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Track Robert

Your Say


Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word is environmental.

Conservative MP for Dauphin—Swan River—Marquette (Manitoba)

Won his last election, in 2011, with 63.10% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Business of Supply January 29th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, it is obvious that the member was not listening to my speech, and I reject the premise of his question completely.

Of course we consult. We consult all the time. As I said, the Prime Minister has held some 300 meetings and discussions with provincial premiers right across the country.

The NDP and Liberals do not realize is that it is very important to respect the constitutional jurisdiction of the various levels of government. That is how one creates an efficient federation.

Ensuring that each level of government does the work they are supposed to do will ensure the smooth functioning of our government. I go back to the results for our country: the best economy in the G7 and 1.2 million net new jobs since 2008. That is a record I will proudly run on.

Business of Supply January 29th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, what motivates this government is the well-being of Canadian families and the well-being of our economy.

Again, as has been pointed out numerous times in this chamber, the Prime Minister has, over the term of his time in office, talked to the premiers some 300 times. In my own speech, I outlined areas on the environment on which we are consulting with municipalities, provinces, and territories right across this country. We do this all the time.

It is our focus on results that has created the strongest and best economy in the entire G7 family.

Business of Supply January 29th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I just listed a number of areas on the environment on which the federal government consults with provincial and territorial governments right across the country.

Again, the member opposite points out the flaw in the Liberal and NDP approach to the economy. It is always process, process, process.

This government has delivered 1.2 million net new jobs since the recession in 2008. We have the best economy in the G7 of all the G7 countries. Again, because we are diligent and disciplined in terms of the management of the budget, we are able to deliver for Canadian families in a way that no other government has ever done. That is a record I will stand by very proudly.

Business of Supply January 29th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, what I find interesting about the Liberal approach to most public policy questions it that it is always focusing on process. I just gave a detailed speech outlining clear and significant results in the field of environmental protection and enhancement.

What this Conservative government focuses on is not process. We focus on results. Sure we have to have process. We have to have meetings in certain areas and so on. However, the goal is clear and measured results.

I would note, as well, that we can count on the assurances of the minister and the Prime Minister in terms of the budget.

Business of Supply January 29th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to stand up in the House today to inform members of the various ways that the provinces and territories engage and co-operate with the federal government on environmental issues of concern to us all.

First of all, let me begin my remarks with a view to the Constitution Act, 1867. The environment, as such, is not listed in the Constitution and it is not a matter that neatly fits within the existing division of powers.

In several of its key decisions regarding the environment, the Supreme Court of Canada has recognized that the protection of our environment is a matter of shared jurisdiction among the federal and provincial governments. Furthermore, the federal government has devolved many of its environmentally related responsibilities in Canada's north to territorial governments. It is, therefore, incumbent on federal, provincial, and territorial governments to work together in assuring that the health of Canadians and that of their environment is protected and managed in a sensitive manner.

Various mechanisms exist to achieve this objective among governments. We have the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment. Multilaterally, the CCME is the primary intergovernmental forum for ministerial discussions and for action on environmental issues of mutual concern. The Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment comprises all 14 federal, provincial, and territorial ministers responsible for the environment.

In the case of the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment, which is incorporated as a not-for-profit organization, as a Manitoban member of Parliament I am very pleased to say that it is located Winnipeg. It is chaired on a pre-determined rotational basis. The CCME is currently chaired by Manitoba, and Quebec is set to become the chair in June of this year.

My colleague, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment had the privilege of attending the last meeting of the CCME in Prince Edward Island this past September. At this meeting, federal, provincial, and territorial governments shared their respective views and came together in agreement to pursue collaboration in a number of areas, including climate change, waste management, air quality, cumulative effects, and hazardous spills response and prevention.

By working collaboratively to protect the environment, federal, provincial, and territorial governments are able to share best practices, reduce unnecessary duplication, and maximize our collective resources to the benefit of all Canadians. Together, we are achieving results for Canadians in managing the air we breathe, pursuing action to reduce our waste footprint, and protecting our shared water resources.

We look forward to continuing the discussion of these important matters with our provincial and territorial colleagues at their upcoming ministerial meeting in Winnipeg this June.

Regarding the issue of air quality, through this close collaboration between federal, provincial, and territorial governments, the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment has made a number of noticeable accomplishments in recent years. In 2012, the ministers approved a new national air quality management system. Once fully implemented, the air quality management system will protect the health of Canadians and the environment with measures to improve air quality right across Canada. It is a comprehensive system that includes stringent outdoor air quality standards, emission requirements for major industries, and provincial and territorial actions to address local sources of air pollution.

The air quality management system was developed through years of extensive collaboration with provinces, territories, and stakeholders. The result is a system that lets all levels of government work together to address air pollution in a coordinated and effective way, and governments are well under way in implementing all components of this system.

For example, in 2013, we established new outdoor air quality standards for ground-level ozone and fine particulate matter, the two main components of smog. To further help improve the air that Canadians breathe, federal, provincial, and territorial governments are currently working together on new outdoor air quality standards for nitrogen dioxide and sulphur dioxide.

In addition, in June 2014, we published in Canada Gazette Part I proposed mandatory national performance standards on specific sector and equipment groups. Once they are fully implemented, Canada will have, for the first time ever, consistent emission limits for regulated industries right across the country.

Provinces and territories are also establishing mechanisms for enhanced local and regional action targeting individual sources of pollution in communities across the country to ensure that poor air quality improves and good air quality remains.

This system is a model of successful intergovernmental co-operation in that it has been designed to allow different levels of government to act within their jurisdictions while still collaborating on an overall approach to manage air quality effectively. That was done under the leadership of our Prime Minister.

Waste water is another area where federal, provincial, and territorial ministers have come together and agreed to a Canada-wide approach for the management of municipal waste water effluent. Through working with provinces, territories, and engaged municipalities, the Government of Canada is proud to have enacted the country's first national standards for waste water treatment. The waste water systems effluent regulations, enacted in 2012, address one of the largest polluters of Canadian waters and protect our water quality for generations to come.

I used to work in the forest industry and I recall in 1989, under then prime minister Mulroney, the Conservative government implemented the pulp and paper effluent regulations, which had a dramatic effect on cleaning up waterways close to pulp and paper facilities.

Waste water systems posing a high risk will have to meet the effluent standards by the end of 2020, those posing a medium risk by the end of 2030, and those posing a low risk by the end of 2040. Thanks to changes to our Fisheries Act brought forward by this government, the Government of Canada has been able to conclude equivalency agreements with Yukon and Quebec and has also concluded administrative agreements with New Brunswick and Saskatchewan.

The Government of Canada will continue to work with interested provinces to ensure efficient and effective administration of the regulations and to reduce regulatory duplication. This government, however, is also sensitive to the challenges Canada faces to meet these new regulations.

That is why our government has committed over $2.3 billion to waste water infrastructure since 2006 through a number of programs. Waste water treatment infrastructure is eligible for funding through the provincial-territorial base fund, the green infrastructure fund, the gas tax fund, and the building Canada fund. Under the gas tax fund, which is now permanent at $2 billion per year, municipalities can choose to spend 100% of that funding to upgrade their waste water infrastructure.

Regarding the issue of conservation, wildlife, and biodiversity—an area that is near and dear to my heart given that I represent a beautiful and diverse constituency—although the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment constitutes the major federal-provincial-territorial forum on environmental issues, there are several other issue-specific fora and engagement mechanisms.

I am pleased to report to the House that our Minister of the Environment will be convening a meeting with her provincial and territorial counterparts responsible for conservation, wildlife, and biodiversity matters in Ottawa this February. This will provide a shared opportunity to advance important matters related to the protection of species at risk, the management of invasive alien species, and other biodiversity-related matters.

In addition, we consult with provinces and territories through the Wildlife Ministers Council of Canada, which provides an interjurisdictional mechanism for dialogue and advancement of key issues related to terrestrial wildlife conservation.

Our Conservative government also engages with jurisdictions through the Canadian Endangered Species Conservation Council, created under the federal-provincial-territorial accord for the protection of species at risk and formally constituted under the federal Species at Risk Act.

The current program of work with these two councils is being overseen by federal, provincial, and territorial officials under the Canadian Wildlife Directors Committee and a biodiversity steering group at the assistant deputy minister level. Current areas of work include species at risk; population conservation of various species of bats, migratory birds, and polar bears; invasive alien species; habitat conservation; and public engagement.

In recent years this federal, provincial, and territorial engagement on biodiversity matters has resulted in accomplishments in a number of areas. For example, Canada is in the process of developing national biodiversity goals and targets for 2020. These 2020 goals and targets will help Canada to focus on biodiversity priorities and provide the basis for measuring and reporting on progress.

Like those of many countries, Canada's national goals and targets are informed and inspired by the global Aichi targets, which were adopted in 2010 under the Convention on Biological Diversity's 2011-2020 strategic plan and tuned to the domestic context.

Some other examples of work undertaken jointly by federal, provincial, and territorial governments are the development of an ecosystem status and trends report and a value of nature to Canadians study.

The ecosystem status and trends report provides accessible and integrated scientific information on the status and trends in Canada's ecosystems. It serves to inform policy and program development on biodiversity and conservation in all jurisdictions.

For its part, the value of nature to Canadians study provides strategic and current data and analysis on the social and economic value of Canada's ecosystem goods and services, including wildlife and biodiversity.

This information will serve to substantially strengthen the decision-making capacity of federal, provincial, and territorial governments on the environment and the economy.

In terms of climate change in Canada, it is a shared responsibility between the federal government and the provinces and territories. Given the unique circumstances in each jurisdiction, the Government of Canada works with our provincial and territorial counterparts to inform the development of Canada's long-term climate change approach.

In the lead-up to the next Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, Canada has committed to announce its intended nationally determined contribution as part of a global climate change agreement. The Minister of the Environment has been engaging with her provincial and territorial counterparts to obtain their input in determining Canada's post-2020 targets.

The Government of Canada has been doing its part by implementing a sector-by-sector regulatory approach to reducing greenhouse gas emissions that protects the environment and supports economic prosperity. This government has already taken action on two of Canada's largest sources of greenhouse gas emissions: transportation and electricity. Moving forward, the government will continue to take action to reduce greenhouse gases from other major emitting sectors of the Canadian economy.

In conclusion, our Conservative government agrees that coordinated action between governments is crucial to advancing an array of environmental initiatives. That is why we are in constant contact with our partners and other levels of government right across the country. We are committed to working with provincial and territorial governments to advance environmental goals that contribute to improving the health of Canadians and their environment.

Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 2 December 2nd, 2014

Mr. Speaker, one of the things about the two parties opposite is that when they talk about budgeting, they primarily talk about spending. For them it is spend, spend, spend. They rarely, if ever, talk about the need to create a business climate that creates the wealth that runs our country.

Could my hon. colleague comment? Having been an entrepreneur in a previous life, he knows the importance of a sound business climate. Could he talk about the factors in our budget that go toward creating the business climate that we so desperately need in this country?

Firearms December 2nd, 2014

Mr. Speaker, our government is making reasonable and common-sense amendments to Canada's firearms laws. Bill C-42, the common sense firearms licensing act, would ensure that Canada's communities remain safe while reducing red tape.

Prior to the introduction of the bill, our laws had not been updated for over 20 years. The common-sense firearms licensing act would ensure mandatory safety training courses and would end needless and ineffective bureaucracy surrounding the authority to transport firearms to ranges, gunsmiths, and the firearm owner's home and property. It would prohibit the possession of firearms by individuals convicted of domestic violence and would ensure that the classification of firearms was accountable to the public and informed by independent expert advice.

However, all the opposition wants to do is fearmonger. The Liberal leader uses fear and dishonesty to make ridiculous and unfounded claims. Unfortunately, Canadians can expect nothing more from the party that brought in the long-gun registry and is itching to bring it back. Only our Conservative government will always stand up for Canada's law-abiding hunters, trappers, and sport shooters.

Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 2 December 2nd, 2014

Mr. Speaker, when I was the environmental director at a paper mill many years ago, the regulatory process was extremely confusing. One never knew at any one time what kind of process the company would be in or not be in. It was at the whim of whoever happened to think they had jurisdiction at the time. There was the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, the Fisheries Act, the Navigable Waters Protection Act, and on and on.

The protection of fisheries and navigable waters and so on is all very important, but this can be done and is being done under our government through a streamlined process as part of our responsible resource development policies.

As I pointed out, almost all of Canada's environmental indicators are moving in the right direction. Focusing on process as opposed to focusing on environmental results gets us nowhere.

Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 2 December 2nd, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I was taken aback by my colleague's use of the word “supposed” environmental measures. The over 2,000 anglers who worked on our recreational fisheries conservation program would be mildly offended by that particular word. This government does real, on-the-ground, concrete environmental work that generates real results.

I should point out to the member opposite that on our watch as a government, almost all of Canada's environmental indicators have improved. Quite frankly, that is the only thing that counts.

What is actually happening out there in terms of air quality, water quality, and biodiversity is that they are all going in the right direction. However, we certainly realize that we still have some work to do.

Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 2 December 2nd, 2014

Mr. Speaker, it is indeed an honour for me to stand in the House in support of Bill C-43, the economic action plan, 2014, the second budget implementation act.

I represent the great constituency of Dauphin—Swan River—Marquette. It is a natural resources and agricultural constituency, and my remarks will be focusing on those sectors.

First, I would like to talk about Canada's overall economy, which is doing extraordinarily well in a tough and difficult world economy. Our unemployment rate is at 6.5%, and 1.2 million net new jobs have been created since July 2009.

There have been 180 tax cuts. GST has gone from 7% to 6% to 5% under our watch. A family of four, right now, saves $3,400 per year, money in their pockets.

The previous speaker implied that if a dollar did not go to the government, it was not a good dollar. We believe the more dollars that families have in their pockets, the better off they are and the better off we are as a country.

Our budget is on track to be balanced, the first in the G7 to do so. At 39%, our debt-to-GDP ratio is the lowest in the G20. By contrast, Japan and Italy have debt-to-GDP ratios over 100%. Our economy is on track to grow, thrive and indeed survive in a very tough world. Bloomberg rates Canada as simply the best place to do business.

My constituency has many small businesses in it. I want to focus for a minute on the small business job credit. This credit would lower small business payroll taxes by 15% for the next two years. It would result in savings of approximately $550 million to small businesses over those years. Again, in my constituency, the small business sector is very significant, and this job credit is very important.

We have frozen EI premiums to provide certainty and flexibility for small businesses. We are cutting red tape. We have reduced the small business tax rate from 12% to 11%. We have increased the small business limit to $500,000. The results are clear.

A typical small business, with $500,000 of taxable income, is seeing savings of approximately $28,600. In total, small businesses have seen their taxes reduced by 34% since 2006.

This bill also ends pay-to-pay billing, giving the Business Development Bank of Canada more flexibility to help small and medium-sized enterprises. Intellectual property has been modernized. More power has been given to the CRTC to encourage compliance in the telecom industry.

I would like to focus on the budget dealing with the environment.

I happen to have the honour of serving on the environment committee. My chair is sitting right in front of me, the member for Kitchener—Conestoga, and my able chair from the fisheries committee is also here, the member for Saint John. Both are vying strongly for chair of the year.

I am making light of that right now, but fisheries and the environment are very near and dear to my heart. When one looks at the government's environmental record, it is clearly second to none. We do not simply just talk about the environment. We actually do concrete, on-the-ground environmental projects and remediation. For example, we are protecting Canada's national parks by providing over $390 million to make improvements to highways, bridges and dams located in our parks.

I happen to have one of Canada's most beautiful national parks, Riding Mountain National Park, right smack dab in the middle of my constituency. My constituents are very much looking forward to the improvements that this fund will bring.

We are also, and this is a project that is near and dear to my heart as well, supporting conservation by investing an additional $15 million in the recreational fisheries conservation partnerships program to further support projects that support the conservation of recreational fisheries habitats. The results from this program have simply been overwhelming. When this first round of funding is spent, there will be almost 400 fisheries conservation projects conducted and completed right across the country. We are talking about 2,000 kilometres of shoreline and 2.4 million square metres of stream habitat restored and conserved.

Again, what makes this program so successful, and this is how Conservatives deal with the environment, is that for every dollar that we spend on the recreational fisheries conservation partnerships program, an additional $2.25 is spent by outside groups as partnerships.

This is a remarkable achievement not by the government alone, but by those hundreds of fisheries conservation groups and anglers groups right across the country from coast to coast to coast. The kinds of projects that have been done, like in the Maritimes, in Ontario, in Quebec and in British Columbia, again, are by local people doing local projects, helping their local environments. That is the way we do environmental conservation, and the results speak for themselves.

We are improving and expanding Canada's snowmobile and recreational trails by investing $10 million to improve trails across the country. We are encouraging the donations of ecologically sensitive land by making tax relief for such donations more generous and flexible. We are supporting family oriented conservation by providing $3 million to allow the Earth Rangers Foundation to expand its ongoing work with young people.

All this builds on our government's strong record of environmental conservation and protection, and our commitment to the national conservation plan.

Canada should be very proud of the national conservation plan. Not only are we creating more parks throughout the country, we have allocated $50 million for wetland conservation, something that is near and dear to my heart; $50 million would go for on-farm conservation initiatives; and $100 million will be spent under the national areas conservation plan, preserving and protecting Canada's fragile land on what we refer to as the “southern working landscape”.

In total, in terms of environmental conservation, real on-the-ground work, the results have been nothing short of remarkable.

Agriculture, which again is very important in my constituency, is the dominant economic activity of my constituents. Family farms are throughout my constituency and across the rural areas of Canada. Family farms are, quite simply, the backbone of country. For generations, our farmers have fed Canadians and the world, while providing jobs and opportunities across Canada. That is why economic action plan 2014 includes a number of measures to support Canada's farmers, as well as new innovations in agriculture, such as expanding tax deferral for livestock that are kept for breeding when sold due to drought or excess moisture, something that is very important. Again, as many in the House will know, Manitoba experienced severe floods in the last couple of years and my cattle producers, in particular, welcome this initiative.

We are supporting innovation and competitiveness in the agriculture sector by modernizing the Plant Breeders’ Rights Act, including farmers' privilege, which allows farmers to save, condition and reuse seeds for planting on their own farms.

We will be introducing a new pilot price insurance program to provide cattle and hog producers in western Canada with insurance against unexpected price declines within a production cycle. Again, this will build on our record of supporting Canadian farmers and the agricultural sector since 2006.

Our track record is over $11 billion, including provincial and territorial contributions to farmers through business risk management programs; over $3 billion, including provincial and territorial contributions toward investments in innovation, competitiveness and market development; $500 million to establish the agriflexibility fund; $370 million to the hog industry to support debt restructuring to help sustain the industry through some very difficult times; nearly $350 million to help western grain farmers cover the costs of adjusting to operating in an open market; and $50 million to support increased slaughter capacity.

I am very proud to speak in favour of Bill C-43.