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Conservative MP for Okanagan—Shuswap (B.C.)
Won his last election, in 2011, with 55.40% of the vote.
Statements in the House
International Trade May 2nd, 2013
Mr. Speaker, our government has an ambitious pro-trade plan that is delivering jobs, growth and long-term prosperity for Canadians.
Sadly, rather than promote the interests of Canadian exporters, the NDP is advocating for special treatment for manufacturers in countries like China. In fact, the leader of the NDP has said that if given the opportunity, he would repeal agreements that promote trade and increase Canadian exports.
Can the Minister of International Trade please share with this House how, unlike the NDP, our government is standing up for hard-working Canadians?
Petitions March 21st, 2013
Mr. Speaker, I rise today to present a petition from my constituents of Okanagan—Shuswap. Millions of girls have been lost through sex-selective abortions, resulting in a global gender imbalance. Ultrasounds are being used in Canada to determine the sex of the unborn so that expecting parents can choose to terminate the pregnancy if the unborn child is a girl.
My petitioners are calling upon Parliament to support Motion No. 408 and condemn sex selection.
Government Policies February 28th, 2013
Mr. Speaker, a former statesman once said, “A wise and frugal government, which shall restrain citizens from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to pursue individual enterprise and shall not take from the mouth of labour the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government.”
The three principles of this statement are exactly what our Conservative government has provided to Canadians since 2006.
Our Conservative government has enacted laws to protect our citizens and is making Canada's streets safer.
Our Conservative government has cut unnecessary red tape, opened new trade markets for business and invested in Canadian research and technology, which supports individual enterprise.
Finally, our Conservative government has lowered taxes over 140 times, thereby putting more money in the pockets of Canadians and Canadian businesses.
I stand on this side of the House because Conservatives believe in these principles, and we are delivering good government to Canadians.
Veterans Affairs November 7th, 2012
Mr. Speaker, the Battle of Vimy Ridge is an integral part of Canada's history. In April 1917 the Canadian Corps was ordered to Vimy. After four days of fierce battle, the Canadians claimed victory, though it came at a very high price. Of the more than 15,000 Canadians who participated, over 10,000 were either killed or wounded. The victory at Vimy defined Canada as a nation in its own right.
Could the Minister of Veterans Affairs inform the House what our government is doing to keep the memory of Vimy alive?
Petitions October 26th, 2012
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present a petition from my constituents of Okanagan—Shuswap calling upon Parliament to confirm that every human being is recognized in Canadian law as a human in section 223 of the Criminal Code in such a way as to reflect 21st century medical evidence.
Pensions September 27th, 2012
Mr. Speaker, the Liberal Party has been calling for a bill to reform MP pensions. This seems odd, considering it was the Liberals who brought in the existing MP pension plan.
In economic action plan 2012, our government proposed changes to MP and civil servant pensions to better reflect fairness for taxpayers. The proposal will bring MP and civil servant pension contributions to a 50% level, equal to the contributions by taxpayers. Other aspects of the pensions are being reviewed in light of sustainability and fairness to the taxpayer.
Our government listens to those we serve and we will take action on pension reform.
In 2006, there was a transition in this place from a government of “we are entitled to our entitlements” to one of “fairness to Canadians we serve”. I am proud to be a member of the latter.
Business of Supply September 25th, 2012
Mr. Speaker, the member's question gives me an opportunity to tell Canadians the good news about what we have done in past budgets to improve their quality of life.
First, we have lowered taxes so the average family of four pays over $3,000 less taxes in a year. We have also dropped the GST by 2%, which puts more money in the back pockets of Canadians. In fact, I calculated that $38 million a year just in my constituency alone does not go to Ottawa and stays in the back pockets of my constituents.
We raised the GIS exemption from $500 to $3,500, benefiting 1.6 million seniors.
We have the child care allowance of $100 for each child under six. When I campaigned in the last election, I heard from young mothers who said that it was a great thing, that it really helped their budget and they thanked us for doing that.
We have a number of initiatives to create jobs so people can work and get better jobs. Our committee has studied skills training to empower Canadians to get employment or better jobs.
We have done a number of things to improve the standard of living. In fact, this is the first time in this decade that the centre of income in Canada has surpassed that of the United States.
Business of Supply September 25th, 2012
Mr. Speaker, the purpose of Parliament putting together expert panels to review these issues is to take their advice. They get the input from Canadians across the country, meditate on what they have heard and make recommendations to the government. This was not a recommendation at that time, but I trust the judgment and the knowledge of the panel.
Regardless whether that was included, the fact is the other party voted against any establishment of the disability pension. Therefore, I cannot understand why all of a sudden it has a concern for it now.
Business of Supply September 25th, 2012
Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Souris—Moose Mountain.
I will try to bring the amount of energy of the past speaker, but I will add a little more fact to my speech.
I am disappointed in today's Liberal motion, specifically the attempt by the Liberal Party to play political games with the registered disability savings plan, the RDSP. Even more troubling about this rather distasteful attempt to play politics here is the fact that the Liberal Party actually voted against the creation of the RDSP.
Early after being elected in 2006, our Conservative government recognized that parents of children with severe disabilities faced emotional strains and financial hardships that were often mentally and physically overwhelming. One of the difficult burdens these parents face was the thought of what would happen to their son or daughter in the future, especially after they were gone. It is not an easy topic to come to grips with and not one we would want to sully with political games.
That is why our Conservative government went about creating what became the RDSP by talking to Canadians most impacted directly. We struck an expert panel that toured the country and listened to hundreds of stories, often difficult stories, forcing those involved to consider those events in life that we did not like to talk about frequently. The expert panel held a very open and public consultation. It considered the advice, talked to experts and conducted more research. From that process, a detailed report entitled “A New Beginning” was released in December 2006, with numerous recommendations. The report is available online on the finance department's website and I encourage all Canadians to read it.
I would draw the attention of Canadians to pages 29 and 32, which discuss at length the eligibility criteria to become a beneficiary and a number of possible eligibility criteria the panel considered, to which today's motion alludes.
From the advice the they heard during their deliberations, panel members recommended that eligibility to become a beneficiary of a registered disability savings plan be coincidental with eligibility for the disability tax credit as defined in subsection 118.3 of the act and that there be no additional eligibility requirements.
Making the disability tax credit eligibility a requirement for the RDSP was deemed, as per the panel's report, the most appropriate way to ensure that the plan would be targeted to those with a severe and prolonged disability, based on a definition of disability that was already used and accepted in the income tax system.
With respect to the disability tax credit, it is beneficial to review the general policy rationale and eligibility criteria. Specifically, the disability tax credit provides tax relief to individuals: markedly restricted in their ability to perform a basic activity of daily living due to the effects of one or more severe or prolonged impairments in mental or physical functions; significantly restricted in their ability to perform more than one basic activity of daily living, if the cumulative effect of their restrictions is equivalent to having a single marked restriction in the ability to perform a basic activity of daily living, as certified by a qualified health practitioner; or would be markedly restricted were it not for extensive life sustaining therapy three times a week or at least 14 hours in total.
With the exception of blindness, no specific impairment or condition automatically grants eligibility for the disability tax credit. Rather, eligibility for the disability tax credit is determined on a case-by-case basis based on the effects of the impairment.
The Canada Revenue Agency is responsible for administering the Income Tax Act. Determining whether an individual qualifies for disability tax credit is the responsibility of the CRA. This objective approach ensures that tax relief is provided to those most in need.
Furthermore, the current eligibility criteria are consistent with the advice of another advisory panel, the Technical Advisory Committee on Tax Measures for Persons with Disabilities, established in 2003 under the former Liberal government, to provide advice on how to address tax issues affecting persons with disabilities.
The committee's final report was submitted in December 2004 and contained 25 recommendations. As the report was submitted to a Liberal government, the Liberal Party no doubt recalls that the committee made several recommendations regarding the eligibility criteria for the disability tax credit and that in 2005 the Liberal government accepted the committee's policy recommendations.
The disability tax credit continues to abide by the eligibility criteria the former Liberal government accepted. Nevertheless, our Conservative government knows that the registered disability plan is a program that can always be improved. That is why, when we created it, we explicitly committed to reviewing it three years after it became operational. As members may know, this review occurred between October and December 2011.
Again, our Conservative government encouraged all Canadians, including individuals, families, groups representing Canadians with disabilities, financial institutions and experts in the field, to share their views on the registered disability savings plan. Based on their feedback received during the review, our economic action plan proposed a number of measures to improve the RDSP.
In recognition of the fact that beneficiaries who were disability tax credit ineligible might, due to the nature of their condition, be eligible for the disability tax credit for some later year, it proposed to extend in certain circumstances the period for which a registered disability savings plan may remain open when they became disability tax credit ineligible. This measure would apply to registered disability savings plans where the beneficiary had become disability tax credit ineligible and where a medical practitioner certified in writing that the nature of the beneficiary's condition made it likely that the beneficiary would, because of the condition, be eligible for the disability tax credit in the foreseeable future.
I should also note that in response to feedback from Canadians, we also recently passed legislation to ensure that individuals could appeal, in every case, a determination concerning their eligibility for the DTC.
Rest assured that the government is keenly aware of the importance of the registered disability savings plan to Canadians with severe disabilities and their families. To that end, we remain committed to ensuring that support is provided to those most in need. We will not play politics with it and strongly advise the Liberal Party to do the same, especially considering the fact that it voted against the registered disability savings plan's very creation.
Instead I ask the Liberal members to listen to the stories of those Canadian families that have been touched by the RDSP, families like Antonia Maioni's. Antonia is a noted professor of political science at McGill University, but she is also the mother of a very special boy. In her words, as written in the Globe and Mail recently, she says:
—while most people are worrying whether they can maintain their lifestyle in retirement, parents of the disabled are more apt to wonder whether we'll have the strength or the means to care for our adult dependents--not to mention what happens when we’re no longer around.
She commends our government for bringing forward the registered disability savings plan for these children with disabilities so they can rest assured there will be provision for them in the future.
I have heard a lot of words from the Liberals, but we have not seen a lot of action. When they do act, it is to vote against the measures of our government that bring support to families that need it. I ask all members of the House to join with me and vote against the Liberal record of inaction.
Children's Health June 20th, 2012
Madam Speaker, I am honoured to stand in the House today to address a critical issue, childhood obesity, and to talk about how sectors of society, including government, are tackling this public health issue.
Helping children maintain healthy weights results in healthier living down the road and benefits Canada as a whole. To help support such efforts, I would like to speak in favour of Motion No. 319, introduced by my colleague, the hard-working member for Ottawa—Orléans. The motion before us builds on the momentum of recent federal actions and growing public awareness of the importance of promoting healthy weights, physical activity and healthy food choices for children and youth.
I have 10 grandchildren who are all very healthy. Not one of them is having a problem with obesity, but that has a lot to do with their parents' awareness of making sure their children have healthy foods and an active lifestyle. However, not all parents are doing that for their children, so we need to make sure there is awareness for parents of how they can better address this issue and ensure their children live healthy lifestyles.
The basis of the motion is the federal, provincial and territorial framework for action to promote healthy weights entitled, “Curbing Childhood Obesity”. Through this framework, governments have agreed to make childhood obesity a collective priority to help create the conditions for healthy weights. The framework also encourages the federal government to continue multi-sector dialogue on creating the social and physical environments that support healthy eating and physical activity.
Before describing the elements of this motion, I would like to take a moment to outline the childhood obesity situation in Canada. Obesity rates have never been higher in Canada. It is particularly concerning that today children face obesity rates that are three times higher than they were 25 years ago. This comes with clear human and economic costs. Reducing childhood obesity levels and promoting healthy weights is critical to the prevention of illness.
Increasingly, obese children are being diagnosed with a range of health conditions seen almost exclusively among adults, including type 2 diabetes and even high blood pressure. Estimates of the direct health care costs of obesity go as high as $6 billion a year. Therefore efforts to promote health, and thereby reduce chronic disease, make good sense.
If we do not address the issue of obesity in young Canadians now, we risk seeing the first generation of children who will have a lower life expectancy than that of their parents. Addressing the challenges posed by obesity is not a simple task. In order to make an impact, it will require the involvement of multiple levels of government and numerous sectors of society. As we go about reducing obesity rates, it is important that we examine many factors, including those that are biological, behavioural, psychological, technological, environmental, social, economic and cultural. All Canadians have a role to play in making sure our children are provided with the best opportunities to make healthy choices for maintaining healthy weights. It will not be a quick fix, and it will require a sustained effort.
That is why I am here today encouraging support for this motion, so that we can build on the momentum of current efforts to address obesity. Motion No. 319 contains four elements. Each element builds on agreed-upon directions that encourage a collaborative approach to promoting healthy choices. This motion encourages the federal government to continue its dialogue with the provinces, territories, industry, numerous health-related stakeholders and Canadians to promote and maintain healthy weights for children and youth.
Last year, for example, the federal government, along with the provinces and territories, launched a national dialogue about healthy weights, known as “Our Health, Our Future”. The dialogue was a basis for public engagement across the country with a diverse group of Canadians and organizations who collaborated to identify areas for action.
Through this dialogue we have heard from youth, non-governmental organizations, aboriginal organizations, health professionals, the provinces and territories, industry and Canadians. Approximately 1,000 individuals and organizations were engaged in this dialogue. Online consultations and social media were a key part of public engagement, which helped to increase participation. What Canadians told us will help guide further action in this area.
Another significant milestone was the summit on healthy weights, which took place this past February. The summit was a collaborative effort of federal, provincial and territorial governments, co-hosted by our federal health minister. It was an opportunity for representatives across many sectors to put their heads together and focus on healthy eating, active living, creating supportive environments and promoting multi-sectoral partnerships.
The summit also brought together a diverse range of individuals and organizations, resulting in a unique forum for open discussion. It inspired new ideas and forged new relationships, paving the way for collaborative action to promote and maintain healthy weights in children and youth.
Such collaborative discussions are what this motion proposes to continue. The motion calls for the federal government to further encourage discussions to address the factors that lead to obesity. These factors include social and physical environments, physical activity and promotion of and access to nutritious food.
In the curbing childhood obesity framework, federal, provincial and territorial governments agreed to identify and address the risk factors that can lead to obesity in children and youth. An example would be focusing on making the environments where children live, learn and play more supportive of physical activity and healthy eating. Schools, for example, like other places where children live, learn and play, are an important setting to promote healthy eating and physical activity.
As members know, for most Canadians responsibility for school health lies with the provincial and territorial governments and school boards. Many provinces and territories have developed school nutrition policies and programs as part of more comprehensive school health programs.
We also know that the various levels of governments can do even more when we all work together. A good example of this is the Joint Consortium for School Health. The consortium is a federal, provincial and territorial partnership that brings the health and education sectors together to promote the health of children and youth in school settings. This type of national collaboration and co-operation facilitates the sharing of knowledge, the leveraging of resources and stronger alignment between sectors.
In addition, making healthy food choices available and accessible, particularly nutritious foods, remains important to Canadians.
The federal government supports healthier eating through the nutrition north Canada program. This program provides a subsidy to lower the cost of transporting perishable healthy foods to isolated northern communities.
As well, the aboriginal head start program helps address the developmental needs of first nations children by supporting efforts to improve access to the availability of healthy meals, snacks and nutritional advice.
The Canada prenatal nutrition program is another example of a collaborative program that recognizes the importance of early intervention. This program assists communities in providing nutritional information and breastfeeding support to prenatal and postpartum women facing challenging life circumstances.
Collective community-based supports are also available to Canadians through the community action program for children, which promotes the healthy development of vulnerable young children and their families.
The motion calls for the federal government to encourage individuals and organizations to commit to participating in the promotion of healthy weights. This is why I feel that this motion is worthy of support from all members of this House.