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Results: 1 - 15 of 78
View Dave Van Kesteren Profile
Mr. Speaker, I have a number of petitions.
The first one is on palliative care. It is a petition to establish a national strategy on palliative care.
View Dave Van Kesteren Profile
Mr. Speaker, I was born in Chatham, Ontario, in 1955 and have lived there all my life. I attended school in Chatham, was married in Chatham, raised a family in Chatham and started my business in Chatham. Chatham has always been my home. I have always been proud to live in the city that was once the site of the battle that claimed the life of the great Chief Tecumseh in 1813 in the War of 1812, that was the end of the Underground Railroad, and the city where John Brown came to recruit combatants before his fateful attack at Harper's Ferry. It is also the hometown of the great Baseball Hall of Fame inductee, Fergie Jenkins.
I had no formal training for the job, but I always had a unique fascination for politics. Therefore, finally at the age of 49 after narrowly losing my first election in 2004, I found myself elected to represent the people of Chatham-Kent—Essex on the eve of January 23, 2006. I am so privileged tonight to rise to give my final remarks in the House of Commons after serving here for over 13 years.
Let me first thank the constituents of Chatham-Kent—Leamington, as it is now known, for giving me this opportunity to serve them. It is an honour to have been chosen to represent them. Of course, this would not have been possible without the help of hundreds of volunteers manning phones, pounding signs, door-knocking and donating both their time and money during the past five writ periods.
After I was elected, I would never have been able to serve without the excellent staff who worked alongside of me. Let me speak about them.
Jill Watts-Declare joined me shortly after I arrived here in Ottawa in 2006. As a new member of Parliament, I had a lot to learn. She provided the office with stable and knowledgeable expertise on how to navigate my way around Parliament Hill. She has faithfully served in her role as an experienced office manager and has mentored several other staff members throughout her years here. She is greatly appreciated for all her service. I thank Jill for all her hard work.
Peter Roos was my first campaign manager, but also a loyal friend and confidante from the beginning. Peter joined the office team in 2010, and finally decided to hang them up just before his 80th birthday last year. That has not stopped him from continuing to run passport clinics and he still comes in to help when we are short-staffed. I thank Peter.
Another one of my friends and confidantes is George Paiciovich. I know George is listening. He is one of those political hacks we find around our circles, having been around Parliament since the 1970s. He served under several MPs and was the chief of staff to Garth Turner in the days of the debt clock; that was his brainchild. Early after my election, he offered me advice and guidance and then joined the team responsible for training our younger members and serving the riding with business, municipal needs and special projects. I thank George for his friendship and his tutoring throughout these years.
I could not forget Nate Veltkamp and Adam Roffle, who served as my special assistants. I thank them for their dedication and great work. They have each moved on to greater challenges and continue to serve in the community. Presently, this position is being carried out by Will Pennell, who is now in George's boot camp.
My Chatham office was served from day one by Julian Belanger, who also ran against me for the Conservative nomination. We all remember his professionalism and his political savvy, which were so important to me in those early days. Sadly, Julian was taken from us in 2014. We all miss him terribly.
Wayne Hasson has filled this vacancy, and also served as my campaign manager in the 2015 election. He is doing a tremendous job in the Chatham office, managing the constituency casework, and I thank Wayne.
Peter Bondy and Lisa Mitchell were also important leaders who served in the constituency and who helped me shape the office in those early years. I say thanks to Peter and Lisa.
Of course there is my EDA: Dale, Eldon, Bernice, Mike, Gary and so many more. They were all there right from the very beginning and are still there today. I thank them for their loyalty and their hard work.
Now let me talk about my family.
My wife Faye and I are blessed with eight children and their spouses—Jeremy and Jolene, Rachael and Justin, Mike and Angela, David and Katie, Joel and Shawna, Andrea and John, Adam and Mel, and Eric and Katie—and 39 grandchildren.
I only have 10 minutes, so I will not name them.
They were all there, helping and supporting me at every election, pounding signs, going door to door, making calls. With this devoted army, it is no wonder I have had success these past four elections. Thank you, and we do love you.
To Jeremy and Jolene, who under their leadership, and with David and Joel, grew a mom-and-pop dealership and faithfully built it into one of the finest Hyundai dealerships in the country, thank you for your sacrifice.
My wife Faye has travelled beside me these 44 years on some crazy paths, and yet has continued to support me, encourage me, advise me and keep me grounded throughout the trip. She is the one who has kept the home fires burning, tending to our children and grandchildren over all the years I was away. She is the unsung hero who helped make all of this possible. Many times I have advised those seeking political office that unless they have the full support of their spouse, they had better not consider this job. Faye, I love you and I thank you for your support.
I thank the office staff here in Ottawa who delivered the services that help make this great country work. I thank the many volunteers who make the passport clinics and other such events such a success. I thank my friends and family and supporters who have helped me through these years.
Lastly, I thank my God for giving me this opportunity to serve Him as a member of Parliament for my country. I thank God for holding me and keeping me these years. I thank God for sustaining my health when working the long hours and for protecting me on the road each week as I drove back and forth.
I know I must have forgotten to thank someone, but they should be sure to know that they are greatly appreciated. I am truly a blessed and fortunate man, and I owe it all to the goodness of others.
Now let me spend a little time on some of my experiences here in Ottawa.
This job has allowed me to travel to all parts of the world to meet with leaders and experts in many countries. I have witnessed the vibrant economy of Asia, honoured our soldiers in Europe, witnessed democracy at work in South America, encouraged peace in the Middle East, and saw extreme poverty but also hope in Africa.
I have served on many parliamentary committees—ethics, fisheries, industry, finance, foreign affairs, international trade, status of women, and health, and currently I serve as vice-chair on the Library of Parliament committee. Last but not least, I remember all the years as chair of the Ontario regional caucus.
I have shared these experiences with some extraordinary men and women. I want to talk about Steven Fletcher. Steven is a quadriplegic who overcame tremendous obstacles after an accident. He told me that he even had to relearn how to breathe. Although he does not experience sleep, he still arrived each day to serve as a member of Parliament and even achieved cabinet in the Conservative government.
I have met so many special people here, and many have become my closest friends. I will not begin to name them, as that would be unfair. Their friendship will always remain as we return to our private lives.
In closing, let me say that this has been a tremendous honour, but it is time to go back home, back to my family, back to Faye, back to the folks of Chatham-Kent—Leamington, and maybe some here will join me there soon so that Faye and I can give them some southwestern Ontario hospitality.
I thank you. May God bless you, and may God bless Canada.
View Dave Van Kesteren Profile
Mr. Speaker, I have a number of petitions to present.
The first one is a petition asking that the Parliament of Canada enshrine in the Criminal Code the protection of conscience for physicians and health care institutions from coercion or intimidation to provide or refer for assisted suicide or euthanasia.
View Dave Van Kesteren Profile
Mr. Speaker, next, I have a number of petitions in which the petitioners call upon the Prime Minister to defend the freedoms of conscience, thought and belief and to withdraw the attestation requirement for applications to the summer jobs program.
View Dave Van Kesteren Profile
Mr. Speaker, in the spring of 2015, after my personal assistant, Nate Veltkamp, left my office to work at St. Clair College in the foreign student program, Adam Roffel joined our team to take his place.
Adam was a recent graduate of the University of Windsor, with a masters degree in history. I knew we had an excellent raw recruit to train. He quickly grew into the role of personal assistant, and for four years learned all about government services and constituency communications, as well as all the challenges of engaging and enlisting the help of a multitude of ministries and bureaucratic agencies for the benefit of the constituents of Chatham-Kent—Leamington.
Then last month he accepted a position with a local health integration network. We all want to wish Adam the very best in his new position with the LHIN, where I am convinced he will continue to flourish, grow and serve our community, as he did so well as the special assistant to the member of Parliament for Chatham-Kent—Leamington.
View Dave Van Kesteren Profile
Madam Speaker, it is my privilege to wrap up what has been a wonderful experience. I cannot begin to express my thanks and appreciation to all my colleagues, both on this side of the House and on the other side.
Listening to the member for Ottawa West—Nepean telling her marvellous stories reminded me of some of the experiences I had in my own house. My wife is here with me today. She can testify to how her family would protect Jews on the farm as well. My father was a member of the Dutch underground.
This motion has two stories. The first story is about our brave troops, the ones that my colleague so eloquently told us about, and how they died and were left on the shores and in the ditches of the Netherlands. They gave their lives so we could experience this tremendous freedom and place we love so much, Canada.
It is also the story of brave immigrants, not just the Dutch. All of us have so many different ethnicities in our ridings, those who have come from other lands. We have heard about the challenges and the hardships they faced and yet they rose to the top. As a result, Canada is a better country for it.
I had the opportunity to visit with a friend of mine, someone I grew up with. He lived across the road when we were kids. He told me about his dad and mom, Henk and Allie Zantingh, coming to this country in 1957, with their 11 children. He worked for a fruit farmer a little south of Chatham and picked apples for 50¢ an hour.
Clarence said that his first memory of his parents were seeing his dad cry. His dad was experiencing what so many immigrants experience. He was crying and wondering how he was going to make it. Clarence's mother put her arms around him. They were sustained by their faith and by their hope for a better day. Today, I would suggest that there may be as many as 100 offspring of my friend's family and they are all great contributing members of our society.
I share with all members in this place our deep appreciation for this country, for the opportunities that are granted to us as citizens. I know I speak for all Dutch immigrants, as well as all the other immigrants in the country, who are so thankful they are here and so thankful they can contribute to the country as well.
I look forward to the vote that will take place on my motion. I thank all members for their contributions.
View Dave Van Kesteren Profile
Mr. Speaker, I too have a petition to present today. There seems to be quite a theme across the country from those who are concerned about organs being taken without permission and in some cases under force, and those individuals that go abroad to receive those organs. There are currently two pieces of legislation that would put an end to that.
These petitioners would like to see us reflect that in the House as well.
View Dave Van Kesteren Profile
Mr. Speaker, she is a very lucky woman to be able to lay claim to that birthplace. Please convey my best wishes on her birthday.
I have a number of petitions, quite a stack actually.
Back in the 41st Parliament, the House of Commons unanimously passed a motion calling for the government to create a national strategy on palliative care to ensure that every Canadian has access to high-quality palliative care at their end of life. As such, this petition is calling on Parliament to establish that national strategy on palliative care.
View Dave Van Kesteren Profile
That, in the opinion of the House, in recognition of the sacrifices made by Canadians in the liberation of the Netherlands, as well as the contributions made to Canada by those of Dutch heritage, the government should recognize every May 5 as Dutch Heritage Day to honour this unique bond.
He said: Mr. Speaker, I will begin my speech by saying what a rare privilege it has been to serve as the member of Parliament for the riding of Chatham-Kent—Leamington these past 13 years. As I begin my final year, I would like to thank them as well as my family, and especially my wife Faye, who is here this morning in the House, for the support and encouragement they have given me throughout these years.
However, I rise today to submit my private member's motion, Motion No. 207.
Today in Canada, approximately one million people can trace their roots to the Netherlands, and they can be found right across Canada. There were three main waves of Dutch immigration that made their way to Canada from Holland. The first wave, from 1892 to 1911, saw a small group of men come across from the United States where they had first emigrated to from Holland. The lure of free land and the opportunities of the new frontier brought them to Alberta, and a few years later, approximately one hundred people followed them. They joined with Hungarians, Icelanders, Romanians, Chinese people, Ukrainians, Jews, Mennonites, Doukhobors, Britons, Belgians, Americans and Poles, who were told that the land was free and if you worked hard you would prosper.
The next wave of Dutch immigrants came in the period between 1923 and 1930. Some in this group went out west but the majority came to Ontario. It is estimated that from these two groups, approximately 25,000 Dutch immigrants entered Canada. In my riding of Chatham-Kent—Leamington, families like the Lugtigheids, Bruinsmas and the Vellingas can trace their roots to this group.
The last group, or third wave, came after the Second World War. This was the largest group of immigrants, numbering over 140,000 people who came between 1947 and 1960. They settled across Canada in every province except Newfoundland. The first part of that group came mainly from the agricultural sector. Large families like the DeBrouwer, Postma, Hoekstra and Vandersluis families came to my riding and worked on farms, as well as many others who did the same across Ontario, the maritime and western provinces. The Eking family was one of those who settled in the Maritimes and the Viersen family is an example of those arriving out west.
My wife Faye's parents were in the latter part of that group. Harm and Antje Dekens arrived in 1952 as newlyweds and came to Orangeville where they met their sponsors and employers, Harry and Margaret Brown. Although they were employees, they were treated like family and remained close friends throughout their lives. Like many other Dutch immigrants, Harm, or Harry as he became known, soon saw the opportunities that this county offered. He bought a farm in Acton and started work at Ontario Steelworks in Milton, Ontario, working day and night to establish himself and his young family while Ann cared for the children at home. His work ethic at the factory propelled him to the position of general foreman, but his love for farming culminated years later in establishing Harry and Ann as successful dairy farmers.
Their story could be duplicated hundreds of times over so that today across Canada Dutch immigrants are found farming on some of the most successful farms in the country, having passed down their skills to the first, second and even third generation of farmers. Labourers continued to arrive working in construction and factories as well as professionals, filling the need for thousands of occupations across Canada.
Along with these immigrants, Canada also paid for the passage of nearly 2,000 Dutch war brides and their children. Dutch Catholics and Protestants of the reformed tradition all had their links to their creeds and traditions. Today, we find a large string of Christian grade schools, high schools and even accredited post-secondary schools across Canada. The rate of assimilation is almost complete with Dutch immigrants. In the 2016 census, 104,505 people reported Dutch as their mother tongue, down 11,000 from 2011.
We share many things with the Dutch as a nation. Both countries practice the parliamentary system of government. Bilateral trade is flourishing between the two countries. The Netherlands is Canada's fifth largest trading partner. In 2016, trade in goods between the two countries was estimated at $6.5 billion and in 2017 that climbed to $7.5 billion.
Many Canadian and Dutch companies and institutions co-operate in areas such as urban planning, health care, agriculture and green energy. In my riding, where one finds the largest collection of greenhouses in North America, we have benefited greatly from the Dutch, who are the largest greenhouse growers in the world and leaders of greenhouse technology globally.
Today in Canada, 30% of all immigrant-run greenhouses are operated by Dutch immigrants. In my riding, families like the Verbeeks, Devries and Geertsemas would be examples of this group. One quarter of all immigrant-run nursery operations are run by Dutch immigrants. My brother Charlie and his wife Colleen Van Kesteren were examples of this skilled group.
The two countries enjoy visa exemptions and as a result Dutch citizens can travel visa free for up to six months in Canada, which has become a travel destination for Dutch tourists since 90% of Dutch citizens today can speak English.
We have entered into many bilateral agreements in the past with the Dutch as well, such as the UN ban on landmines in 1996. We fought side by side in Afghanistan. We co-operate in many foreign aid projects in third world countries. All in all, it is a bond of friendship that continues to grow as both countries mutually participate in a world of shared values.
However, our greatest bond began back in 1940 during World War II when the Dutch royal family took refuge in Canada and lived in Ottawa during the war. The Nazis had overrun Holland and after bombing Rotterdam to oblivion the Dutch government surrendered, facing the threat of the same bombing of all of their cities. The future Queen Juliana gave birth to her daughter Margriet in an Ottawa hospital, where the room was designated Dutch soil, and later that day the Dutch flag flew up on the Peace Tower, the first and last time a flag other than the Canadian flag has flown there.
Then as destiny would have it, Canadians found themselves fighting for the liberation of the Netherlands in 1944 and on May 5, 1945, after fierce fighting, Holland was made free once again. Seventy-six hundred Canadians died in the nine-month campaign to liberate the Netherlands, a tremendous sacrifice in the cause for freedom in battles such as the Battle of the Scheldt and the Liberation of Arnhem. At Randstad, where the people suffered from the horrific effect of war, 18,000 died from starvation and it would have been a far greater number were it not for Canadians who both collected food and provisions at home and Canadian airmen who dropped thousands of packages in Operation Manna.
In appreciation, the Dutch began to send tens of thousands of tulip bulbs every year, the Dutch national flower, followed by thousands more by the Dutch royal family. The donations became an annual tradition, resulting in the Canadian Tulip Festival here in Ottawa.
Each year, Canadian Veterans make a pilgrimage to the Netherlands and lay poppies at the graves of their fallen comrades. Each year, Dutch children along with their parents lay flowers and tend the graves of the cemeteries and memorials like Bergen-op-Zoom Canadian War Cemetery, Groesbeek Memorial, Arnhem Oosterbeek War Cemetery, Groesbeek Canadian War Cemetery, Holten Canadian War Cemetery, Jonkerbos War Cemetery, Liberation Forest, Kamp Westerbork, The Man with Two Hats, and Uden War Cemetery.
Today, as then, “Thank you, Canada” is heard both in the Netherlands and by the many Dutch immigrants who have made this country their home.
On October 25, Prime Minister Mark Rutte addressed the Canadian Parliament, the first Dutch prime minister to do so. At the beginning of his speech he honoured World War II veteran Mr. Don White, a member of the Royal Canadian Dragoons, who helped liberate the Netherlands from Nazi occupation.
The prime minister said that this is what Don wrote to his parents on April 17, 1945:
We have liberated a number of Dutch towns and you never saw anything like it in all your life. Once the Germans have been driven out and you enter the town, the people come out and put up their flags and royal colours. They crowd around the cars so badly you can hardly move. Your car is just one big bouquet of flowers that has been given you. The girls kiss you and the men shake your hand off. There is a lot so happy they cry.
The prime minister continued:
Don and his comrades risked their lives so that we could be free. He survived, but more than seven thousand six hundred young Canadian servicemen did not. They made the ultimate sacrifice, and the Netherlands is their final resting place. So yes, we feel deeply connected with Canada, and we are forever grateful to those brave Canadian soldiers who carried the light of freedom to our country in its darkest hour.
This we will never forget.
Thank you, Canada.
My parents came to this country in 1953 with five children. They came to a strange land with a different language and customs, a land wide open and vast, so different from the one they left. They arrived in May 1953 at the docks of Pier 21 in Halifax and were issued a train ticket to Chatham, Ontario, where they were greeted at the CP train station by the Van Rynes, their sponsor family, with whom they shared a small house, together with the Van Rynes' five children, for a month until my parents found a one-bedroom house they rented in the country. Life was challenging, to say the least. They were not always treated kindly by their neighbours, who I am sure were suspicious of these intruders.
Times were tough for Canadians as well, and resentment flared up when newcomers challenged them for jobs. Memories of the war were fresh. Some people had lost loved ones fighting in their land. However, they were not unique in their attitudes toward immigrants. There were Italian fathers who laboured for years in places like Sault Ste. Marie before they could bring their families to Canada. There were Polish families, Czechoslovakians, Belgians, Hungarians, Romanians and Germans, many of them refugees, all struggling with the strange customs and difficult language.
This is a land of immigrants. Every group in southwestern Ontario, from the highland Scots to the Irish and then later on to the Europeans, would have to struggle and gain their place amongst the English and French who first carved out a place in the wilderness. It is the very nature of our country. We are all immigrants, and we all owe our unique existence to this rich and diverse country.
Over time and through hard work, faith and commitment, the Dutch became Canadian. Today, the children of Dutch immigrants number amongst farmers, contractors, teachers, accountants, doctors, lawyers, business people and, yes, even members of Parliament. Each one of these consider themselves to be Canadian. Yes, they are of Dutch descent first but are foremost Canadian. Many times I would hear my mother proclaim:
[Member spoke in Dutch and provided the following translation:]
I am so thankful that I may live in this country.
I, too, am thankful that our parents chose this country, thankful that we can share in the pride of remembrance of the lives sacrificed by the men and women who fought to liberate the land of our heritage, and thankful for the bond that has grown and continues to grow between these two countries.
It has been said that the Dutch are amongst those who best integrate into new societies. Of all the immigrants I grew up with, I know of none who kept or bought homes in the old country and, with the exception of one or two, none who returned to their former home. I remember growing up hearing:
[Member spoke in Dutch and provided the following translation:]
We are now in Canada.
Dutch Canadians love this country and consider it their home. They came from a country that loves this country and considers Canadians their greatest friends. On May 5 this year, and from this year on, let us celebrate this unique bond.
It is my hope that, in the establishment of Dutch heritage day, Canada recognizes the voice of a grateful nation that says, “Thank you, Canada” and in response Canadians recognize what the Netherlands has given to us and say, “Thank you, Holland”.
View Dave Van Kesteren Profile
Mr. Speaker, I am going to quote my mother again. My mother used to say, “Bring the good and leave the bad”. That is what we have done in this nation. We all have unique characteristics that we bring to the table. We have been able to integrate those into Canadian society, as have the Italians, the Chinese and all the other different groups I mentioned, as well as the more recent immigrants who come today. Canada is a beacon of hope for the world, which shows that mankind can not only live together in harmony but continue to prosper, grow and create societies that are better places. I thank the member. That is a very important area that we need to recognize.
View Dave Van Kesteren Profile
Mr. Speaker, I did not intend in any way to not include the first nations. I think I did say that all of us are immigrants, and of course the first nations have a unique place here. We are thankful for their contributions and their presence. I believe all of us in the House are mindful of the areas in which we have failed with first nations groups and are committed to restoring those relationships. I look forward to seeing what the different immigrant groups can contribute to our country and how we can contribute then to that restoration. I know we will all work together to make that a reality in the future.
View Dave Van Kesteren Profile
Mr. Speaker, I am tabling a petition in support of Bill S-240, which deals with organ harvesting and trafficking. It has been passed by the Senate and supported unanimously here at second reading. It is now about to be studied at the foreign affairs committee.
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