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  • His favourite word is might.

Conservative MP for Souris—Moose Mountain (Saskatchewan)

Won his last election, in 2011, with 74.00% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Canada Shipping Act, 2001 February 26th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to be here today to speak about Bill C-638. It is a short bill, but it would have a significant impact. It is an act to amend the Canada Shipping Act, 2001. The bill proposes to address certain concerns being raised among Canadian coastal communities regarding abandoned vessels and wrecks.

While our government fully understands the importance of this issue, and I appreciate the member for Nanaimo—Cowichan speaking passionately about this—it is certainly an issue that is near and dear to her heart—it is our position that this bill does not adequately address the problems that Canadians are facing in this regard. The bill is looking to ineffectively amend this important act in order to deal with abandoned vessels and wrecks, but doing so would challenge the existing mandates under the act that are already in place and working well for the Canadian public. It is for that reason that our government cannot support Bill C-638.

It is clear that certain communities in British Columbia and the Atlantic coast consider the issue of abandoned vessels and wrecks as one that negatively affects their enjoyment of their local marine environment. However, it is important to note that not all abandoned vessels and wrecks pose an imminent danger to safe navigation and the environment. The bigger issue that Bill C-638 does not address is the prevention of the abandonment of vessels. That is at the crux of the matter. There is also the need to educate vessel owners on their responsibilities of vessel life cycle management.

As members are aware, Transport Canada's role under the Canada Shipping Act, 2001, is vast in nature. The Canada Shipping Act, 2001, is Canada's principal legislation governing safety in marine transportation and recreational boating, as well as protection of the marine environment. It applies to all Canadian vessels operating in all waters and to all foreign vessels operating in Canadian waters, including recreational boats, cruise ships, and large tankers. The act promotes the sustainable growth of the marine shipping industry without compromising safety, and it is responsible to the needs of Canadians in a global economy.

Transport Canada plays a large role in the administration of the provisions under this act, including the receiver of wreck functions under part 7. This private member's bill is a sincere attempt to address the issue of abandoned vessels and wrecks. However, when we look at the facts, we see it is clear that the bill does not provide the proper mechanisms needed to respond to the issue.

For example, the first component of the bill looks to amend part 7 of the Canada Shipping Act, 2001, which deals with wrecks, and to designate the receiver of wreck functions to the Canadian Coast Guard. Transport Canada navigation protection program officials are currently designated as the Canadian receiver of wreck and, as such, continue to administer the functions under this part of the act. The role of a receiver of a wreck is primarily to take adequate measures in finding the owner of a wreck prior to selling it or disposing of it.

Furthermore, the Minister of Transport currently has the ability to designate anyone as a receiver of wreck, including Canadian Coast Guard officials. Coast Guard officials have not been designated as receivers of wreck because this would duplicate Transport Canada's functions, creating operational inefficiencies and confusion.

In addition, the bill would place obligations on the Canadian Coast Guard to respond to every wreck, including those that do not pose a risk to navigation or the environment. This would have a significant impact on the Canadian Coast Guard's ability to focus its expertise and resources on those marine incidents that significantly impact public safety and the marine environment.

The Canadian Coast Guard and Transport Canada continue to serve Canadians by means of their existing expertise and long-standing legislative mandate.

This bill should be opposed not only because it would create redundancies but also because the Canadian Coast Guard cannot, under federal legislation, be designated as a permanent receiver of wreck. Under the federal legislation, the Coast Guard is not a separate legal entity in and of itself. It is considered part of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. Therefore, the Canadian Coast Guard, as an organization, cannot be a receiver of wrecks or make regulations regarding their management.

Our government understands the importance of the issues surrounding abandoned and wrecked vessels, but the proposed bill focuses solely on the remediation of wrecked vessels and does not include requirements for vessel owners to prevent their vessels from becoming wrecks. It is an obvious area that requires attention. That is at the heart of the matter and really needs to be addressed.

Transport Canada has made efforts to research existing programs and deal with derelict and wrecked vessels, including the Washington state derelict vessel removal program. The Washington state program officials shared what they learned about their experience in the initial implementation of their remediation program. It was concluded that remediation without prevention could have unintended consequences, such as encouraging vessel owners to abandon their unwanted vessels, relying on the federal government for their disposal. This cannot become so here.

Today, the program's success is attributed to measures to increase the accountability on the part of owners of vessels, a robust enforcement regime and engagement with partners. Those are two very fundamental aspects of the program and not really dealt with or mentioned in the bill.

The bill is proposing mandatory remediation through the removal, disposal or destruction of wrecks, which would generate substantial cost to the federal government and therefore ultimately the Canadian taxpayer. Transport Canada has estimated that the remediation of vessels over 100 feet in length can range from between $10 million to $50 million per vessel, not an insignificant sum.

I would like to reiterate that our government recognizes that vessels of concern, including abandoned vessels and/or wrecked vessels, can pose marine navigation hazards, public safety risks, environmental threats and economic costs. In response to this, Transport Canada, in partnership with other federal departments, such as the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, is currently examining the gaps in the existing system to deal with these types of vessels. Together we will build an approach that will focus on prevention. It is important that owners take responsibility for the full life cycle of their vessels. That is why Transport Canada will develop and implement a public outreach strategy targeting vessel owners, advising them about responsible vessel ownership and life-cycle management. As mentioned previously, prevention is the key in achieving a positive end result.

Bill C-638 does not address the issue of abandoned vessels and wrecks in Canadian waterways.

First, the bill would remove the flexibility for the receiver of a wreck to determine whether the abandoned vessel or wreck was actually harmful to safe navigation and the marine environment. It would do so by placing an obligation on the Canadian Coast Guard to answer to all of the complaints regarding abandoned vessels and wrecks, not just those that were harmful.

Second, responding to every wreck would impact the Canadian Coast Guard's current capabilities to protect Canadians and Canada's marine environment from dangerous spills of pollutants. Mandatory remediation could cost the federal government hundreds of millions of dollars as the bill does not reflect the concept of polluter pays. We have heard a lot about that concept, even today in the legislation dealt with in the House, where polluter pays must be an important principle of legislation such as this.

It is for these reasons that our government cannot support Bill C-638. There is no question there is an issue with abandoned vessels and wrecks, regardless of their level of impact, to safe navigation and environment. That is why work is under way to examine the current gaps in the existing regulations to deal with these types of vessels. We will look to develop a comprehensive strategy targeting the public at large and vessel owners on their responsibilities for managing the life cycle of their vessels. The current legislation and operational regimes in place continue to be the cornerstone for the safety and protection of Canadian waterways.

While our government does not support Bill C-638, we are committed to continuing to work with interested parties, including key stakeholders and all levels of government, on the development and implementation of a national prevention strategy for life-cycle management of all vessels. It is in that context that we oppose this bill, but we know that it is a serious and important issue that needs to be addressed. The government will be doing that in the course of time.

Parliamentary Precinct Security February 6th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, obviously, what happened here on October 22 involved real bullets, live fire, and the safety of many lives in the House.

I was pleased to hear that at least the member would agree that there is a need for an integrated force, that anyone trying to break through is not concerned whether he is in the House, out of the House, or coming up to the House. Therefore, would she agree with me that the action that needs to be taken is urgent and immediate?

We had the Auditor General's report in 2012. Here we are in 2015 and no action has been taken. We had an incident occur some three or so months ago and no action has been taken. Would she agree that the need is urgent and immediate, and would she agree that the RCMP has the capacity and the ability to provide that kind of integrated force?

Hearthstone Community Campaign January 28th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, a fundraising effort that started in 2011 to raise $8 million for a new regional nursing home in Estevan, Saskatchewan reached its goal two years ahead of schedule.

On January 12, 2015, Campaign Chair of the Hearthstone Community Campaign Vern Buck made the announcement that a new nursing home in Estevan was no longer a matter of “if” but “when”, as the required $8 million had been raised prior to Christmas 2014. There were numerous acts of generosity that raised the funds, such as cutting grass, quilt sales, a car auction and the harvesting of two quarter sections of canola.

Campaign Chair Vern Buck stated, “The generous people of Estevan and surrounding area should congratulate themselves for reaching the fundraising goal so quickly. It reflects the urgency and the need of a new facility for elders in our community”.

To all of the volunteers and members of the community who donated time and money for this project and to Campaign Chair Vern Buck, congratulations on a job well done on the outstanding effort of reaching the goal in such a quick fashion.

Respect for Communities Act December 1st, 2014

Mr. Speaker, that is a most unfortunate characterization by the hon. member. It is unfortunate, and it is incorrect.

I do not know what the member would find offensive about the fact that she would consult people who are most affected in the area. I wonder what she would find difficult about accepting the fact that we might consult those who have some knowledge and who deal with this issue.

I wonder if she would look at the fact that this would be in the context of people dealing with illicit drugs, and they would be trying to administer them with immunity from prosecution. When doing all of that, one needs to take things into consideration along the lines of this bill.

Ultimately, the test will be when the Supreme Court of Canada has a look at issues such as this. This is an attempt to address those very issues. It may not be in the precise line and form, but it deals with all of those issues in a particular form.

The member, simply put, is wrong on this one.

Respect for Communities Act December 1st, 2014

Mr. Speaker, my view is that the value of that site has little to do with the legislation before us. The legislation before us attempts to deal with what the Supreme Court of Canada said we had to take into consideration. If that site passes all of the criteria, it is entitled to be there as much as any other site.

However, in terms of co-operation with the community, the legislation talks about letters of opinion from provincial and territorial ministers responsible for health and public safety, local government, lead public health officials in the province, and the heads of the local police forces. If we are asking all of these people and they come to the conclusion that this is something we need and should have, after that consultation, and in addition to having public input, we will come to a consensus and say that in this case we should have the facility.

If that site had qualified under these circumstances, then it would. It obviously did once before with the consultation that it did. The minister would then look at giving it an exemption.

Respect for Communities Act December 1st, 2014

Mr. Speaker, of course they do. The government has said that it does and has taken great pains to ensure that those issues are addressed.

Again, I would like to quote the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada, who said:

The factors considered in making the decision on an exemption must include evidence, if any, of the impact of such a facility on crime rates....

It must obviously mean that there are things that we must consider with that in mind. To that was added:

...indicating a need for such a supervised injection site...

We must then have some input and some facts to say that it should be needed here, or that it may not be needed in downtown Vancouver. That might be different somewhere else. She continued by adding:

....the regulatory structure in place to support the facility...

Is it there, or is it not? She also included the following:

...the resources available to support its maintenance, and expression of community support or opposition.

These are the words of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada, who said that we must consider these things when we are coming to some conclusion. Therefore, it is only reasonable that the legislation would deal with each of those aspects and say here is the framework, and here is the codification of how we might do that.

I find that very reasonable.

Respect for Communities Act December 1st, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of Bill C-2, the respect for communities act. This is a very important piece of legislation, and one that will further strengthen Canada's drug control statute, known as the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.

The legislation before us today proposes to entrench this belief in the law with regard to supervised injection sites, and is guided by a ruling of the Supreme Court of Canada, in 2011. In this ruling, the court affirmed that it remains the Minister of Health's authority to exercise discretion in granting section 56 exemptions, which can allow supervised injection sites to operate. However, notably telling is that its decision was not an invitation for anyone who choses to open a facility for drug use under the banner of a safe injection facility.

It is interesting to hear members of the opposition saying that it must be either no sites, or that every site that one might want to have can go ahead. The Supreme Court of Canada gave parameters around what might be involved, and ultimately said that it would be within the discretion of the minister, having due regard for the criteria that the court set out.

As all members in this House know, our government is committed to helping keep Canadian families and communities healthy and safe. I want to begin my remarks by telling this House about some of the ways that we are living up to this commitment.

Earlier in the year, our government announced $100,000 in funding for a project that will train front-line community workers and criminal justice personnel in New Brunswick on effective, efficient, and timely substance abuse treatment strategies for youth involved in the criminal justice system. The funding was part of a national anti-drug strategy, which focuses on preventing illegal drug use and providing treatment services for those with drug dependencies.

There is also some talk about the fact that we need to provide treatment services and that we need to look at preventing illicit drugs. Members have to keep that in the background when looking at this particular piece of legislation.

The national anti-drug strategy also allows this government to get tough on drug dealers and producers who threaten the health and safety of our youth and the viability of our communities.

In 2012, our government introduced the Safe Streets and Communities Act, which is making Canadian communities safer while extending greater protection to the most vulnerable members of society. As part of this act, the government implemented mandatory minimum penalties for serious drug offences carried out for organized crime purposes or that specifically targeted youth. In doing so, our government has further enhanced the ability of Canada's justice system to hold offenders accountable for their actions.

Another piece of legislation that is vital to the government's focus on safeguarding Canadians is the one we have been talking about throughout the debate here tonight on Bill C-2, which is the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, or the CDSA, for short. It controls substances that can alter mental processes and that may produce harm to health or society when diverted or misused. Again, it is in this context that this proposed legislation must be considered.

The act also includes measures to protect public health, by prohibiting activities with controlled substances unless they are authorized for specific legitimate purposes. The act also serves to maintain public safety by prohibiting the possession, trafficking, importing, exporting, and production of those substances unless otherwise authorized.

The act is a prohibitive piece of legislation. That is, it sets out all of the things that cannot be done with a controlled substance, along with identifying which substances are controlled. However, there are times when exceptions to the rules need to be made, and they are made. This is generally accomplished through the making of regulations, and it is also where section 56 of the act comes into play.

Section 56 of the act authorizes a minister of health to grant exemptions from the provisions of the act. While the act gives the minister discretion in determining whether or not to grant an exemption, any decision must strike a balance between public health and public safety. Therefore, it is not an either/or, but must be something that takes into account all of the factors, which the minister has to weigh and then make a decision.

For the most part, the exemptions granted under the act are routine. For example, an exemption may be granted for medical purposes or for scientific ones, such as university-based research or clinical trials, which goes without saying.

The bill we are debating today has no impact on these types of exemptions. The type of exemption that would be impacted by Bill C-2 is one with controlled substances that had been obtained through illicit sources or, as we might say, accessed on the street. They are illegal substances obtained on the street, and, again, that must be part of the context within which we review this legislation.

Currently there are two types of exemptions of this nature that are entrenched in the statute. The first is for law enforcement purposes, for example, to train sniffer dogs used in seizing drugs, and the second is for InSite, as ordered by the Supreme Court of Canada. Throughout the debate, we have heard reference to the Supreme Court of Canada decision concerning InSite. In that decision, the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the act's prohibition on possession and trafficking of controlled substances, and affirmed the minister's right to exercise discretion in granting an exemption under the act. It is not in every case that there will be an exemption. It must be exercised as a discretion based on a number of factors.

Bill C-2 was developed further to the Supreme Court of Canada decision, and the criteria included in it codified the five factors that the minister must and should consider when assessing an application as set out by the Supreme Court of Canada. The opposition has said that we should not go into these factors. The Supreme Court said that these are the very factors that must be taken into consideration before a decision is made one way or another. Therefore, I think it is absolutely appropriate to codify those in the amended legislation that we have proposed.

In the respect for communities act, this government is putting in place a regime that would provide further clarity and transparency to the way in which an application would be made for exemptions to conduct activities with illicit substances in a supervised drug consumption site. It would also ensure that the Minister of Health is provided with the information that she needs to make an informed decision on supervised injection sites on a case-by-case basis, as mandated by the Supreme Court of Canada.

The respect for communities act outlines the criteria that the applicant must address when seeking an exemption to undertake activities with illicit substances at a supervised consumption site before the Minister of Health could consider the application. What is wrong with that? There are certain criteria that would have to be met, and the applicant must indeed attempt to meet them.

As I have mentioned, the criteria included in the bill are consistent with the factors set out by the Supreme Court of Canada. They include, among other things, scientific evidence showing that there is a medical benefit to the proposed activities, letters of opinion from key stakeholders, and a demonstration of the financial sustainability of the site. Simply put, the respect for communities act would give local law enforcement, municipal leaders, and local residents a voice before a permit is granted for a supervised injection site. That seems very reasonable to me.

It is our government's belief that communities deserve to have a say if someone would like to build a drug injection site where illegal drugs are used in his or her neighbourhood. Our government is concerned about the potential risks that supervised drug consumption sites could pose for the surrounding communities and the families who live in them. That is only reasonable. For this reason, Bill C-2 would make it mandatory for applicants to solicit the opinions of surrounding communities and relevant stakeholders, including letters of opinion from law enforcement, public health, and municipal leaders.

Further, the applicant would have to consult with a broad spectrum of local community groups and provide a report on those consultations. The applicant would also have to provide an indication of what measures would be taken to address any relevant concerns that are identified in the process. Again, I would say that is very reasonable.

The minister would also be authorized to publicly post a notice of application to seek broad community input for any proposed supervised drug consumption site. A supervised drug injection site should not be created in a residential community without consultation, and that gives the community an opportunity to pose any concerns and have input. It is also an opportunity for those applying for the licence to address any potential concerns. If they have gone through those steps that have been set in advance, then the minister may issue a licence, if she chooses, based on the evidence before her.

Russia November 17th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, our Prime Minister made headlines around the world on Saturday when he told Mr. Putin that he had to “get out of Ukraine”. I was incredibly proud of the moral clarity our Prime Minister showed that day, but nobody should have been surprised by it, least of all Putin himself.

Our government has been a leader in the global response to Russia's aggression in Ukraine and has been one of Ukraine's strongest supporters.

Canada's position on the Ukraine crisis has been clear from the very beginning. We will never recognize the illegal Russian occupation of any Ukrainian territory.

Privilege November 4th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I have heard a lot of debate about the fact that there should be an expulsion. Of course what I hear in the member's motion is not expulsion now but expulsion some time in the future, and for good reason.

First, as I understand the facts, there has not been a sentencing as of yet. There have not been any appeals that have gone forward, obviously, because there has not been a sentence. In fact, there is some suggestion that there may be new evidence introduced that may cause the judge to overturn the decision or do something else, so there may not be the conviction.

I appreciate this is a serious matter, and I appreciate the fact that this House can take some interim steps like suspension. However, before it does something like an expulsion, it should at least adhere to some fundamental principles like hearing from the person whom it is going to expel. We would want to think that there would be that provision.

How can the member say that her proposition is either fair or reasonable, without giving the person in question the opportunity to present himself before some forum to make adequate defence and to indicate what the facts really are?

Outstanding Citizen October 9th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to recognize an outstanding citizen, Constable Steven Enns of the Estevan Police Service.

Constable Enns received the Canadian Police Association National Award of Excellence for his service during a patrol on May 18, 2012, in Estevan, Saskatchewan. The CPA National Award of Excellence recognizes members whose commitment to service, determination and courage place them at the highest level of the policing profession.

In the early morning, he bravely saved four people from a burning home. Constable Enns saw a home on fire and banged on the door, waking up a woman. She informed Constable Enns that two others, as well as her two year old infant son, were still in the house. As the flames started to grow, he went upstairs to save the others who were still sleeping.

For his actions during this incident, Constable Enns was also awarded the Valor Award from the Saskatchewan Chiefs of Police.

I would like to thank Constable Steven Enns for his most excellent and courageous service. We are all proud of him.