when we took office we started to reverse the legacy of transfer payment cuts left behind by the Liberals, some $50 billion in cuts. We started to reverse that, and the money that was sent to our provincial partners created in excess of 260,000 child care spaces.

    We are going even further by introducing the universal child care benefit, providing families with $100. That is now increasing to $160 for children under the age of six, but going even a step further, $60 for those kids who are between 6 and 17. We have increased the deduction for child care expenses by $1,000.

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    Feb 06, 2015 8:30 am | Ontario, Oak Ridges—Markham

    Again, Mr. Speaker, as the minister said, thousands of investigations have taken place and continue to take place. There is a dedicated team at ESDC to conduct these investigations. Employers have been co-operating, but obviously, in instances where employers do not co-operate, we do have the tools in place to make sure that the rules are being followed. As we have said, if the rules are not being followed, we will ensure that employers suffer severe consequences.

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    Feb 05, 2015 2:05 pm | Ontario, Oak Ridges—Markham

    Mr. Speaker, I am going to continue with the same question I had a little earlier.

    I know that the member was in the chamber listening to the Liberal member for Winnipeg North's comments. I just wanted to highlight the fact that the record for unemployment was actually set by a Prime Minister called Trudeau back in 1983, when it was at its highest ever in the history of the country at 12%.

    I took the opportunity to go back and look at the unemployment rate for every single year the Liberals were in office between 1993 and the time they were thrown out by the Canadian people. At no time did it ever hit the level we are at today. It was at 9%, 7.1%, and so on.

    I heard him talk about the middle class, and I thought it was somewhat awkward for the leader of the third party to talk about the middle class, because the person who works on his Mercedes might be a member of the middle class, but not the guy who drives it.

    After listening to that 20 minute speech, does the member have any idea at all what the Liberal policy is toward manufacturing? She has been in the chamber, listening to all of the Liberal speeches all day. Does the member have any clue of what the Liberal Party's approach to manufacturing is?

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    Feb 05, 2015 1:20 pm | Ontario, Oak Ridges—Markham

    Mr. Speaker, as I just mentioned in the previous question, I am not going to sit here and explain to the hon. member how many ways he was wrong. I appreciate the fact that he has actually brought something to the table, unlike our colleagues at the end.

    However, I want to touch upon two things.

    The previous speaker mentioned it, so I think it might be relevant. She talked about a raid on the EI fund by the previous governments. I wonder if the member could touch upon that briefly.

    I also appreciate that the NDP is supportive of the fact that tax cuts create jobs.

    I wonder if the hon. member could comment further, because I think it is fair to get a bit of an assessment on what the other opposition party here has brought to the table with respect to manufacturing. We know that two parties have brought something to the table. They might not agree on all elements of it, and in fact probably disagree on a lot of it, but I wonder if he might also, as the finance critic, give his assessment of the Liberal Party's agenda when it comes to manufacturing. As well, if he could expand on the EI comment made by the member for Gatineau, I would appreciate it.

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    Feb 05, 2015 1:10 pm | Ontario, Oak Ridges—Markham

    Mr. Speaker, it is clear that we are not going to agree on certain things, but I wonder if the member might comment a bit on this.

    We know that the Liberals certainly do not agree with what the New Democrats are proposing, and have not in the past, and they currently do not agree with some of the measures we have brought in for the manufacturing sector. We also know that the leader of the Liberal Party has suggested it is time to transition away from manufacturing. I think he called it something like an old 20th century concept from which we should move away.

    I wonder if the member might comment on that position of the Liberal Party, the fact that the Liberals do not support manufacturing and that they want to put millions of people out of work by somehow transitioning away from manufacturing.

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    Feb 03, 2015 9:20 am | Ontario, Oak Ridges—Markham

    Mr. Speaker, I suggest that the member bring that forward at committee for greater debate.

    As we know, once the writ is dropped, people living abroad or who find themselves outside of Canada have the ability to go online immediately and begin the process of applying for ballots. That can happen almost immediately. I suggest to the member opposite that 36 days is enough time for people to go online, start the process, and then receive ballots, but that is something that can be discussed at committee. I believe it is long enough, but I am willing to hear from experts who might think that 36 days is just not enough time.

    The main goal of this legislation is to make sure that people are allowed to vote. It is consistent with what we see in other western democracies, and I think it is what Canadians, by and large, would expect: that the people receiving ballots and voting in elections are entitled to do so. That is what the citizen voting act, in addition to the Fair Elections Act, would ensure.

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    Feb 03, 2015 9:15 am | Ontario, Oak Ridges—Markham

    Mr. Speaker, as members know, we spent all last spring talking about the Fair Elections Act. That was a piece of legislation that Minister of State for Democratic Reform brought forward that was heavily consulted on by the previous Minister of State for Democratic Reform and by members of Parliament on this side of the House.

    As part of that consultation, I heard from a number of my own constituents with respect to the procedures for voting abroad. I am very lucky in my constituency, in that there is a big retirement community. Many of these constituents spend time in different parts of the world in the winter, and I had the occasion last April to speak with them about what we see in this legislation today.

    When we bring forward changes to the voting procedures for all Canadians, we do so in a way that reflects the broader Canadian attitude that elections must be fair and must represent the core Canadian values of honesty and respect for Canadian law.

    In doing so, we would not only speak to Canadians but with the Chief Electoral Officer. Debating this today is part of that consultation. We are hearing what the opposition would say with respect to this bill, and in committee we will also flesh out the different parts of the bill a little bit more.

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    Feb 03, 2015 9:10 am | Ontario, Oak Ridges—Markham

    Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke.

    I am very pleased to rise in the House today to speak to the citizen voting act, which was introduced by my colleague, the Minister of State for Democratic Reform.

    Our government has a strong record of democratic reform. We ended the per-vote subsidy. We made the House of Commons more representative with the Fair Representation Act. Most recently, we closed loopholes for big money, ensured that everyday citizens are in charge of democracy, and made it harder to break election laws with the Fair Elections Act. All of these initiatives have strengthened Canada's democracy and reinforced confidence in our electoral system.

    Today I am very pleased to discuss our government's latest democratic reform initiative, the citizen voting act. The bill would ensure that everyone who votes is a Canadian citizen, and it would require voters living abroad to follow the ID rules set out in the Fair Elections Act.

    Specifically, the citizen voting act would ensure that only Canadians vote in federal elections by requiring proof of citizenship from everyone voting in federal elections while abroad. This would not apply to Canadian Forces members.

    Second, the bill would allow the Chief Electoral Officer to cross-reference the National Register of Electors with Citizenship and Immigration data to remove non-citizens from the voters list.

    Third, the bill would put an end to the possibility of riding shopping by ensuring that non-residents receive a ballot only for the Canadian address at which they last resided.

    Fourth, the bill would apply the same voter identification rules to all Canadians. Under the Fair Elections Act, Canadians living inside the country must prove who they are and where they live. Canadians support this requirement, and that is why the citizen voting act would expand it further to residents living abroad.

    Finally, the bill would create one set of rules for voting from outside the country. Anyone voting while abroad, whether temporarily, on vacation, or permanently, will need to apply for a ballot in the same way and follow the same rules.

    Given the limited time that I have today to discuss the citizen voting act, I am going to focus on a couple of items. First, I will focus on riding shopping.

    Currently the Canada Elections Act permits non-resident voters to choose the riding that they vote in. They can select from one of four options. First, they can choose their last place of ordinary residence. Second, they can choose the address of a spouse, a relative, or a relative of a spouse. Third, they can choose the address of a dependent. Fourth, they can choose the address of someone with whom they would live if not residing outside of Canada.

    Voters living in Canada do not have such flexibility. They must vote where they live at the time of an election. They cannot choose the riding in which they want their vote to be counted, and justly so.

    Geographic representation is an essential characteristic of our electoral process. Canadians in each electoral district elect the candidate who they feel will best represent their interests and those of the community. Particularly in this vast country of ours, territorial-based representation ensures that diverse communities are represented in the House of Commons.

    I am sure members may think that when an expatriate voter chooses his or her riding, proof of past residence is required. However, they would be wrong: Canadians living abroad are not required to provide proof to Elections Canada of their last Canadian residence. By stipulating that a non-resident voter's last place of residence in Canada would be their residence for voting purposes, the citizen voting act would end the unfair option of riding shopping and standardize the rules for resident and non-resident voters. This would ensure that each voter has a direct and meaningful connection to the riding in which he or she is voting.

    I would now like to turn to the issue of voter identification.

    The citizen voting act would ensure that Canadians living abroad would follow the same rules as those living in Canada. The bill would build on the Fair Elections Act by requiring Canadians voting by mail—both residents and non-residents—to include proof of identity and residence in their application for a special ballot. This requirement is similar to the rules set out in the Fair Elections Act.

    The Fair Elections Act, adopted last June, contained important measures to reinforce the integrity of the vote by strengthening ID rules. According to Ipsos Reid, in April 2014, when debate about the Fair Elections Act was at its height, 87% of those polled agreed that it is reasonable to require someone to provide proof of identity and address before being allowed to vote. The citizen voting act would make this requirement consistent for all Canadians, both resident and non-resident.

    The same three ID options for voting at the polls would apply to those applying to vote by mail: either a government-issued photo identification with the name or address; or two pieces of identification authorized by the Chief Electoral Officer, one with address and both with name; or two pieces of authorized identification with name and an oath or declaration of residence that is attested to by another properly identified elector.

    In the case of non-residents, the attestation process would enable them to provide proof of their last residence in Canada by an oath or declaration. The person providing an attestation would be a fully proven resident or non-resident qualified to vote in the same electoral district as the person applying for the special ballot.

    To account for the potential difficulty that non-residents might face in obtaining an attestation as to their former residence in Canada, the citizen voting act would allow the attestor for the previous residence of a non-resident to be qualified to vote in the same electoral district not to be of the same polling division. This is a slight variation to the attestation process for Canadians voting at the poll that was introduced by the Fair Elections Act.

    A non-resident Canadian applying for a special ballot must also provide, in addition to his or her own identification proving his or her identity, copies of identification providing the identity and residence of the person providing the attestation.

    Standardizing the voter identification requirements for resident and non-resident Canadians removes preferential treatment for one group of voters over another and obviously just makes sense.

    Our government recognizes the unique circumstances of members of the Canadian Forces. A completely separate set of rules found in division 2 of part 11 of the Canada Elections Act governs their voting procedures. Canadian Forces members serving abroad can vote at the location they are stationed, and the citizen voting act would not affect those rules.

    In conclusion, our government remains committed to ensuring that our electoral system meets the needs of voters, both in Canada and abroad. The amendments being made by the citizen voting act are necessary to ensure the fairness of the electoral process and to ensure that one set of rules applies to all Canadians.

    To summarize, the bill would strengthen Canada's election laws by, first, ensuring only Canadian citizens vote in federal elections; second, putting an end to the possibility of riding shopping; third, applying the same identification rules to all Canadians; and fourth, creating one set of rules for voting from outside the country.

    These important advancements will bring greater accountability, integrity, and accessibility to Canada's fundamental democratic process. These are common sense legislative changes, so I would encourage all members to support the citizen voting act.

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    Feb 02, 2015 11:15 am | Ontario, Oak Ridges—Markham

    Mr. Speaker, as I said, the Prime Minister has had over 300 contacts with his provincial and territorial partners. We worked together with our provincial partners to bring in one of Canada's biggest and most effective stimulus programs in Canadian history.

    We make no apologies for the fact that we are bringing forward a balanced budget plan that will grow the economy while keeping taxes down for families. That is in contrast to the NDP that would raise taxes, run big deficits, and leave that as a legacy for our kids. We will fight that every step of the way.


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    Jan 30, 2015 9:50 am | Ontario, Oak Ridges—Markham

    Mr. Speaker, I want to better understand what the member said. In his speech, he said that he was uncertain whether ISIL, or ISIS, was a real threat to Canadians, both at home and abroad. He was also arguing about the degree to which an event or a terrorist act should cause us to strengthen our security services.

    I wonder if the member could clearly identify for me at what level of death, destruction, and terror does he suggest that Canada should begin to strengthen its laws. Would it be if 300 people died, or one person, or 50 people?

    Specifically, since he is suggesting that the attack on Ottawa and the death of Corporal Cirillo do not necessitate this and that Air India was not at a level he believed warranted our strengthening the laws, what level of terror, death, and destruction does this member and his party believe would warrant the Government of Canada reviewing and strengthening the security laws and apparatus?

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    Jan 30, 2015 8:55 am | Ontario, Oak Ridges—Markham

    Mr. Speaker, I will tell you what is truly depressing. It is the legacy that was left behind by the Liberal Party: $40 million that we still have not been able to find; $50 billion worth of health care and education cuts by that party, a party whose only policy right now that it has put forward in front of Canadians is increased taxes and increased debt.

    This is what we are doing. We are cutting taxes for families and doing it while balancing the budget. We have increased transfers to our provincial partners. Unlike the Liberals, we are going to continue to cut taxes, not hike them; and we are going to balance the budget, not run high deficits and leave that legacy for our kids.

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    Jan 30, 2015 8:45 am | Ontario, Oak Ridges—Markham

    Mr. Speaker, let me say quite clearly that this case is completely unacceptable. We have moved quickly to try to end these grow ops in our communities, but the courts are fighting us every step of the way. What is incredible is that there are still some people who are defending this moulding rot in our communities.

    Let me quote what the leader of the Liberal Party had to say:

    ...our worries are that the current hypercontrolled approach around medical marijuana that actually removes from individuals the capacity to grow their own is not going in the right direction....

    We don't need to be all nanny state about it.....

    My constituents and I do not believe that it is acceptable for kids to come home smelling of pot, and we will make sure they do not.

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    Jan 30, 2015 8:20 am | Ontario, Oak Ridges—Markham

    Mr. Speaker, as you know, as I said yesterday, the Prime Minister has held over 300 meetings and calls with our provincial partners. The members of this cabinet and the members of Parliament on this side of the House frequently meet with our counterparts. I know that the GTA caucus, for instance, just met with the mayor of Toronto.

    We are continuing to increase investments and transfers to provincial partners, unlike the Liberals, and we are doing that while balancing the budget and cutting taxes for Canadian families. That is the right direction to go, and we will continue on that path.

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    Jan 30, 2015 8:10 am | Ontario, Oak Ridges—Markham

    Mr. Speaker, while Canada's economy is better than many, we are still on the road to recovery.

    Yesterday the Liberal leader was with the Premier of Ontario, who is a staunch supporter of the implementation of a carbon tax. It is no surprise, considering that the Liberal leader has expressed his support in the past for a carbon tax.

    This type of fiscal irresponsibility would raise the cost of everything and hike taxes on all Canadian families. Introducing a carbon tax would be detrimental on the road to economic recovery.

    Our government believes in the importance of a strong economy and refuses to weigh it down with another tax on Canadian families. Bringing in a job-killing carbon tax is reckless. Our Conservative government is lowering taxes for all Canadian families. We will never punish Canadians with a job-killing carbon tax.

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    Jan 29, 2015 3:20 pm | Ontario, Oak Ridges—Markham

    Mr. Speaker, please let me say again what Canada has said for over four years now: we strongly condemn the violence perpetrated against Syria's civilian population, particularly against women and children. We also denounce the use of indiscriminate weapons, including chemical agents, as a means of bringing even greater harm and hardship to innocent Syrians.

    I also want to be very clear and highlight in the strongest possible terms that religious persecution of those seeking to practice their faith in a peaceful and secure way is unacceptable to Canada, and we are supporting efforts to assist in the protection of these rights. Our assistance is also supporting organizations that are responding to incidents of sexual and gender-based violence.

    Freedom, democracy, human rights, and the rule of law are values to which all citizens in all countries are entitled. Our contributions so far, and the close attention that we continue to pay to the Syrian crisis, are clear examples of commitment to delivering on Canada's international obligations.

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    Jan 29, 2015 3:15 pm | Ontario, Oak Ridges—Markham

    Mr. Speaker, I want to thank you for the opportunity to rise and participate in this debate. As the member knows, the Government of Canada is deeply concerned about the ongoing crisis in Syria. Since the crisis began, Canada has supported experienced humanitarian actors to ensure that lifesaving assistance reaches those who need it, not months after the fact, but as quickly as efficiency as possible.

    Since the onset of the crisis, Canada has allocated more than $403 million in support of the humanitarian response, of which $50 million was announced on January 7 by the Minister of International Development. Canada is channelling this assistance through experienced humanitarian partners, including United Nations agencies, the International Organization for Migration, the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, and non-governmental organizations.

    With DFATD's support, the UNHCR distributed relief items to more than 3.25 million people in Syria in 2014. The World Food Programme distributed food assistance to over four million people inside Syria in 2014, and UNICEF has supported 16.5 million people in Syria to access clean water.

    Our government has committed additional humanitarian assistance for people affected by the Syrian crisis for the needs of Syrians within the country and those seeking refuge in neighbouring countries, and it will support UNICEF's “no lost generation” strategy to provide education and protection for conflict-affected children. The initiative invests in the education and protection of children affected by the crisis so that they can build a better future for themselves, their families, and their communities.

    Canada is at the forefront of the response to this crisis, and Canadians can be proud of the government's response.

    In January, the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration highlighted that the Government of Canada has surpassed a 2009 commitment to resettle 20,000 Iraqi refugees ahead of schedule. He also noted that since July 2013, more than 1,285 Syrian refugees have been approved for resettlement in Canada. More than 1,075 of them had arrived by January 5, 2015. More than 2,480 Syrians have been granted protection in Canada through asylum and resettlement programs since the start of the Syrian civil war in 2011.

    On January 7, the minister committed to the resettlement of 10,000 additional Syrian refugees. This will mean that Canada is fulfilling 10% of the latest appeal from the United Nations High Commission for Refugees to resettle 100,000 Syrian refugees worldwide.

    These are examples of the contributions that Canada is making to this crisis.

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    Jan 29, 2015 2:10 pm | Ontario, Oak Ridges—Markham

    Mr. Speaker, again, the member's leader today supported placing a price on carbon, a carbon tax, on the people of Ontario. He said that should happen across the country.

    Manitoba currently does not have a price on carbon. It does not have a carbon tax. Does the member support his leader in placing a price on carbon, a carbon tax, on the people of Manitoba, or was this just another bozo eruption from his leader?

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    Jan 29, 2015 2:00 pm | Ontario, Oak Ridges—Markham

    Mr. Speaker, Canadians know what happens when Liberal prime ministers meet with provincial premiers. The people of Alberta will recall the national energy program. They remember that.

    The member talked about being in the provincial legislature. I wonder if he was in the provincial legislature when the Paul Martin Liberals and the Chrétien Liberals unilaterally cut $50 billion from health and education. I wonder if he spoke up against those unilateral cuts at that time.

    The member talks about the Kelowna accord, but he and his party vote against matrimonial rights on first nation reserves. They vote against and would repeal accountability and openness and transparency for our first nations as well.

    The member for Markham—Unionville was having a very difficult time with this. I know that the province of Manitoba does not have a price on carbon or a carbon tax. We know today that the leader of the Liberal Party, along with the Premier of Ontario, supported a carbon tax for the people of Ontario and other provinces. I want to be very clear. Does the member support his leader in placing a carbon tax, a price on carbon, whatever they want to call it, not only on the people of Ontario but on the people of Manitoba? Does he support his leader in overtaxing his own people? We know that they resisted it in Manitoba, but today his leader suggests that they want to do that. Does he support that, yes or no?

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    Jan 29, 2015 1:25 pm | Ontario, Oak Ridges—Markham

    Mr. Speaker, I want to follow-up on the earlier question by the member for Winnipeg Centre. He was a member of the constituent assembly, I think that is what he called it, in 1992. He stated that Canada was in a fragile state at that point. If I look back, Canada had undertaken a number of federal-provincial meetings throughout the seventies and the eighties. Specifically, they always dealt with the Constitution. It seems to me that if Canada was in a fragile state at that point, constantly meeting the premiers and the prime ministers seems to have brought it to a fragile state. It did not seem to make it better for Canadians. I am not following that logic.

    Fast-forward to our Prime Minister who has met with premiers and members of other governments over 300 times and look back at what we have done. When the economy needed help, the Prime Minister in both 2008 and 2009 came forward with Canada's economic action plan and he did that by working together.

    Could the member comment on how the over-meetings of the seventies and eighties somehow helped to build our country when the member for Winnipeg Centre said that Canada was in such a fragile state following all of those federal-provincial meetings?

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    Jan 29, 2015 1:05 pm | Ontario, Oak Ridges—Markham

    Mr. Speaker, I just want to clarify. Does he support a price on carbon?

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    Jan 29, 2015 11:35 am | Ontario, Oak Ridges—Markham

    Mr. Speaker, as I just said, the Prime Minister has met with his counterparts over 300 times.

    When we look at Canada's economy in comparison with our partners around the world, we are, and will continue to be, the envy of the world.

    We will always reject the Liberal and NDP priorities of raising taxes on Canadian families, killing jobs and running high debt. That is not our priority on this side of the House.

    Our priority is continuing to grow on the close to 1.2 million jobs that we have created, helping our manufacturers, not transitioning out of manufacturing like the Liberals and the NDP would do. On every matter that counts to Canadians, lower taxes, lower debt, they can count on us.

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    Jan 29, 2015 11:25 am | Ontario, Oak Ridges—Markham

    Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister has held over 300 meetings with his provincial and territorial counterparts. The members of this cabinet continuously meet, and so do the members of Parliament. We meet with our provincial and municipal counterparts.

    Let us look at the results. We brought in the largest economic stimulus and infrastructure program in Canadian history by working with our provincial partners. The opposition members said we could not do it. We did it. We reformed our immigration system to better respect Canada and the provinces. They said we could not do it. We did it. We increased funding to our provincial partners with respect to health and education. They said that we could not do it. We did it while balancing the budget and cutting taxes. We act; they talk.

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    Jan 29, 2015 11:20 am | Ontario, Oak Ridges—Markham

    Mr. Speaker, as I have already said, the Prime Minister regularly meets with his provincial and territorial counterparts. In fact, he has held over 300 meetings with his counterparts since 2006.

    The job creation and economic numbers in this country are spectacular. They are spectacular because we do work with our provincial and municipal partners. We brought in one of the largest stimulus and infrastructure programs in Canadian history. We did that by working with our provincial and municipal partners, despite the fact that the Liberals and the NDP voted against it.

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    Jan 28, 2015 11:35 am | Ontario, Oak Ridges—Markham

    Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister continuously meets with premiers, and ministers of this government meet with their counterparts at the provincial and territorial level all the time.

    This government has brought forward a number of different initiatives, including the largest infrastructure program in Canadian history. It has reinvested in roads and bridges, the infrastructure of this country, which has seen the Canadian economy continue to grow. It will continue to grow in the future.

    We are very proud of the fact that we have made these investments, that job creation is over one million people. That is the record we have. We will continue to work with our partners to make sure that our economy grows.

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    Jan 26, 2015 12:15 pm | Ontario, Oak Ridges—Markham

    Mr. Speaker, with regard to parts (a) to (d) of the question, the Privy Council Office, or PCO, has no information in regard to logbooks for the personal use of ministerial executive vehicles for each fiscal year since 2011-12. When processing Parliamentary returns, the government applies the Privacy Act and the principles set out in the Access to Information Act. Information has been withheld that could compromise the security of government officials or family members.


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    Dec 12, 2014 7:55 am | Ontario, Oak Ridges—Markham

    Mr. Speaker, I am going to try again because I do not think the member or the NDP understands that the bill before us deals with, in essence, the 5,000 acres owned by the federal government. That land is owned by Transport Canada. It was reserved for an airport, as part of one of the largest land-grabs in the history of this country. That is what we are talking about. It has nothing to do with the provincial lands. If the provincial government does not want to transfer its lands, that is its business.

    The bill before us here today would deal exclusively with those thousands of acres of land that the Trudeau Liberal government took away from our farmers 40 years ago, forcing the farmers into one-year leases. That is all the bill deals with. It would give these farmers long-term leases. The only objection is from those environmentalists, who want to take half of that 5,000 acres, evict the farmers, and plant trees. That is what we are talking about here.

    Does the member actually support the NDP position, which would see half of this land reforested and those farmers who have been farming in this area for 400 years, some of them the very same farmers whose land was expropriated 40 years ago—

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    Dec 12, 2014 7:50 am | Ontario, Oak Ridges—Markham

    Mr. Speaker, those are strange comments coming from a member whose riding, I believe, is close to Montreal. As members will recall, it was this government that returned land back to the farmers whose land was seized in order to create the Mirabel airport.

    Across the Rouge, as members will recall, this is land that was seized from farmers 40 years ago. It was expropriated from them. They were turfed. They were given one-year leases.

    Whether the member agrees with all parts of the bill or not, part of what is in the bill would return this land to the farmers through a Rouge national park and give them long-term leases so they could make investments. It would provide $140 million to upgrade certain parts of the park that are under provincial ownership. He talks about the province not wanting to bring those lands forward. That is fine. Even if he disagrees with that and even if the province does not bring forward its lands, what the bill would do is take 5,000 acres away from a potential airport in the east end, save it as farmland forever, and give it back to our farmers.

    Surely on that basis alone—because that is the essence of the bill before us—and with the example of Mirabel, the member and his party should be able to support the bill.

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    Dec 05, 2014 10:25 am | Ontario, Oak Ridges—Markham

    Mr. Speaker, I rise today on Bill C-524, an act to amend the Canada Elections Act, which was proposed by the previous speaker, the member for Winnipeg North.

    The bill proposes to extend the regulation of advertising by parties, candidates, and third parties to periods between elections and to establish new advertising identification requirements for parties, candidates, and third parties.

    The House should be aware that the Canada Elections Act already provides that parties, candidates, and third parties must identify themselves in their election advertising messages.

    In my opinion, Bill C-524 is a solution in search of a problem. As a result, and due to the way the bill is drafted, I cannot support it.

    I wish to identify four problems with the bill. In my view, the problems are serious and should give all members reason to oppose the bill.

    The bill is too broad. The first problem with the bill is its long reach. In my view, it is overly broad. I will provide an example.

    The bill targets not only partisan advertising but also issue advertising; that is, advertising on an issue with which a party or candidate is associated. Issue advertising can raise some difficult questions. All parties in this House have policies dealing with the various issues our country faces, and who is to say which party or candidate is uniquely associated with a particular issue?

    Consider a fictitious organization that has as its mandate the elimination of the $2 coin. It has an advertising campaign in print media and has undertaken this campaign for some time. The question is this. How would one know if this becomes an issue associated with a party or a candidate? If a party leader in an interview said that the $2 coin was here to stay, would that be sufficient to make this an issue associated with the party? What if a senior member of the party said that eliminating the $2 coin was an idea worthy of consideration? It is not altogether clear, outside of an election period, when an issue becomes associated with a party such that the fictitious organization now becomes caught by Bill C-524. Once caught, the organization would have to comply with the new identification requirements in its advertising messages. Failure to do so would make it liable to prosecution and penalties.

    These examples go to show that instead of bringing transparency, the way in which the bill is drafted risks bringing confusion and uncertainty to the regulation of third parties on matters that have nothing to do with a federal election.

    The bill also would impose new costs on political expression. As mentioned earlier, the Canada Elections Act already provides that parties, candidates, and even third parties must identify themselves in their election advertising messages, yet Bill C-524 would add an American-style requirement that would impose additional costs on parties, candidates, and third parties. This would lead to less time by parties and candidates to get their messages across. Here is why.

    One provision in the bill provides that, in the case of audiovisual messages, there must be an unobscured, full-screen view of the candidate, party leader, or authorized representative of the third party, as the case may be, who is making the statement. If the statement is made in a voice-over, it must be accompanied by a photographic image of the person making the statement. In addition, the statement must be clearly displayed in print form for at least four seconds at the end of the audiovisual message.

    This is no small requirement. Four seconds of air time is potentially of great monetary value. That would be more than 10% of a 30-second television ad. For a 15-second spot, it represents more than 20% of the duration of the advertising. That means that a party, third party, or candidate looking to television advertisement would have to reduce the length of its already short message or may have to give up on this form of advertising altogether. The bill would unnecessarily restrict a party's freedom of speech in this regard, even when the leader already features prominently in the ad. It is a political party's choice whether to include its leader in advertising or not. There is no evidence that adopting the U.S. approach solves anything. Anyone watching U.S. political ads will immediately understand this.

    Another problem with this is signage respecting electoral district associations. Even if we accept the goal of the bill at face value, the fact that it does not say anything about electoral district associations is a problem. Members will know that electoral district associations are prohibited from advertising during an election. Bill C-524 does not propose to extend this prohibition on advertising by electoral district associations outside of the election period. Instead, it proposes new regulations on parties, candidates, and third parties.

    What about electoral district associations? There is a loophole that would allow them to avoid the new identification requirements proposed by the bill. A party could simply avoid the new rules by running ads through an electoral district association on the party's behalf. I am not sure that is what is intended by the bill, but it is nonetheless another way in which the bill fails to achieve the objectives of transparency and accountability that it sets out for itself.

    I would like to take a moment before I close to highlight the successful record that our government has had as part of its democratic reform agenda. We have taken big money out of politics with the introduction of stricter contribution limits. We have also eliminated corporations and unions from making contributions to candidates and parties. All of this has increased the accountability of political actors in our political system.

    In addition, transparency has been improved with the passage of the Fair Elections Act. We have banned the use of loans to evade donation limits. We created a voter contact registry to protect voters from rogue calls and impersonation. I was proud to have supported these measures.

    I hope I have made it very clear as to why the House should not support Bill C-524. It is in part because of the many deficiencies, but primarily because it risks undermining the very goals it aims to realize.

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    Dec 03, 2014 11:40 am | Ontario, Oak Ridges—Markham

    Mr. Speaker, as I just said, if Elections Canada's investigation indicates that SNC-Lavalin donated illegally, then we, as we would expect the Liberals and the party of the Leader of the Opposition, will refund any of those monies.

    With respect to the Charbonneau Commission, I would suggest she ask the Leader of the Opposition, the member for Outremont, who actually served as a cabinet minister in the government that is indicated in that Charbonneau Commission investigation. At the same time, I would ask her to refresh her memory, with respect to the Federal Accountability Act, which makes accepting union donations illegal.

    We would also encourage the return of that $1.5 million the NDP has illegally taken from the Canadian taxpayers for satellite offices. There are areas where—

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    Dec 03, 2014 11:35 am | Ontario, Oak Ridges—Markham

    Mr. Speaker, as we know, donations are limited to $1,200 a year, and those are personal donations. Our party certainly does not accept donations that do not respect the law.

    At the same time, we support Elections Canada as it investigates SNC-Lavalin. If Elections Canada finds that SNC-Lavalin made illegal donations, then we, as we would expect the Liberals and the party of the Leader of the Opposition, will refund those monies.

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    Dec 02, 2014 4:15 pm | Ontario, Oak Ridges—Markham

    Mr. Speaker, the hon. member opposite does not listen. It was actually the minister who asked the Auditor General to look at the program so that we could find better ways of providing our veterans with quicker and easier access to the programs they deserve, programs this government put in place after years of shameful mismanagement by the Liberals opposite.

    When we came into office, we realized that there was a huge deficit with respect to honouring our veterans. That is why we increased funding to veterans services.

    As I said, it was this minister who asked the Auditor General to come in. We identified some shortcomings and accepted the Auditor General's report, and we have made some changes.

    There is better communication between the Department of National Defence and Veterans Affairs so that we can provide better and quicker access for our veterans. We are doing better. We have more work to do, and the minister is undertaking that work as we speak.

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    Dec 02, 2014 4:10 pm | Ontario, Oak Ridges—Markham

    Mr. Speaker, I would like to point out that it was the Minister of Veterans Affairs who proactively asked the Auditor General to conduct a review of the existing mental health services and supports offered Canadian veterans by his department. I would also like to draw to the attention of the member opposite the fact that it was the minister who acted promptly and announced new and expanded mental health initiatives for veterans, still-serving members, and their families, which was a huge step forward.

    The minister did not stop there. He also announced a mental health services for veterans action plan to further support these investments and to continue to be forward-thinking and proactive. We will provide more timely access to psychological assessments and treatments. Also, the new operational stress injury clinic in Halifax slated to open in 2015 in, I believe, the riding of the member opposite, as well as satellite clinics across Canada, will give veterans faster access to specialized mental health services. We will strengthen our outreach efforts, targeting the reserve force as well as families and family physicians.

    We will invest in treatment and research and work with the Mental Health Commission of Canada to develop mental health first aid programs for veterans and their families. The expansion of the operational stress injury support program with 15 new peer support coordinators will also help veterans and their families seek treatment.

    The member opposite highlighted a number of things. The Prime Minister today highlighted the fact that the announcement that we made recently was for $200 million. The Prime Minister also highlighted today that it would be over six years, while the member opposite talks about it being over 50 years. Here is a note to the member opposite: not all veterans' issues will be resolved in six years. It might take a little bit longer. That is why the life of this program will be longer than the six years that we announced.

    He talks about funding for veterans services. This government has actually increased funding for veterans services to levels that have never before been seen in this country. When the member opposite and his party sat on this side of the House in government, they had the opportunity to respect veterans and chose to do just the opposite. That is why, when we came into office in 2006, we had to immediately set on a new course of respect with veterans. That is why we increased funding to veterans services, as I said, to record levels, and it is why we have opened up new clinics across this country. It is so that veterans have better access to services. That is why we are improving psychological services for veterans. All told, we have provided in excess of $5 billion more than the Liberals provided.

    One thing we do every single year in this place is make sure that Veterans Affairs has all of the resources it needs to properly fund all of the services that Parliament has approved. We do that every single year. That is what we have done. We are very proud of the work that we have done in government, but, more importantly, we are proud of the work that our veterans and the Canadian Armed Forces have done. That is why on this side of the House we have continued to support them at record levels. We will continue to do that, not only this year but in the years to come.

    Yes, the member is right. As long as we are on this side of the House, for the next 50 or 100 years we will continue to support the veterans who have made this country such a great place to live. The member is quite correct. As long as Conservatives are here, we will always stand up for veterans, whether it is 10 years, 20 years, 30 years, 40 years, or even 50 years, despite the objections of the members opposite.

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    Dec 02, 2014 11:45 am | Ontario, Oak Ridges—Markham

    Mr. Speaker, as I just said, there are strict personal donation limits that were brought in by this government under the accountability act. Corporate and union donations are not allowed. Anybody found in violation of that will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. If SNC-Lavalin has done that, we would repay any of those funds, as we would expect of all parties.

    At the same time, we were very disappointed when the NDP accepted $300,000 worth of illegal union donations, of course, in contravention of the law that we brought forward in 2006.

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    Dec 02, 2014 11:40 am | Ontario, Oak Ridges—Markham

    Mr. Speaker, as members know, there are strict personal donation limits of $1,200 a year. Of course, no corporate or union donations are allowed. That has been the case since 2006, when this government brought in the accountability act.

    If SNC-Lavalin is found to have donated illegally, we would repay those funds, as we would expect of all parties.

  • retweet
    Dec 01, 2014 1:25 pm | Ontario, Oak Ridges—Markham

    It is time to put out those crosses that were burning in your riding apparently. Turn around and tell the people in the gallery that their opinions do not matter.

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