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Track Bob

Your Say


Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word is farmers.

Conservative MP for Prince George—Peace River (B.C.)

Won his last election, in 2011, with 62.10% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Respect for Communities Act February 27th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I think people of Prince George are concerned. The bill is meant to address that any facility that is going to be proposed as a safe injection site would solicit public feedback and police feedback for its site application. The bill is meant to address the concerns of the whole community, not just one small part of that community.

Respect for Communities Act February 27th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, as Canadians we all have a great deal to be proud of. We live in a country where protection of public health and the maintenance of public safety are at the top of our government's priorities. Much of what we do and the decisions we make here in the chamber serve to ensure that all Canadians continue to enjoy a country with sound public safety and public health policies.

Whether it is supporting a strong response to the public health threat of the African Ebola outbreak, or taking action to protect all of us from the very real public safety threat represented by recent terrorist activities, I think Canadians are reassured that our government takes these public health and safety concerns very seriously.

We are also aware of the very real public safety risks that dangerous drugs like heroin represent for our communities. That is why I am pleased to rise today to speak in support of the respect for communities act, a bill that contributes to our efforts to protect public safety and health by ensuring that all perspectives are heard when it comes to the proposals for sites that would use dangerous drugs in our neighbourhoods.

The Controlled Drugs and Substances Act is Canada's federal drug control statute. Its purpose is to protect public health and maintain public safety. Under the CDSA, activities with controlled substances are prohibited unless these are specifically allowed under the act, its regulations, or are authorized under a section 56 exemption.

Section 56 of the CDSA allows the Minister of Health to grant exemptions from the provisions of the CDSA to provide access to controlled substances for unanticipated purposes. For example, in the past a section 56 was issued to enable individuals to provide humanitarian aid. Using this section of the bill for international humanitarian efforts is quite a different thing than the plans put forward for supervised injection sites.

I think we can all agree that improved consultations would be a positive step when the CDSA is being used to control an area that it is not intended to address in the first place. Bill C-2 before us today proposes to add a new section to the CDSA to specifically address supervised consumption sites. The new section would outline the specific area, which would have to be addressed by an applicant seeking exemption from the CDSA for activities involving illicit substances at a supervised consumption site.

There has been a lot of debate thus far, and we have heard a lot of criticism about these criteria. However, they are simply an expansion of the ruling of the Supreme Court of Canada in its 2011 decision regarding Insite, the supervised injection site in Vancouver. In its decision, the court said that the minister should take into consideration evidence, if any, of five factors when assessing future section 56 exemption applications for the operation of a supervised consumption site.

These five factors are, one, the impact of such a site on crime rates; two, local conditions indicating a need for such a site; three, the regulatory structure in place to support the site; four, resources available to support its maintenance; and, five, expressions of community support or opposition to the site.

In its decision, the court also emphasized the need to balance public health and safety with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Bill C-2 proposes to outline information to be provided in an exemption application to satisfy the Supreme Court of Canada's requirement to consider these factors. If we split the criteria up under public health and public safety headings, we would see that the proposed criteria are almost equally divided under each.

I would like to use the rest of my time to outline some of the public safety criteria in the bill, as well as to explain how these criteria will assist the minister into taking into account the factors outlined by the court when assessing section 56 exemption applications for supervised consumption sites.

One criterion suggests that the applicant provide a letter from the head of the police force responsible for policing the municipality in which the site would be located that outlines his or her opinion on the proposed activities at the site, including any concerns with respect to public safety or security. This criterion expands upon the Supreme Court of Canada's factor that outlines the need for “evidence of community support or opposition”.

It just makes sense to consult with the head of local police in the area where the site is proposed, to hear from the official who would be charged with securing the perimeters around the site and keeping the surrounding community and the people at the site safe.

This criterion is a small extension of the communication that would no doubt exist between the site applicant and the local law enforcement agency. The head of police might also be able to provide valuable insight into the exemption application itself, including measures that an applicant might wish to consider to address any potential security and public safety concerns. Dialogue with the head of the local police might also help the applicant obtain information to address other criteria, for example, a description of the potential impacts of the proposed activities at the site on public safety, including information, if any, on crime and public nuisance, information on drug consumption in the area, and law enforcement statistics on these facts, if they exist.

The Supreme Court of Canada said that the minister of health needs to consider the local conditions that indicate a need for a supervised consumption site in the area, if any exist. Given the serious risks to the public health, public safety, and communities associated with the use and production of illicit substances, exemptions to undertake activities with them should be granted only after rigorous criteria have been met.

This criterion is a part of the information used to assess these applications on a case-by-case basis, taking into account the unique circumstances surrounding any proposed site. To further expand on that, these substances are unsafe and can be the subject of criminal activity. It is in the minister's interest to know how the applicant plans to address the security of the substances at the site, as well as the safety of the staff, users of the site, and people in the vicinity. Therefore, the bill would require an applicant to provide a description of the measures that would be taken to minimize the diversion of controlled substances, and the precursors and risks to the health and safety and security of persons at the site or in the vicinity of the site, including staff members.

Again, given the serious harms of illicit substances and the criminality that is often associated with them, it is reasonable for the minister to be aware of the measures in place to protect those who work at the facility and those who use it. The Supreme Court of Canada asked the minister to consider the regulatory structure in place to support the facility, if any. How an applicant plans to minimize diversion and keep the staff and clients safe is a logical piece of information that the minister needs in order to address this Supreme Court factor before granting an exemption.

To summarize, the criteria included in Bill C-2 balance public health and public safety and are consistent with the factors identified by the Supreme Court of Canada. I urge all members of the House to vote in favour of these legislative changes, as the proposed approach will strengthen our laws and enable the government to continue to protect the health and safety of all of our communities.

Respect for Communities Act February 27th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for his statement, as well.

I guess the reason we have the respect for communities act is that we are concerned about public opinion on these kinds of places and are concerned about the neighbours in the areas these places are going to be, in effect, operational. That is why we think it is important to solicit their feedback, along with that of police organizations, et cetera. For us, especially as elected officials, it is pretty obvious that we need public support for these kinds of things and whether they should go in certain areas. That is what the act is about. It is about soliciting support and input on facility location.

I would like to ask the hon. member what he thinks about that. Is it a good idea to solicit public opinion, or is it good, as the opposition would suggest, to just have a one-shot approach and make this happen, regardless of peoples' opinions?

Taxation February 23rd, 2015

Mr. Speaker, our government's responsible resource development plan is creating jobs, growth and long-term prosperity for all Canadians. That is why I am proud to be part of a government that recognizes the importance of creating the best fiscal conditions for energy investment and development.

The natural resource sector supports 1.8 million jobs, contributes toward nearly 20% of our economy and provides government revenue for important programs like health care, education and infrastructure, in contrast with the high tax and spend agenda of the Liberals and the NDP, who would both implement a carbon tax that would raise the price of everything.

Our low-tax plan is delivering results for Canadians by creating jobs and economic growth from coast to coast to coast. Residents in my riding expect our government to ensure that our natural resources are developed for the benefit of future generations of Canadians. I am proud to say we are doing just that.

2015 Canada Winter Games February 17th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, it was my honour to attend the opening ceremony of the 2015 Canada Winter Games last Friday and to pay tribute to the athletes competing in my home riding of Prince George—Peace River.

2015 has been proclaimed as the Year of Sport in Canada and the Prince George 2015 Canada Winter Games is one of this year's signature events.

We can all be proud of each of the participants and of Canada's largest domestic multi-sport event, which brings together athletes from 19 sports over a two-week period and is a true testament to the dedication and hard work of Canadian youth.

We know that when we embrace the power of sport and lead more active lives, we build healthier and stronger communities.

I would also like to extend my gratitude to the coaches, mission support staff, officials, game organizers and, of course, thousands of volunteers and parents who have supported these athletes through the years, with a special thanks to Bryan, Peter, and André of Pioneer Log Homes for their donation of the beautiful Canada Winter Games log cauldron.

Please join me in congratulating all of those who are making the Prince George 2015 Canada Winter Games a huge success.

Taxation December 12th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, our government knows that Canadian families know best how to spend their own money. This is a fundamental difference between our party and the Liberals. That is why our government has taken real action to reduce taxes on Canadian families, including the family tax cut.

Can the hard-working Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Employment please update the House on which tax cuts the Liberals would take away if elected?

Rouge National Urban Park Act December 12th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, as for a drop in the bucket, if I went back to the folks of Prince George—Peace River and asked them if $143.7 million was a drop in the bucket, I think their jaws would drop at that comment.

Certainly $143.7 million and $7.6 million for the Rouge thereafter are hardly drops in the bucket. It is a large amount of money. Most Canadians work hard for those tax dollars. We like to use them responsibly and spend them responsibly. We are doing so with the urban national park.

Rouge National Urban Park Act December 12th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, that is a great question from a great member.

I established this in the speech. The key difference with the urban park is that it will take into account some operations that have already been there for 200 years, like farming, while it still pushes out things like mining and other operations that are more ecologically challenging.

It recognizes transportation corridors that already exist. It honours farming that has been there for 200 years. It is unique in the perspective that it allows some environmental leeway to allow development to occur, while still protecting the park in the best sense of the word.

Rouge National Urban Park Act December 12th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, that is almost a lob question for what I am going to say now.

The fact is that we always hear from the opposition members that we are cutting funding for parks. In our economic action plan in 2012, the Government of Canada announced $143.7 million of funding over 10 years for the park's development and interim operations, and $7.6 million per year thereafter for its continued operation. This is proof in the pudding that there is going to be a lot of money in funds, and we are backing this seriously to ensure the Rouge takes hold and it is provided with adequate protections.

Rouge National Urban Park Act December 12th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, absolutely. That is why we are having the act put in place. It is to provide better protections to the Rouge River national park and to protect green cover and those sorts of things in the Toronto area, which I think most Canadians would appreciate.

We can see it in areas of my province, in Stanley Park, where areas have been protected and are still appreciated to this day. It is because governments like ours have moved forward and established acts like this so parks can exist and challenge the urban sprawl, work with farmers who are there, and still have better protections for our national parks.