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Results: 1 - 15 of 29
View Scott Aitchison Profile
CPC (ON)
Mr. Speaker, Canada is in a housing crisis. Too many families are unable to find a safe roof over their heads and many young Canadians are just being forced to give up on the dream of ever even owning a home. There is a simple solution, though. It is to build more houses and increase the housing supply. All we see the government do is pose for photo ops at spending announcements, but there is a curious lack of ribbon cuttings.
My question is simple: When is the government going to get off the sidelines, demonstrate leadership to end exclusionary zoning and say yes to building more homes for Canadians?
View Scott Aitchison Profile
CPC (ON)
Mr. Speaker, there it is once again: more rhetoric, more talk, but no real action. If announcing billions of dollars could solve this problem, we would have a housing surplus in this country right now. In fact, the number of houses per 1,000 Canadians has gone down dramatically since 2016 under this government's watch.
Again I ask the minister: When is the government finally going to have the courage to do what is right and commit to working with provincial governments and municipalities to end exclusionary zoning and fix this crisis?
View Scott Aitchison Profile
CPC (ON)
Mr. Speaker, I am thrilled to rise today to inform the House that this past Friday, June 3, under an expansive Manitoba sky and with the sun beaming down on family and friends, our colleague and my dear friend, the member for Kenora declared “I do” to Ms. Danaka Howden, a stunning bride and an even more beautiful person. I am also relieved to inform the House that, despite his many obvious flaws, Danaka replied with an “I do” as well.
I was honoured to be asked by the member for Kenora and Danaka to officiate the ceremony, and so it was particularly special and a bit tearful for me when I was able to pronounce these two amazing people husband and wife. At the reception following the ceremony, there were a number of speeches, including remarks delivered by the member for Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry that left the guests and the happy couple in stitches.
Sheldon and Crystal Howden, and Joe and Charlene Melillo all beamed proudly with joy as they welcomed the couple into their families. It was a wonderful day to launch these two on their life-long adventure, soon to be filled with many little Melillos.
I ask you, Mr. Speaker, and the House to join me in congratulating two very special people: the member and Mrs. for Kenora.
View Scott Aitchison Profile
CPC (ON)
Madam Speaker, “Grant thy servant an understanding heart that I may discern between good and evil.” As I took my seat for the very first time in the House, these words of Solomon came to mind, seeking wisdom to lead. Here I was in this place, a place I had dreamt many times that maybe one day I would have opportunity to sit in and represent my fellow citizens. Especially today, as I speak in the House about the chaos, division and anger, not just in front of this place but all across Canada, I hope for wisdom for myself and all my fellow members.
Leaders lead by inspiring those around them to greatness. They inspire a hope that tomorrow will be brighter than today. They lift everyone up, not just those who agree with them. They seek to bring people together, to give the voiceless a voice and a seat at the table. Leaders stand up for every citizen: every Canadian, urban, rural, rich or poor, white collar, blue collar, right and left, regardless of their faith or creed and regardless of their place of origin. A leader gives every ounce of his being to ensure a legacy of prosperity and success for his fellow citizens. However, what we saw out front the last three weeks was a failure of leadership. It was a failure of those entrusted by Canadians with that most solemn of tasks, which is to ensure that our kids will inherit a better future than we received, to ensure that the maple leaf is an undying symbol here and around the world of freedom, pluralism, justice and democracy.
We are here today to talk about the Emergencies Act. I, like many of my colleagues in the House and millions of Canadians, believe that the use of this act at this time is a dramatic overreach. We have heard from many members here about the consequences if the bar is lowered even just a little in the future use of this act, and I echo those concerns.
The fact is, the protests had to end. Every Canadian has a right to peaceful protest, but we do not have the right to park a truck in the middle of a city street for three weeks. In the same way, we have a right to disagree with those who have chosen not to get vaccinated, but we do not have a right to call them racists or misogynists.
I believed my doctor when he told me that vaccination is the best tool, not the only tool, but the best tool to protect my health and my neighbours' health against COVID-19. I also believed my doctor when he told me that we had reached 85% to 90% vaccination rates and should be able to start getting our lives back. We see that starting to happen now. The fact is, Canada is among the most vaccinated countries on earth, and yet some of our fellow citizens simply will not get vaccinated. We need to be okay with that.
While I understand some of the reasons I have heard for vaccine hesitancy, I do not understand all of them, and I do not need to. I do not need to understand my fellow citizens' medical choices to defend their fundamental right to make those choices. That is the beauty of this country. We get to make our own health choices. We do not impose draconian measures on the people we disagree with, and it is also why I echo the words of Pierre Elliott Trudeau, when he said, “For if individuals and minorities do not feel protected against the possibility of the tyranny of the majority...it is useless to ask them to open their hearts and minds to their fellow Canadians.”
This debate should never have had to happen. Truckers should never have had to park their trucks in front of Parliament. The divisive rhetoric and demonizing of a minority of Canadians by their own government, whatever the intention, was, quite simply, disgusting.
This is clearly not the first time the political class has used our differences of opinion to divide us for political gain, and it likely will not be the last. We have stopped talking to each other. We are all guilty of it. We listen to our party war rooms on how the polls show us we can slice and dice the electorate to our advantage. We say we have a desire to listen to each other, and then we go on the partisan attack. The actions we take right here in the House directly translate to how we treat each other as Canadians.
I do not know if those of us who sit in the privilege of this place in our fancy suits, surrounded by deferential security guards calling us “sir” and “ma’am”, truly understand the anger and frustrations as so many Canadians feel their hopes and dreams slipping further and further away. They yearn for politicians to simply talk about their issues, to genuinely represent them.
The contractor in Swift Current, the single dad in Delta, the fisherman in St. Margaret’s Bay, the police officer in Yellowknife and the student in Brandon do not care how good our partisan shot was in question period. They do not care how many retweets our clip got. They certainly do not care how much we have out-fundraised our opponents. They just want to know their politicians are working for them. They want to know that their leaders care about their livelihoods, that we care as much about their industry as they do. They want to know we are fighting as hard as we can for them to not have to choose between putting the kids in hockey or putting food on the table. They want to know they will be able to own a home and raise a family in a community their kids can come back to, where they can retire in dignity.
They want to know their government is well managed and ethical and delivers excellent services. It would be nice if their government were just boring. They want to celebrate our great country and the everyday heroes who make this the most magnificent nation on earth. They want us and need us to be here every day, seeking and striving to build our fellow citizens up and bring people together. We need to stop being politicians and start being leaders.
We were elected to represent our communities, tell the hard truths and work hard on behalf of our people. We were not sent here to listen to what the focus groups say or what the polls might say. We were not sent here to represent only those people who put up lawn signs. We were not sent here to appeal to the lowest common dominator; we were sent here to raise it. Canadians do not think of their community as a target seat. It is their hometown, where everyone is a neighbour, where everyone deserves strong representation in this House.
There are lots of folks in downtown Toronto and Montreal who want lower taxes, and there are a lot of people in rural Alberta who are proud of and really want a strong, publicly funded health care system. There are a lot of people in Vancouver who are fed up with vaccine mandates and a lot of people in Regina who are eager to welcome another new Canadian to their community. There are plenty of Quebeckers who want to use Canadian energy, and there are thousands of folks in Manitoba who are proud of their union membership.
Outside of this Ottawa bubble, Canadians are one people, one nation, all working to build a country we can be even more proud of tomorrow than we were yesterday. We are a nation, 38 million strong, all yearning and striving for a country where everyone has a place and everyone has a shot at success. Ours is a country where we might not always agree on every issue, but we always agree that we live in the greatest country in the world and that we deserve a government that is not all things to all people but enables us all to come together, leaving no one behind.
This is a country where a person can be anything they want to be and do anything they want to do. We can give a job to those without one; we can ensure that our next generation can afford a home; we can eradicate poverty; we can come together again; we can break down the walls that divide us and help heal this broken nation, all with an understanding heart. It starts with all of us in the House. Canadians are counting on our leadership.
My message to the Prime Minister and to every one of us in the House is simple. Listen to those with whom there is disagreement and be willing to compromise. Let us work together to build on the common cause of bringing Canadians together, to celebrate all that unites us. To everyone else, let us tone down the heat. Let us be open to hearing opinions other than our own, and let us try to see ourselves on the other side. This is Canada. We can disagree without hating each other.
There is nothing wrong with Canada that cannot be fixed with everything that is right about Canada. Let us cut down the partisan personal attacks and ideological entrenchment; let us start listening to each other and to our communities rather than the political operatives who use the differences between us to stoke fear and anger in the name of winning a few more votes. Let us hold each other to the same standards that Canadians hold their neighbours to, which is to say that we should expect compassion, respect, courage and character from one other. If we can do that, then we will start to bring this country back together again, because that is what leaders do, and Canada needs leaders right now.
This is a critical time. We need only to look south of the border to see the polarizing effects of a divisive political culture and culture war. Let us demand excellence from ourselves. Let us choose what Lincoln called “the better angels of our nature”. Let us go forward together, building each other up and bringing Canadians from all walks of life together in our mutual cause of Canada, our beloved true north, strong and free.
View Scott Aitchison Profile
CPC (ON)
Madam Speaker, I want to thank my colleague for his gracious comments and kind words. The feeling is certainly quite mutual.
I think that, very specifically in this moment, it is an overreach. However, I think the hon. member heard from me that what concerns me more than anything else are the decades of a political discourse in this country that is designed to divide us. All parties are guilty of it. I will say to anyone who served in municipal politics that if we ever behaved in municipal politics the way we behave in the House, we would not be in office very long. It is disgusting.
It is ripping this country apart and it breaks my heart. We need to do better.
View Scott Aitchison Profile
CPC (ON)
Madam Speaker, I will admit to being surprised. I was not expecting that. I think that it absolutely should be. I think that there should be more free votes in this place, frankly. I would simply say, yes, I agree.
View Scott Aitchison Profile
CPC (ON)
Madam Speaker, that is the kind of message that Canadians need to hear more of, those of us on all sides of the House seeking to work together. I admit I had an exchange just last night in the lobbies with the member for Edmonton Strathcona and it got heated. I realized that I was guilty of arguing with her in the same way I was to speak about today. I regretted it. I exchanged an email with her this morning to apologize for that.
It is easy to get caught up in the passions of this place. We need to be constantly checking ourselves. We are not here for our passions. We are here to represent people who need us to be here for them.
View Scott Aitchison Profile
CPC (ON)
Mr. Speaker, recently a constituent of mine in Parry Sound—Muskoka told me the nightmare she experienced trying to access parental benefits after she spent weeks in SickKids hospital with her newborn. She sent her paperwork for parental benefits to Service Canada in late August 2021. She delivered her baby in September, and only yesterday finally received her benefits. Service Canada officials, at every step of the way, told her that they were overworked and were still learning how to deal with COVID. This was late 2021, two years into the pandemic.
In a riding like mine, where many seasonal workers and folks rely on the EI program, the excuse that Service Canada is still learning how to work with COVID is just simply not good enough. At a time when restaurants and businesses are reopening and learning how to live with COVID-19, it is time for the government to do the same and ensure the services delivered to the people who need them are done in a timely fashion.
View Scott Aitchison Profile
CPC (ON)
Madam Speaker, it is an always an honour to stand in this place and speak on behalf of the people of Parry Sound—Muskoka from their seat here.
I am speaking on Bill C-8 today, and I am excited to do so, because it is an important issue. I think that the Liberals like their talking points, and when they are asked legitimate questions about the reasonableness of their spending plan, they just spout talking points. I thought I would try to simplify things and get right to the point and see if we can maybe get some good questions.
I would like to point out that of course this all started a couple of years ago at the beginning of the pandemic, and in many ways we in the House worked really well together. Pandemic supports were important, and all parties in the House worked well to improve many of the programs that the government offered and got them implemented as quickly as possible in the uncertain days at the beginning of the pandemic. I was really proud that we worked so well together.
Fast-forward a couple of years and here we are, hopefully seeing light at the end of the tunnel. However, over the course of these two years, we know that the Parliamentary Budget Officer reported that since the beginning of the pandemic, the government had spent or planned to spend almost $542 billion in new measures, but he also reported that clearly one-third of those new measures were not COVID-related at all. We are talking about almost $200 billion of new whims from this tax-and-spend Liberal government. In his report, the Parliamentary Budget Officer also pointed out that the remaining platform measures that the Liberals are now talking about would be another $48.5 billion in net new spending between fiscal years 2021-22 and 2025-26.
The Parliamentary Budget Officer, from a non-partisan office, pointed out the government's own fiscal guardrails. I am sure everyone recalls that when we were expressing concerns about the amount of deficit spending and borrowing that was being done, the Minister of Finance and Deputy Prime Minister told us not to worry because we had these fiscal guardrails that were going to make sure we were in good shape.
However, the Parliamentary Budget Officer has now told us, “The Government’s own fiscal guardrails would indicate that its latest round of stimulus spending should be wound down by the end of fiscal year 2021-22.” That is this March. “It appears to me, he said, “that the rationale for the additional spending initially set aside as 'stimulus' no longer exists.” That is the independent, non-partisan Parliamentary Budget Officer.
I do not know what is confusing about that to this government or to the Minister of Finance or her officials, but clearly it is.
The Parliamentary Budget Officer was also asked in the finance committee if excessive deficits and borrowing can in fact lead to inflationary pressures. His answer was very simple. It was one word: “Yes.”
Now, I will acknowledge that speaking points across the aisle are all about how inflation is a global issue, that there are global pressures, and I do not doubt that for one minute, but the fact of the matter is that we have a government that refuses to take responsibility for its own contributions to these inflationary pressures. That is real as well; the Parliamentary Budget Officer has told us so, but the Liberals do not like to talk about that. However, the reason we need to talk about that is that when we stand here, we speak for Canadians struggling to make ends meet.
We know what we are talking about when it comes to making ends meet. Trying to put food on the table is becoming more and more expensive for Canadian families. We know that chicken is up 6.2%, as we heard today. We know that beef is up almost 12%, bacon is up almost 20% and bread is up 5%. It is tough to make a sandwich with those numbers. The cost to put fuel in our cars is up 33%, and natural gas is up 19%.
Now, that may not matter in some of the urban ridings that the Liberals hold, but in Parry Sound—Muskoka, where the median income is 20% below the provincial average, people are struggling to make ends meet, and they have to drive to get to their jobs because we do not have the option of the TTC or major transit. They have to drive. It is a rural community. What else do we have to do? In Parry Sound—Muskoka it is cold, and we have to heat our homes. There are an awful lot of people in Parry Sound—Muskoka who heat their homes, not with natural gas because they do not live in the smaller communities, but with propane and oil. On top of the inflationary pressures that we see on home heating fuels of all kinds, there is the carbon tax thrown on top of that as well.
I cannot count the number of phone calls, emails and discussions I have had on the street with working families and seniors on fixed incomes. Seniors on fixed incomes call in tears, not sure how they are going to choose between heating their home and putting food on the table. That is criminal in this country, yet all we hear is talking points and more stimulus borrowing that the Parliamentary Budget Officer has said is not necessary.
Everyone would like to think that Conservatives want to slash spending, and that is not what we are calling for. We are just saying, “Stop borrowing. It is not necessary. Just stop borrowing.” We do not need to borrow any more money. Maybe then we could help bring some of these costs down so that working-class Canadians, everyday folks, could afford to heat their homes, could afford to get to their jobs and could afford to put food on the table.
We hear a lot about housing, and that is a significant issue in Parry Sound—Muskoka as well. I was pleased to hear the member for Vancouver East agreeing with a campaign pledge from the Conservative platform in the last election to actually ban foreign purchases of residential homes for up to two years. This tax is another example. The Liberals want to have a 1% tax on foreign purchases of homes, which would generate more money that they could spend on stimulus that is not necessary. However, it is a 1% tax that would actually have pretty much zero impact on people who are trying to buy and make investments in our real estate market from overseas. The Liberals would just collect more tax and not solve the problem, and that just makes it more difficult for Canadians to ever own a home.
If the Liberals really cared about this issue, they would work collaboratively with the Conservatives and apparently with the NDP to ban the foreign purchase of residential homes for up to two years, but encourage foreign investment in the development of multiresidential rental properties, many of which could be affordable rentals. There is a desperate need for that in Parry Sound—Muskoka and all across this country. I have said many times in this place that affordable housing and access to the housing market is not just an issue in the big cities. It is a major issue all across this country, in smaller communities and rural communities as well. The Liberal government has pretty much forgotten rural Canada when it comes to this issue.
It is a real struggle on this side of the House to take the Liberals seriously when they refuse to listen to even the Parliamentary Budget Officer. If we want to make life more affordable for Canadians, if we want to help Canadians get ahead, we need to help reduce the pressures on their family budgets. All I am asking is why the Liberals will not use their own fiscal guardrails and get the spending under control.
View Scott Aitchison Profile
CPC (ON)
Madam Speaker, I suggest that the government start with the almost $6 million to renovate the main cottage at the Prime Minister's residence. I am sure in a multi-billion dollar budget there are lots of places that you can trim the fat, because you guys are quite good at adding it on.
View Scott Aitchison Profile
CPC (ON)
Madam Speaker, I think the first step in all of this is to get the outrageous spending under control. I completely agree with my colleague that it will take time. There is no real quick answer to this. However, it starts with stopping the borrowing, getting the spending under control, spending smarter and investing in the areas where it makes most sense. We need more housing supply, for example. We need to stop funding programs that give people money to try to get into a market that they cannot get into. They are not working. It will take time, but it starts with stopping the spending.
View Scott Aitchison Profile
CPC (ON)
Madam Speaker, the simple answer to my colleague's question is yes. As the former mayor of a small town, I can tell members right now that despite taxes on property, there is not enough room to fund all the responsibilities that municipalities already have. They take care of two-thirds of the transportation infrastructure in this country, and they do not have the tax revenue to actually fund the maintenance of it. However, we are hearing musings about the government looking at ways to tax things over a million dollars, which is barely an entry home in Toronto, because its members think they can dig a little more and find more tax revenue to spend. It is just not there.
Frankly, the simple answer to the question is that we need more supply and we need to stop the incredible pressures of foreign investors buying up properties so that we can actually make things more accessible for everyday Canadians.
View Scott Aitchison Profile
CPC (ON)
Mr. Speaker, I noted in the member's speech that he spoke about an action plan for housing. I am wondering if he can tell me what makes him think that what is in this throne speech is going to be an actual action plan.
There have been a lot of promises, but the housing crisis in Parry Sound—Muskoka is worse than it was when Liberals took office, so what is different this time around? Could he elaborate on that, please?
View Scott Aitchison Profile
CPC (ON)
Madam Speaker, I was not intending to ask a question. I was happy to stand and applaud the minister's lovely speech. Obviously, I am very pleased at the result here and that we worked so well together, so I will give him the opportunity to say a few more words about the importance of getting this done, particularly as my colleague's private member's bill with respect to bereavement leave was included in it. I was fearful it would never see the light of day as a private member's bill, so I am particularly honoured that the minister and government saw fit to work with us to make it a reality. For that I thank them.
View Scott Aitchison Profile
CPC (ON)
Madam Speaker, what concerns me about trying to close down debate on this issue is that it is an issue where we have had fairly general and broad support across the House. It is a shame that we are being pushed to end this debate, because it is not just about a debate. Often, this chamber is a place for members to sing the praises of people on the front lines, for example, of health care in their communities. This bill provides an opportunity to do that.
We have also been working on a couple of amendments to this bill, particularly the labour parts of the bill, to make it more effective and to do more with it. I worry that we are going to rush it through and miss the opportunity to make the bill better.
When we all try to work together, agree on something and make it better, why rush? It seems unfair to the process.
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