Madam Chair, I like to call where I come from the promised land. We have the honey capital of Canada and 7,500 dairy animals, so it is literally flowing with milk and honey.
I want to start by thanking my team back home. Starting on the home front, I thank my wife for putting up with me and delivering a baby smack dab in the middle of the election. I told my campaign manager that the due date was the third, so I would just book that day off and we should be good to go. Right on schedule little Claire showed up, so I took the day off. I was there for a little while, but she did come on the due date, which was like winning the lottery, so we were pretty excited about that. Claire is doing well and her mother is doing well, for sure.
I want to thank my children. They came out door-knocking with me. Nothing is better than a bunch of little kids coming along to do the door-knocking. They run a lot faster than I do, and they get pretty good at finding the doorbells and making friends with all the puppy dogs everywhere we go. I think there is an average of one dog per house where I come from, so I met a lot of nice puppies along the way, no doubt.
I also want to thank our volunteer sign guys who put on over 7,000 kilometres putting up signs in northern Alberta. It is a few days' ordeal to put up signs where I come from, so I want to thank John and Richard and Stan. They really did a good job.
I want to thank our door-knocking team and Liam in particular. One of the things that I was going to get to later on in my speech is that with all the job opportunities out there I have been harassing Liam that he has to go and get a job. He just told me that he has finally landed a job. While he was a great asset to my team, door-knocking every day for us, it turns out now that he has a job. I hope that he can now put all that door-knocking experience to use in his job, although I am not exactly sure where it is.
I want to thank my extended family and my sister in particular, who goes above and beyond in keeping everything organized, and her husband as well. They do a great job.
I want to thank my campaign manager, Josh. He is all the way from Calgary, though we do not hold that against him. We cheer for different hockey teams, but we are good friends, nonetheless, and he delivered the win again in northern Alberta. Congratulations to Josh, and thanks.
I also want to take this moment to congratulate the elected senators in Alberta. Bang, bang: Right after each other, we ended up having two elections simultaneously. The municipal elections were happening during the federal election, so we had those together. It was great to see that the Conservatives on the ballot took the number one, two and three spots here in Alberta. I look forward to the senators' rapid appointment so we can get some representation for Alberta in the Senate as we go forward. I note that Senator Scott Tannas is still there, but I am looking forward to the rapid appointment of two new senators representing Alberta.
Bill C-2 is the bill in front of us. I want to talk a bit about what should be in this bill and what is missing from it.
During the last few months, I went for dinner at Brothers Diner in Whitecourt. It is a great little place and has a 1950s retro feel. When I am sitting in there, I feel like I have stepped back in time, but I wish that all the 1950s cars with the big wings were parked outside there, with the high-rise tails and the round cars. A lot of them were aviation-inspired, so while they were not the fastest or the best-handling cars in the world, they were some of the coolest-looking. If I say “Cadillac Eldorado”, people are probably thinking “1950s car”.
It was my first time ever being in that little diner, and I was chatting with the waitress. I said, “I was here last night and the place was shut down. I was here at about 7:30.” She said, “Oh sorry, we close at 4.” I said, “This is a diner, and diners do not typically close at 4.” She said, “We only have three waitresses, and when none of us are available the restaurant is closed.” It was a Tuesday afternoon, and she said they close at 4 on Tuesdays.
That was the situation in northern Alberta. There are just not enough workers to keep the restaurants open, never mind having people come to the restaurants. Folks who started new restaurants during the pandemic were concerned about how this was going to go and they said they have the customers but do not have the employees. We see temporary foreign workers being brought in during the time of a pandemic to staff the restaurants in the area.
One of the other things that the bill does not correct as well is the following. I am thinking about folks who started a Dairy Queen in my riding in January 2020. The owners are unable to collect some of these benefits because their business was started in January 2020. The decision to start a new Dairy Queen did not come overnight, so the decision was made months, maybe years, in advance. A large amount of money was laid out, yet they had no revenues until January 2020, so they did not have a revenue drop from 2019 to 2020. They had no revenue in 2019; they were busy building the building. The grand opening was January 2020. That was one of the things I was hoping we would see fixed in the bill. We did not see that.
The other thing is around getting the pipelines built, supporting oil and gas in northern Alberta, supporting the industry that is the largest percentage of GDP in this country. I was looking forward to having support for that in the bill, to talk about how we can people get back to work and make sure people feel safe, but also make sure the pipelines are defended and promoted in this country.
President Joe Biden in the United States wrote a letter to OPEC asking them if they could increase production by 500,000 barrels a day so that they could reduce the cost of fuel in the United States. The Keystone XL pipeline would deliver about that many barrels a day of oil if it were operating. The president could knock on our door and could approve Keystone XL and could be getting ethically sourced oil from northern Alberta supplied to the United States. He did not do this. Then he said he would lower the price of fuel by using up some the reserves in the United States. The reserves are 1% of 1% of their annual consumption of fuel, so that is going to make a short blip and really is not going to solve the problem.
Between Line 5 and Keystone XL, we see that the bill says nothing about what the plans are for ensuring that the oil patch can continue to operate and get its product to market. We do not see anything like that. The oil patch is also looking for workers. I talked to my friend, Murray, in Slave Lake. He runs an oil field service company and he said he thinks he is going to have to bring in temporary foreign workers to work in the oil patch, starting at $55 an hour. That is the challenge he is facing. He has to bring in presumably Mexican oil field workers because he cannot get workers from northern Alberta.
This is a tragedy. We have people from across the country who have traditionally worked in northern Alberta, but are unaware that the oil patch is up and running again and who are making a calculation between government subsidies and paycheques and deciding that the government subsidy is a better deal.
We warned the Liberals not to mess with the labour market with their subsidies, however, they did not listen to us. They say no, no, hurry up and pass this legislation. We said we will not stand in the way of it, but it would be good to scrutinize this and send to committee to ensure the best ideas come through and that there is no impact to the labour market as we go forward with this $7-billion bill.