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View Patrick Brown Profile
View Patrick Brown Profile
2015-05-13 15:06 [p.13841]
Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of personal privilege today. With my recent election win as Leader of the Ontario PC Party, I stand today to announce that I will be tendering my resignation as the member of Parliament for Barrie. It is an emotional but exciting day for me because over the last nine years it has been a privilege to serve the city of Barrie. It has been one of the greatest honours in my life.
I thought I would highlight today a few of the success stories that our city of Barrie has seen under this government during that time.
On an infrastructure level, I am very proud to have seen the health and wellness centre built at Georgian College. I was honoured to see the Allandale Waterfront and Barrie South GO train stations introduced to the city of Barrie; the Dunlop Street fire station; the Lampman Lane Community Centre; the Eastview Arena refurbishments; and the downtown theatre, bring culture to the downtown of Barrie.
This government has brought unprecedented funding to Lake Simcoe. When I first became a member of Parliament, I think phosphorous levels were one of the greatest challenges on Lake Simcoe. I see the member for York—Simcoe cheering that. I know he was one of the biggest champions of the Lake Simcoe cleanup, and the member for Simcoe North as well. We take great pride in knowing that the lake today is healthier than it has ever been thanks to the $60 million Government of Canada investment to clean up Lake Simcoe.
Another of the fine examples of investments in Simcoe County that I take a great degree of pride in is the Canada First Defence Strategy. Very near to the city of Barrie is CF base Borden, in the riding of Simcoe—Grey. My good friend there I know is very proud of the fact that since 2006 we have seen over $210 million invested into CFB Borden. Simcoe County takes great pride in base Borden and what it has meant to our region. It is great to see a government that has invested so significantly in that base.
Barrie is also home to a very active charitable sector. One of my greatest pleasures as an MP has been trying to channel that goodwill to causes about which I care dearly.
I think of the Royal Victoria Hospital. Nine years ago I made it my project to raise funds for the hospital through an annual hockey game. I think of my grandmother, who volunteered there for 50 years. She was known as a “blue coat”. Any volunteer at RVH is known as a blue coat. However, with the assistance of the community and through a hockey night in Barrie, we were able to raise $1.4 million for the cancer centre and for mental health.
It has not just been a charitable hockey game; in the last four years we have grown that to include the annual Barrie Waterfront Half Marathon. I know a number of my colleagues have participated in that half marathon, whether they wanted to or not. I managed to rope a few of them into doing it. However, we have actually managed to raise $170,000 through the half marathon for causes as important as the David Busby Street Centre, Gilda's Club Simcoe Muskoka, Autism Ontario, Talk is Free Theatre and JDRF. This year the race is continuing in support of the YMCA of Simcoe/Muskoka, CNIB and the Alzheimer Society of Simcoe County.
Another area that I wanted to highlight outside of my riding is with respect to my favourite projects in Ottawa, one being my work with India.
I have had the honour to serve as the Canada-India Parliamentary Association chairman for nine years. During that period, I have worked with a number of my colleagues on a relationship with India. I have had the fascinating privilege of going there 15 times. In that work, we have been able to expand trade with India, educational linkages, energy agreements and even an opportunity to develop a personal friendship with India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
One story that I laugh about now is when the member for Calgary Northeast joined me on the Canada-India executive. I asked him to come to India for a weekend to open the centre in Gandhinagar, which was to be Narendra Modi's prize project as chief minister. Members are not supposed to leave for a weekend to go to India, so we had to leave on a Thursday. Therefore, I told the member for Calgary Northeast that it would just be an extended bathroom break. We got into a bit of trouble with the whip, but I know, today, that the Prime Minister of India fondly remembers the trip we made there, for practically a day.
Another one of my favourite projects in Ottawa has been working with the Tamil-Canadian community. As a constituency MP, we learn about issues about which we may not know a lot.
I remember in 2009, an individual by the name of Ranjit Shreskumar came to my office, sat on my couch and cried about what was happening in Sri Lanka. The one thing I take great honour in seeing is how our government has responded over the years to the genocide that took place in Sri Lanka. It has been the world's largest critic on what has happened in Sri Lanka and the human rights abuses that took place. This is an example of how a community like the Tamil community engaged with MPs, raised the issues and many of us who did not know a lot then became its advocate and its voice in the House of Commons. This has been a real honour.
During my leadership convention, I was honoured that the Indo-Canadian community and the Tamil community stood firmly by my side. Those friendships and support I will never forget.
The last item I want to mention is the issue of neurological research. One of the things I enjoyed most in Ottawa was back in 2008 when we set up a neurological disorders subcommittee. It was an all-party committee on which I served. We had hearings on neurological disorders for three years.
We were all on that committee for difference reasons. I was there because I saw what happened to my grandmother who had Alzheimer's. Other MPs from different parties were there for similar personal reasons, but I saw it as an opportunity to work together on an issue that had brought us all together. The report was finally published, and in budget 2011, an additional $100 million was allocated to the brain Canada trust. It is in moments like that we see why government is so important and why public service is so important.
I want to thank a few people today in my final speech in the House of Commons. I want to thank my family for their love and support. My late grandparents, “Honest” Joe and Edna Tascona, moved to Barrie in the 1940s, and I am very glad they did. My father Edmund Brown, my mother Judy, my sisters Stephanie and Fiona, my brother-in-law Chuck and my nephews Colton and Harrison are a never-ending inspiration.
I also want to say thanks to my past EDA presidents. I know every MP appreciates having a strong EDA, and I benefited from some great presidents: Alison Eadie, Trudie Waldinger, Larry Pomfret, Bruce Macgregor and Gary Perkins.
I also want to thank my staff. We all know we cannot do our jobs without our staff members. Their knowledge, dedication and professionalism has enabled me to serve the people of Barrie. I want to thank Heather McCarthy, Shawn Bubel, Samantha Flynn, Pat McFarlane and Cindy Bugeja.
Serving Barrie has been the greatest honour of my life. Barrie will always be my home. The people of Barrie are an incredible part of who I am and it is with excitement that I start this new journey.
One thing I forgot to mention is that I am indebted to our Prime Minister. It has been an honour to serve in his caucus and in his government. I have had the honour to serve as the GTA caucus chairman. As I leave the House, I am as proud of the Prime Minister's work on behalf of Canada as I was on day one. We have a Prime Minister who has made Canada the envy of the world. I truly believe he will go down in history as one of our greatest prime ministers.
I am compelled to public service in Ontario because I believe I can make a great contribution there. I believe Ontario can be the economic engine of Canada once again. I believe we can and must do better as a province. It is for that reason that I make the difficult choice to say goodbye to friends in the House and to say that I will be in public service at a different level. It has been an honour to sit among the quality of the individuals in this chamber on both sides.
View Patrick Brown Profile
View Patrick Brown Profile
2015-05-06 14:05 [p.13527]
Mr. Speaker, this year marks the sixth anniversary of the battle of Mullivaikkal, in the Sri Lankan war, in May 2009.
I stand with the thousands of Tamils who lost family members in the final stages of the Sri Lankan genocide. This humanitarian catastrophe saw thousands of civilians shelled by the Sri Lanka government as they escaped the no-fire zone. According to the United Nations, between 40,000 and 70,000 Tamil civilians were killed during the final phase of the war in Sri Lanka. The Sri Lankan government has still failed to show progress in ensuring justice for the victims of these terrible human rights crimes.
During the month of May, Tamil Canadians from coast to coast to coast will gather to participate in multi-faith memorial services to honour their loved ones. It is also a time to reflect on the principles of peace, democracy, and equality that we are able to enjoy here in Canada.
I am proud of the many contributions Tamil Canadians have made in our country. They have embraced our cultural landscape, exemplifying the very best of the Canadian community spirit.
View Patrick Brown Profile
View Patrick Brown Profile
2015-01-28 14:13 [p.10728]
Mr. Speaker, today I would like to pay tribute to a very dear friend who unfortunately lost his battle with ALS at age 70. Mr. Derek Walton was diagnosed with ALS in 2002 and had been a passionate advocate for neurological research and ALS ever since.
Although the average life expectancy for those who are diagnosed with ALS is two to five years, Derek quickly earned the nickname “Braveheart” for his continuous fight. He used his tremendous strength and courage to fight a terrible battle that too many Canadians are currently facing.
Derek's many efforts to raise money for ALS research included: launching The Walton Cure 4 ALS Fund at Sunnybrook Hospital, his annual skydiving events he called Jumping 4 PALS, organizing annual ALS walks, and helping spearhead the national neurological charity funding for the Canada brain research fund. His hard work helped raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for ALS research.
My thoughts and prayers are with Derek's family during this difficult time. His dedication to raising awareness and funds for ALS will forever be remembered.
View Patrick Brown Profile
View Patrick Brown Profile
2014-11-27 12:05 [p.9880]
Mr. Speaker, I first want to congratulate the member for Oshawa on his very thoughtful remarks. We are certainly fortunate to have a parliamentary secretary who is so engaged on the topic.
It is impossible to stand today to speak about the thalidomide tragedy and not be moved. It is a story of an unspeakable tragedy of distraught parents, and children born with challenges that most of us cannot begin to comprehend. This is a tragic event from the 1960s that reminds us of why we need to take drug safety so seriously.
Nothing could ever undo the pain and suffering that was inflicted. It is a story that changed the way we regulate drugs in Canada. It opened our eyes to the fact that while drugs can bring many benefits, by curing diseases, reducing symptoms, and prolonging lives, they can also carry tremendous risks. It also serves as a constant reminder that we as parliamentarians must do all that we can to strengthen patient safety in Canada. That is why I am very pleased to hear that the Minister of Health will be meeting with thalidomide victims and working co-operatively with them to determine what government can do to support them.
Canada now has one of the safest drug systems in the world, and our government recently strengthened that even further, giving royal assent to Bill C-17, Vanessa's law. Protecting patients is a shared responsibility, one that also rests with fellow legislators in the provinces and with provincial health departments, individual health care professionals and administrators, the colleges that regulate medical practice and other professional organizations, key partners like the Canadian Patient Safety Institute, and the Drug Safety and Effectiveness Network, and last, of course, the manufacturers of drugs.
The thalidomide tragedy of the 1960s, like no other event before or since, has impressed upon us what a truly enormous responsibility that is. While the quest for new cures is vital, it is equally important that we do everything in our power to ensure that drugs that reach the market do not cause harms that outweigh their benefits. That is why all parties in the House and in the other place united to unanimously support Vanessa's law, and why so many stakeholders and individuals endorsed that legislation.
Although many steps have been taken previously to strengthen Canada's drug safety system, we all recognize that the Minister of Health and Health Canada did not have adequate powers to protect patients from drugs that were found to be unsafe once they were on the market We, as legislators, acted decisively to provide the new tools to address this gap.
I would like to take some time today to focus on how Vanessa's law will enhance patient safety, how it will reduce the risk of tragic events like those associated with thalidomide, and how it will help Canadians to make informed decisions about the drugs they are taking.
Vanessa's law will ensure that knowledge about approved drugs and medical devices continues to be gathered and shared with the public once products enter the market. This is important because clinical trials can only tell us about how a drug will affect a particular population, the population it was tested on. They do not tell us how the drug will affect everyone who might take it once it is on the market.
When a company submits an application for market authorization to Health Canada, reviewers analyze the results of all tests and studies that are submitted. If the product is safe, effective, and of high quality, the department will give the company a licence to market a drug in Canada for a particular use. However, once products reach the market, Health Canada's ability to gather knowledge about them has traditionally been limited, and its ability to take action when problems arise has also been limited. That is why there are new provisions in Vanessa's law that represent a game changer.
Let me take a moment to describe some of them and why Vanessa's law is so crucial. One important new provision is that Vanessa's law will give the Minister of Health the ability to set the terms and conditions on an authorization and to make those terms and conditions publicly available. What this means is that, as part of the authorization, Health Canada will be able to ask a pharmaceutical company to continue to gather information in the real world, after the product reaches the market, and to make the results of the information gathering public so that Canadians and their health care providers have easy access to them.
For example, Health Canada may require the company to gather information about the impacts of a drug on patients with multiple medical conditions. Health Canada could require a company to monitor and assess the effects of drugs on patients with impaired kidney function. This may or may not have been studied in the initial clinical trial, and the approved label would indicate that.
However, this information may prove to be important as we gather real-world experience and see some patients with impaired kidney function and how the drug affects them. It may become apparent that there is no difference in the benefits and harms experienced by patients with impaired kidney function.
However, should it become clear that there may be a cause for concern, Health Canada will be able to compel the manufacturer to conduct active safety surveillance or conduct a new study specifically to address the issue. The information about what activities the manufacturers are being compelled to undertake will be made public. It will be a transparent system so that prescribers and patients will know what actions are being taken. Vanessa's law also provides the Minister of Health with the power to compel a label change for a drug and to make that information publicly available to Canadians. In the past, most companies have agreed on a voluntary basis to undertake a label change. Sometimes, however, protracted negotiations have been required, and sometimes, those negotiations were not successful. The new powers provided by Vanessa's law have changed that, so if adults or children are taking a drug, they will be able to access this new information. This will allow us, as Canadians, to make informed decisions in consultation with our health care providers.
However, not all new information comes from tests, studies, or the ongoing proactive monitoring of a drug. Sometimes, adverse events are completely unexpected and only identified through a rigorous adverse drug reaction reporting system. This reflects the reality I mentioned before, that patient safety is a shared responsibility. That is why Vanessa's law included mandatory reporting of serious adverse drug reactions and medical device incidents by health care institutions. Simply put, serious adverse drug reaction reports from manufacturers, health care institutions, health care professionals, and the public often provide the first clue about an emerging drug safety issue.
To date, adverse drug reactions have been under-reported in Canada. It has only been mandatory for companies to report adverse drug reactions related to their products. It was recognized that it is critical that we increase the reporting of adverse drug reactions so that Health Canada could take quick action when a problem is detected and share the knowledge rapidly with health care professionals and, most importantly, the public, in order to prevent further harm.
Sometimes, it may be necessary to remove a drug or particular batch of the drug from the market. Other times, it may be appropriate to change the label of a drug so that health care practitioners are aware of the new information when they make their prescribing decisions. In other situations, it may be most appropriate to require the company to conduct some active monitoring to gather further information.
I mentioned earlier the important work done by the Canadian Patient Safety Institute and the Drug Safety and Effectiveness Network. The Canadian Patient Safety Institute works with governments, health organizations, leaders, and health care providers to inspire improvements in patient safety and quality care. It acts as an advocate and catalyst for improvements in patient safety, and it invests in and brokers policy and system changes to protect the health of Canadian patients. As Health Canada works to roll out the new authorities provided in Vanessa's law, either immediately or through developing regulations, these organizations will be able to provide advice.
Nothing can undo the pain and suffering endured by the thalidomide survivors and their families, and it is truly tragic. However, with the passing of Vanessa's law, federal regulators have important new tools to enhance on-market drug safety. The legislation is a very real step to reducing the risk that similar tragedies will occur in the future, and it represents a very important federal contribution to the shared goal of patient safety in Canada.
View Patrick Brown Profile
View Patrick Brown Profile
2014-11-27 12:16 [p.9882]
Mr. Speaker, I did sit on the health committee for several years but have not been on the committee for the last two years. I do have a keen interest in health care, and obviously this tragedy shocked all of us. It is an issue about which we all have endless concern.
The member mentioned that she is pleased that we are supporting this motion and I am glad to hear that. There is no partisanship when it comes to standing united in the face of this tragedy.
I am so pleased that the Minister of Health has announced she will be meeting with the Thalidomide Victims Association of Canada. It is important to state that it is going to happen. The government will be here to provide whatever support it can in the wake of this tragedy.
Health Canada has learned from this tragedy and has made improvements that have reduced the risk of this kind of terrible event from occurring again, including an overhaul of Canada's drug and regulatory framework. That is important. We recognize the pain and suffering of the victims and we are here to support them. At the same time, we want to make sure that we learn from what happened and that Health Canada has the framework and the regulatory ability to ensure we can prevent something like this from ever happening again.
View Patrick Brown Profile
View Patrick Brown Profile
2014-11-27 12:19 [p.9882]
Mr. Speaker, the member for Northumberland—Quinte West has made his life in public safety, and this falls into that category. This is all about public safety.
I want to touch on Bill C-17, Vanessa's law, which was raised by my colleague. It is important to recognize what this legislation will do. It is a step forward for patient safety and for public safety. Bill C-17 will bring in mandatory recall powers, so that we will not have to negotiate with big pharma companies; mandatory reporting of serious adverse drug reactions; tough new fines and jail time for companies that put Canadians at risk; and transparency for drug approvals and clinical trials. These are all critically important steps forward.
Obviously the tragic events in the 1960s remind us of why we need to take drug safety seriously. Let us be clear. Nothing can ever undo the pain and suffering inflicted on these individuals. That is why it is so important that we get it right, so this never happens again. That is why it is important that we use every power and tool within government's regulatory powers to make sure we have the proper framework in place to protect patients.
View Patrick Brown Profile
View Patrick Brown Profile
2014-11-26 14:06 [p.9815]
Mr. Speaker, my constituent from Barrie, Ontario, Rayner McCullough, has been named as this year's recipient of the David Blenkarn Spirit Award. Rayner is a long-time supporter of the Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre, which hands out this annual award. The award is given to people who impact the hospital and whose actions inspire others.
Rayner most recently established a special trust for the education of RVH staff, patients, and family members who look after youth and adolescents with mental health and addictions issues. The creation of a child and youth mental health program is a priority for RVH as no such service exists in the region. Rayner is a past chairperson of the hospital and foundation boards and was a force behind building the new hospital in the late 1990s.
Mr. McCullough is a very worthy recipient of this honour. His words about why he volunteers at his local hospital encapsulate the spirit of this wonderful man. Rayner says, “For me, volunteerism is the rent we pay for the space we use while we’re here [at RVH].”
View Patrick Brown Profile
View Patrick Brown Profile
2014-11-04 14:07 [p.9170]
Mr. Speaker, I rise today to recognize an ambitious legacy project led by a group of patriots from my riding.
To commemorate the 100th anniversary of CFB Borden, a “Tribute to Peace” memorial will be erected at the entrance of the base in 2016. The acre site will also showcase a 7 foot brown statue of a World War I bugler and the following description will grace one of the 30 foot long granite walls, “Through these gates the sons and daughters of a grateful nation pass. Serving Canada with honour, duty and courage so all may live with freedom, democracy and justice”.
Honorary Colonels Jamie Massie and Barry Peacock will lead a group to France next June, on the invitation of the mayor of Arras, to repatriate some soil from the Vimy battleground. This sacred ground will be encased in plexiglass within the walls of the new memorial. The group from Barrie has committed to raising a half a million dollars to complete this project.
I would like to recognize Jim Williams, General Louis Meloche, Base Commander Doyon and artist Marlene Hilton Moore for their efforts and vision.
View Patrick Brown Profile
View Patrick Brown Profile
2014-10-29 15:06 [p.8926]
Mr. Speaker, yesterday UNICEF released a report showing that Canada's child poverty rate decreased during the recession, pulling nearly 180,000 children out of poverty. Could the Minister of State for Social Development please explain to the House what specific actions our government has taken to help lift children out of poverty?
View Patrick Brown Profile
View Patrick Brown Profile
2014-10-07 14:17 [p.8348]
Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to stand in the House to congratulate McGill graduate Dr. John O'Keefe on winning the Nobel Prize in Medicine yesterday. He is the tenth McGill graduate or professor to bring honour and pride to Canada as a Nobel laureate.
Dr. O'Keefe was recognized for his contribution to the discovery of cells that contribute to the brain's inner GPS, which makes it possible to orient ourselves within our environment. Discovery of these cells may lead to a greater understanding of Alzheimer's, as this particular area of the brain is affected early on by those suffering from this terrible disease.
Our government has made record investments in science, technology, and innovation to improve our quality of life and to create new jobs and opportunities for Canadians. We announced the Canada first research excellence fund in economic action plan 2014, a $1.5-billion legacy commitment to ensure that Canadian colleges and universities continue to contribute to this world-leading research we are celebrating today.
View Patrick Brown Profile
View Patrick Brown Profile
2014-10-01 15:20 [p.8105]
Mr. Speaker, I have a petition from close to 1,000 constituents about Bill C-18. The petitioners encourage the House to refrain from making changes to the bill.
View Patrick Brown Profile
View Patrick Brown Profile
2014-10-01 15:20 [p.8105]
Mr. Speaker, I have a second petition from 100 constituents about missing aboriginal women and girls across Canada.
View Patrick Brown Profile
View Patrick Brown Profile
2014-09-24 14:10 [p.7768]
Mr. Speaker, on Sunday, September 14, I was honoured to attend and speak at a memorial service for my dear friend and mentor, Mr. Vasu Chanchlani. He was not only a close friend of mine, but of Canada's as well.
Mr. Chanchlani was a celebrated businessman and a philanthropist.
Although he came to Canada in 1979, his close ties with his home country of India fuelled his advocacy for building a stronger relationship between our two great nations. As one of the founding members of the Canada India Foundation, he understood the true potential of building a strong bond with India, which led to the rich, long-standing partnership that we continue to build upon today.
His passion for education shone through as he gave generously to many of our Canadian universities in the areas of health, research, international relations, and literature, to name a few.
He accompanied the Prime Minister and the Governor General on their official visits to India.
My thoughts and prayers are with Vasu's family at this time. His contribution to Canada and India will never be forgotten and will be honoured forever.
View Patrick Brown Profile
View Patrick Brown Profile
2014-04-30 15:22 [p.4752]
Mr. Speaker, I rise to present two petitions on Bill C-442, the national Lyme disease strategy.
View Patrick Brown Profile
View Patrick Brown Profile
2014-04-30 15:22 [p.4752]
Mr. Speaker, I also rise to present three petitions on Bill C-18 and the Seeds Act.
View Patrick Brown Profile
View Patrick Brown Profile
2014-04-30 15:22 [p.4752]
Mr. Speaker, I rise to also present a petition from numerous constituents on proportional representation.
View Patrick Brown Profile
View Patrick Brown Profile
2014-04-30 15:22 [p.4752]
Mr. Speaker, finally I rise to present a petition from several hundred constituents, on human rights abuses in Venezuela.
View Patrick Brown Profile
View Patrick Brown Profile
2014-04-08 14:06 [p.4422]
Mr. Speaker, last night, Conservative members of Parliament laced up their skates along with the Canadian Police Association for the second annual MP police charity hockey game in support of the Robert Warner Memorial Fund.
This fantastic charity helps to distribute immediate financial assistance to the families of officers who have lost their lives in the line of duty.
Each year members of the Canadian Police Association travel to Ottawa to meet with elected representatives to talk about issues of concern to law enforcement and public safety, and this friendly game of hockey is a great opportunity to get to know each other.
I am proud to report that this year's game raised $4,000, with the participation of 17 police officers and 19 Conservative MPs. A special thanks goes out to our coaches and the five federal cabinet ministers who participated.
Police officers are continually faced with diverse challenges while ensuring the safety and security of their communities. I would like to thank members of the Canadian Police Association and all officers for their outstanding service. They are some of our finest citizens.
View Patrick Brown Profile
View Patrick Brown Profile
2014-04-03 16:05 [p.4255]
Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the hard-working member for Don Valley West.
I rise today to show my support for Bill C-31, Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 1. I am pleased to see our government continue to focus so squarely on the economic challenges facing our citizens, our communities, and our country as a whole.
Bill C-31 will implement key measures of the economic action plan 2014 to help create jobs and opportunities for Canadians, and to return our nation's finances to balanced budgets.
Through the steady leadership of our Prime Minister, Canada's economy has seen the best economic performance among all G7 countries in recent years, both during the global recession and throughout the recovery.
Here are the facts. Over one million net new jobs have been created in Canada since the end of the recession in July 2009, of which 85% are full-time and nearly 80% in the private sector. Over that period, that has been the strongest job growth in the entire G7 by far. Canadians have also enjoyed the strongest income growth in the G7. Canada is the only G7 country to have more than fully recovered its business investment lost during the recession.
Both the independent International Monetary Fund and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development are projecting that Canada will have the strongest economic growth in the G7 in the years ahead.
For the sixth straight year, the World Economic Forum has ranked Canada's banking system as the soundest in the world. Moreover, Canada leapt from sixth to second place in the Bloomberg ranking of the most attractive countries for businesses to grow.
Canada has the lowest overall tax rate on new business investment in the G7. Canada is the only G7 country to have a rock solid AAA rating and a stable outlook from all major credit rating agencies, Moody's, Fitch, and Standard & Poor's. Canada's net debt to GDP ratio remains the lowest in the G7 by far. It is an impressive track record.
Throughout the year, I am always having discussions and consultations in my riding, the City of Barrie, talking to stakeholders about what they believe is in the best interests of Canada and what we can do to continue to spur economic growth.
I feel that the concerns in Barrie are pretty similar to those we see across the country in small communities. What is important in Barrie is that we focus on ensuring that good jobs are available, that taxes are kept low, and that sensible investments continue to be made to achieve our common goals of long-term growth and prosperity.
There have been many positive investments in communities across Canada in previous budgets. This budget does just that and continues that track record of strategic, smart investments.
I would like to give a few local examples. Federal investments in companies like IBM, with their university partnership, created over 100 jobs in my community; TNR Industrial Doors had a major expansion because of the support of the regional economic development agency; and Wolf Steel, which builds high-efficiency furnaces, doubled in size because of a partnership with the federal government, creating high-tech, high-paying jobs. Furthermore, my favourite local story, Southmedic, was able to move their factory from China back to Barrie. That was certainly a positive sign.
We have learned from these success stories that we must continue to work towards generating more manufacturing jobs in Barrie and across Canada, and that is achievable. Economic action plan 2014 is keeping us on that path to success.
Our Minister of International Trade attended as the keynote guest and spoke about how expanding our trade relationships can create a greater audience for manufacturers to sell their products and create jobs locally. It was a great summit. I know there was a lot of support at the summit for the economic action plan we have built because they recognize that it helps businesses in a meaningful way.
Many of the businesses at this manufacturing summit were small to medium-size businesses. They appreciated the government's commitment to further cut red tape for operations by eliminating the requirement for payroll remittances, and to support made-in-Canada products.
Companies, big and small, were all elated that we were reducing trade barriers within Canada and across the globe for the sale of their products. These stakeholders understand that these measures grow their businesses and allow them to hire more Canadians.
It is not just the manufacturing community that was pleased with our budget, but young people as well.
I am pleased to see that economic action plan 2014 confirmed our government's support for youth employment by investing $40 million for up to 3,000 internships in high-demand fields and $15 million for up to 1,000 internships in small and medium-size businesses. We are once again demonstrating our commitment to help our youth make a successful transition from school to work.
Each year, Barrie welcomes thousands of new students at Georgian College. I know they were very pleased with this budget and what it would do to help students.
Economic action plan also continues to support our seniors with an additional $5 million for the new horizons for seniors program so that more seniors can actively participate in their communities. I have seen firsthand how well this program works. I know about 30 new horizons grants that have occurred in Barrie over the last eight years and they are huge successes.
I think of the Tollendale seniors home where new horizons grants helped to finance a computer lab to connect seniors with relatives all over the world and actually trained seniors at Tollendale on computers. It was an absolute hit. At the IOOF seniors home, there was an art for the ages program. There were people who were struggling with early onset dementia, and having an active lifestyle, including things like painting, actually helps delay the onset. That was another fantastic new horizons investment. To see this program grow, I think, is a wonderful thing for Canadian seniors.
Economic action plan 2014 did something else, since I just touched upon Alzheimer's, that I want to highlight.
The economic action plan included a $15 million commitment to a neurodegeneration consortium on aging. This reminds me of a conversation I had with one of my constituents, Ed Harper, who was actually a member of Parliament from 1993–97.
Just a few months ago, Ed lost his wife, Rosemary, and I attended the funeral. He told me that he was writing a letter to our Prime Minister. He tremendously believed in our Prime Minister and knows what a great job he is doing for the country. However, he wrote a letter to talk about the need for more coordination on Alzheimer's funding and neurodegenerative research.
I know that he was one of the many Canadians who were so pleased to see that $15 million allocated. I think Mr. Ed Harper's comments highlight a feeling that many Canadians have.
There are so many positive initiatives in this budget that it is difficult to touch upon all of them in the short time we have allotted to us. This is a budget that supports our commercial sectors. It supports our workers, seniors, and families across Canada.
I want to stress what I think is most important about this budget, and something that is tremendously appreciated in Barrie, which is that it puts us on an immediate track for balanced budgets. That is very impressive, given the global economic recession that took every country in the world off course. I think it is really a feather in the cap for our former Minister of Finance who did such an incredible job of shepherding the Canadian economy. I know that our new Minister of Finance and his team are going to do an incredible job in laying out the vision that was put forward in Bill C-31.
View Patrick Brown Profile
View Patrick Brown Profile
2014-04-03 16:15 [p.4256]
Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to correct the mistakes that were highlighted by the member opposite.
First, it is an absolute error to say that there were cuts in infrastructure. This government is responsible for the largest investment in infrastructure in Canadian history, and we are seeing that go forward in the next decade. It is a rock-solid commitment to municipalities.
I served on a city council for two terms. At the time, there was no support for municipalities. There was no audience, in Ottawa, for municipalities. The fact that we have had such an incredible investment in infrastructure has allowed municipalities, like the one I represent, to invest significantly in real and meaningful projects.
I would note that the member opposite said that unemployment has gone up and that we did not get those jobs back. The member is incorrect. I look at my own community. We had unemployment of 11.9% after the recession and we are down to 7% today. These are successful numbers. Progress is being made. If the NDP chose to support this economic progress, it would see, I think, more support in the polls.
View Patrick Brown Profile
View Patrick Brown Profile
2014-04-03 16:17 [p.4257]
Mr. Speaker, I recall when I was a city councillor, the Liberal government of the day had not a penny to support municipalities like mine in Barrie. We asked for funding to expand the GO train. Nothing.
However, when the Conservatives were elected, we expanded the GO train, built two new stations and, across our city, we have seen infrastructure investments, whether it is the expansion of the Georgian College, with the new campus, whether it is the new bridge at Duckworth Street, whether it is the expansion of the regional airport, whether it is the refurbishing of Eastview Arena. There are dozens of projects. I can tell members it is a stark contrast to what happened under the Liberals, where they did not care about infrastructure.
We have made a commitment that is a record investment in infrastructure. I am proud of that commitment to support Canadian municipalities. I am glad we have not continued the Liberal policy of doing nothing.
View Patrick Brown Profile
View Patrick Brown Profile
2014-03-26 14:08 [p.3882]
Mr. Speaker, I want to take this opportunity to recognize the exceptional contribution of Dr. Rick Irvin, a family physician in my riding of Barrie, Ontario. Rick was one of Canada's first recipients of the Prime Minister's Volunteer Awards in 2011 and just last week was also awarded the annual Camphill Community Action Award for his contribution to palliative care.
This award celebrates the accomplishments of individual citizens whose visionary and practical contribution to community development significantly enhances Barrie's cultural environment and enriches its social fabric. I got to know Dr. Irvin when he was working to build a Habitat for Humanity home in Barrie, and when we worked together on the physician recruitment initiatives for RVH.
Rick's innovative thinking and effective engagement with the medical community were instrumental in creating palliative care education in the North Simcoe Muskoka region, where he helped secure funding to provide essential end-of-life care, and created and established Hospice Simcoe next to RVH in Barrie.
I thank Rick for his tireless efforts in helping to make Barrie a better place to live.
View Patrick Brown Profile
View Patrick Brown Profile
2013-11-06 17:33 [p.832]
Mr. Speaker, I too would applaud the member for Oakville for his excellent speech supporting this bill. However, what I think might be indicative of the NDP's confusion on issues is the mistake of the member for Oakville being a teenager. I would politely disagree with that, despite being a big fan of his.
I am pleased to speak in support of Bill C-7, which would create the Canadian museum of history. Bill C-7 is very short. It is very clear and specific. It makes a set of targeted amendments to the Museums Act to allow the Canadian Museum of Civilization to transform into the Canadian museum of history.
The creation of the Canadian museum of history would not be an isolated act. It would be one step in the larger government strategy in support of our history and the need to increase our knowledge and appreciation of it. That strategy did not start with this bill and the decision to create a new museum. Our Conservative government has been making efforts to close gaps in how Canada's national museums share Canada's incredible story.
In 2008, we created the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, in Winnipeg, and in 2010 the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21, in Halifax. The government recognized the need for these stories to be presented across the country. These were the first national museums to be established outside of the national capital region.
The 2011 speech from the throne observed that Canadians are united by core values, a shared history and a sense of common purpose. In that speech, our Conservative government pledged to join Canadians in celebrating our heritage. The 2013 speech from the throne reinforced this theme. The government's strategy is underlined by the priority it is giving to nation-building milestones on the road to our 150th birthday in 2017.
Our Conservative government's efforts began, as we know, with the commemoration of the bicentennial of the War of 1812, as a way of increasing the awareness of the influence that this conflict had on our nation. Other important anniversaries and milestones in the years approaching Canada's 150th anniversary have been identified and will also be commemorated. On the War of 1812, I remember that having that moment to recognize our history was tremendously appreciated across Canada. I remember the celebration we had in Barrie for the War of 1812 and how the community came out to recognize that important milestone. A lot of young people in our community learnt a huge amount about it through that commemoration.
Other events we will be commemorating in 2013 and 2014 include the 100th anniversary of Canada's first Arctic expedition, the 150th anniversaries of the Charlottetown and Quebec conferences, the 100th anniversary of the First World War, the 75th anniversary of the Second World War, and the 200th birthday of Sir John A. Macdonald. I know the member for York—Simcoe is not in the House right now, but I know he would be a big fan of that particular celebration.
On June 11, the Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages announced a range of further measures in support of the government's history strategy. I would like to take a moment to describe a few of these. First, the Canada history fund will connect Canadian young people to their history in a number of ways, including through the Government of Canada's history awards, which honour outstanding students and teachers who show an interest in celebrating Canadian history.
We have some amazing teachers across this country who have done a lot to inspire young Canadians about our history. I think of Clint Lovell from Eastview, in Barrie, in the east end of my riding, who was recognized with an award two years ago in Ottawa. That inspired the community. It highlights people who throw their heart into Canadian history. I was pleased to see that recognition, and we certainly need to continue that type of recognition of some of our incredible educators.
Through the Canada history fund, the government has also partnered with the Historica-Dominion Institute, both to create new heritage minutes and to allow more veterans and serving soldiers to connect with students in their classrooms.
The second measure is a range of existing programs that have been strengthened to improve access to funding for museums and youth groups that wish to promote Canadian history in their local communities. For example, there is the exchanges Canada program that provides young Canadians with more opportunities to take part in history themed events. The Canada book fund encourages collective projects, with a focus on promoting Canadian history titles. The Canada periodical fund, through the business innovation and collection initiatives components, supports the promotion of history magazines and history content. The Virtual Museum of Canada funds 2017 online exhibits and podcasts, and provides new historical content for teachers and students.
Finally, beginning this year, we will mark the first Canada History Week, from July 1 to 7, which is an opportunity for Canadians to learn more about their history through local and national activities and events.
The creation of the Canadian museum of history is a significant part of this multi-faceted strategy to explore and preserve our history and increase Canadians' knowledge, understanding and appreciation of it. Indeed, Bill C-7 is but one aspect of this exciting initiative.
We know that in addition to the creation of the museum, a network of history museums in Canada is being formed. Led by the Canadian museum of history, museums would work together to share Canada's stories, share artifacts that are the touchstones of those stories, bring history exhibitions from museums across Canada to the national museum, and create opportunities specifically for small museums to borrow artifacts from that national collection.
We all have museums in our regions that would love this opportunity. I can think of the Simcoe County Museum, just north of Barrie, in the riding of Simcoe—Grey, and that would be tremendously appreciated by the broader Simcoe County community.
To help make this happen, the museum assistance program would support museums, including small museums that wish to borrow objects from exhibitions in the national collection of the Canadian museum of history. We understand that the cost of shipping and insuring artifacts is often too much for small museums. We want to help these museums showcase the national collection across the country, which is why we changed the museums assistance program.
The museum assistance program would make it easier for institutions to create and share history exhibits, by eliminating the requirement for exhibits to travel outside their province or territory of origin. We recognize that local and provincial history is an important part of our broader national story. It is vital to give a voice to these stories. We believe that by moving the interprovincial requirement for exhibition circulation, more exhibitions would be shared, and the Canadian story would be better understood.
These are exciting initiatives, and we hope their impact will be felt by Canadians for generations to come. The creation of the Canadian museum of history, through Bill C-7, is an important part of this broader history strategy.
I urge all members in the House to support Bill C-7 and efforts being made within and outside government to preserve and promote Canada's history. It really is an incredible story.
View Patrick Brown Profile
View Patrick Brown Profile
2013-11-06 17:43 [p.833]
Mr. Speaker, obviously the member opposite is confused on the aspects of the bill. Bill C-7 would invest $25 million to preserve Canadian artifacts and to having this museum.
I find it surprising that the previous NDP questioner complained about spending too much money, and now this member is saying we are not spending enough money. The NDP needs to decide on the reason they do not support this bill because they cannot change their attacks within two minutes. It seems a little inconsistent and, unfortunately, very typical of the NDP.
View Patrick Brown Profile
View Patrick Brown Profile
2013-11-06 17:45 [p.834]
Mr. Speaker, it has been great to have the leadership of the Minister of Industry, specifically in his previous capacity as Minister of Canadian Heritage.
His passion for Canada's history has been incredible. Canada has benefited from his passion, and it is great to see the results with this wonderful bill.
View Patrick Brown Profile
View Patrick Brown Profile
2013-11-06 17:46 [p.834]
Mr. Speaker, I will share a quote from one of Canada's most renowned historians, Michael Bliss, who said, “It is very exciting that Canada's major museum will now explicitly focus on Canada's history”.
This government has shown again and again that we are proud of our history in Canada. I am completely perplexed as to why the NDP cannot support a bill that is celebrating Canada.
View Patrick Brown Profile
View Patrick Brown Profile
2013-10-29 14:04 [p.540]
Mr. Speaker, only one short week ago, I hosted my eighth annual pancake breakfast in support of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. This commendable organization, driven by the hard work of both children and adults, is the largest supporter of type 1 diabetes research. At this year's breakfast, we saw a record turnout of 250 local residents and raised $2,000 for our local JDRF chapter.
As there still remains no cure, efforts must continue until type 1 diabetes is fully conquered. As chair of the all-party caucus on juvenile diabetes, I remain committed to winning this battle. This past June, I hosted my third annual Barrie waterfront half-marathon, which raised over $10,000 for diabetes research, and this upcoming weekend, I will be running in the New York City Marathon to raise vital funds to help assist those currently living with this disease in Simcoe county.
There are 300,000 Canadians currently living with juvenile diabetes, like my friend, nine-year-old Noah Stock, from Barrie, Ontario. Let us all go that extra mile for extraordinary kids like Noah Stock.
View Patrick Brown Profile
View Patrick Brown Profile
2013-10-29 16:09 [p.558]
Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to rise today to speak to some of the key initiatives in Bill C-4, the economic action plan 2013 act no. 2.
As a government, we have much to be proud of. I am glad to see that we remain focused on the issues that matter most to Canadians, which are job creation, keeping taxes low and returning to a balanced budget.
Through Canada's economic action plan, Canada has experienced one of the best economic performances among the G7 countries, both during the global recession and throughout the recovery. We have created over one million net new jobs, of which 90% are full time and over 85% are in the private sector, which is an astounding figure.
Statistics Canada announced that 59,200 net new jobs were created in August and nearly another 12,000 in September. The national unemployment rate has fallen to 6.9%, the lowest level since December 2008.
I have seen the same recovery happen in my hometown of Barrie, Ontario. In September, the unemployment rate in Barrie fell to 7.2%, an improvement of nearly 2% from the September before, which is remarkably better than the 11.7% unemployment rate we saw a few years ago. Therefore, I am certainly seeing in Barrie the recovery that has occurred nationally. As Councillor Brassard said when I addressed the Barrie City Council in September, the federal government's initiatives have been the linchpin to this recovery.
Our strategies to create jobs are working. I am particularly proud of our government's support for job growth through the Canada job grant. As organizations grow, their success is often contingent upon knowledgeable staff. However, with a family to feed and a full-time job, it can be tough for staff to go back to school on a full-time basis. That is why our government created a program that would enable employees to train for better jobs without having to worry about the excessive costs to retrain. Canadians who have an offer of a new or better job might qualify for up to $15,000 or more to learn new skills to accept that job. This will serve as a tremendous help to both employees and employers looking to grow their business.
However, the job does not end there. There is still more to be done. While more Canadians are finding work, I sympathize with the many Canadians who are still searching for gainful employment. We are not immune to the economic volatility beyond our borders. This is especially true for Canada's key trading partners, the United States and Europe. With our big export consumers still on shakey ground, that will have an impact on Canada's economy. That is why our government is staying focused on the economy and creating jobs. One way we are doing that is through supporting small business.
As we all know, small business growth has been one of the key components of Canada's recovery. Since taking office in 2006, our government has supported small business by keeping tax rates low. Small business is the economic engine that drives our economy. Statistics show that 75% of workers in Canada are employed by companies with four or fewer employees. Our commerce relies on keeping taxes low to maintain our competitive edge over many of our trading partners. I have heard this in Barrie.
On September 23, I had the pleasure of having the President of the Treasury Board in Barrie for two round tables, one with Meridian Commercial Banking, hosted by Councillor Alex Nuttall, and one with the Chamber of Commerce, hosted by its executive director, Sybil Goruk. It was that focus on training and small business that we heard at both those local round tables and that they appreciate our efforts on both those fronts.
We have already extended the hiring credit for small business up to $1,000 for new hires, and over one million employers have benefited from that program. There has been some strong feedback from the small business community on this initiative. BIA 2 seeks to expand that recovery by freezing the employment insurance rates that employers and employees pay for the next three years. In Barrie, this means that businesses and their employees will be keeping more money in their pockets, which is great news for our local economy, especially our small businesses.
In my riding, I have seen first-hand how many local businesses have benefited from federal incentives and programs. Federal investments have also supported local businesses to create jobs. For instance, through a repayable contribution, Southmedic was able to take its plant from China to Barrie. It is providing medical masks. TNR Industrial Doors had a major expansion with another repayable loan. Those are good, high-paying jobs.
With a repayable loan, Wolf Steel, which does high-efficiency furnaces, was able to almost double the size of its company with an impressive expansion. Even more significantly, thanks to the southern Ontario economic development agency, we were able to convince IBM to put a plant in Barrie. A $20-million contribution has led to some of the highest-skilled jobs around just on Bayview Drive. Phase one is now open and phase two will be under way shortly.
I would also like to mention the federal contributions that led to the new wellness centre in Barrie. That was 400 construction jobs; 400 new full-time and part-time jobs for staff and faculty. The economic impact of this construction alone was approximately $98 million for my community, a pretty significant benefit.
Last week, the Minister of Finance released the annual financial report of the Government of Canada for 2012-13. This report shows the continued downward track of Canada's annual deficit. In 2012-13, the deficit fell to $18.9 billion. This was down by more than one-quarter, $7.4 billion, from the deficit of $26.3 billion in 2011-12, and down by nearly two-thirds from the $55.6 billion deficit recorded in 2009-10. I certainly hear from around Barrie that this disciplined approach to deficit reduction is applauded and appreciated across Canada.
This is an excellent example of our government's responsible spending of taxpayer dollars. Further direct program expenses have fallen by 1.2% from the year prior and by 3.8% from 2010-11. We have found these savings without raising taxes or cutting transfers to the provinces and territories. The 1990 approach by the Liberals was simply to slash transfers to the provinces and that meant huge cuts to health care and education. That certainly was not the approach we were prepared to make. This has been a much more fiscally prudent manner to approach the deficit.
Our support does not end there. Our government has also recognized the need for improved infrastructure. Not only have we recognized this need but we have taken action by investing over $4.5 billion into greater Toronto area infrastructure since we took office in February 2006. Since 2006, the City of Barrie alone, to give another example, has seen its share of the federal gas transfers not only become permanent, but they have risen from over $2 million a year to $8 million. There is a lot that can be done with that and the city certainly has. We have put $7.2 million into various road renewal activities, and $16.5 million into improvements of stormwater management, like Kidds Creek, Bunkers Creek, Sophia Creek, the Kempenfelt Bay shoreline, culverts and storm sewers. In fact, the City of Barrie got an FCM award this year for its excellent management of gas tax funding. We have also put $2.1 million into the landfill improvement projects up on Ferndale Drive.
Continued investments in my region's infrastructure have improved amenities for families across the board. Building a better community is something that we all have a stake in and a commitment to new infrastructure helps make Barrie an attractive area to live, work, play and invest. I am sure that is the case in every community across this country. Certainly, Bill C-4 provides those significant tools to build our communities.
Not only does Bill C-4 address this issue now, but it includes initiatives that will help Canadians into the future as well. Canada has free trade agreements in force with more than 10 countries and half of those agreements have been brought into force in just over the last four years. These agreements are strategic economic advantages for our country in a wide range of sectors. I think we see that in every community in Canada.
Bill C-4 also addresses the Government of Canada's intent to set public service pay and benefit levels that are reasonable, responsible and in the public interest. Through the much needed amendments to the Public Service Labour Relations Act, we will ensure that the public service is affordable, modern and high performing, as taxpayers expect.
There is one other item I want to mention that I was particularly proud of in Bill C-4. That was the investments that were made in Lake Simcoe. This government has put $59 million into the cleanup of Lake Simcoe. We have never seen a nickel put into Lake Simcoe before this government. Bill C-4 also puts in funds for protection against invasive species. Lake Simcoe is a tremendous jewel in our region. It contributes an estimated $200 million to our region and more than 400,000 people depend on the lake for drinking water. We have seen the phosphorous levels go dramatically down, and I am proud that our government has shown such significant leadership on Lake Simcoe.
I commend the Minister of Finance for his incredible hard work on Bill C-4 and the astute leadership he has shown, respecting Canadian taxpayer dollars and investing in a manner that supports the economic growth of our country.
View Patrick Brown Profile
View Patrick Brown Profile
2013-10-29 16:21 [p.560]
Mr. Speaker, in terms of small businesses, it is very clear and widely recognized across the country that this government has been incredibly supportive, whether it was when we first got to office and reduced the tax rate for small businesses, or more recently with the small business hiring tax credit.
Recognizing small businesses as the economic engine of the country has always been a priority of this government, has always been a focus. Certainly I find it almost comical that the NDP would be standing up asking a question about small business. As we know, in every case when there has been an NDP provincial government in this country, small businesses have fled. I am sure the member recalls that when the NDP were in power in Ontario, I think we lost close to 10,000 small businesses under its economic management.
The best support for small businesses in Canada is a Conservative budget. We are certainly seeing that with the incredible support for small businesses that we have seen under the leadership of our current Minister of Finance.
View Patrick Brown Profile
View Patrick Brown Profile
2013-10-29 16:23 [p.560]
Mr. Speaker, I would certainly disagree with the interpretation of the hon. member.
This budget is certainly about standing up for Canadian workers. It is about creating more jobs and more opportunities. The impetus is creating jobs.
If we look at every aspect of this budget, it is about ways to stimulate our economy, because more jobs in our community, more jobs in our country, means there is greater competition for workers. I have certainly seen that in Barrie where our unemployment rate dropped from 11.7% to 7.2%. We are actually starting to see competition for workers, and that drives higher wages, that drives better working conditions.
We saw that with the expansion of TNR Doors, with Napoleon, with the acquisition of IBM. We are talking about creating a vibrant economy. That is what our Minister of Finance has been doing, and that is a win for workers across Canada.
View Patrick Brown Profile
View Patrick Brown Profile
2013-10-23 15:29 [p.299]
Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House to present a petition containing over 200 signatures from my riding of Barrie, Ontario in regard to a concern about genetically modified alfalfa. I will pass these concerns along.
View Patrick Brown Profile
View Patrick Brown Profile
2013-10-21 14:58 [p.170]
Mr. Speaker, since we were first elected, our government has passed over 30 measures to keep our streets and communities safe, yet the Leader of the Opposition said last week that he opposed our entire criminal justice agenda. He actually said things were better before we took office.
Would the Minister of Justice please explain what the justice system would look like if the Leader of the Opposition had his way and reversed our criminal justice reforms?
View Patrick Brown Profile
View Patrick Brown Profile
2013-06-13 13:33 [p.18288]
Mr. Speaker, I am sharing my time with the very hard-working member for Wetaskiwin.
I am pleased to say a few words about Bill S-16, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (trafficking in contraband tobacco)
This bill contains a number of very important amendments to the Criminal Code aimed directly at the criminals who are flooding Canada with illicit tobacco products that undermine the Canadian economy, fuel addiction, and add to the already serious long-term health issues associated with smoking.
As we have heard, this is not the first time that Canada has faced the challenge of contraband tobacco. When the problem first arose some two decades ago, it had to do with our own legally manufactured and exported tobacco products being smuggled back into our domestic market at greatly reduced prices. Through a combination of tax policy and enforcement measures, we were able to stem the tide of this early onslaught of contraband tobacco.
Since then, the primary legislative vehicle for controlling this illegal trade has been the Excise Act. This legislation combines fines, jail terms and forfeitures to enforce the prohibition against selling tobacco products that have not been stamped. Stamping indicates that the excise tax has been paid. Unfortunately, despite this legislation and despite the efforts of dedicated law enforcement officials, contraband tobacco remains a serious threat to the public safety of Canadians, their communities and the Canadian economy.
Although there are several sources for the contraband tobacco products that are entering Canada, the illicit trade is driven largely by illegal operations run by criminal organizations in both Canada and the United States. In this regard, the provinces of Ontario and Quebec have the highest concentration of illegal manufacturing operations, the majority of the high-volume smuggling points and the largest number of consumers of contraband tobacco.
In response, the government launched the RCMP contraband tobacco enforcement strategy in 2008 with a focus on reducing the availability and demand for contraband tobacco and on weakening the involvement of organized crime in this illegal industry. At the same time, the task force on illicit tobacco products was formed to identify concrete measures to disrupt or reduce the trade in contraband tobacco. The next year, the task force presented a lengthy report to the Minister of Public Safety in which it noted that at least 30% of Canadian tobacco purchases involved contraband tobacco.
One of the primary drivers of this illicit trade, aside from the willingness of consumers to pay markedly reduced prices, has been the shift from single individuals or small groups conducting sporadic smuggling to organized crime groups doing the smuggling and distributing the illicit tobacco through their criminal networks.
Clearly, the time has come to take steps to come to grips with the growing nature of this illegal activity and the growing involvement of criminal organizations whose related activities include the smuggling of other items into Canada using the same networks, which is particularly alarming.
This is the context in which we must evaluate Bill S-16.
Briefly, the bill is one part of a two-part response to the issue I have described. The first part is the bill itself. It proposes to amend the Criminal Code to create a new hybrid offence of trafficking in contraband tobacco, with mandatory minimum penalties for repeat offenders. The second part of the response is the implementation of a strengthened anti-contraband enforcement strategy that includes the establishment of an anti-contraband force made up of 50 RCMP officers. Both of these proposals respond to the 2011 election platform commitments of this government.
I will go into a bit more detail on exactly what is contained in Bill S-16.
First, the bill would create a new offence in the Criminal Code to deal with contraband tobacco trafficking. Indeed, the bill would prohibit the possession for the purpose of sale, offer for sale, or the transportation, delivery or distribution of a tobacco product, or raw leaf tobacco that is not packaged unless it is stamped. The terms “tobacco product”, “raw leaf tobacco”, “package” and “stamped” have the same meaning as in section 2 of the Excise Act, 2001. This would ensure consistency in our national enforcement efforts.
Pursuant to these proposed amendments, the maximum penalty for a first offence would be up to six months' imprisonment on a summary conviction and up to five years' imprisonment if prosecuted on an indictment.
Repeat offenders, convicted of this new offence in cases involving 10,000 cigarettes or more, 10 kilograms or more of any other tobacco product or 10 kilograms or more of any raw leaf tobacco would be sentenced to a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment of 90 days on a second conviction, a mandatory minimum of 180 days on a third conviction and a mandatory minimum of 2 years less a day on subsequent convictions.
The amendments proposed in the, appropriately titled, tackling contraband tobacco act would not only respond to our domestic problems but would equally respond to the broader international efforts to combat trafficking in tobacco. Let us recall in this context that tobacco smuggling by definition means the illegal movement of goods over national frontiers. Tobacco smuggling is a particularly widespread illegal activity and has an impact on a great number of countries. Thus, Canada is not alone in wanting to put an end to this illicit commerce.
In any attempt to combat organized crime's involvement in tobacco smuggling, one must recognize that organized crime adopts all forms of corruption to infiltrate political, economic and social levels all over the world. This issue has been addressed at both global and regional levels and continues to receive substantial domestic and international attention.
The international community has adopted many international instruments dealing with criminal law. These international agreements attest to a country's recognition of the need for international co-operation to tackle international crime. One aspect of international co-operation that is repeatedly found in these instruments deals with mutual legal assistance. This form of international co-operation is one of the most powerful tools employed by governments to reduce the incidence of international crime.
Therefore, not only does tobacco smuggling necessarily contain an international dimension, one that sometimes involves several countries and the crossing of several borders; it also involves, as our own law enforcement representatives have informed us, significant organized crime group participation. Bill S-16 would not exist in isolation. While this new legislation would help Canada combat tobacco smuggling, it would also help us combat tobacco smuggling and organized crime outside our own borders, not just in Canada alone.
In closing, I thank hon. members for their attention and urge them to consider the broad context in which Bill S-16 must be assessed. Once they have done that, I am convinced they will agree with me that this bill ought to be passed and implemented without delay.
View Patrick Brown Profile
View Patrick Brown Profile
2013-06-13 13:41 [p.18290]
Mr. Speaker, I am not on the committee dealing with this bill, but I know these bills get looked at very seriously in committee.
I would agree with the hon. member on her concern about the importance of combating the dangers associated with tobacco. That is why, with the five-year renewal of the federal tobacco strategy in 2012, Health Canada will continue its very dedicated work on tobacco control initiatives that are aimed to preserve the gains we have made in the last 10 years, which are quite significant.
View Patrick Brown Profile
View Patrick Brown Profile
2013-06-11 14:05 [p.18081]
Mr. Speaker, this weekend I participated in the Telus Walk to Cure Diabetes, hosted each year by the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. Along with 45,000 other people across Canada, I walked to help raise funds for research to cure, better treat and prevent type 1 diabetes. To date, this annual walk has raised $90,000 in Simcoe County alone. This year's walk had 800 participants just in Barrie.
As chair of the all-party juvenile diabetes caucus, I have had the privilege of meeting hundreds of Canadians affected by type 1 diabetes. Currently, there are more than 3 million Canadians living with some form of diabetes and more than 300,000 Canadians living with type 1 diabetes.
Although a cure has not yet been found, Canada has long been a world leader in diabetes breakthroughs in the realm of science, including the discovery of insulin and the Edmonton protocol.
I would like to recognize Simcoe County's JDRF youth ambassadors: Noah Stock, Sydney Grace, Carson, Rebecca, Michael and Olivia for all their hard work in making this past weekend's fundraising walk a big success.
View Patrick Brown Profile
View Patrick Brown Profile
2013-06-10 12:06 [p.17951]
Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to speak to Bill S-15. I am pleased to have this opportunity to speak in support of this bill.
Sable Island is one of Canada's great natural treasures, a windswept remote island renowned for its wild horses and its historical role as the site of the nation's first life-saving station.
It is a place of astounding beauty, with sand dunes, marram grass and freshwater ponds. Anyone fortunate enough to visit this unique environment is captivated by its diversity of plants, birds and animal life. The island is home to several endangered species.
This rare and remarkable place also has a rich cultural history. Sable Island holds a special place in the hearts and minds of Nova Scotians and Canadians. It has inspired artists and writers locally, across the country and internationally.
An island of such spectacular beauty, rare flora and fauna and cultural heritage is wholly deserving of our protection. That is why on October 17, 2011, the governments of Canada and Nova Scotia signed a memorandum of agreement to establish and manage Sable Island as a national park reserve of Canada.
Our objective is to protect Sable Island for all time for the benefit, education and enjoyment of the people of Canada. As the House is aware, the designation of Sable Island as a national park reserve of Canada takes into consideration the Mi'kmaq asserted rights and title in Nova Scotia. These are being addressed through the made-in-Nova Scotia process between the governments of Canada, Nova Scotia and the Mi'kmaq.
Moreover, the governments of Canada and Nova Scotia have agreed that Parliament will enact legislation amending the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Resources Accord Implementation Act to prohibit drilling for petroleum in Sable Island national park reserve of Canada and to limit the range of surface access rights in respect to the petroleum work or activity in the park reserve.
We have done the essential preparatory work, and I would like to highlight the many reasons why Parks Canada is uniquely situated to oversee the protection of Sable Island.
The Parks Canada network now includes 44 national parks, 167 national historic sites and 4 national marine conservation areas. Since 1911, this agency has worked hard to ensure that Canada's historic and natural heritage is protected and that Canadians and people around the world can engage in inspiring discoveries of our treasured and natural historic places.
Let me give an overview of how we have expanded Parks Canada's protected areas network in recent years. In 2006, that network was 277,400 square kilometres in size. Since then, the Government of Canada has taken actions that would protect an additional 149,639 square kilometres. This would bring Parks Canada's network to more than 427,000 square kilometres, or a 54% increase.
What these numbers demonstrate is how completely Parks Canada is committed to taking care of our natural treasures and to acting as their ever-vigilant stewards. The early visionaries of our parks system recognized that connecting with the natural world can be a deeply meaningful and moving experience, and a fundamental part of that mission was a way to foster these connections. This is a principle to which Parks Canada remains dedicated.
Allow me to give some highlights of Parks Canada's achievements over the past few years, all of which provide ample evidence of this agency's fitness for the stewardship role with regard to Sable Island. Let me start with some recent top achievements, several of them marking firsts, not just in Canada but in the world.
In 2007, the Prime Minister announced the creation of the largest freshwater marine protected area in the world, Lake Superior National Marine Conservation Area. This addition to our system comprises more than 10,000 square kilometres, including the lake bed, islands and north shore lands.
In 2009, we expanded the boundary of the Nahanni National Park Reserve sixfold to over 30,000 square kilometres. There is absolutely no doubt that this landmark conservation achievement is quite significant. In fact it is the greatest accomplishment for Parks Canada in a generation. I am delighted to note that it was done in close collaboration with the Dehcho First Nations.
Another outstanding accomplishment in 2009 was the establishment of the Saoyú-§ehdacho National Historic Site in the Northwest Territories. This marks the first of three firsts in Canada. This national historic site was the first northern cultural landscape commemorated by the Government of Canada; the first northern national historic site co-operatively managed by Parks Canada and an aboriginal group; and also the first protected area established under the Northwest Territories protected areas strategy. This historic site comprises two peninsulas bordering the Great Bear Lake. It is an area of 5,565 square kilometres, which is approximately the size of Prince Edward Island. This site protects a cultural landscape of great importance to the Sahtu people of the Great Bear Lake. The elders' vision for the site is one of continued teaching and healing, a place that forever helps to sustain the culture and well-being of the people.
In 2010, the Government of Canada formally established the Gwaii Haanas National Marine Conservation Area Reserve and Haida Heritage Site, which some people call “the Canadian Galapagos”. This achievement was a result of historic and outstanding collaborative partnership between the Government of Canada and the Haida Nation. What is extraordinary about this unique protective measure is the combination of the existing park reserve with a new marine conservation area. In total, over 5,000 square kilometres are now protected: a spectacular wilderness that extends from alpine mountaintops to the deep sea beyond the continental shelf. The scope of this achievement is a first not only for Canada but also for North America and the world.
In 2011, Parks Canada oversaw the successful reintroduction of the plains bison and the black-footed ferret, an animal once thought to be extinct for most of the 20th century, in the Grasslands National Park. This measure was part of the $75-million investment to improve the ecological integrity of national parks and national park reserves across Canada.
It was also in 2011 that the Government of Canada announced it would create Canada's first national urban park in Toronto. The concept of a national urban park is an entirely new and unique one to Parks Canada and, indeed, to Canada. Once established, Rouge national urban park will provide an unparalleled opportunity to reach the 20% of Canadians who live within the vicinity of the park and in Canada's most culturally diverse city. Since the 2011 announcement of the Rouge national park, Parks Canada has made steady progress toward establishing this unique protected area in the heart of Canada's most populated area. The agency has worked with first nations and more than 100 communities and organizations including youth. I note that my riding in the city of Barrie is very close to this Rouge national park, and I know that across southern Ontario the commitment to it has been supported and appreciated.
I also remind members of the House about four successful multi-partnership expeditions that Parks Canada has led in Canada's Arctic, in search of the lost vessels of Sir John Franklin. This work has helped narrow our search, with the great added advantages of further asserting Canadian sovereignty and deepening our scientific knowledge in the Arctic. The work to protect our natural heritage is ceaseless, and it takes in all parts of our vast nation.
In May 2012, for example, the governments of Canada and Quebec announcement the creation of an advisory committee for the feasibility assessment of a marine protected area in Îles-de-la-Madeleine.
In August 2012, the Prime Minister announced the establishment and boundaries of Canada's 44th national park, the Nááts'ihch'oh National Park Reserve in the Northwest Territories. This new national park reserve will serve as a launching area for visitors to its northern wilderness, with its breathtaking landscapes of the upper reaches of the world-famous South Nahanni River. Together, the Nahanni and the Nááts'ihch'oh national park reserves protect habitat for mountain woodland caribou, grizzly bears, Dall sheep, mountain goats and trumpeter swans, while at the same time supporting the economic aspirations of first nations and the tourism industries of the region.
I need hardly tell members that the Parks Canada role in the protection of our diverse precious natural areas and species is one of which all Canadians can justly be proud. In its dedicated work as a steward, Parks Canada is an example to the world. In fact, its reach and influence extend globally, and it has received international recognition for its achievements.
For example, in May 2011, the World Wildlife Fund International recognized Parks Canada with its prestigious Gift to the Earth award. The award noted Parks Canada's outstanding conservation achievements, including the recent dramatic growth of Canada's system of national parks and national marine conservation areas.
In September 2012, Parks Canada led the development of the publication titled “North American Protected Areas as Natural Solutions to Climate Change”, released at the International Union for the Conservation of Nature World Conservation Congress in South Korea. This publication is a collaborative effort of the North American Intergovernmental Committee on Wilderness and Protected Area Conservation with the government representation from Canada, the United States and Mexico.
I would like to turn now to some of Parks Canada's achievements in the realm of historic and cultural commemoration. As I noted earlier, these are important aspects in the protection of Sable Island.
In fact, in 2012, Parks Canada received such a historic designation itself. That year, the Government of Canada honoured the agency as the world's first national parks service by commemorating the Creation of the Dominion Parks Branch and the birth of Parks Canada as an event of national historic significance.
Parks Canada's other commemorative highlights last year included the opening of the new visitor centre at Fort Wellington National Historic Site as part of the special War of 1812 commemoration. The Calgary Stampede, billed as the greatest outdoor show on Earth, was also recognized as an event of national historic significance as was the Grey Cup.
In August last year, our environment minister designated Canada's heritage lighthouses under the Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act, which included the St. Paul Island Southwest Lighthouse in Dingwall, Nova Scotia and McNab Point and the Saugeen River Front and Rear Range lights in Southampton, Ontario.
On the 100th anniversary of the sinking of RMS Titanic, the government honoured the historic efforts of Canadians in the recovery of victims of the disaster.
Earlier, I mentioned Parks Canada's involvement in searching for the ships of the Franklin expedition. In July 2010, the agency embarked upon its 10 day archeological survey of Aulavik National Park to locate HMS Investigator wreck and document and map the land sites associated with Captain Robert McClure's expedition to find the Northwest Passage. This initiative produced a number of findings, including the shipwreck of HMS Investigator, three gravesites and new information on the equipment and provision cache site.
I said that Parks Canada's commitment to protecting our natural and cultural heritage is unceasing. So, too, are the agency's efforts to help connect Canadians with nature.
The early visionaries of our parks system recognized that when people connected with the natural world they could have an experience that was deeply meaningful and moving. A fundamental part of Parks Canada's mission is therefore to foster these connections.
Today, that mission is more urgent than ever before. As many members of the House know, North Americans are becoming more and more disconnected with nature. Tackling the disconnection and fostering Canadians' close relation with the natural world is therefore a task for Parks Canada, and it takes it very seriously.
It is typical of the agency's dedication to this vision that it used its own anniversary to further this crucial work. In its anniversary year of 2011, Parks Canada introduced a series of ongoing programs to reach Canadians and youth in particular.
Among these were the innovative and highly popular learn to camp initiative, overnight camping events aimed at introducing city dwellers, many of them young families or recent immigrants, to camping and other fun outdoor activities.
Through its my parks pass program, the agency provided every grade 8 student across the country with passes to enter all of Parks Canada's sites free of charge for 12 months.
Parks Canada also introduced a promotion called “Canada's coolest school trip” in which a grade 8 class could win a school trip to visit a national park or historic site.
Using multimedia, the agency's national parks project brought together 52 of Canada's best musicians and filmmakers to create music and film inspired by Canada's most breathtaking national parks. These films are available online. The soundtrack album is in stores and on iTunes and a documentary TV series is running on Discovery World.
Also on television, Parks Canada premiered Operation Unplugged, a reality show in which eight urban young people traded their techno-dependent lifestyles for a summer unplugged in the national parks.
In all these ways, Parks Canada's centennial celebrations help the agency meet its target for public engagement so Canadians' awareness of Parks Canada and support for its work are growing across the country. Parks Canada reports the visitation to national parks is now slowly increasing, helping to reverse a downward trend seen over many years.
In my overview, I have touched on many areas of Parks Canada's achievements, all of which demonstrate the agency's long history, experience and passion for protecting our natural and cultural heritage. I noted its international recognition and that it was the first national parks agency in the world. I am fully confident that this superbly well-qualified federal agency will make an ideal steward for the wondrous beauty and unique character of Sable Island. I am therefore urging all members in the House to support the bill, which would make this exquisite island one of the jewels in our national parks system with Parks Canada as its able steward.
View Patrick Brown Profile
View Patrick Brown Profile
2013-06-10 12:24 [p.17954]
Mr. Speaker, first, since 2006, this government has put significant investments into Parks Canada. More significant, we need to look at the overall numbers. One could say that in this year or that year there was small cut or a large increase, but the bottom line is if we look at an overview of Parks Canada, the protected areas in 2006 went from 277,000 square kilometres in size to an astounding 427,000 square kilometres today, a 54% increase to Parks Canada. That is an accomplishment for the Government of Canada. It shows the commitment of the Conservatives to Parks Canada, which is quite astounding.
View Patrick Brown Profile
View Patrick Brown Profile
2013-06-10 12:25 [p.17954]
Mr. Speaker, first, let me note that it is great to have such an advocate in the member for Calgary Centre-North. Her commitment at the environment committee and to Parks Canada is simply incredible.
She is absolutely correct that it is a mistake for the member for Saanich—Gulf Islands to try to block or build support against investing in Parks Canada and against creating national parks. It does an incredible amount of good. When it comes to ecological protection, I think this is something all Canadians value to ensure the partnership created with first nations and with the Government of Nova Scotia is honoured at the multi-level agreement. We should honour that ecological protection. I am so proud to be part of a government that is so committed to doing so.
View Patrick Brown Profile
View Patrick Brown Profile
2013-06-10 12:27 [p.17954]
Mr. Speaker, this government has shown a tremendous commitment to the environment. Rather than just talk about it, like the NDP likes to, the Conservative government has taken tangible action. In my own home area in Simcoe county, for the first time in history, the Government of Canada, rather than leaving it to local authorities to invest in, invested in the cleanup of Lake Simcoe, with a $30-million initial grant and a subsequent $29-million grant. Phosphorous levels are now at an all-time modern low. It is not just Lake Simcoe, it is Lake Winnipeg and across the country that there has been a commitment to cleaning up the environment in a very real and meaningful manner.
In terms of the international forums the member mentioned, I would note that we are being honoured in Canada for Canada's unique and zealous commitment to the environment. A good example is in 2001 the World Wildlife Fund recognized Parks Canada with its prestigious Gift to the Earth award to recognize Canadian efforts. Additionally, we were recognized at the World Conservation Congress in South Korea in 2012.
This is certainly a government with a track record of success and accomplishments in the environment. I know my home community in Barrie, Ontario, tremendously appreciates the cleanup that has happened on the shores of Kempenfelt Bay.
View Patrick Brown Profile
View Patrick Brown Profile
2013-06-10 12:31 [p.17955]
Mr. Speaker, certainly the member's support for this bill is appreciated. Sending this to committee is an important step in the process, so that is encouraging to hear. I understand that the member will have a role in suggesting witnesses so that we can see some of the structure associated with the conservation process and hear appropriate guidelines and suggestions.
There is already an ongoing dialogue between the Government of Nova Scotia and the Government of Canada. I know that the member for Calgary Centre-North has spoken in the House of Commons in great detail to some of the elements of conservation and what they would entail. The member may want to take a look at that in Hansard.
Overall, this is a fundamental commitment to the province of Nova Scotia and to Canadians that we value our natural heritage sites. If we look at the big picture, it is about supporting ongoing efforts to expand our national parks system. Since 2006, we have seen not only a net increase in the budget for Parks Canada but an astounding 54% increase in the number of square kilometres associated with Parks Canada.
View Patrick Brown Profile
View Patrick Brown Profile
2013-05-30 22:44 [p.17432]
Mr. Speaker, ensuring that all Canadians have safe communities in which to live has been a priority for our government since taking office. Our government has undertaken numerous initiatives to ensure the safety of Canadians. For example, our government is following through on its commitment to give the RCMP the tools it needs to enhance public confidence and increase accountability to its members and Canadians. This is apparent through our support for Bill C-42, the enhancing Royal Canadian Mounted Police accountability act. This legislation would enable the RCMP to continue its ongoing transformation toward a strong and vibrant national police force that Canadians will continue to believe in and value.
The enhancing Royal Canadian Mounted Police accountability act would help the RCMP remain accountable and relevant now and in the future. First, this act would create a modern, independent civilian review and complaints commission for the RCMP which would strengthen civilian oversight. Second, investigations of serious incidents, such as death or serious injury involving RCMP members, would be more transparent and accountable to the public through the implementation of a new framework. Third, the act would modernize processes with respect to discipline, grievance and human resources management for RCMP members, because it would put in place mechanisms to prevent, address and correct performance and conduct issues fairly and in a timely manner. These changes would help address concerns that have been raised by both the Canadian public and RCMP members themselves.
Bill C-51, the safer witnesses act, is another important legislative change that would support the work of our police and ensure that we meet our commitments to Canadians. Witness protection programs offer protection, sometimes including new identities for certain individuals whose testimony or co-operation is vital to the success of law enforcement operations. In Canada, the RCMP administers the federal witness protection program, which was officially established in 1996 with the passage of the Witness Protection Program Act. Through the federal witness protection program, the RCMP can provide emergency protection in the form of permanent relocation and secure identity changes for witnesses under threat.
The legislation governing the federal witness protection program, however, has not been substantially changed since 1996, when it first came into force. This has posed challenges for the RCMP, who must contend with the constantly changing nature of organized crime. The safer witnesses act would help strengthen the current federal witness protection program and thus support the RCMP in effectively combating crime, particularly organized crime. Bill C-51 would also help protect individuals, including RCMP members and other law enforcement officers and civilians involved in administering and delivering witness protection.
Disclosing information about individuals in the federal witness protection program is prohibited by the Witness Protection Program Act. Bill C-51 would expands on this by also prohibiting the disclosure of information about individuals who provide or assist in providing protection for witnesses as well as how the program operates. Under Bill C-51, this prohibition would extend to both the federal and designated provincial programs. Bill C-51 would also positively impact the provision of protection by promoting greater integration between federal and provincial witness protection programs.
Under the current legislation, if an individual in a provincial witness protection program requires a secure identity change, he or she must be temporarily transferred into a federal witness protection program so that the RCMP can obtain the appropriate documents. This may introduce delays in the process. The changes proposed by Bill C-51 would allow provincial and territorial governments to request that their programs be designated under the federal witness protection program act. This one-time designation would mean that the witness in the witness protection program could receive a secure identity change without needing to be admitted into the federal one. These reforms would support the provision of protection at all levels by streamlining the process to obtain secure federal documents for these purposes.
Another change proposed by Bill C-51 responds in part to a recommendation made in the final report of the Air India inquiry. The legislation proposes to expand the categories of witnesses who may be admitted to the witness protection program to include persons who assist federal departments, agencies or services that have a national security, national defence or public safety mandate and who may require protection as a result.
More organizations would also be able to refer candidates. Examples of such organizations are the Canadian Security Intelligence Service and the Department of National Defence. Currently, referrals are only accepted from law enforcement and international courts or tribunals.
The RCMP has administered the witness protection program for the last 15 years, during which time it has gained significant experience and insight into factors that make for a successful witness protection program. Bill C-51 would build on this experience and address a number of operational issues that the RCMP has experienced.
For example, Bill C-51 would clarify the process for voluntary termination from the federal program. It would also extend the amount of time emergency protection might be provided to candidates being considered for admission into the federal program. Emergency protection would be increased from the current 90 days to a maximum of 180 days.
In addition to these changes proposed by Bill C-51, the RCMP is currently taking measures to enhance the federal witness protection program, including incorporating psychological assessments of candidates and counselling for protectees and their families, incorporating risk-management principles into the admission process, enhancing training for witness handlers and administrators, creating a database that would better inform program design and, lastly, offering the services of legal counsel to all candidates being considered for admission into the federal program.
The RCMP would also continue to use the existing seven criteria outlined in the act to assess whether to admit an individual into the program, including the risk to the witness, the danger to the community if the person were to be admitted into the program, the nature of the inquiry and the importance of the witness in the matter, the value of information and evidence to be given by a witness, the likelihood that the witness can adjust to the program, the cost of maintaining a witness in the program, alternate methods of protection and other factors deemed by the commissioner to be relevant.
Our government has been quite clear that one of our top priorities is to keep our streets and communities safe and to support families, as outlined by the Prime Minister. Our plan involves tackling crime, supporting victims' rights and promoting a fair and efficient justice system.
Today, our government builds on the success of the last seven years and would provide the RCMP with the tools it needs to do its job more effectively.
This and other legislation would ensure that we have a fully accountable national police force that will continue to fulfill its role to protect Canadians here at home and abroad.
For that reason, I urge all members to support this legislation and work toward ensuring it is passed in an expeditious manner.
View Patrick Brown Profile
View Patrick Brown Profile
2013-05-30 22:53 [p.17433]
Mr. Speaker, if the member is not interested in the debates of Parliament, he can certainly leave. I know it is typical for the Liberal caucus to not show up for debates or votes. If he wants to continue that practice, he is welcome to leave.
However, I think we should encourage discussion on weighty matters like this and encourage debate. Certainly, that is one of the real values of our Parliament. To say it is not important or relevant to have a thorough discussion on public safety and supporting the needs of the RCMP is inappropriate. It goes to show that the Liberals have been consistent in not supporting the justice agenda to make sure Canadians are safe. This pattern of showing no interest in law and order is one of the reasons they continue to be defeated at the polls by Canadians.
View Patrick Brown Profile
View Patrick Brown Profile
2013-05-30 22:56 [p.17433]
Mr. Speaker, obviously it will be left to the experts to decide, based on the seven criteria, how many of the potential witnesses would be put into this program. I would note that Tom Stamatakis, the president of the Canadian Police Association, when it came to cost said that it is obviously important, but he said that this would “...deliver the best possible community protection at a reasonable cost to the Canadian taxpayer”.
I think that is why we have seen the RCMP and the Canadian Police Association express the importance of this legislation because it is reasonable and the costs are manageable, but fundamentally what is important is the safety of Canadians, and this would enhance that.
View Patrick Brown Profile
View Patrick Brown Profile
2013-05-30 22:57 [p.17433]
Mr. Speaker, yes, this bill certainly would do a lot to enhance safety in our communities.
I would note, on the member's first question, that the teamwork in the Conservative caucus and the great work from the member for Brampton West in back-checking helped ensure that we held the day against the media. We were very pleased to work together on a hockey rink, just as we do in Parliament to ensure the best interests of Canadians are accounted for.
View Patrick Brown Profile
View Patrick Brown Profile
2013-05-27 22:15 [p.17093]
Mr. Speaker, I am thankful to have the opportunity today to contribute to the second reading debate on Bill C-54, the not criminally responsible reform act. The bill proposes to amend the mental disorder regime in the Criminal Code and the National Defence Act to strengthen their ability to better protect the safety of the public, as well as do a better job at responding to the needs of victims in the mental disorder regime.
It may be useful to provide a bit of background on the existing mental disorder regime before I outline the amendments proposed in Bill C-54 and why they are important reforms.
A fundamental principle of our criminal law, including the mental disorder regime, is that a person must be morally blameworthy to be criminally liable for a wrongful act or omission. They must have the mental capacity to know and appreciate what they are doing and the mental capacity to distinguish between what is right and wrong. Also, they must be able to communicate and give instructions to their lawyer and understand the nature and consequences of a criminal trial in order to be tried.
If, at the time the act was committed, a person suffered from a mental disorder that rendered that person incapable of knowing what they did or that it was wrong, the trial court can find the person committed the act in question but order a verdict of not criminally responsible on account of mental disorder. If at that time of trial the mentally disordered person does not have the capacity to understand the nature and the consequences of the criminal trial, they may be found unfit to stand trial.
After either of these findings, the person will be dealt with according to the mental disorder regime, which is designed to balance the twin goals of public protection and fair treatment of the accused, usually by provincially appointed review boards. The review boards are composed of at least five members with legal and psychiatric expertise.
As I noted, the bill contains elements that address both public safety and victims. In terms of the public safety reforms, the bill would amend the Criminal Code and clarify that public safety is paramount in consideration for the review board decision-making process. Although the Supreme Court of Canada has said that public safety is already the paramount consideration, most recently in its 2010 judgment of Regina v. Conway, the proposed amendment would ensure consistent application in cases across the country.
The reforms would also codify the Supreme Court of Canada's interpretation of “significant threat to the safety of the public”, which is the current test for determining whether review boards can continue to supervise the not criminally responsible accused. The Supreme Court interpreted this phrase in the Winko case in 1999.
The amendment would also clarify that the accused need not pose a threat of violence, but must pose a real risk of physical or psychological harm to members of the public that is more than merely trivial or annoying and must be criminal in nature. This would ensure this test is applied consistently across all jurisdictions.
Bill C-54 also proposes to create a new high-risk mentally disordered accused designation scheme. This new scheme would only apply to the accused who were found not criminally responsible for a serious personal injury offence. The mental disorder regime would define a serious personal injury offence as an indictable offence involving the use or attempted use of violence, conduct endangering life or safety, or sexual offences. In these cases, the Crown would apply for the high-risk designation to be made by the court.
This designation could be made in two situations. The first would occur when the court was satisfied that there was a substantial likelihood that the not criminally responsible accused would commit violence that would endanger the life or safety of another person. The second situation would be if the court was of the opinion that the offence for which the not criminally responsible accused was found to be not criminally responsible was particularly brutal, so as to indicate a risk of grave harm to the public.
Accused persons who are found to be unfit are not included in this high-risk designated scheme because they have not yet been tried and determined by a court to have committed the act. The effect of such a judicial designation is to protect society from a high-risk individual and prevent the accused from being conditionally or absolutely discharged.
As well, a high-risk not criminally responsible accused would not be permitted unescorted passes in the community. This is particularly important. Escorted passes would only be permitted for medical reasons and only when a structured plan was in place to ensure the safety of the public.
It is important to clarify that the high-risk designation would not be permanent. Once a review board was satisfied that the high-risk, not criminally responsible accused no longer posed a substantial likelihood of committing violence that would endanger the life or safety of another person, it would make a recommendation to the superior court of criminal jurisdiction for review. The court would then hold another hearing to determine whether the designation should be removed. If it reached the same conclusion as the review board, the designation would be revoked. The accused would then become a regular not criminally responsible accused and would be dealt with under the regular procedures of the mental disorder regime. These are balanced proposals that seek to protect both the safety of the public and the rights of accused persons to fair and appropriate treatment.
I would like to return to the victim-related reforms. The mental disorder regime already offers many opportunities for victims to be involved in this process. They can attend hearings and present victim impact statements.
The proposed reforms would enhance victim involvement by providing that victims be notified, on request, when a discharge order has been made. This would ensure that victims have advance notice about the fact that they may run into the mentally disordered accused. This is especially concerning if the person is released into a small community.
The law would also be clarified explicitly to provide that the safety of victims be considered in the decision-making process. Further, Bill C-54 proposes to clarify that the review board shall consider whether it is desirable to issue a non-communication order between the not criminally responsible accused and the victim. The review board would also consider whether to order the not criminally responsible accused to not attend a specific place, such as the victim's home or place of work.
In closing, I would like to encourage all members to support this bill's passage at second reading. This is a bill that would provide balanced measures to protect public safety and enhance victim involvement in the mental disorder regime. These are reforms we should all support.
View Patrick Brown Profile
View Patrick Brown Profile
2013-05-27 22:22 [p.17094]
Mr. Speaker, one of the important aspects of this bill is that it takes into consideration the role of the victims.
To go through an ordeal as a victim is a huge challenge, but to then have this memory revisited by potentially having the person who was convicted in your small town or place of work and not know about it would be harrowing. That is why this bill takes the rights of the victims into consideration and involves them in the process by giving them advance notice and the ability to have conditions placed upon the release.
It is the right balance. The bill recognizes the role of the victims. I applaud the minister and the team for putting that in Bill C-54.
View Patrick Brown Profile
View Patrick Brown Profile
2013-05-27 22:24 [p.17094]
Mr. Speaker, on the issue of cost, I would note that this government has invested a lot in mental health. Since 2006, the government has invested nearly $90 million in mental health for prisoners.
In terms of transfer payments and the costs the provinces accrue, the provinces have received transfer payments that this year now total $62 million. That is nearly a 50% increase since 2006. This government has been very generous with the provinces.
What it comes down to is making sure that we have balance and fairness in our justice system. If there is a cost associated with protecting and being aware of the rights of victims in the process of ensuring public safety in our communities, then that is certainly the right decision to be made.
View Patrick Brown Profile
View Patrick Brown Profile
2013-05-27 22:26 [p.17095]
Mr. Speaker, obviously I do not know the details of the specific case raised by the member.
This legislation is important, because it would do three things. It would enhance victims rights. It would put public safety first, and it would create a very important high-risk designation. I want to speak directly to the high-risk designation.
The legislation would create a new designation to protect the public from a high-risk, not criminally responsible accused. Upon this high-risk designation by a court, a not criminally responsible accused would have to be held in custody and could not be considered for release by a review board until his or her designation was revoked by a court.
This is important for our communities. If the member is asking what the point of the bill is, it is about protecting public safety. Obviously, there is a lot of support for this in the country. Any of us who have constituents who have heard about these reforms know that there is a lot of support for it. I am glad that this government is putting victims first and is protecting public safety across the country.
View Patrick Brown Profile
View Patrick Brown Profile
2013-05-07 14:06 [p.16413]
Mr. Speaker, this Thursday I will attending a special dinner held by Barrie's local reserve infantry regiment, the Grey and Simcoe Foresters, to raise funds to support events in appreciation of the visit by Her Royal Highness Princess Anne this fall to Canadian Forces Base Borden, and for a special ceremony at which the regiment will receive its official new colours for the first time in 30 years.
As one of the guest speakers for the evening, I will have the honour of being joined by Lieutenant-General Peter Devlin, Commander of the Canadian Army, and Honorary Colonels Jamie Massie and Barry Peacock.
I am proud to support our infantry reservists from the Grey and Simcoe Counties who have served with distinction in this institution so proudly steeped in history.
I would like to recognize all members of the Grey and Simcoe Foresters, past and present, for their outstanding service and commitment to peace and security. I congratulate them on their excellent fundraising event. I know it will be an excellent success this Thursday.
View Patrick Brown Profile
View Patrick Brown Profile
2013-05-02 13:12 [p.16204]
Mr. Speaker, I rise today to show my support for economic action plan 2013, the budget implementation act. I am pleased to see our government continue to invest in the programs and services that are most important to Canadians.
The impact of Canada's economic health is vital to all Canadians. The economic action plan was initially designed to lead Canada out of the worst recession in generations. The temporary stimulus measures of the economic action plan had their intended effect. The projects created jobs at a time of recession while making investments in local infrastructure that would benefit our communities for years to come, leaving a lasting legacy.
Our agenda has kept Canada's economy on the right path. For instance, we are increasing skills and training support by introducing the new Canada job grant to help more Canadians get high-quality, well-paying jobs. We are also helping businesses succeed by extending the accelerated capital cost allowance to encourage manufacturers to invest in new equipment, extending the hiring credit for small businesses, and making strategic investments in world-class research and innovation.
Through the strong leadership of our Prime Minister and the Minister of Finance, Canada has created over 950,000 net new jobs since July 2009. I am pleased to report that the vast majority are full-time, private sector jobs. That is the best record in the G7.
We have seen Canada maintain its Triple-A credit rating through this period of difficult economic instability and uncertainty. We continue to see Canada with the lowest net debt-to-GDP ratio and the lowest overall tax rate on new business investment in the G7. Moreover, the IMF and the OECD have forecast that Canada is on track to stay near the top of the G7 in economic growth in the years ahead.
I would like to take a closer look at some of the initiatives in the budget and share with the House some information on how this budget would benefit the people of the city of Barrie, whom I have the honour to represent.
Set around Lake Simcoe, Kempenfelt Bay, Barrie's waterfront is one of the most beautiful natural assets we have. It is a major boost to tourism across Simcoe County and all around the province. There is no doubt that the health of Lake Simcoe is vital to our region and to the people who live in the city of Barrie. Unfortunately, in recent years, the presence of zebra mussels has become an increasingly large threat to the lake's well-being. The growing presence of invasive species has continually posed a problem in Lake Simcoe's waters.
Our government has been very committed to making sure that the lake is as healthy as possible. It all started in 2007 when we announced a historic $30 million cleanup fund, which is a five-year fund from 2007 to 2012. It was going to deal with some of the concerns over rising phosphorus levels, which result in excessive weed growth and a reduction of marine habitat. This fund was very successful in working with stakeholders at reducing the phosphorus levels. In 2013, this fund was extended for another five years with an additional $29 million.
I would note that, historically, the health of Lake Simcoe has been left to local governments. It took a Conservative government to finally invest in cleaning up the lake. I have to say that it was very well received in our region. The fact that we continue to fund that cleanup has been absolutely terrific.
However, it is not just cleaning up the lake; this budget also deals with the concern of invasive species, as I mentioned. It allocates an additional $4 million over three years to continue this battle against zebra mussels through the continued enforcement and monitoring of ballast water regulations.
Our government's commitment to protect our natural environment is commendable on many levels. I am pleased to note that younger generations in our region can be confident that they will be able to enjoy Lake Simcoe for years to come.
In furthering this commitment to protect and sustain our precious waters, our government has paid close attention to the depleting water levels, particularly in the upper Great Lakes, including Georgian Bay. I have heard from many of my constituents in and around Barrie that this is a major concern, especially for cottagers. It is not just people living along Georgian Bay; an incredible number of people use the water area. Therefore, I was pleased to see this budget address the concern of lower water levels.
In March 2012 the International Joint Commission received the results of the water levels study. It is great to see that this budget commits to working with the IJC on resolutions and recommendations to deal with this growing concern.
There are also a few more highlights for Barrie in the budget.
We have seen the importance of infrastructure, such as transportation, community centres and water treatment facilities, in our communities. Our government's investment in infrastructure in the Barrie area alone has totalled well over $100 million since we were elected in 2006. It makes the city much stronger, a much better place to attract business and a healthier place to live. It is great to see that this current economic action plan would enhance that commitment to infrastructure.
The budget would deliver the new building Canada plan, which is a combination of other measures in the budget. It actually is the largest infrastructure program in Canadian history. The building Canada plan would provide stable funding for 10 years and help keep our communities moving with investments in roads, bridges, commuter rail and other aspects of transit. Over the next two years alone we would be investing close to $10 billion. That is more than the previous government's entire 13 years in office. This plan's three main components include the community improvement fund, the new building Canada fund and the renewed P3 Canada fund to include in total over $70 billion in federal infrastructure funding, which is just incredible.
The gas tax, a temporary program by the previous government that we have enhanced and made permanent, has a tangible benefit for every community in the country. It means $7.8 million on an annual basis to the city of Barrie.
Let me speak of some other positive aspects of the budget.
In order to promote the culture of giving in Canada, the 2013 economic action plan proudly increases the federal charitable donations tax credit and introduces a new temporary first-time donor super credit for first-time claimants. I am particularly impressed with this aspect of the budget as it creates an appeal for young Canadians to donate to charity. There are many huge capital campaigns in my community where that is exactly what they are working on, finding new first-time donors, whether it is the hospital expansion, the Georgian College expansion, the new Gilda's building or Hospice Simcoe. This is another great initiative that our Minister of Finance has illustrated.
As Barrie is a growing community, one of our ongoing concerns is jobs, and I think this is pretty common across the country. I very much recognize that this is a budget that focuses on jobs.
Economic action plan 2013 continues to support education and training, helping Canadians be prepared for good, high quality jobs. That is why our government is introducing the Canada job grant. This grant aims to transform the labour market by providing funds for the skills training that many Canadians need. In doing so, it encourages employers to recognize these skills and qualifications in order to fill the jobs of Canada's high demand fields.
In building upon this commitment to job growth, economic action plan 2013 also focuses on creating opportunities for apprentices. Canada is currently facing a shortage of skilled tradespeople that is expected to grow in the future as the population ages. Georgian College in Barrie offers 10 valuable apprenticeship programs alone. Our government responded to the shortage of new tradespeople by creating important new opportunities for apprentices. This would be done through the implementation of various grants and tax credits that would open the doors for apprentices at every stage in their career. I am confident this plan would promote accessibility to the training that Canadians need to find employment.
I realize I am running short on time. I just want to highlight two other aspects of the budget, the first being the importance of the Southern Ontario Economic Development Agency. This agency alone has been absolutely fantastic for job creation; IBM located in Barrie because of it. We have seen expansions to Southmedic Inc., the moving of the plant from China to Barrie, the expansion of TNR Doors and the expansion of Wolf Steel Ltd.
In my final 30 seconds there is another aspect of the budget that I want to emphasize. We continue to keep our ironclad investment to universal health care in support for the provinces for health care. We are reaching record levels in funding of the Canada health transfer. It will be nearing $40 billion by the end of the decade, which is just an astronomical commitment to something that Canadians tremendously value.
Overall, this is a terrific budget for Canadians. I applaud our Minister of Finance for such a fine job.
View Patrick Brown Profile
View Patrick Brown Profile
2013-05-02 13:24 [p.16205]
Mr. Speaker, I believe this budget supports workers. It supports workers by creating jobs. What workers value and appreciate is an economy that is vibrant with jobs. It would do that through the many investments in apprentices, in innovation and technology. In terms of the connection to free trade, New Democrats have a record of fighting free trade at every stage. In 1988, they said free trade with the U.S. would be horrible. It turns out that it has been a huge net benefit to Canada where we have gained because of that free trade agreement. New Democrats campaigned against NAFTA. It turns out that there has been a huge benefit to Canada.
The NDP does not seem to appreciate the fact that free trade means cheaper goods for consumers and more jobs for Canadians because we have an industrious workforce that is able to compete with the best abroad. I am glad that this is a government that recognizes the value of free trade and how it benefits Canada. History is on our side because every trade agreement that we have signed, and every study complements this, has resulted in a net benefit to Canada.
View Patrick Brown Profile
View Patrick Brown Profile
2013-05-02 13:26 [p.16206]
Mr. Speaker, this has been the latest argument by the Liberal Party of Canada—that, yes, the Government of Canada should subsidize countries like China and subsidize its goods. Certainly that is not an approach that is in the best interests of Canadians.
In terms of the tariff relief that is offered in the budget, it is a focus on an industry that really does not exist in Canada. That is why we saw the tariff reductions on those goods that represent $76 million, on items like baby clothing and certain sports and athletic equipment. This would result in lower prices for Canadian families on those specific goods.
I would also say about the budget that because we would not be using large sums of money to subsidize competitors in China as the Liberal Party has suggested, we would be able to invest in things that greatly help Canadians. The budget initiative put $3 million into the CNIB to help it have a new digital hub to help Canadians who have lost their vision. This budget has so many little investments like that, which would have an enormous local impact. Overall, this is a very measured and very prudent Canadian budget.
View Patrick Brown Profile
View Patrick Brown Profile
2013-04-30 14:57 [p.16103]
Mr. Speaker, Canada continues to be a world leader in global health, especially in the fight against polio. Last week, at the global vaccine summit, the Minister of International Cooperation announced Canada's continued commitment to polio eradication.
Bill Gates said, “Canada's increased support over the next six years will help ensure we can end polio and build the infrastructure needed to help all children live healthy and productive lives”.
Could the Minister of International Cooperation please update the House on Canada's latest efforts to eradicate polio?
View Patrick Brown Profile
View Patrick Brown Profile
2013-03-26 14:11 [p.15223]
Mr. Speaker, I am very proud to rise today and stand in support of Purple Day. It is wonderful to see so many of my colleagues in the House wearing purple ribbons today. We are all touched by epilepsy, whether of a family member, a co-worker, a friend or a neighbour. Those living with epilepsy face challenges, discrimination and often a lower quality of life. Sadly, 300,000 Canadians live with epilepsy.
Although there is no cure for epilepsy, we can all play a more active role by helping others understand what it is like to live with epilepsy and by helping affected Canadians reach their full potential. There are many citizen advocates in my riding of Barrie, Ontario who are dedicated to increasing awareness of epilepsy by providing education for people with epilepsy and their families, friends and employers, as well as the greater community.
I pay tribute to Melanie Money, Jeffrey White and David Lowe for their sustained and dedicated commitment to this important cause in Simcoe County.
View Patrick Brown Profile
View Patrick Brown Profile
2013-02-06 14:20 [p.13780]
Mr. Speaker, seven years ago today, with the faith and trust of Canadians, we took our spot as the Government of Canada. We promised to stand up for Canada, to cut taxes, crack down on crime and offer families support. That is exactly what we have done. We have cut the GST, not once but twice, introduced measures to keep Canada's streets and communities safe and created a national child care benefit. We have also put an end to the wasteful and ineffective long gun registry and brought marketing freedom to farmers.
Our government took swift action to protect the economy through one of the worst recessions the world has ever seen. With the creation of over 900,000 net new jobs, countries now look to Canada as a strong economic model.
We will strive to make Canada the strongest, most prosperous and united nation by focusing on priorities Canadians care most about, family, safety, pride in their citizenship and the economy.
Our government will continue to stand up for Canada.
View Patrick Brown Profile
View Patrick Brown Profile
2013-02-05 14:09 [p.13697]
Mr. Speaker, this past weekend, I hosted my seventh annual Chilifest in Barrie, with the help of many generous volunteers. Each year, residents join me at the Royal Canadian Legion hall for warm bowls of homemade chili in support of two local charities, thanks to Lawrence Vindum and The Butcher Shop and their culinary talents.
This year's Chilifest supported the CNIB and the Bill Wilkins scholarship fund. CNIB helps thousands of Canadians who are blind or partially sighted. The Bill Wilkins scholarship was established in 2003, in memory of Bill Wilkins, who lost his life in the line of duty with Barrie Fire. Each year, it enables two exceptional students to enrol at the pre-service firefighter program at Georgian College.
I would like to give special thanks to Leila Verheyen from the CNIB, Kirk Mason for preparing the chili and the students enrolled in the pre-service firefighter program at Georgian College, in Barrie, for all their hard work in making this event another success.
View Patrick Brown Profile
View Patrick Brown Profile
2012-12-10 14:47 [p.13074]
Mr. Speaker, Canadians, particularly children, are spending more and more time sitting on the couch watching television or playing on the computer, as opposed to playing outside or getting involved in sport. Being active and participating in sport are essential parts of building healthier and stronger communities and a healthier Canada.
One way we are doing this is through our support for not-for-profit organizations, like ParticipACTION, that work so hard to promote sports and physical activity in Canada.
Can the Minister of State for Sport please tell the House how our government is supporting ParticipACTION's motto, “Let's get moving”?
View Patrick Brown Profile
View Patrick Brown Profile
2012-12-06 13:59 [p.12965]
Mr. Speaker, I was troubled to learn of the recent attack in Sri Lanka on the editor of the Tamil-language daily newspaper in the northern city of Jaffna. After being severely beaten with iron bars, this man is now fighting for his life in an intensive care unit.
Tragically, there have been four murders of journalists in Sri Lanka since 2008. Media reports now highlight that Sri Lanka's chief justice is being forced out of her position for not bowing to the wishes of the Sri Lankan government. The consistent erosion of democracy in Sri Lanka and the ongoing reports of human rights abuses are particularly alarming.
Ever since the Sureshkumar family of Barrie shared with me their concerns a few years ago, I have been particularly concerned about the plight of the Tamil population in Sri Lanka.
I am very proud of our government's unwavering support of human rights, peace and freedom in Sri Lanka. I hope that the international community responds to the latest tragic developments in Sri Lanka.
View Patrick Brown Profile
View Patrick Brown Profile
2012-11-27 14:11 [p.12523]
Mr. Speaker, as chair of the all-party juvenile diabetes caucus, I am proud to rise today on behalf of the over three million Canadians living with diabetes.
National Diabetes Awareness Month is celebrated every November to raise awareness of all forms of diabetes and to gain support for critical research toward preventing, treating and curing all forms of this disease.
Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease in which a person's pancreas stops producing insulin, a hormone that enables people to get energy from food. More than 300,000 Canadians are affected by type 1 diabetes.
This morning I was honoured to meet with an eight-year old, Noah Stock, a resident of Barrie, who presented me with a scrapbook he created showcasing his life as a child with type 1 diabetes.
I ask that every member of Parliament join me in welcoming to Ottawa JDRF and the 40 children from across Canada who are raising our awareness of Canadians living with type 1 diabetes.
View Patrick Brown Profile
View Patrick Brown Profile
2012-10-30 12:13 [p.11650]
Mr. Speaker, I rise today to show my support for Bill C-45, Jobs and Growth Act, 2012 and I am pleased to see our government continue to focus so squarely on the economic challenges facing our citizens, our communities and our country. Bill C-45 would implement key measures from the economic action plan 2012, to help grow Canada's economy, fuel job creation and secure Canada's long-term prosperity.
Throughout the year, I had the pleasure of hosting budget consultations in Barrie with a variety of stakeholders. The one common theme throughout has always been a focus on job creation and economic growth as being something fundamentally important to people from all different sectors in my community.
Each stakeholder has provided insightful contributions from the different aspects of our city, but they all shared the same concerns, as do most Canadians: ensuring good jobs are available, keeping taxes low and continuing the sensible investments being made to achieve our common goals of long-term growth and prosperity.
Through the steady leadership of our Prime Minister and our Minister of Finance, we have seen Canada's economy expand in 11 of the last 12 quarters, since mid-2009. We have seen Canada create more than 820,000 net new jobs over the same period, and Canada has had by far the best rate of job creation in the entire G7 since 2006. We have seen Canada maintain its triple A credit rating through the period of economic downturn and uncertainty, and we continue to see Canada with the lowest net debt to GDP ratio and the lowest overall tax rate on new business investment in the G7.
Both the independent International Monetary Fund and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development forecast that Canada will be at the head of the pack for economic growth in the G7 in the years ahead. I am particularly proud to share with the House what the head of the International Monetary Fund thinks of our government's handling of the economy since the global economic crisis hit in 2008. These comments came out just this week.
The IMF's Christine Lagarde declares that Canada's economy should be a model for the countries trying to fix their own financial systems. Just last week she said that Canada has been a leader in creating policies intended to rein in the buildup of household debt. She went on to say that Canada is identified around the globe by our values of coordination and consensus building, which have given our country what she called “influence beyond its years”.
Ms. Lagarde also applauded the decision of our finance minister to boost down payments on new mortgages for home buyers, as an example of household debt restraint that others should follow. She said:
All of these new reforms comprise the tools so far that will help us shape the future financial system. We must shape the system so it cannot again hold us ransom to the consequences of its failings.
A well-capitalized financial sector and a sound regulatory and supervisory system meant that financial institutions in Canada were better able to weather the 2008 global financial crisis than those in other countries. Indeed, the World Economic Forum has ranked Canada's banking system as the soundest in the world for five straight years. Our government is committed to maintaining this Canadian advantage.
Canada has made significant progress in implementing the G20 financial sector reform agenda and will continue to play a leadership role in promoting sound financial sector regulation internationally. Our government appreciates the IMF recognizing these important achievements.
However, in all this good news, the global economy remains fragile. Canada is not immune to the renewed weakness in the global economy, especially in Europe. In particular, Canada has been affected by the lower commodity prices that are dampening government revenue growth. We need to focus even more on jobs and promoting economic growth and realizing savings within government operations to ensure Canada's economic advantage remains strong into the long term.
At the same time, it is just as important that we continue making key investments in innovation and education to help make sure Canada continues to create good jobs and that Canadians are ready to fill them. We are supporting Canadian universities and researchers with a strengthened emphasis on projects that have a commercial potential.
Economic action plan 2012 took significant steps to encourage entrepreneurship, innovation and world-class research, with over $1.1 billion in significant investments for research and development, $500 million for venture capital, support for increased public and private research collaboration and much more.
Just last month, I was proud to see this have an effect in my own riding of Barrie, Ontario. I was proud to be on hand officially to open the IBM data and research centre in the south end of Barrie. This new data centre is part of a much larger project.
The federal government's $20 million investment was a catalyst for IBM's $213 million initiative to create a southern Ontario smart computing and innovation platform. Our government's investment targeted the creation of 145 full-time positions, high-skilled, high-paying, in three different cities in southern Ontario, including 45 positions at the Barrie site. These are not job transfers; they are new hires.
Our government's investment is also creating a research and development centre within the IBM site that is going to do research on clean energy, environmental systems and neural mapping. It is state-of-the-art research and it is exciting to see what a private and public partnership can do to create jobs in southern Ontario.
I would like to tell the House of another example of this focus on innovation by our government, which I have seen work first-hand in my riding. This summer, in August, I was on hand to see a company transfer its manufacturing from China back to Barrie. This company had outsourced its production of 18 jobs to China and decided to bring them back. This summer it opened up its manufacturing in Barrie again and with a $900,000 repayable loan from FedDev Ontario it was able to repatriate those jobs. This is an important sector. Southmedic is in the medical device sector, and right now this sector is valued at $6.4 billion in Canada. That is just the tip of the iceberg of what Canada is capable of, to see this sector grow.
These are two great examples of the types of partnerships that government is forging. These are the kinds of partnerships that will create a better future for all Canadians and, most important, new jobs.
Another great partnership that the economic action plan pledged to carry on was that of the continued cleanup of Lake Simcoe. In 2008, members may remember that this government made an unprecedented $30 million investment into the cleanup of Lake Simcoe. It was an extremely welcome initiative because Lake Simcoe and Kempenfelt Bay are certainly jewels that we treasure in Simcoe County. Phosphorous levels were at an all-time high, and we needed action to help reverse that trend because high phosphorous levels mean excessive weed growth. In Lake Simcoe it meant reduced marine habitat. We could not have this happen to what really was a jewel in our community.
The health of our lake is paramount to the future of the city of Barrie and all of Simcoe County and the surrounding areas. Tourism is vital to our local economy, and Lake Simcoe is certainly at the heart of the tourism market. I am happy to report that, since that investment of $30 million, phosphorous levels have gone down every year. We are making tremendous strides on the cleanup of Lake Simcoe, to make sure that future generations in Barrie and Simcoe County will have the same pristine lake that we have been able to enjoy over so many decades.
Economic action plan 2012 continues the commitment to cleanup Lake Simcoe. The five-year cleanup fund had expired, but the budget expressed a commitment to renew this fund and to continue the cleanup of Lake Simcoe. That is tremendously appreciated in our community, and I am so glad that our Minister of Finance had the wisdom to recognize that this was a fund and a partnership that was working. The federal dollars, leveraged with funds from the Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority and all the municipalities in Simcoe County, have made a profound impact on our local environment.
I am also pleased to see that Bill C-45 would extend the hiring credit for small businesses for another year. The credit of up to $1,000 against EI premiums is a great help to encourage more small businesses. Small businesses are the engine for job creation in Canada and are indispensable in their role as job creators. I see that every day in Barrie. Small businesses are at the heart of our community and it is great to see a budget that would help small businesses.
I realize I am limited in time. I want to commend my colleague, the Minister of Finance, on the jobs and growth act, 2012. The bill builds on terrific work laid out in the economic action plan and it meets the economic challenges facing our country head-on. On behalf of my constituents and the various stakeholders in Barrie, I want to sincerely thank the minister and his team for their hard work on what will be an excellent investment and understanding of the Canadian economy.
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