SWEET, David

Personal Data

Ancaster--Dundas--Flamborough--Westdale (Ontario)
Birth Date
June 24, 1957
business consultant, entrepreneur, instructor, real estate broker

Parliamentary Career

January 23, 2006 - September 7, 2008
  Ancaster--Dundas--Flamborough--Westdale (Ontario)
October 14, 2008 - March 26, 2011
  Ancaster--Dundas--Flamborough--Westdale (Ontario)
May 2, 2011 - August 2, 2015
  Ancaster--Dundas--Flamborough--Westdale (Ontario)
May 2, 2011 -
  Ancaster--Dundas--Flamborough--Westdale (Ontario)
  • Conservative Party Caucus Chair (November 5, 2015 - )

Most Recent Speeches (Page 1 of 104)

June 12, 2019

Mr. David Sweet (Flamborough—Glanbrook, CPC)

Mr. Speaker, I have a point of order that I was considering researching for a question of privilege, but I am going to leave it in your worthy hands to research.

I have noticed, over the last few months, an escalation in the requisition for unanimous consent motions. My concern is not with the request for a unanimous consent motion, but it is when a member stands up and says that “there have been consultations between all parties”. I am not pointing to any particular member in this case, but I have seen instances where it is either stated specifically or presumed that there have been consultations, and then a unanimous consent motion is requested on issues that are very important to everyone.

The reason I was considering that it could possibly be a question of privilege is because when someone stands up and claims that there have been consultations, or when they say “if you seek it you will find that there will be unanimous consent”, there is an assumption that there have been consultations. However, if I am not here and have not been able to hear that motion, but another colleague assumes that I might be in agreement with it, that binds the entire House, which means that I then have to answer for that unanimous consent motion to the constituents I represent. It is very troubling to me and very troubling to a number of colleagues that I have spoken to.

Therefore, I would ask, Mr. Speaker, that you check on the actual Standing Orders in that regard to see, in those cases when someone says that there have been consultations directly or even when they say “if you seek it you will find unanimous consent”, if there should be reasonable efforts made.

I go back to a judgment that was made earlier by the Chair in regards to voting, in that every member has a duty to be honourable when it comes to voting and to be truthful that they have actually been here for the question. I think this goes to the duty and honour of individual members that when they stand up they should have the good practice and decency to have actually consulted with other members.

I will leave that in your worthy hands, Mr. Speaker, to get back to the House in that regard.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Points of Order
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June 6, 2019

Mr. David Sweet (Flamborough—Glanbrook, CPC)

Mr. Speaker, Irwin Cotler is a vocal defender of minorities around the world against tyrannical dictatorships. He has represented the likes of Nelson Mandela, Jacobo Timerman and Natan Sharansky. He serves several human rights organizations.

On Monday, Mr. Cotler was interrupted and berated during a speech at Concordia University in an attempt by a protestor to shut him down. Will the government condemn this attack on the free speech of one of Canada's top human rights defenders?

Topic:   Oral Questions
Subtopic:   Human Rights
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June 4, 2019

Mr. David Sweet

Mr. Speaker, my own sister had C. difficile and was at death's door at one time. She needed an experimental drug that cost $5,500 per dose. She was fortunate that the drug company gave her special access to it, but it could have gone the other way, so I absolutely agree with my colleague.

I want to take the opportunity just to say one more thing. Since I have been elected, this House has not taken advantage of the power of committees. One of the things we could do on a pharmacare program would be to call all the provincial health ministers before a parliamentary committee and get the input from the provinces that actually deliver health care. Some of the provinces have a drug plan. It would help us make sure we come up with a way that no one would fall through the cracks, one which was fiscally responsible and made sure every dollar was spent well and went to those people who needed the help. It would be an excellent way for a committee to work and bring about a plan that would be beneficial, would not encroach on provincial jurisdictions and at the same time, would make sure all Canadians have access to the drugs they need to stay healthy.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Budget Implementation Act, 2019, No. 1
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June 4, 2019

Mr. David Sweet (Flamborough—Glanbrook, CPC)

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to rise in this place to speak to Bill C-97, the budget implementation act.

I am profoundly concerned.

The federal budget is a government's opportunity to present its plan for the country and its economy. It is its opportunity to demonstrate to Canadians that true political leadership is the art of the possible.

It is concerning that rather than accomplish the possible things that could help Canadians prosper, the Liberal party refuses to recognize that more and more Canadians are just getting by and not getting ahead.

Canadians need budget measures that at least acknowledge their struggles and help provide them some relief from the escalating costs of day-to-day life, not ones that simply continue the Liberals' long history of tax-and-spend policies that instead hurt families, businesses and the sustainability of government programs on which people rely.

Again, in this budget, there is no plan. Instead, Canadians are getting tax increases that only make their situation worse.

There is no question that over the past four years Canadians have suffered under a Liberal government that misses opportunities, mortgages our children's futures, lacks a plan and neglects the needs of workers and families.

Let us talk about the concerns of the constituents I represent in Flamborough—Glanbrook and what they have been feeling as far as Liberal neglect is concerned.

In the greater city of Hamilton, thousands of Stelco workers and pensioners have been forced to deal with great uncertainty and have really struggled after the company moved into creditor protection on two different occasions, 2004 and 2014. These are Canadians who have or are at risk of losing their dream of a dignified retirement after decades of hard work.

What I have heard from every pensioner who has reached out to me on this issue is that he or she has serious concerns that the bankruptcy process puts investors ahead of pensioners.

Bankruptcies at Sears and Nortel over the years have resulted in similar dire circumstances for their pensioners. Thousands of Sears employees were out of work when the store closed in December 2017, yet there was no real pension protection for employees who had been there for 10, 20, 30 years or more.

A pension is deferred wages. That it is even possible to lose deferred wages is totally unacceptable.

The Liberals promised action years ago. More empty promises in this budget do not a plan make.

Our previous Conservative government took an important first step when we brought in changes that required companies to fulfill their pension obligations when they sought creditor protection. I am happy that change was made because it was a crucial first step toward protecting pensioners. However, there are many more steps to take. That was just the first and more needs to be done.

It is possible to make changes to our laws and regulations to improve protections for pensioners. The question becomes, what changes should be made and how do we make those changes? This is not a question to which one party has all the answers.

It is not my intention to over simplify the challenge before us. I remind my colleagues that political leadership is the art of the possible. Millions of Canadians rely on their pensions. This issue is too important to avoid action because the problem is too complex. Nor should members be divided down partisan lines. We have to make this change possible.

That is why, in 2017, I called upon the government to charge one of our parliamentary committees to review the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act, the Companies' Creditor Arrangement Act and the Investment Canada Act. That was 18 months ago.

I strongly believe a parliamentary committee is the ideal place to begin. A parliamentary study allows members of all parties to examine important statutes and regulations and provide their input on the matter. In hearing from stakeholders, public servants, legal and industry experts, a committee study allows members to determine where exactly the issues are and what exactly is possible. All of the testimony would be a matter of public record, meaning that those arguing for and against changes would be subject to scrutiny, and rightfully so.

Committee members then have the opportunity to make recommendations to the government as to what problems need to be addressed and how they could be addressed.

Having previously chaired the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology and understanding the issues that come before it, that would make a lot of sense.

Unfortunately, when my Conservative colleagues brought forward a motion to begin such a study at committee, the Liberals voted it down. Instead of taking advantage of the power of a parliamentary committee, the Liberals blocked that study and made it clear that looking at new ways to protect pensioners was not a priority for the government. In the 18 months since, we have essentially heard nothing from the Liberals regarding pension protections. A lot could have been done by now if the Liberals had the will.

Ironically, in the latest budget, the Liberals committed to giving pensioners greater peace of mind by “enhancing retirement security”. Is this vague commitment what pensioners have been waiting for all these years? The Liberals are not prepared to take the very possible and meaningful steps to follow through on those words. While moves toward greater transparency in the process are all well and good, the budget falls far short of actually providing concrete protections for pensioners when their company files for creditor protection.

It is not just the official opposition that sees this legislation as woefully lacking. The Canadian Association of Retired Persons and the Canadian Federation of Pensioners agree that Bill C-97 falls well short.

When I met with the United Steelworkers a few weeks ago, they made it abundantly clear to me that this was their number one priority, because there are still workers and pensioners who are struggling, stressed out and concerned for their futures.

This issue should transcend partisan boundaries. My Conservative colleague, the hon. member for Durham, when he introduced Bill C-405 to begin making changes to better protect pensioners, said that “securing the retirement and pension security of Canadians is another time that we should work together on all sides of this House to bring certainty to hundreds of thousands of Canadians in their retirement.”

The hon. NDP member for Hamilton Mountain, who has offered his own private member's bill on pensions as well, referred to the issue as a “legislative crisis”.

Even the Liberal Minister of Seniors, who is also the member for a neighbour riding of mine, Hamilton West—Ancaster—Dundas, told the CBC that more study was needed on pensions. That begs the question: If the position of the Liberal government is that more study is needed, why did the Liberals vote down a Conservative motion to study pension protections at committee? I think Canadians deserve an answer to that question, and the government better have a reason that is better that petty partisanship. The financial security and safety of our retirees is far too important for that.

I reiterate my belief that a complete review of the legislation governing pensions and insolvency is needed, one that considers the perspectives of all stakeholders: workers, business leaders, industry experts, civil servants, bondholders, banks, and suppliers who, by the way, get victimized very regularly as well when a company goes out of business. Small suppliers who have a handful of employees are forced into bankruptcy and their employees lose their jobs because they are so far down the list as well. They should be part of the stakeholders who come before our committee, and so many others, who can give their testimony in regard to how bankruptcy should be handled and the priority in which the claims should be made. This is not and never will be an issue that only one party can solve on its own.

The Liberals did not want dialogue, and it is reflected in this bill because their proposals are not only inadequate but fail to even broach the crux of the issue. This is not an issue that can be meaningfully addressed in a massive omnibus budget bill. I implore the Liberal executive to allow committees to do what they do best. The issue requires an approach that allows members of all parties to take the time to have an in-depth debate on this specific issue without the looming threat of time allocation to get the budget through.

Pensioners work hard for decades to earn a dignified retirement. I am certain that my colleagues right here in the House, who are vested with a pension, would scream quite loudly if all of a sudden it was limited or taken away. The least we can do as elected representatives of Canadian workers and pensioners is to take the issue seriously and provide meaningful changes to protect them.

While we may not be able to make all stakeholders completely happy, it is possible to do much more and better for workers. Let us get this on the front burner now before another 18 months go by.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Budget Implementation Act, 2019, No. 1
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June 4, 2019

Mr. David Sweet

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague for the question. It was given in the spirit of collegiality, and I appreciate that because this issue is so complex.

There are a number of things we could do, which is why we need to get everybody at the table. Bondholders will have a real problem with the security of the funds they have invested in the company and will want to make sure they can get their investment out. Banks are going to come to the table and will be concerned about the fact that their liability is going to be increased if they are not right at the top of the list. They will make claims, as they have to probably many members here, that they will have to charge more for credit and that maybe even credit will not be as accessible because their liability will increase for any new measures that might take place.

The reason I said the first step should be that we have very clear and concise testimony is that the general public needs to know where everybody stands. It is why in my speech I said that for those who would argue for and against, the public would clearly see what the issues were. They would see whether people were strong-arming brinkmanship to try to keep things status quo or if there was a reasonable effort to come to some kind of compromise to make sure those deferred wages that people sometimes wait a decade or two or three for are actually honoured.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Budget Implementation Act, 2019, No. 1
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