Interventions in the House of Commons
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View Raj Saini Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Raj Saini Profile
2017-05-11 14:08 [p.11087]
Mr. Speaker, I rise today to commemorate the life of Sergeant Robert James Dynerowicz, a member of the Royal Canadian Dragoons, who passed away last month during the exercise Rugged Bear, while preparing to defend our country.
In life, Sergeant Dynerowicz was a hero who served our country in two deployments to Afghanistan. However, he was more than a soldier. He was an outdoorsman, a compassionate family member and friend, and a man who is remembered for his leadership, his mentorship, and his kindness. His loss will be felt by the entire community.
I would ask my colleagues to join me in extending our sincerest sympathies and deepest condolences to his family, friends, and loved ones at this extremely difficult time.
View Raj Saini Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Raj Saini Profile
2017-04-11 14:13 [p.10443]
Mr. Speaker, I rise today to draw attention to the 25th anniversary of Micronutrient Initiative, an organization respected around the world for its efforts to eliminate malnutrition.
The organization has changed its name this year to Nutrition International to better reflect its expanded role as a development partner and advocate for nutrition.
I am also pleased to congratulate a constituent of mine, Kathy Zador, who was recently awarded the Sovereign's Medal for Volunteers for founding FibroMoves, a warm-water pool rehabilitation program intended to help fibromyalgia sufferers, and for teaching the program voluntarily for the past 10 years.
Please join me in congratulating Nutrition International and Kathy for their successes and in wishing them many more in the future.
View Raj Saini Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Raj Saini Profile
2017-03-20 23:32 [p.9799]
Mr. Chair, I am proud to rise today to speak in favour of our government's extension of Operation Unifier. In the face of ongoing Russian military aggression and illegal occupation, our government remains steadfast in Canada's commitment to the Ukrainian people. Our special relationship with Ukraine is bolstered by a shared vision, one in which the Ukrainian people have succeeded in their work to build a more secure, stable, and prosperous country, and one in which Ukraine is free from Russian aggression. We have been among the strongest international supporters of Ukraine's efforts to restore stability and to implement democratic and economic reforms. Canada was also one of the first countries to impose sanctions on the Russian government after its illegal invasion and annexation of Crimea in 2014. The current government has continued to uphold this tough stance on Russia when it expanded sanctions against specific Russian officials. These officials include the so-called elected representatives to the Duma from Crimea, individuals who have absolutely no business being there. Furthermore, since January 2014, the Government of Canada has announced over $700 million in assistance to Ukraine.
This effort to support Ukraine through this important period of transition is a non-partisan commitment, and I would like to take a moment to thank the previous government for its work on this very important file. As we work to support Ukraine, military assistance will remain a key component of our country's commitment to Ukraine across development, security, democracy, and humanitarian aid.
For those who may not be familiar with Operation Unifier, I would like to take a moment to talk about what Canada's contribution to military aid in Ukraine looks like. Operation Unifier is a multinational joint support mission, which currently includes approximately 200 Canadian Armed Forces personnel. Canada's main focus is on tactical soldier training. As of December 2016, the Canadian Armed Forces has provided more than 3,200 training opportunities to UAF soldiers and officers on Operation Unifier. Many of the Canadians deployed are veterans of the war in Afghanistan and are now involved in training UAF personnel, including some coming directly from the front line in the eastern Ukrainian region of Donbass. The impact of the training efforts of these Canadian soldiers has been commendable, and I would like to take a moment to recognize and thank these soldiers who are hard at work for Canada, helping to build a better, more stable, and more secure world.
There are those who would dismiss the notion that Canada is undertaking a training role, as if that role were unimportant. I would like to draw down into one specific training element that our forces will be assisting with. Canadian forces will be training Ukrainian forces on explosive ordinance disposal and improvised explosive device disposal training. This might seem like a small thing to some, but it is a critically important skill. Let me provide some context. According to the 2016 annual report from the Landmine Monitor, Ukrainian government forces claim that they are forced to deal with the deployment of land mines and other illegal devices in Ukraine. Someone other than the Ukrainian government is deploying land mines in Ukrainian territory. Let me quote from the report:
In November 2015, an officer from the General Staff informed soldiers that separatist NSAGs were using landmines attached to fish hooks and fishing lines to snag the clothing of soldiers as they moved through wooded areas, thereby detonating nearby mines.
Numerous reports from the past few years have indicated that land mines and other illegal devices have had devastating consequences upon the civilian population in Ukraine as well. In March 2015, it was reported that over the previous year at least 42 children had been killed and 109 more were injured by mines in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of eastern Ukraine alone. Given Canada's proud history of supporting the eradication of land mines, it is extremely fitting and important that we engage in these kinds of training activities.
I am proud of our government's commitment to engage on the world stage, from its commitment of $650 million to assist with a global initiative to make up for the funding cuts to newborn and maternal health that have come from the recent global gag order to our contributions to the fifth Replenishment Conference on the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. That is why I am so proud we have chosen to extend our contribution to Operation Unifier for an additional two years.
View Raj Saini Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Raj Saini Profile
2017-03-20 23:39 [p.9799]
Mr. Chair, I would also like to thank my hon. friend for his collegiality and his mentorship on the trip. He was a voice of great intelligence, as part of his previous career as a journalist and his knowledge of the area.
One of the things the OSCE representatives also mentioned during that trip was the difficulty they were having in that region. As I mentioned in my remarks, one of the reasons they were having difficulties was the amount of land mines there. Because of our participation in sending ordinance equipment to help with the situation in the region, especially in Donbass, Canada is stepping up in a very constructive way to provide security on the ground to ensure aid can be deployed in a reasonable manner.
View Raj Saini Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Raj Saini Profile
2017-03-20 23:41 [p.9800]
Mr. Chair, I wholeheartedly agree that we should strengthen Minsk. We had problems with the Minsk I agreement. When Minsk II emerged, especially with the trilateral contact group and with the influence of the Normandy Four, it was very durable. It is a process that I believe, and I think the Canadian government believes, will lead to a lasting peace.
The situation in Ukraine requires, initially, security and stability, which we are providing with Operation Unifier. It also requires political involvement. Our political involvement in supporting the peace process with the Minsk II agreements, with the packages of measures that have emerged, especially with the influence of the Normandy Four, are a necessary part of finding a solution in Ukraine.
View Raj Saini Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Raj Saini Profile
2017-03-07 14:12 [p.9475]
Mr. Speaker, I rise today to welcome the University of Waterloo to Parliament Hill. The University of Waterloo is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year.
The university is here today to celebrate its history of disruptive innovation and entrepreneurship.
It is well versed on the subject, as it is once again ranked Canada's most innovative university, a title it has held for 25 years straight.
I invite all my colleagues to join us in the parliamentary dining room this evening to meet these leaders in Canadian innovation.
Also, I would like to take a moment to welcome representatives from the Waterloo Regional Police Service, who are on Parliament Hill today along with their colleagues from across the country.
I am sure that all members join me in thanking all police officers for their hard work in keeping our communities safe.
View Raj Saini Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Raj Saini Profile
2017-02-15 14:09 [p.8964]
Mr. Speaker, I rise today to celebrate the work of the Bring on the Sunshine festival, a grassroots event that fosters a positive and creative space within our community for people of African descent to explore identity and heritage through the arts, while celebrating African culture and identity within a Canadian context.
Bring on the Sunshine showcases artisans and musicians, and acts as an opportunity for our community to come together in celebration during Black History Month. There is something for everyone to enjoy, from live music and drumming workshops to freshly prepared food.
We thank the organizers, community donors, officials, and volunteers who have once again come together to put on this amazing event. The festival is on Family Day, February 20, and I would like to invite all my colleagues and indeed all Canadians to come to Kitchener this Monday to celebrate.
View Raj Saini Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Raj Saini Profile
2016-12-06 15:03 [p.7730]
Mr. Speaker, our government supports science research. We know that scientific expertise must inform decision-making.
Could the Minister of Science update the House on the ways she is ensuring that science and evidence make it to the cabinet table?
View Raj Saini Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Raj Saini Profile
2016-12-05 15:28 [p.7646]
Mr. Speaker, I rise today to celebrate the importance of culture and diversity in our country and to highlight some of the investments our government is making to ensure that we protect, preserve, and promote our country's cultural institutions and multicultural society.
Our culture, our ideas, songs, and stories give meaning to who we are as Canadians. Our culture and cultural products are the instruments that help us communicate with others and share different views, entertaining and informing us, all the while weaving together a shared sense of identity.
Culture is at the heart of every community across our country and around the world, and Canada is a testament to the ability to include and respect all cultures in one society. Perhaps we are uniquely poised to be welcoming and accepting due to the way our country was founded as distinct societies coming together to found one country. People from other parts of the world quickly joined, adding their cultures and traditions to the fabric of our country, weaving the ever-changing tapestry that is Canada.
Our government has a solemn duty to act as a steward of Canada's cultural institutions and an obligation to promote and foster the institutions, activities, and people that help our culture flourish, grow, and adapt to changing times and circumstances.
Our cultural mediums help us to exchange diverse ideas and experiences, and the conversations they invoke are the greatest celebrations of the diversity that is at the heart of Canadian culture. They also make a significant contribution to our economy.
Over the years, the number of companies and individuals involved in producing cultural products has grown dramatically. One of the companies that has always been at the heart of Canadian content is the CBC. There are some on the opposition benches who would like to see the CBC eliminated. Strikingly, they are some of the same members who seem most out of touch with what true Canadian values are. The CBC not only ensures that all Canadians have access to Canadian content, but that every Canadian can also access local content.
The reality is that in a country as vast as Canada, there will be areas where it does not make financial sense for profit-driven entities to produce local content. Every Canadian deserves to know what is going on in their area of the country, and to partake in the shared experience of cultural exchanges that build communities.
To that end, I am proud to say that our government has invested $675 million in the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation/Radio Canada to disseminate and support world-class Canadian content and to provide Canadians with better access to programs and services in the digital era.
Since I know this question will be coming from my Conservative colleagues, I will address it now. Yes, I am aware that CBC/Radio Canada has asked for an additional $400 million from the government. The opposition has made great fanfare of this request, decrying it as just a cash grab. What they fail to mention, however, is that this request comes because CBC/Radio Canada wants to eliminate all ads.
I would like to ask those watching to think about what this means for our national broadcaster. Much like the BBC, our national broadcaster can give strong, stable, well-funded public broadcasts with the primary goal of serving the interests of domestic audiences and diverse communities in helping to promote Canadian content. Agree or disagree, this is an idea worth seriously considering, and I am happy the government is doing just that.
Although our cultural industries are a key part of the Canadian economy, our government also recognizes that culture and cultural products are more than just goods that can be bought and sold. Our stories, our songs, our symbols, and our sacred spaces can sometimes generate profits, but they are also precious because of their significance or the sense of belonging and understanding they induce.
Understanding the intrinsic value of our cultural spaces is very important to me. I am therefore very proud that our government has decided to invest in the spaces and institutions that serve as guardians of our cultural objects, including our national museums, our national historic sites, and our parks. Canada's national museums are important cultural institutions that play a vital role in preserving Canada's heritage and educating Canadians.
I am pleased to say that in budget 2016, our government provides up to $105.9 million over five years to our national museums, and up to $280.9 million over five years to support the infrastructure needs of three important Canadian cultural institutions: the Canada Science and Technology Museum, the National Arts Centre, and the National Gallery of Canada.
What is more, we are committed to allocating $168.2 million over two years to the Canada cultural spaces fund, as part of our investments in social infrastructure. Through initiatives like this one, budget 2016 will ensure that the community spaces that preserve, protect, present, and promote our culture, while entertaining and informing us, will be there for us and for our children in the future.
This process is critical not only to ensure that cultural artifacts from our past are protected but also to ensure that the innovators and artists of tomorrow have welcoming, well-funded spaces to help inspire them.
Artists are our country's storytellers. Regardless of the medium they use, our artists capture moments and ideas and weave them into the fabric of our individual and collective identities.
The weaving of this fabric of identity is especially important in a quickly changing and globalized world, as we work within the context of our ever-changing and diverse society to create a sense of what it means to be Canadian.
Fostering the development of the arts here at home is an important part of ensuring that those who have stories to tell are given the opportunity to weave their own contribution into this national fabric.
Encouraging this freedom of expression is fundamental to our understanding of ourselves and to ensuring that all voices have the opportunity to be heard in our democracy. However, if art is to flourish, artists need to be able to work in an environment in which their voices can be heard, regardless of how popular the sentiment they express is, and regardless of their viewpoint or background.
Ensuring equal access to the artistic world is why it is so fundamental that our government works to foster the development of the arts in Canada through grants, services, and awards to professional Canadian artists and arts organizations, as well as through scholarly awards.
In budget 2016, our government has committed to ensuring that avenues to expression are open to all Canadians through its investment of $550 million in the Canada Council for the Arts. Furthermore, our government has made commitments to the industries that support these artists, including a $22-million commitment to Telefilm Canada and a $13.5-million commitment to the National Film Board of Canada, as they work to ensure the cultural, commercial, and industrial success of Canada's audiovisual industry.
This funding will work in tandem with our commitment to work with other countries to realize new and creative artistic projects, a commitment demonstrated when the Minister of Canadian Heritage signed an audiovisual co-production treaty with the Republic of Ireland earlier this year.
Working through partnerships like this allows us to tell new stories and achieve new levels of creativity as we support each other in telling our country's stories.
In 2004, the British culture secretary, Tessa Jowell, commissioned a paper on the arts, which argued that the primary purpose of the arts is to communicate perceptions about the human condition that can't be communicated in any other way.
The arts are unique. They are able to help people interact with the world around them by helping them understand, work, and play in that world to enrich their experience by bringing feeling, beauty, and passion to their lives, and to provide a safe place where they can work to build their confidence, self-worth, and self-esteem.
Other efforts can only do some of these things. The arts do all three. That is why we must continue to support them.
View Raj Saini Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Raj Saini Profile
2016-12-05 15:39 [p.7647]
Mr. Speaker, I also thank my hon. friend for the work he does in his riding. He has been a great mentor and adviser since I was elected, and so I want to thank him personally.
One of the things I did not get to in my remarks was the importance of the arts and culture community, not only in my riding, where it is very strong, but also in Canada. We know, from the latest analysis by the Conference Board of Canada, that the arts and culture community in Canada provides $84.6 billion worth of economic benefits to Canada. That represents 1.1 million jobs. Arts and culture are a very important part of the Canadian fabric, not only as an economic multiplier but also as a social multiplier that keeps us all together. Also, as a final statistic, the arts and culture community adds 7.4% to our collective GDP.
View Raj Saini Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Raj Saini Profile
2016-12-05 15:41 [p.7647]
Mr. Speaker, the only thing I can say is that if we look at the economic indicators in the world right now, we know that long-term bond rates are very low in parts of the world. We know that inflation is at 1%. We know the lower bond rate is close to 0%. This is the right time in our country's history to look at the infrastructure projects out there that are important not only for our communities but also for a nation-building exercise. After highlighting those statistics, I am sure that the hon. member would agree with me that now is the best time in our history to make sure that we make those infrastructure investments for the benefit of all Canadians.
View Raj Saini Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Raj Saini Profile
2016-12-02 11:17 [p.7576]
Mr. Speaker, I rise today to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the award-winning Christkindl Market in Kitchener.
This market is based on the centuries-old German tradition of Christmas markets, a tradition which dates back to 1310. Christkindl Market showcases our local craftspeople and artists, and acts as an opportunity for our community to come together in celebration of the season. There is something for everyone to enjoy, from live music and shopping, to a parade and freshly prepared food.
We thank the organizers, sponsors, officials, and volunteers who have once again come together to put on a world-class event. The market runs until Sunday evening, and I would like to invite all my colleagues, and indeed all Canadians, to come to Kitchener this weekend to experience our Christkindl Market in person.
Fröhliche Weihnachten
View Raj Saini Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Raj Saini Profile
2016-11-16 14:24 [p.6800]
Mr. Speaker, today we celebrate the 20th International Day for Tolerance. This day was designated by the United Nations to highlight the importance of strengthening tolerance by fostering mutual understanding among cultures and peoples.
This imperative lies at the core of the United Nations Charter, as well as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and our Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
In this era of rising and violent extremism, of religious and racially motivated attacks, and of widening conflicts characterized by a fundamental disregard for human life, celebrating such a day is more important than ever.
I would like to invite all parliamentarians to join with me in celebrating the International Day for Tolerance and in embracing the differences that make Canada stronger in its diversity.
View Raj Saini Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Raj Saini Profile
2016-11-14 18:16 [p.6714]
Madam Speaker, our government was elected because Canadians wanted a change from a government stuck in the ways of the past. Canadians wanted a government that was bold enough to look to the future and embrace a new vision for Canada.
The need for a new vision, a forward-thinking plan for the future that embraces innovation and places Canada on the international stage in the realm of science and technology, is a concept that has been embraced in my riding of Kitchener Centre. As a part of the Kitchener—Waterloo region, our potential for growth and prosperity was stymied by a lack of attention that the previous government paid to science, research, and innovation. Thankfully, our government has put us back on the right path, one that will support industry and growth while fostering knowledge and innovation.
I know that there will be some on the other side of the House who will argue that they did not ignore science or research. Well, my background is in science, and this background in an evidence-based field means that I like to have the hard facts in front of me. Let us talk about some facts.
In 2012, the Canadian government invested less in research and development, $28.8 billion U.S., than the government did in 2004 when it invested $22.7 billion. That approach did not make a lot of sense. In order for Canada to maintain its position as a world leader in research and development, growth and investment are essential. Doing our part by investing in research and development is an obvious path to ensure growth and prosperity.
There is a metric that is used to quantify how a country is doing with its investments in R and D called GERD, or gross domestic expenditure on research and development. Simply put, GERD is the amount of money a country spends on research and development. Unfortunately, if we look at how Canada compares to other countries, we are not doing so well on this front. In fact, in 2012, Canada fell from its spot in the top 10 to 12th in terms of real spending for research and development, which is not a great performance to be sure.
However, as in many other cases, the raw spending only tells half the story. In order to compare Canada's spending on R and D to that of other countries, it is far more useful to use GERD as a percentage of GDP. This is a commonly used measure internationally as an indicator of the country's degree of R and D intensity. In my opinion, it conveys how important R and D can be to a country and to an economy. Unfortunately, we do not perform well on this front either.
According to the OECD, the OECD average ratio of GERD to GDP in 2013 was 2.36, with Israel, Japan, South Korea, Sweden, and Finland leading the world. Calling Canada laggard is being generous. Looking at the ranked list of countries, we do not even make the top 20.
In 2013, Canada's ratio of R and D spending as a percentage of GDP was 1.69, down from 1.79 in 2012. Among G7 countries, Canada ranked fifth in 2013 and its ratio of GERD to GDP was lower than the United States, which was 2.73. It is difficult to imagine how Canada could be competitive on the world stage if we were to continue falling behind in R and D spending.
A Globe and Mail piece in 2013 noted that “ one vital area where governments really can make a difference—innovation—Ottawa’s commitment has been inconsistent and its investments wanting”. I think that quote really sums up the previous government's lack of interest in prioritizing science, research, and innovation.
We know that when government chooses to make a difference by investing in innovation, we can create good middle-class jobs, develop the technology of the future, and create a more competitive Canada. I am sorry to say that the previous government failed to take advantage of Canada's potential in this area.
However, I am pleased to say that we are committed to turning this around. This is why I am so proud to see that our government is developing an innovation agenda that we firmly believe will position Canada as a world leader in turning ideas into solutions, science into technologies, skills into jobs, and start-up companies into global successes. Our budget recognizes the importance of research, development, and innovation.
I would like to take a few moments to talk about some of the highlights of our budget that are demonstrative of just how committed to this advancement of science, innovation, and technology we really are.
First, our government is investing $2 billion over three years in strategic infrastructure at post-secondary institutions. I cannot say just how vital this is.
If we want to be able to perform world-leading research we need to have world-leading facilities. With this investment, not only would our students be able to work in some of the best facilities, but we would also have the opportunity to make our facilities some of the most environmentally friendly ones in the world. Imagine the best minds conducting cutting-edge research at some of the most up-to-date modern sites available.
My region is home to many excellent post-secondary institutions. While we often talk about the value and importance of post-secondary education, there is much less focus on the details behind post-secondary education. Tuition rates have risen sharply over the last decade, with little relief for students. That is why measures like increasing the amounts available under the Canada student grants program are so vital to ensuring the continued success of our students. We need to do our best to make sure that education remains accessible to as many students as possible and that we continue to back our desire for increased access to post-secondary education with concrete actions to make that possible.
Canada has some world-leading research facilities. It is essential that we fund them properly so they are able to do their work properly. Our government is investing $30 million in the Canadian Institutes of Health Research; $30 million in the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council; $16 million in the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council; and $19 million in the research support fund to support the indirect costs borne by post-secondary institutions in undertaking federally sponsored research.
In addition, our government is providing an additional $46 million to the granting councils. These councils, namely, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council, and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, support and promote high-quality research in a vast array of areas. We must do our part to support them.
As someone with a background in science, I was stunned when the previous government cut funding to the Experimental Lakes Region in northern Ontario. What really surprised me, however, was how public the opposition to that was. Who would have thought that cutting funding for such a program would galvanize the public the way it did? Not only has the government restored funding to the Experimental Lakes Area, but we have also increased our funding for ocean and freshwater science, including monitoring and research activities.
Science is important to our government, and it is not just Canadians that will benefit from our renewed focus on data and evidence. People across the world will benefit from the research we conduct here at home.
Speaking of evidence-based policy, our government made it a priority to restore the mandatory long form census. The data collected by the census is essential for planning and spending purposes. Not only did we restore it, but Canadians responded extremely enthusiastically to its return. We made international headlines when in our eagerness to complete the census, we crashed the website. Now that is something we can be proud of.
As an MP from the Kitchener—Waterloo region, I was thrilled to see that the Perimeter Institute received $50 million. For those who do not know, the Perimeter Institute is a world-leading facility in the field of theoretical physics. The finance minister got it right when he said that the Kitchener—Waterloo region is home to some of the most brilliant, innovative minds and companies in the world.
I am excited to see the developments that come from this funding. We are working hard to lay the foundation so that our researchers, thinkers, and dreamers will be able to see their projects carried through to fruition. Our future is so bright, and we have such potential that is waiting to be tapped, harnessed, and encouraged. I am confident that while we have had some fantastic achievements in the past, they are nothing compared to what we will see in the future.
I would like to commend the Prime Minister and the Minister of Finance for their commitment to championing a research and innovation agenda, one that I am sure will serve Canadians well, now and into the future.
View Raj Saini Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Raj Saini Profile
2016-11-14 18:27 [p.6715]
Madam Speaker, I would like to thank my good friend, neighbour, and someone who always looks out for me and always gives me advice. Therefore, I would like to give him a little advice today.
Economically we know right now in the world we have zero lower bound interest rate. When we look at the 10-year government bond rate, whether it is in the United States at 2%, or in Germany at 0.5%, or in Japan at 0.2%, we know the inflation targets right now are less than 1%. This is absolutely the best time in our history, in the history of the world probably, where investment in infrastructure is so important, whether it is public infrastructure, public transit infrastructure, social infrastructure, or environmental infrastructure.
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