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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
Legalization of Marijuana November 20th, 2013
Mr. Speaker, the City of Salmon Arm in my riding of Okanagan—Shuswap received funding from the municipal infrastructure improvement fund to replace the 30-year-old boiler at the local indoor pool. The new boiler is more energy efficient and less costly to maintain.
Last Saturday evening, I took seven of my 10 grandchildren to the pool. It was great to watch all the children enjoy the wholesome fun this wonderful facility provides. As I watched everyone, I thought that providing resources to communities for these types of activities for children and families is a priority of good government.
Then the thought came to me: why would any political party want to legalize marijuana, which would only destroy children's lives and families? Is it not the duty of government to protect the health and safety of its citizens?
I said a little prayer while I stood at the poolside. I petitioned that our grandchildren would never live under a government that would legalize marijuana.
Leader of the Liberal Party of Canada October 30th, 2013
Mr. Speaker, it has been six months since the member for Papineau became Liberal leader. In that time he has announced only one concrete policy he has for Canada, his plan to legalize marijuana.
In contrast, our Conservative government has been getting things done for Canadians. We have signed the biggest free trade deal since NAFTA, begun efforts to provide more fairness in competition for consumers and maintain our laser-like focus on jobs, growth and long-term prosperity. We are opening the market to 500 million new consumers.
While we have been focused on the economy, the leader of the Liberal Party has been focused on legalizing drugs. His plan will make marijuana easily available to our children and will increase risk of disruption in our communities.
Our Prime Minister will keep illegal drugs off our streets. Clearly, the leader of the Liberal Party is out of touch with law-abiding Canadians.
International Trade June 7th, 2013
Mr. Speaker, Canada is known around the world for its top quality beef and pork. Unfortunately, despite several rulings by the World Trade Organization, the United States has failed to abandon its discriminatory country of origin labelling requirements, hurting industry and workers in both our countries.
Could the Minister of International Trade please share with the House how our government is standing up for the beef and pork sector and hard-working Canadians who depend on it?
Economic Action Plan 2013 Act, No. 1 June 7th, 2013
Mr. Speaker, my riding of Okanagan--Shuswap is a retirement destination.
Our government is the first government to establish a Minister of State for Seniors. We have managed a number of initiatives to help seniors, such as income splitting, so they can afford to retire and initiatives to provide protection for seniors. Because they have become such a large portion of our population, we have incorporated that as part of our action plan and in our budget.
The member is a bit younger and is probably not familiar with seniors' issues, but could he please tell the House what is in the budget for seniors?
Safer Witnesses Act May 30th, 2013
Mr. Speaker, I have to say that we do not necessarily enjoy talking about things. We like taking action. We have done that as a party.
The fact is that there is time allocation and the members opposite are aware of that. It is really interesting. Those on the opposite side frequently state that there has not been enough time for debate on various bills. Here we are, giving you ample time to debate the bill and you are not taking advantage of it or do not want to take advantage—
Safer Witnesses Act May 30th, 2013
Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the question, but the member was not here in 2006, when we started the whole cracking down on crime initiative as a new government.
One of the things we did do was make strategic investments in the training centre for the RCMP, in Saskatchewan. We invested in more police officers. We decided we would make sure there would be the resources to crack down on crime when we go forward with the initiative for cracking down on crime. We increased the number of border security people to crack down on the gun trade and the drug trade across the border between Canada and the United States. There are ample resources there to do that work.
I can say with confidence that this bill would be another building block to what we are trying to accomplish, and the resources are there. The RCMP has also acknowledged that the bill would not be any stress on those costs.
Safer Witnesses Act May 30th, 2013
Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to be up here this evening with everyone here. I am standing to support Bill C-51, the safer witnesses act.
This is just another block in the work that has been done by our great and capable Minister of Justice to provide Canadians with justice, law and order with our crime initiative to make our streets and communities safer. Why it is so important is that one of the first callings of government is to provide security and public safety for its citizens. It reminds me of that great quote by Thomas Jefferson. I have mentioned it a few times in the House. It is about what good government is. He says that a government that protects its citizens from harming one another and otherwise leaves them to individual pursuit of enterprise and “does not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned.... This is the sum of good government”.
The first issue, of course, is that the government provide law and order and protect its citizens from harming one another. Bill C-51 addresses that part of good government that we are supplying for Canadians.
Bill C-51 would strengthen the witness protection program. The government is demonstrating once again its commitment to building those safe and secure communities for all Canadians.
Before highlighting the main provisions of the bill, let me reflect on how the proposed legislation would be an important tool for fighting serious organized crime.
Since coming into office in 2006, which was the time I was elected, our government has been focused on building safer communities. We have had a larger mandate at every election, because we have been doing that job. Among other actions, we have provided law enforcement officials with the resources to clean up our streets. We have introduced legislation to increase the accountability of offenders, and we have taken steps to modernize the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Strengthening the witness protection program through this bill before the House is a next step in our efforts to combat crime.
Statistics Canada has reported a 30% growth in the trafficking, production and distribution of cocaine in our country in the last 10 years. Such a staggering increase is not a result of small-time and isolated dealers bringing more drugs into our communities. Rather, it reflects a concerted effort by organized crime that is likely global in scope and increasingly difficult to nail down. Organized crime has become adept at harnessing new information technologies, both to carry out cyber crimes and to avoid detection from traditional activities such as drug trafficking. At the same time, they could also be using new technologies to track down potential witnesses to their crimes.
More than ever, the law enforcement community depends on informants willing to infiltrate criminal gangs and gather evidence against them. Understandably, witnesses are often only willing to testify if they are offered protection from threats. That is why Canada's federal witness protection program is so vital in our effort to fight crime and provide Canadians safe streets.
Indeed, in her comments on Bill C-51, the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of British Columbia said that in the fight against crime, protecting witnesses is essential.
We must also recognize that the federal witness protection plan is based on legislation that is two decades old. The program has held up well over the last 17 years, but the time has come for this act to get into the 21st century. Only in this way can we deliver the kind of protection witnesses need and deserve, the protection that will help us fight serious and organized crime.
For my part today, I would like to focus on how the bill would streamline relations between the federal program and its provincial counterparts and in doing so, heighten safety for both witnesses and those who protect them.
Currently Alberta, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Ontario and Quebec have their own witness protection programs. Unlike the federal program, which generally is geared to protect witnesses for life through relocation and secure identity changes, provincial programs are typically set up to offer short-term protection.
If the scope of the protection becomes too large for the provincial program, help may be sought from the federal counterpart to obtain a secure identity change. However, this process can be cumbersome and time-consuming, requiring the witness to be temporarily admitted into the federal program.
Imagine the emotional state of a witness in this situation. He or she has co-operated with the authorities to testify against the ringleaders of serious crimes in return for protection before the upcoming trial. Already the witness is experiencing heightened stress that only a few of us could imagine. Now provincial authorities receive new intelligence: the risk for their witnesses are higher than previously believed. A new identity is required, and quickly.
The witness, already stressed, would be thrown into a state of emotional turmoil, first at the news of heightened danger and second at the thought of adopting a new identity and all the upheaval that would bring. Then, having made the difficult decision to join the program, the witness asks if the paperwork is finally complete, and the answer may very well be, “Not yet.”
Witnesses may have their own motivation for co-operating with the authorities, but the bottom line is that their actions may be instrumental in helping law enforcement take criminals off our streets and put them behind bars. Thus, witnesses are an important tool to prevent crime, and the system needs to serve them well.
I am speaking not only of witnesses currently in the system; I am thinking of all the potential witnesses whose testimony could take a bite out of crime in Canada. Before they are willing to co-operate, they need to have the confidence in the management of a witness protection program.
I am pleased to say that Bill C-51 introduces amendments that would help streamline the process to obtain secure identity changes for provincial witnesses. Essentially, it would allow for the designation of a provincial or municipal witness protection program. This designated status means that the witness would no longer have to join the federal program to obtain a secure identity change.
Allow me to highlight several other provisions that would strengthen and streamline the witness protection program for the benefit of the witnesses and those who protect them.
Among other goals, Bill C-51 would do the following: clarify and add provisions on the disclosure of information about protectees, including about how they are protected, and about the persons providing the assistance with that protection; specify under what circumstances disclosure of protected information is nevertheless permitted; expand the category of witnesses who may be admitted to the program to include people who are helping with the investigation of a terrorist act; give protectees in the federal program the right to end their participation voluntarily; and extend the period during which the protection may, in an emergency, be provided to a person who has not been admitted to the witness protection program.
The federal witness protection program is a key weapon in the fight against crime. It gives informants the confidence to put their lives in danger by testifying against organized crime.
For the sake of those witnesses, present and future, and for the safety and security of our communities, I urge all members to join me in supporting the safer witnesses bill.
Stampede Days May 27th, 2013
Mr. Speaker, every May long weekend is Stampede Days in the little town of Falkland in my riding of Okanagan—Shuswap. Cowboys and cowgirls from the rodeo circuit and all the ranches in the area come to Falkland to enjoy the bull and bronco riding, the calf roping, and all the other entertainment that goes along with a rodeo.
This year was very special because Merv Churchill, known to all as Mr. Falkland, was inducted into the Canadian rodeo hall of fame for his many years of organizing the rodeo event. In Merv's younger years, he rode with the best, and when he retired from the circuit, he became Falkland's Mr. Rodeo.
Last weekend when I attended the Falkland Stampede parade, I was met, as always, by the smiling cowboy, Merv Churchill, who was busy with his son Jason, his wife Dot, and the girls and their grandchildren organizing the 95th Annual Falkland Stampede.
It was great to see Merv and his family recognized for all they do for the community and the Falkland stampede. As a cowboy poet would say, it pretty near brought a tear to my eye to see him receive the award. I congratulate Merv.
Committees of the House May 21st, 2013
Mr. Speaker, I want to clarify that I was not suggesting that all students should not go to university and should look at the trades. Rather, that is obviously an opportunity they need to be exposed to.
When I first came to this place in 2006, I was the chair of the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development. We did a study on post-secondary education for aboriginal students. The outcome of that study was that if aboriginal students were to get to the grade 12 level the percentage who would go on to post-secondary education was the same as non-aboriginal people in Canada. The issue was to get them to grade 12. One of the recommendations was to try to introduce some of the skills and job opportunities in the areas close to the community. That was very important, especially with the young aboriginal males because they might not want to leave their communities in the north and would rather want to look at the opportunities with respect to mining or whatever economic activity was happening in the area.
Our government has put together a first nations job fund of $109 million over five years and $132 million over five years to create the service delivery structure to further help aboriginals get the skills they need to fill the jobs in their area.
Committees of the House May 21st, 2013
Mr. Speaker, the discussions at the table were interesting, especially with the unions. The member opposite should be aware that the unions have a great part to play in some of these needs, because they see it every day. They are the ones who really helped to put together a strategy. Of course, our government is willing to listen to Canadians and find out what the needs are, and so we reacted to that. Obviously this program was based on information that was provided to the committee. It had to be done in a timely fashion because the longer we wait to put these people into training and get them into the workforce, the more it will jeopardize our economy and the growth that we anticipate for our country.