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Conservative MP for Kelowna—Lake Country (B.C.)
Won his last election, in 2011, with 57.40% of the vote.
Statements in the House
Search and Rescue April 22nd, 2013
Mr. Speaker, this weekend in my wonderful riding of Kelowna—Lake Country I was flying high, and low too.
Let me explain. I had the amazing opportunity to participate in a training exercise with my local central Okanagan Civil Aviation Search and Rescue Association team. The association is a member of CASARA, a Canada-wide volunteer aviation organization dedicated to the promotion of aviation safety and the provision of air search support services to Canada's national search and rescue program. Represented by a dedicated group of men and women from a variety of professional backgrounds, it is part of a larger network of emergency volunteers across the country who rush in to help while the masses are running for safety.
I ask all hon. members, during this National Volunteer Week, to join me and salute all our first responders, including our police, firefighters, paramedics, search and rescue and the thousands of volunteers from coast to coast to coast who help to protect us and keep Canada safe.
Business of Supply April 18th, 2013
Mr. Speaker, unfortunately my colleague from across the way does not understand what rules-based trading provides.
I do not condone the actions of a communist government, but we need to realize that it is the second largest economy in the world and it is growing exponentially. Therefore, we need to have rules in place so there is fairness.
The fact that we have an international arbitration process in place will help Canadian businesses rather than have every Canadian business hire a lawyer and have an agreement set up for every situation. This is in place for all Canadians. I mentioned Jayson Myers of the Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters, a variety of the Canadian chambers of commerce and business associations across Canada that are looking to expand business. We also welcome that certainty for Chinese investment in Canada to help to develop our resources to create jobs.
Therefore, it is a win-win situation with this certainty and predictability.
Business of Supply April 18th, 2013
Mr. Speaker, to answer the question from the hard-working chair of the trade committee, being in Japan was definitely a great learning experience. It was a second trip. Our sister city to Kelowna is Kasugai, so I have been there before. Seeing the great opportunities that Canadians will have because of this agreement, it would be easy to say that the Japanese are almost salivating over the fact that Canada has this agreement in place.
It is a great opportunity for the certainty and predictability for Canadian businesses. Jayson Myers, Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters executive director said:
These agreements strengthen Canada's position as a strategic partner for China, advance our commercial interests within the second largest market in the world, and promise to deliver enhanced access to China's market for Canadian exporters.
The Canadian Council of Chief Executives stated, “The Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection agreement (FIPA) will allow Canadian business leaders to invest with greater confidence”.
Consequently, our negotiators, with Mr. Ian Burney, assistant deputy minister, are taking the lead on this. The fact is that we have a stronghold over other countries because we have this agreement in place. It is a great asset for all Canadians.
Business of Supply April 18th, 2013
Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for his great work on the committee and working together on Canada-U.S. as well in the House.
That is why this foreign investment promotion and protection agreement is so important. It levels the playing field. It sets the certainty. If a provincial government makes a decision to change legislation, it has to ensure it is not negative toward a foreign investment. All Canadian investors are to be treated the same as foreign investors. If a NDP government decided to legislate a carbon tax that would affect all Canadians, which would be a bad decision, all businesses, whether foreign or Canadian, would be affected in the same way.
We have consulted with provinces along the way.
Business of Supply April 18th, 2013
Mr. Speaker, I enjoy working with my hon. colleague on the committee. We grew up in the same city of Edmonton and I know that he has a law degree and is very familiar with these contracts and knows the importance of working together.
There have been about 18 years of negotiating going back and forth, so this agreement did not happen overnight. The rules and disciplines established by the FIPA are reciprocal and they apply equally to both parties. That is a fact, that at the present time and likely in the future Chinese investment in Canada is and will continue to be greater than Canadian investment in China. Therefore, it is important that the treaty establishes, as I said, the stable predictable investment environment in China for Canadians.
The bigger question is this. My hon. colleague has been talking about supporting the fact of helping out China. I do not understand. Is he saying that it is better for Canada to continue to expect taxpayers to fund foreign aid to China, the second largest economy in the world?
Business of Supply April 18th, 2013
Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister and President Obama worked together on regulatory reform to find ways to move goods and services efficiently across not only our borders but around the world. These investments are positioning Canada as the gateway of choice between Asia and North America. Canada's west coast ports are more than two days closer, so it is helping to expand that market.
Since 2006, our government has invested $1.4 billion in Asia-Pacific Gateway infrastructure projects, an amount that has been leveraged to almost $4 billion with the participation of provincial and municipal governments and the private sector. It is a true partnership. A total of almost 50 projects have been supported, creating jobs and economic growth in local communities, while easing the movement of goods, services and people to and from the fast-growing Asia-Pacific economies.
As a result of these strategic investments and partnerships, Canadian exports to the Asia-Pacific region have reached record levels. These investments are also generating new business opportunities, improving the flow of traffic, enhancing the efficiency of the transportation system, attracting investments and contributing to Canada's global competitiveness.
In what remain globally challenging economic times, more must be done to improve the flow of Canada's much sought after commodities, from oil and gas to potash, lumber and coal, through our west coast.
Our government will continue to build on this competitive advantage. These are just a few examples of how our government is promoting the interests of Canada's exporters.
Ultimately, to capture new opportunities in these dynamic markets, our government is creating the right conditions for Canadian businesses and exporters to compete and succeed internationally. The principle is quite simple. Government does not create the business. What it does is set the framework to make it more convenient, efficient and stable for businesses. They like the elements of stability and certainty within the agreements and will move forward and invest. Consequently, an important part of the equation is ensuring that not only two-way trade but also investment between Canada and other countries can take place in a stable and secure manner. That is why Canada has over 24 foreign investment promotion and protection agreements with key trade and investment partners, including China, the world's second largest economy.
I would be remiss if I did not highlight the fact that not only is China the world's second largest economy, but it recently became Canada's number two export market, second only to the United States. Canadian goods exports to China rose 15% last year to over $19 billion. Not only that, but Canada's exports to China have nearly doubled under our Conservative government.
I am not one of the most partisan members of Parliament in this House. I have been on the international trade committee. I have worked together with all colleagues in the House. It is unfortunate that despite all these successes, the NDP continues to fearmonger and spread myths about our trade agreements in general, this foreign investment protection agreement, and trade overall and how important it is for Canadians. This should not be a surprise to many Canadians. After all, it is the same NDP that opposed the Auto Pact and the historic North American Free Trade Agreement, otherwise known as NAFTA, and whose member for the B.C. Southern Interior recently argued that trade agreements “threaten the very existence of our nation”. It is the same party that stood in this House to oppose trade agreements with countries as diverse as Panama, Colombia, Israel, Chile, Costa Rica, Norway, Switzerland and even Liechtenstein.
Page 18 of the NDP policy book today states that the “New Democrats believe in...[r]enegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement”.
In my community of Kelowna—Lake Country, NAFTA has been an incredible success for the wine industry in British Columbia as well as in Ontario, Nova Scotia and across Canada. It has been a great success, and the NDP wants to renegotiate it. I just cannot imagine that. Last year, our two-way trade in goods and services with the United States exceeded $742 billion. That is nearly $2 billion a day, or almost $1.4 million every single minute.
The chair of the international trade committee, Senator Andreychuk, and I had the opportunity last week to be in Washington to meet with new members of Congress and to inform them of that importance. Many of them were not aware of the one in five jobs, 20% of the GDP and the $2 billion a day in trade. It is a great success story, and we need to continue to be proud of it, not go down to the United States and tell them how bad we are here in Canada. We are in this together. It is the best partnership and the two most integrated economies in the world. We want it to continue to grow. These numbers are not simply sterile statistics. They represent some 2.4 million Canadian jobs, jobs that the NDP would jeopardize if it had its way.
The NDP's anti-trade credentials are well established. In particular, I would like to take a moment to dispel the many inaccuracies the NDP and its anti-trade allies have been spreading about Canada's foreign investment promotion and protection agreement with China.
Our Conservative government is committed to creating the right conditions for Canadian businesses to compete globally. Ultimately, Canada's foreign investment promotion and protection agreement, otherwise known as FIPA, with China, the world's second largest economy, will provide stronger protection for Canadians investing in China and will create jobs and economic growth right here at home. It is an agreement that establishes a clear set of rules under which investments are made and under which investment disputes are resolved. For Canadian businesses looking to set up in China, they cannot be treated less favourably than any other foreign company looking to do the same. Once an investment is made, Canadian businesses cannot be treated less favourably than any other businesses, including Chinese businesses. Importantly, the agreement protects investors from government expropriation, except under strict conditions, and even then only with appropriate compensation. That is only fair. We treat others as we would want to be treated.
This FIPA would also ensure that all investment disputes are resolved under international arbitration, ensuring that adjudications are independent and fair. It would remove some of the challenges of culture, language, etcetera. Canadian investors in China will no longer have to rely on the Chinese legal system to have their disputes resolved. As David Fung of the Canada China Business Council said, “Without this agreement, Chinese investments in Canada would receive the protection of the well-developed Canadian judicial system but Canadian investments in China would have to live with the uncertainties of a developing Chinese judiciary”. Very simply put, Chinese investors in Canada have the protection of the rule of law. All we are asking now, with this agreement, is that our Canadian investors be given the same benefit in China that investors from China have been experiencing all along. We are leveling the playing field to help Canadian businesses.
I would also like to emphasize that ours is the first such agreement China has signed that specifically includes language on the transparency of dispute settlement proceedings. There has been lots of discussion about that today. This is the most transparent agreement that has been signed between China and any country, and that obviously speaks volumes about the negotiation skills of our senior public trade officials and trade commissions.
This has been said many times in the House, but allow me to repeat it: It is Canada's long-standing policy that all dispute resolution should be open to the public and that submissions made by the parties be available to the public. Under this FIPA, any decisions of a dispute resolution panel will be made public, period. It is that simple.
As I mentioned earlier, the NDP and its special interest allies have gone to great lengths in the past and today in the House to spread misinformation about this agreement. Let me categorically state what the agreement does not do. First, the agreement does not hinder Canada's ability to regulate and legislate in areas such as the environment, culture, safety, health and conservation. On top of that, provisions in the agreement will preserve Canada's current ability to review foreign investments under the Investment Canada Act to ensure that they provide a net benefit to Canadians and that our national security is not compromised. Let there be no doubt that under this treaty, Chinese investors in Canada must obey all the laws and regulations of Canada, just as any Canadian must.
In short, the Canada-China foreign investment promotion and protection agreement is similar to other investment treaties Canada has signed with key trade and investment partners. We join countries such as New Zealand, Germany, the Netherlands and Japan that have all signed investment treaties with China on terms that are similar to, or in many cases less favourable than, the terms Canada has been able to negotiate with China. Once again, I give full marks to our senior public servants and the trade commissions negotiating this very good FIPA.
Ultimately, this investment treaty will help protect the interests of Canadian investors. The key purpose of the foreign investment promotion and protection agreement is to ensure that Canadian investors can invest in China with greater confidence, spurring increased investment in China and creating jobs and economic growth for hard-working Canadians. I do not know how many times I can say it, but we want to have a rules-based system for Canadian investors in China, just like Chinese investors have had in Canada for a number of years.
This investment agreement is just one example of how our government is promoting the interests of Canadians and is working to create new opportunities for Canadian exporters in China. The potential for increased Canadian investment in China is significant, given that China is expected to become the world's largest economy by 2020. My hon. colleague from Vancouver Kingsway mentioned that earlier in his comments. We will have great opportunities in the years ahead. The Chinese economy can and will benefit greatly from Canadian innovation expertise.
China is home to an expanding middle-class consumer base, and it has a burgeoning science, technology and innovation sector that needs Canadian expertise. Further boosting the Canada-China partnership is the fact that we are joined by the ties of family. More than 1.4 million Chinese Canadians enrich every aspect of our country, including some members of our House. We are looking at all aspects of the country. We are enriching the arts, literature, science, business, politics and philanthropy. This reflects the strong people-to-people links that are helping us to take our relationship to the next level.
Therefore, it is very unfortunate that, in addition to pursuing their archaic anti-trade ideology, the New Democrats do not see the value in strengthening our relationship with China. For our part, the Government of Canada is working very hard to deepen relationships with dynamic, high-growth markets around the world. As I mentioned, the Minister of International Trade is working tirelessly to grow the markets around the world, but quite obviously China is not at the top of the list of the NDP.
We have been very clear with the Chinese government that Canada wants to continue to expand its commercial relationship with China, but only in a way that produces clear benefits for both sides, a win-win situation. By establishing this clear set of investment rules that provides greater protection against discriminatory and arbitrary practices, this agreement will give Canadians greater confidence as they consider whether to invest in China. As I mentioned, the stability and predictability are what members of the business community cry out for, and this is what we are providing with this agreement.
In summary, the principle of the foreign investment promotion and protection agreement, or the Canada-China foreign investment protection agreement, or FIPA, is to ensure that Canadian investments in China are protected and that there is reciprocity so that Chinese investments in Canada are protected. As well, this is about giving Canadian companies investing in China the same rights and privileges as a Chinese company would have. This is about protecting Canadian foreign direct investment in China. We cannot do that without allowing those same rights and privileges to the Chinese. It is called “reciprocity”. It is called “fairness”. It is called “reasonable rules-based trading”. Rules-based trading is reasonable, in my mind, and it is fair, and I believe that all Canadians support fairness.
To alleviate some of the fearmongering from our NDP friends across the way, this treaty in no way impedes Canada's ability to regulate and legislate in such areas as the environment, culture, safety, health and conservation, which is another thing that needs to be clarified. I am concerned about the environment just as much as anybody in the House. I have three daughters and two grandsons, a one year old and a six year old, and I care about their future. I care about jobs and the opportunities they will have. This agreement provides that certainty for businesses.
Because of the diverse composition of the exports to China, this agreement affects people from all regions of Canada. We all need to pay attention and support this agreement because overall it is a good opportunity to provide jobs for Canadian workers. It is a good agreement for all Canadians from coast to coast to coast.
Business of Supply April 18th, 2013
Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to rise this afternoon to join my colleagues in the House to speak on this very important issue. It is a matter of great importance not only to the constituents of Kelowna—Lake Country but to all Canadians and Canadian businesses, specifically those that are looking to do business or are doing business in China at the present time.
Our government understands the importance of trade to our economy. It represents one in five jobs in Canada and accounts for nearly 65% of our country's annual income. That is why our government is moving forward with the most ambitious pro-trade plan in our country's history. It is a plan that is opening new markets for Canadian exporters, including in the fast-growing Asia Pacific region. We are committed to expanding commercial relations in the region and deepening and strengthening ties that will create jobs and prosperity for hard-working Canadians here at home from coast to coast to coast.
The opportunities for Canadian exporters in the Asia-Pacific are tremendous. Countries in the region include those with economic growth rates at an impressive two to three times the global average. In the past few years, our government has been aggressively expanding commercial relations with the Asia-Pacific region to create jobs and economic benefits here at home. Our efforts are yielding results. We are maximizing opportunities for entrepreneurs through innovative trade, investment, air transport, and science and technology agreements.
I would like to take a few moments to review a few of the steps our government has taken to create new opportunities for Canadian exporters in these fast-growing and dynamic markets.
In November of last year, the chair and members of the international trade committee visited Japan. We are advancing free trade negotiations with Japan. It is the world's third-largest economy. We are commencing exploratory discussions towards trade negotiations with Thailand and are adopting the joint declaration on trade and investment with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to increase Canada's trade and investment ties in the region. We are signing air transport agreements with six Asia-Pacific countries and are joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations.
If anybody has any doubts, they can check the schedule of the Minister of International Trade. The gentleman is incredibly busy travelling the world and opening doors to help Canadian markets expand and create opportunities for all Canadians, from coast to coast to coast. It is a very exciting time.
These efforts, along with establishing numerous additional trade offices in the region, are generating real results. Our efforts to deepen Canada's trade and investment ties in the fast-growing Asia-Pacific region are further bolstered by our government's strategic investments and partnership in building the Asia-Pacific Gateway. These investments are positioning Canada as the gateway of choice between Asia and North America. In fact, Canada's west coast ports are more than two days closer to Asian markets than any other ports in North America.
For those in the House who are not aware, Prince Rupert is booming. I was there several years back when the cranes were installed. It was an incredibly exciting day for the community of Prince Rupert. It has been growing by leaps and bounds.
In November, I participated in a pilot project announcement with the Minister of International Trade and the United States government and border security on both sides. President Obama and Prime Minister Harper are working on the regulatory reform. To help—
Petitions April 18th, 2013
Mr. Speaker, it is a privilege to rise as the member of Parliament for Kelowna—Lake Country to present a petition that was presented to me on April 12 in my constituency office by Heidi Osterman from True Food Foundation. She is a constituent of mine who has collected approximately 1,000 signatures from constituents and British Columbians calling on Parliament to impose a moratorium on the release of genetically modified alfalfa in order to allow a proper review of the impact on farmers in Canada.
Petitions March 19th, 2013
Mr. Speaker, I rise to table a petition on behalf of numerous British Columbians with regard to last year, when 22-year-old Kassandra Kaulius was killed by a drunk driver. This group of people has come together as an organization called Families for Justice. They are calling on the government to redefine the Criminal Code of Canada offence of impaired driving causing death to vehicular manslaughter and for new mandatory minimum sentencing for people who have been convicted of impaired driving causing death.
Employment in the Okanagan February 12th, 2013
Mr. Speaker, in my beautiful and vibrant riding of Kelowna—Lake Country, Okanagan College and the UBC Okanagan campus have been working with industry, students and all levels of government to address the challenges facing our labour market, and forging real world connections between education and careers.
This past week alone, both institutions hosted successful career fairs that drew dozens of employers to recruit and hire employees to meet their needs.
Along with the efforts of others like Robert Fine and the Central Okanagan economic development commission, Okanagan College, UBCO and local employers are identifying labour shortages and ensuring that students are learning the skills they need to fill those jobs.
With the ongoing support of our government's economic action plan, the Okanagan's business and education sectors are setting an example, successfully addressing the skills shortages in our region and beyond, creating jobs, supporting economic growth and securing the Okanagan's and Canada's long-term prosperity.