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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
Child Poverty January 30th, 2015
Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for Scarborough—Rouge River for her motion to reduce poverty in our country and welcome the opportunity to comment on the government's progress in this regard.
On a national basis, we have had a great deal of success. The rate for children living in poverty was 18.4% in 1996. That rate dropped to just 8.5% in 2011. That translates into about 730,000 fewer children living in poverty at the end of the period than were living in poverty at the beginning.
Unlike what happened in previous economic downturns, the low-income rate for children remained stable during the 2008 and 2009 global recession. The fact is that Canada's social programs cushioned the impact of the global recession and prevented many more Canadian families and their children from falling into poverty.
Our government is taking a comprehensive approach to reducing poverty and is focusing on getting Canadians jobs and opportunities to achieve self-sufficiency, while providing increasing targeted support for those in need.
Helping to level the playing field with lower-income Canadians and moving more families and children out of poverty also includes direct support to families from the federal government. For example, we provide support through the Canada child tax benefit, the national child benefit supplement, the universal child care benefit and the child tax credit. This year the increase in the universal child care benefit will help families even more and the program is even broadened to cover children from the ages of 7 to 17. In all, the government provides over $15 billion per year in benefits for families and children.
We also work closely with governments in the provinces and territories, as well as with aboriginal organizations and voluntary group sectors to reduce poverty.
The annual Canada social transfer helps fund specific provincial and territorial programs targeted at families with young children, and represents a federal commitment that would raise to $1.3 billion next fiscal year.
The government is also helping families make better choices in areas such as nutrition. For example, proper food and nutrition are essential to growing children, no matter what their family income. Unfortunately, those living on lower incomes face particular challenges on that front.
Through Health Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada, the government is spearheading several initiatives that will improve nutrition and enhance food security for children. Child nutrition and food security is linked to a variety of factors and meeting these challenges requires the contributions of multiple sectors working together.
Our government is working with aboriginal partners, provincial and territorial governments, and other sectors to look at how to best address these factors and to provide Canadian families with the information and tools they need to make healthy choices.
Having proper shelter is also essential.
Through the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, also known as CMHC, the government has invested more than $16.5 billion in housing since 2006. Working with its partners, CMHC has helped nearly 915,000 Canadian individuals and families find adequate and affordable housing. Targeted groups include low-income seniors, persons with disabilities, recent immigrants and aboriginal Canadians.
Over the next five years, CMHC will invest a further $10 billion in making housing more affordable for all Canadians, particularly lower-income Canadians. This will support new affordable housing and existing social housing.
There is also a great deal of work being done by the Department of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development. I can recall that when we first became government, our first minister addressed this with a $2 billion contribution to housing on reserve and off reserve, especially in northern aboriginal communities.
The Department of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development funds a number of programs that seek to create safe and affordable housing; improve access to high-quality child care and childhood nutrition and improve the economic security of families; and meet the unique needs of first nations, Inuit, and Métis communities.
In addition to targeted support for those most in need, the government has also provided almost $160 billion in tax relief for Canadian families and individuals in the last eight years. Canadians at all income levels have benefited, but the greatest benefit has been to low- and middle-income Canadians. Overall, personal income taxes are now 10% lower, and more than one million low-income Canadians have been taken off the tax rolls altogether.
We know that many Canadians still face a variety of financial challenges. The major government initiatives I have just talked about will continue to help more and more people move up the income ladder.
In that respect, we are doing a great deal better than all our major competitors in the G7 or the OECD. Since the 2008 global recession, we have created over one million new jobs. That is 675,000 more jobs than we had before the economic downturn started, and a vast majority of those are new jobs. Over 80% of all jobs created have been full-time positions, and over 65% are in high-wage industries. We have weathered the global recession much better than most, and our economy continues to grow and provide good jobs for Canadians.
Both the IMF and OECD report that they expect Canada will have one of the strongest-growing economies in the G7 this year and next. We will also have a balanced budget next year, well before any of our trading partners. This is another sign that our economy is on the right track.
Again I would like to thank the hon. member for the motion. I hope that all members of the House will support it. I hope that all members will recognize the enormous strides that we have made in reducing poverty in this country and support our continuing efforts to do even more.
Forestry Industry December 10th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, the B.C. forest industry has been the backbone of the B.C. economy for the last century. Over the past century, forestry practices, environmental protection, and business models have improved to the point that the B.C. forest industry is recognized globally for its innovation.
Today, more trees are planted than harvested every year. Use of wood fibre per tree has increased from 66% to over 90% today, and the industry has become more efficient and profitable through technological advancement applications.
Our Conservative government has partnered with the forest industry to expand their access to new international markets, especially in the Pacific Rim. We have also invested in research and the development of new wood fibre products and have funded energy efficiency in the industry.
The B.C. forest industry, through innovation, has positioned itself for the next century, which will provide jobs and prosperity for all Canadians in the future.
The Economy November 28th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, in September, the Canadian economy beat market expectations by creating more than 74,000 jobs. Last month, we should pass expectations again by adding another 43,000 jobs.
With 1.2 million new jobs created since the recession, the Canadian economy is envied around the world.
Could the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance please update this House on the latest news about Canada's economy?
Service Canada Mandate Expansion Act October 2nd, 2014
The time and the effort that the hon. member has put into drafting the bill is certainly commendable. The parliamentary secretary, my colleague, has put forward an argument that Service Canada has been working to provide online service and to update our systems to ensure that Canadians are served better and quicker. Changes take time, but this bill is just another step that would improve that service and make it more timely for Canadians.
Bill C-247, an act to expand the mandate of Service Canada in respect of the death of a Canadian citizen or Canadian resident, if adopted, will make Service Canada the single point of contact to report the death of a loved one to the federal government.
If I were to take a quick look at Bill C-247, it would seem to be a straightforward proposal, and I have no doubt it has been developed with the best intention. At first glance, Bill C-247 looks like a good idea as it seems to make things easier for people who need to notify the federal government of the death of a relative. However, when we examine the bill more closely, we quickly realize that the legislation, as it is written, could be improved. We look forward to working with the member for Guelph to make some common sense changes at committee.
When we look at the bill, I would like to remind my colleagues that the information on births and deaths in Canada falls under the jurisdiction of the provinces and the territories. Currently, provincial and territorial governments maintain birth and death registries and they are administered by vital statistics agencies. All provinces, except one, Saskatchewan, which is expected to join the system within the next two years, send Service Canada daily death information through secure electronic channels, under the vital events linkages agreements. Then Service Canada relays this information to all the federal departments and agencies that are duly authorized to receive it.
This two-step information sharing process is demonstrably reliable and has proven to be secure to protect the private information of all Canadians. In fact, it is a great example of a partnership that works.
Of course, as with any system, there is always room for improvement. That is why Service Canada will continue to work with the provinces and territories, as well as with various partners and stakeholders, to improve the vital events linkages and accelerate the processes involved in disclosing information.
As a House, we have the responsibility to consider all the possible repercussions for the privacy of Canadians. We cannot treat this lightly. The privacy of Canadians is too important to be played with. This is exactly what we are doing by recommending amendments to Bill C-247. We are looking at how we can improve the bill and make it better legislation.
As the member for Cumberland—Colchester—Musquodoboit Valley has stated, we intend to introduce several amendments in committee study to make the bill stronger. The member who submitted the bill recognizes the co-operation of the government and is very willing to participate.
In the meantime, the bill has shown that Service Canada needs to do better at communicating with Canadians. Currently, there is work ongoing to update the Service Canada website. It will soon provide clearer messages on the steps to follow to notify the federal government of the death of a loved one. Service Canada's website will soon highlight which federal programs and departments are automatically informed of the passing of an individual and which departments and programs might need to be informed directly.
Service Canada will also work in consultation with funeral directors and other stakeholders to develop an outreach strategy, so Canadians are even better informed on this matter.
Service Canada will continue working with departments and programs to progressively move toward a simplification of the death notification process. I am pleased to see and support an initiative that cuts red tape for grieving families. Basically, we agree with the intent of the hon. member's bill. We need to do this the right way.
Canada-Korea Economic Growth and Prosperity Act September 30th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, as we go into a free trade agreement with any country, we make sure that those barriers are eliminated and that there is market access.
As we have stated, in the agreement we have an easier mechanism to sort out any challenges that we would see as barriers. I believe we have to have a certain amount of faith in the agreement and have faith that those we are signing an agreement with are going to uphold those values.
The purpose of the agreement is to open up markets to both countries, and I have full confidence that Korea will give Canadian companies access to their market.
Canada-Korea Economic Growth and Prosperity Act September 30th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, history shows that when a country with a strong economy competes in the marketplace in a world economy as it was in 2008, it really suffers, but we will find that the countries that suffer the most are doing most of the exporting to try to get their economy going.
Canada had the luxury of being almost a net buyer of goods and services from other countries, and that was helping those countries recover from the recession that we had in 2008.
However, I can assure members that as we open more markets, it just means that our balance of trade will improve, because Canadian companies are aggressive and are well-equipped to compete in these global markets.
Canada-Korea Economic Growth and Prosperity Act September 30th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, taking tariffs off will just make Canadians more competitive, and I really believe that Canadian companies and workers can compete in the global market.
Just to give members an idea, British Columbia trades $1.76 billion a year with Korea. A small item of that is fish and seafood exports to South Korea. There are currently tariffs ranging from 10% to as high as 20% on those exports. They would disappear. That would make our fishery more competitive. It would open the market and maybe even expand the market. That would be a positive thing for Canadian companies.
Canada-Korea Economic Growth and Prosperity Act September 30th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to stand before the House today to speak about the benefits of the Canada-Korea free trade agreement.
This free trade agreement, Canada's first with an Asian market, would create thousands of new jobs in Canada and provide Canadian businesses and workers with a gateway to Asia, enhancing their global competitiveness.
No government in Canada's history has been more committed to the creation of jobs and prosperity for Canadian businesses and workers and their families than this government. Deepening Canada's trade relationships in dynamic and high-growth markets around the world is a key to these efforts.
I would like to focus on the benefits of the Canada-Korea free trade agreement in relation specifically to small and medium-sized enterprises. Small and medium-sized enterprises, or SMEs, make up the backbone of the Canadian economy. This importance is highlighted in our Conservative government's global markets action plan. In fact, a key part of this government's pro-trade plans is to provide SMEs with new and improved market access so that they can expand and win in the global marketplace.
The reality is that many barriers exist that prevent SMEs from accessing new market opportunities and taking advantage of global and regional value chains, and one of the most significant barriers for SMEs is high tariffs. High tariffs pose a significant barrier for any business trying to break into a new market, but this is especially true for SMEs, which tend to have fewer resources and a smaller market share. As we know, tariff reductions are at the core of the Canada-Korea free trade outcome.
Our Conservative government understands that when SMEs sell more of their goods, they create jobs, so when our free trade agreements bring tariffs down, helping our SMEs compete and win, those free trade agreements create jobs for Canadians.
I am happy to report that the Canada-Korea free trade agreement would eliminate tariffs on virtually all current exports from Canada to South Korea. The Canada-Korea free trade agreement would result in the elimination of 100% of South Korean tariffs on industrial goods, forestry and wood products, and fish and seafood products, as well as the elimination of the vast majority of South Korea's agricultural tariffs. In all, once the agreement is fully implemented, South Korea will remove duties on 100% of non-agricultural exports and on 97% of current agricultural exports. This would significantly improve South Korean market access for Canadian SMEs.
To help business owners, the Canada-Korea free trade agreement contains simple and clear rules of origin that would make it easier and less costly for Canadian SMEs to do business in the South Korean market. The Canada-Korea free trade agreement also contains clear and transparent origin procedures that would ensure the effective and consistent administration of the rules of origin so that they do not represent costly barriers to trade.
Non-tariff barriers are a growing concern in international trade. Non-tariff barriers, whether in the form of unjustified trade restrictions or lack of transparency, could seriously undermine gains made in market access. The effects of non-tariff restriction barriers tend to be magnified for SMEs that do not have the level of resources of a large national or multinational corporation. The Canada-Korea free trade agreement contains strong disciplines on non-tariff measures that would help SMEs reap the benefits of this agreement.
For instance, the agreement promotes and requires the use of internationally accepted standards to minimize duplicative certification and testing of products. Moreover, the Canada-Korea free trade agreement would improve transparency with respect to standards and regulatory development by ensuring that SMEs and other companies have access to information such as laws, regulations, and administrative rulings that can affect trade.
I would like to note that these strong disciplines on non-tariff measures are backed up by the Canada-Korea free trade agreement's fast and effective dispute settlement provisions.
The benefits of the Canada-Korea free trade agreement do not end there. In addition, through tariff elimination, user-friendly rules of origin, transparent origin procedures, and reduced non-tariff barriers, the Canada-Korea free trade agreement contains strong provisions that would improve access for services and facilitate business mobility.
With regard to services, Canadian SMEs would benefit from preferential market access in key areas of export interest, including research and development services, professional services, environmental services, and business services, among many others.
In addition, the Canada-Korea free trade agreement would enhance business mobility by giving Canadian business people new and preferential access to the South Korean market by removing barriers to entry, such as economic needs tests. It would also ensure that new barriers in this area, such as quotas and proportionality tests, will not be introduced in the future.
Some of these provisions are the most ambitious that South Korea has ever agreed to in its free trade agreements, and they would allow Canadian SMEs to compete with key competitors in the U.S. and the EU on a level playing field.
Lastly, I want to speak briefly on investment.
Canada already has significant foreign investment in South Korea, including in the automotive, transportation, financial services, and life sciences sectors. The Canada-Korea free trade agreement includes a robust framework of rules that will result in an environment characterized by greater predictability and stability for Canadian firms that already have investments in the South Korean market and for companies that wish to expand their investments or make new investments. This is relevant to Canadian SMEs whether they exist on their own or are looking to partner with larger Canadian firms.
These are just a few examples of how the Canada-Korea free trade agreement would enhance market access for SMEs and make them more competitive in the global market. As we can see, the Canada-Korea free trade agreement is a much needed, high-quality agreement that would bring significant benefits to Canada's small and medium-sized enterprises as well as to Canadian consumers and other businesses.
Our government understands the importance of trade and exports to our economy. Exports are responsible for one out of every five jobs in Canada. The prosperity of Canadians depends on the continued expansion beyond our borders into new markets that serve to grow Canada's exports and investment.
However, this past summer the NDP's critic protested alongside well-known radical anti-trade activists, like The Council of Canadians and the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives at an anti-trade protest.
The NDP's record is just as bad and shameful as the Liberal record. During 13 long years in government, the Liberals completely neglected trade. When our government was elected in 2006, Canada only had trade agreements with five countries, the most important two being the United States and Mexico, and that agreement was signed by another Conservative government.
The Liberals took Canada virtually out of the game of trade negotiations, putting Canadian workers and businesses at severe risk of falling behind in the era of global markets. With the free trade agreement with Korea and the historic agreement between Canada and the European Union, Canada will have ratified free trade agreements with 43 countries.
Only our government is focused on what matters to Canadians: jobs, growth, and long-term prosperity. The Canada-Korea free trade agreement is just another example of how this Conservative government is getting the job done.
Health September 25th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, as many of my colleagues know, my son-in-law and daughter were some of the first responders to the Ebola outbreak in Liberia, so it has been very encouraging to see the government take a leadership role on the world stage when it comes to the global public health threats posed by Ebola.
Canada's medical expertise is respected all over the world, and the generosity of Canadians working with non-governmental organizations in West Africa is going a long way to fight against this disease.
Could the Minister of Health please give the House an update on Canada's latest contributions to combat the Ebola outbreak?
Respecting Families of Murdered and Brutalized Persons Act September 16th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, I thank all my colleagues on both sides of the House for their comments. I appreciate them. This is the great thing about our democracy. We have open debate and discuss the issues that concern our citizens. I am also very thankful that I belong to a party that allows backbenchers like me to bring forward issues from my constituents in a private member's bill.
As a person of deep faith, I had some challenges when I first looked at the bill, because my faith is based on confession, repentance, and forgiveness, but I came to the realization that my compassion should not trump justice for the victims.
I talked to a woman in my riding, a wonderful person, Marie Van Diest, who had twin daughters, and one of her daughters was murdered on the rail tracks in Armstrong. When she came to see me to talk to me about justice, she said that she just wanted life to mean life. She did not want to go through parole hearings. She said she was young, and 25 years from now she would still be young, and she did not want to hear this over and over every second year. I came here to represent her, because I agreed with what she had to say.
All the organizations that support victims of crime in this country have come out in support of the bill. I attended a justice round table in Kamloops, and every member around the table was very supportive of the bill.
I am pleased to be here for the second hour of the debate on this private member's bill, and I do thank my colleagues for their comments.
Once again, I thank the member for Selkirk—Interlake for initiating Bill C-587, an act to amend the Criminal Code (increasing parole ineligibility) as Bill C-478 back in February 2013. My bill has merit and will provide guidance and accommodation to our judiciary to further protect victims of violent crimes. This is about victims, not the offenders. My bill would support Bill C-32 in recognition of victims' rights and in protecting victims from the pain they would have to endure as they listened to parole hearings time and time again.
My colleague suggested the Norwegian model. I agreed with that, and we do that in our system, but the victims of crimes do not want to hear that over and over again. They have a healing period of 25 years. They do not want to go through opening up those wounds and reliving the tragedy they experienced in their lives 25 years previously.
The bill targets sadistic murderers. These sadistic criminals have never been granted parole, yet the families of the victims still face parole hearings every two years, reliving once again the tragedies of their loved ones. The bill seeks to extend the parole ineligibility period for those convicted of abduction and heinous and brutal acts of violent or sexual assault ending in the murder of an individual.
Once a parole hearing has been given and denied, almost the whole process starts over again. Making murderers ineligible for parole for up to a maximum of 40 years could save families approximately eight unnecessary parole hearings.
Why does the bill ask for a maximum of 40 years before a parole hearing is allowed? Murder is 25 years without parole. Abduction faces a maximum of 10 years, and sexual assault a maximum of 4.6 years. My bill would empower the courts with the ability to increase parole ineligibility when sentencing individuals who abducted, sexually assaulted, and killed our loved ones from the current 25 years up to a maximum of 40 years.
I am hopeful that the bill will pass second reading and be sent to the justice committee for further comment and further study, but I thank all those who have contributed, and I appreciate the opportunity to present the bill to this House.