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Conservative MP for Calgary—Nose Hill (Alberta)

Won her last election, in 2011, with 70.20% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Islamic State September 24th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, when ISIL began murdering thousands of innocent men, women, children, and religious minorities, it completely violated every value Canadians hold dear. When ISIL threatened Canadians because we do not share its twisted view of the world, our government remained resolute in its strong stand against such atrocities. We condemn these terrorists and their violation of human rights and human dignity.

Though other parties may feel the need to try to rationalize away the threats Canadians face in a dangerous world, our government has been firm and swift in its response, helping to deliver military supplies to Iraqi forces combatting ISIL and sending military advisers to support them.

Our government will not sit idle. We will stand with our allies in condemning the threat and will work with them to extinguish it.

Intergovernmental Relations April 1st, 2014

Mr. Speaker, all of us here who represent the great province of Alberta are proud of our government's solid partnership with Albertans. We have more than doubled the social transfer to collaborate on important programs, including those for children and post-secondary education. It is now at almost $1.5 billion.

The former Liberal government shortchanged Alberta in health care support. That has now been rectified to provide $3.7 billion this year under the health transfer.

Annual infrastructure funding to Alberta has increased by an average of 700%. In my city, it invested in projects such as the ring road and Calgary Transit. Albertans will also be relieved to know that the federal government is covering 90% of last June's devastating flood damage. Almost $2 billion has been set aside.

These are a few examples of the strong partnership with our federal government that benefits Albertans every single day.

Canada-Honduras Economic Growth and Prosperity Act March 31st, 2014

That is not true.

Canada-Honduras Economic Growth and Prosperity Act March 31st, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for her kind words.

To give some specifics, Canada's support has led to a reduction in newborn mortality in Honduras by 11% in the regions we have concentrated on. We have provided health and counselling services to over 85,000 young people. We have contributed to reducing primary school dropout rates, so that now the dropout rate is only 1%, and to reducing the average of grade repetition rates to under 5%. This progress is important. These are real people. These are people who are striving and struggling. Corruption and insecurity is not something confined to Honduras. It is part and parcel of the entire region. It is preyed on by criminal elements and those in the drug trade. It has a very young population and very low incomes.

I am proud of the work that we have done to be a friend and neighbour to Honduras. Honduras is important to me. Honduras is important to Canada. It may not be important to the NDP, but even the poorest and smallest among us deserve support, respect, and friendship.

Canada-Honduras Economic Growth and Prosperity Act March 31st, 2014

Of course we do, Mr. Speaker. I just talked about all of the partnerships, the sharing of best practices, and all the work that has been done by Canada in that country. We are good friends with Honduras. There are many NGOs working with Honduras, like Peacemakers International. The Honduran people have strong friendships with them.

Yes, the free trade agreement is only a part of what we want to do, but it is an important part. It is a part that Hondurans have longed for, worked for, dreamed of, and it is finally in the House, its dream coming to fruition. I cannot imagine why the NDP would want to stick a knife in something so important to this little country.

Canada-Honduras Economic Growth and Prosperity Act March 31st, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak today on this topic. I have been to Honduras more than once. It is a wonderful country with very warm, friendly, and welcoming people. They are a very proud and hard-working people. I am so pleased to see this agreement now come before the House.

Canada's development solidarity with Honduras is truly helping to build prosperity in that country. I also want to say a little bit about how we in Canada are helping to address inequality, social exclusion, and insecurity in that country. This work provides a positive platform, of course, for the Canada–Honduras free trade agreement.

Our Conservative government believes strongly that engagement, not isolationism, is the best way to be a good neighbour and friend to Honduras. We want to be truly helpful in addressing its development, security, and human rights challenges. We profoundly disagree with the NDP approach, which can be summed up as: “The beatings will continue until morale improves”. Shame on them.

We are pleased to say that Canada is working on several fronts with the Honduran government in this regard. We are also proud that Canada is making a difference. Canada has a long-standing and substantial development relationship with Honduras.

Honduras is one of 20 countries of focus for Canada's development work. We have provided close to $40 million in the last fiscal year. Canada also delivered close to $70 million in security programming in all of Central America to support regional efforts, which include Honduras, to address insecurity in this region.

The people of Honduras appreciate their development and security partnership with Canada that has been provided over the years, and we have a strong relationship with that country, based on an open and frank dialogue. I have been there and have had these discussions. There are some wonderful leaders looking for friends and collaborators to help pull their country out of some of the deep difficulties they have faced for many years. These are issues important to both Canadians and the citizens of Honduras.

I would like to take a few minutes to talk about Honduras' challenging social economic situation and present some compelling statistics on poverty and insecurity in Honduras. These are issues which Honduras leaders are determined to address, and things like this new trade agreement will provide a real boost.

At this time, unfortunately, Honduras is one of the poorest and most unequal countries in the Americas. Sixty percent of the population of Honduras is considered poor. Nearly one-fifth live in extreme poverty. In fact, they live on less than $1.25 a day.

The poverty in Honduras is concentrated in rural areas. It affects mostly women, young people, and indigenous communities. They need the kinds of opportunities that this trade agreement would provide. It goes without saying that this situation is not meeting the aspirations of the country's proud and hard-working citizens.

When I say “hard-working”, I would point out that Honduras' unemployment rate remains relatively low, but underemployment is huge. In fact, just over half of the total workforce is underemployed. It holds part-time jobs despite seeking full-time work, or the workforce is overqualified based on education, experience, and skills. They need opportunities.

In addition, Honduras' informal sector accounts for nearly three-quarters of non-agricultural employment and nearly 60% of total employment. Members can appreciate that many of these workers in the informal sector are therefore working under poor conditions in terms of safety, income, and social benefits.

A free trade agreement opens up the door. It provides certainty and a framework for Canadian investors and Canadian businesses to partner with Hondurans to provide the kind of strong, stable employment opportunities that Hondurans need and want.

Here is another huge challenge. Over half of Hondurans are under the age of 19. It is a very young population, so it does not take a genius to figure out that the lack of economic opportunities for these young people is a major driving force behind the country's persistent social and security problems. There are criminal elements who are very happy to draw young Hondurans into their net, and it is very sad to see that. Legitimate business opportunities are so needed to counteract that.

The Honduran government has made an effort to address poverty and security issues, but resources are scarce and progress has been slow.

The crime rate and insecurity have increased to the point where, today, this beautiful little country, this gem of a country, is one of the most violent in the world. I am sorry to say that Honduras has the highest intentional homicide rate in the world, averaging 20 murders per day, in addition to other violent crime. That is, to a large extent, criminal elements are having their way, using this country as a drug route and drawing young people into this terrible, violent activity.

That is why Canada's bilateral development partnership promotes sustainable economic growth through investment in rural development and works to reduce social exclusion and inequality through ongoing investments in health, education, human rights, and democratic development.

Canada is helping to achieve strong results toward increasing food security and securing the future of poor Honduran children and youth, particularly in rural areas.

We are making a real difference in the lives of small farmers and their families by sharing best practices that are improving their sustainable farming practices. To date, over 27,000 farmers have received critical collaboration to improve the quantity and quality of crops, access new markets, and diversify income. Many of these are now ready to integrate into more structured supply chains and access local, regional, and global markets, like Canada.

We are also collaborating to help strengthen health in this country, to improve the quality of education. I want to pay tribute to Dave Hubert and Canadian Peacemakers International, who are putting computers into rural villages and putting the country's education system on the computers. People in the villages and small towns come to these computer stations and work through the programs to increase their education through self-help programs. It is an amazing program by Canadian Peacemakers International.

We are working through the Organization of American States, the International Program for Professional Labour Administration–Americas to promote respect for international labour standards and to work with the leaders of Honduras on many fronts to lift this country up.

Prosperity, security, and democratic governance, including the full respect of human rights, go together. They are interconnected and mutually reinforcing. That is why this trade agreement is such good news, a bright light on the horizon for Honduras.

In short, this agreement would benefit Hondurans. It would also help create jobs, growth, and long-term prosperity for Canadians. That is called a win-win, and I hope that all members will leave aside the nonsensical rhetoric of the NDP and support this important new partnership with our friends in Honduras.

Qalipu Mi'kmaq First Nation Act March 7th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I have been a member here for 20 years. I was a member of the opposition for 13 of those years. Holding the government to account is an important role, but at the same time, opposing just to oppose is not particularly helpful to the people of Canada. I agree with my colleague that attacking each other just to attack is not particularly helpful either.

I think the people of Canada are pleased and relieved when members work together in a constructive and respectful way, as we are doing on this legislation. I hope that ethic will spread and grow. That would be great.

We do stand together with this new first nation. It has an important role. It is excited about its future. There are some technical bumps in the road, but we are getting those paved over and we are going to set this first nation on a good path forward.

Qalipu Mi'kmaq First Nation Act March 7th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, that is a very important question.

As others have mentioned, the review process will last until the summer of 2015, about a year and a half from now. Once the review process is completed, the schedule that sets out the membership of the Qalipu Mi'kmaq First Nation will be finalized. Then the leadership of the first nation can form the elections and get people into place to move forward to work together.

I guess the short answer is about a year and a half.

Qalipu Mi'kmaq First Nation Act March 7th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my hon. colleague and his party for standing with the Qalipu Mi'kmaq First Nation and supporting this important legislation for them.

The member will know the process that has been put in place to assess these applications is a very careful and thorough one. In addition to that, any applicant who is rejected has a right to pursue the matter through the courts as far as that applicant wishes to go.

The Qalipu Mi'kmaq First Nation is bending over backwards to be inclusive for all those who truly qualify, but at the same time it wants to make sure there are no Qalipu Mi'kmaq of convenience, so to speak. This is a very complete and careful process that fully respects the rule of law and the rights of appeal, even through the levels of our courts.

Qalipu Mi'kmaq First Nation Act March 7th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to add my voice to the debate today, and I urge my colleagues to support this legislation.

First, the purpose of the legislation is important. I want to make it clear and state for the record that Bill C-25, the Qalipu Mi'kmaq first nation act, carefully and fully respects and upholds the original intent of the 2008 agreement between Canada and the Federation of Newfoundland Indians that created the Qalipu Mi'kmaq first nation. In particular, it fully respects and upholds the eligibility criteria set out in the 2008 agreement.

Some parts of this debate may have created concern or confusion in the minds of some Canadians about these points. There should not be any concern or confusion. The original agreement is fully and completely respected and upheld.

The bill before us, the Qalipu Mi'kmaq first nation act, is primarily created to enable the Governor in Council to amend the schedule of names and birthdates of founding members of the Qalipu Mi'kmaq first nation. The Indian Act is unclear as to whether this is possible, so the Parliament of Canada wants to make it clear that the Governor in Council can make the amendment to the schedule of founding members of this new first nation.

As others have said, the reason that amending this schedule of membership was needed was because the Qalipu Mi'kmaq leadership foresaw that those wanting to join the new first nation would be those people living in or around the 67 Newfoundland Mi'kmaq communities identified in the 2008 agreement. The parties expected that people would want to be members of this new first nation and that the number of eligible members would be around 9,000 to 12,000. There were about 10,000 members of the Federation of Newfoundland Indians at that time.

What happened, as other members have said, was that although individuals living outside of those communities could also be members, the intent was that even non-residents could have some strong cultural connections with the Newfoundland Mi'kmaq community. However, to everyone's surprise and shock, there was a flood of applications. In fact, there were about ten times the number of applications received than had been foreseen. There were over 100,000 applications during the four-year enrolment process, and most of these, over 70,000, were received in the final year before the enrolment deadline. Therefore, all of a sudden the Qalipu Mi'kmaq first nation was faced with this incredible flood of applications.

It became very clear that there needed to be some precision put forward to operationalize the agreement that created the first nation and the founding members enrolment. The flood of late applications was not only concentrated toward the end of the enrolment period, in fact almost 50,000 were submitted in the last three months before the application process ended. However, about two-thirds of the applicants did not live in Newfoundland or anywhere close to Mi'kmaq communities; they lived elsewhere in Canada.

Therefore, the Federation of Newfoundland Indians recognized that these numbers were not credible and threatened to undermine the integrity of the enrolment process, and that there would be no time to review these applications before the end of the enrolment process. The Government of Canada and the federation entered into discussions, and after very careful discussion in July 2013, a supplemental agreement was reached in which all applications that had been submitted, except those that had been rejected, would be reviewed for a second time.

It is clear that there has to be some integrity in the process. The Qalipu Mi'kmaq first nation wants to make sure that people joining its community have a real and substantial connection and really care about the community and have a commitment to the community. The first nation wants to make sure that people are not just throwing in an application for personal benefit.

The new agreement clarifies the kind of documentation that would be required. It extends the original time limits and treats everyone fairly by applying the same criteria to everybody.

The applicants have already been given notice that their applications are to be assessed or reassessed. The applicants have an opportunity to provide any additional documentation that would be required, given the clarification of the requirements for membership. The deadline was even extended to February 10, 2014.

The only clarifications that were made were designed to eliminate confusion and misunderstanding about the requirements of the enrolment process, such as documentary requirements. The agreement also extended the timeline in order to make sure that everybody had a chance to make a clear and complete application.

The supplemental agreement that the Federation of Newfoundland Indians reached with the Government of Canada carefully and fully respects and upholds the criteria for enrolment that were originally set out. It does not change them in any way. Nothing changes.

However, there seemed to be some confusion about what would be required. That has been clarified, and applicants have a chance, in light of those clarifications, to submit further documentation and to have another review of their application. The legislation would not alter the enrolment criteria in any way, but it makes clear what is required.

What would the bill do? The bill would provide the Governor in Council with the authority to remove names from the schedule of founding members. It would also prevent individuals from collecting any compensation or damages from the Qalipu Mi'kmaq First Nation or the Government of Canada if it is found that their claim to be not legitimate. This is not a new clause. It is legislation under the Indian Act. It protects the taxpayers of Canada and the first nation from a flood of claims that otherwise could paralyze the work of this group.

This is legislation that the Qalipu Mi'kmaq First Nation needs. The first nation has agreed that it needs to go forward, and I hope that members will support it.