House of Commons photo

Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was system.

Last in Parliament September 2008, as Conservative MP for Prince Albert (Saskatchewan)

Won his last election, in 2006, with 54% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Budget Implementation Act, 2005 May 18th, 2005

Madam Speaker, I want to remind the member that tax freedom day in Canada is now July 4, I think, so most Canadians work the first half of the year just to pay the government bills that the government is imposing on them. All this new extra spending, this $22 billion plus the $4.6 billion the government has agreed to with the NDP, is just going to lengthen out the year so that there is less change in people's pockets, less money to spend in their own community and to invest in other things in this society. It is just more government.

I have a specific question. It has been asked today and we have not received an answer yet. I am sure the member will give me an answer. A fair number of Canadians have decided that the best care for their children is for them to stay at home and take care of those kids during their younger years. Could the member tell me specifically how the NDP-Liberal alliance program will address and provide benefits to those people who decide to stay at home and raise their kids?

Budget Implementation Act, 2005 May 18th, 2005

Madam Speaker, it is a distinct pleasure to speak to the comments raised by the NDP member. I come from the province of Saskatchewan and I can tell members I have some concerns with this budget bill that the NDP has arranged with the Liberals.

I know NDPers wake up in the morning along with a lot of socialist friends in the Liberal Party and ask, “How do we regulate people more? How do we interfere more and more in the day-to-day lives of Canadians? How do we tax them more? How do we get them under our thumb so they have to come, cap in hand, looking for subsidies or something?” That is the way they envision society.

In 1944 a Baptist premier was elected in Saskatchewan who said, “I'll take care of you people”. A few years earlier another Baptist minister from Saskatchewan moved to Alberta. He became a premier in 1944 and he had a totally different message. His attitude was, “Let's be fair with business. Let's have fair tax policies. Let's encourage entrepreneurship, investment and things along that line”.

Saskatchewan had 1,250,000 people in 1944. How many does it have today? It has 940,000 people. Alberta had 700,000 in 1944. How many does it have today? It has 3 million. Saskatchewan has the second largest out-migration of 22 year olds in this country. Where are they going? They are going to Alberta. They are doing that by choice. If we want a damning indictment of NDP policies and the effect they have on society, we have to look no further than Saskatchewan.

However, I do have a question for the member. When the champagne socialist leader got together with the leader of the Liberals and Buzz Hargrove in their five star hotel in Toronto, why did they not strike a deal to address a serious injustice in Saskatchewan and the unfair treatment of Saskatchewan in terms of equalization?

The province of Saskatchewan is simply getting, and I had better not use that language. The equalization formula is abhorrent for that province. It discourages real true economic development in that province. That province actually gets poorer by trying to develop its resources. I am ashamed that the NDP leader, in making his budget deal with this shameful outfit, did not address that issue and I would like an explanation.

Petitions May 13th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, I have three petitions, mainly from people in small rural communities in Saskatchewan: Kinistino, Aylsham and Meath Park.

They want the government to cease closing rural post offices, especially their own post offices, and they want the government to return to its moratorium on closing rural post offices and attacking their way of life in rural Canada.

Question No. 125 May 2nd, 2005

Were the revenues generated from Crown-owned hydroelectric facilities included in the equalization calculations for the fiscal year 2003-2004, and, if so, what are the calculations for the provinces of Manitoba and Quebec?

Committees of the House April 21st, 2005

Madam Speaker, I recall the words of a famous former American president, President Reagan, who said that the most dangerous words in the English language are “Hello, I'm with the government. I'm here to help you”.

During the debate today I was thinking of the peacock farmer and the government agents coming in with shotguns, blasting away at his peacocks and wiping out this herd that is worth thousands of dollars, and that probably does not have any connection to the avian flu issue, and I just thought of President Reagan. I do not know if he was really thinking of this when he used those words, but it just reinforces the accuracy of this matter.

Then, coming in to kill off a herd of ducks, they run out of whatever they have to kill the ducks, so they resort to using hockey sticks. Well, that would be the Canadian way of doing this I guess, hockey being part of our thing. But, again, “Hello, I'm with the government, I'm here to help you”.

I am curious on this issue. I know that the government opposite does not believe in property rights. It thinks it is a dangerous concept that Canadians have property rights. It would not put it in the Constitution because it is just an awful concept. I am wondering if these farmers received good solid compensation, especially the peacock owner on whose farm this apparent massive destruction took place.

Civil Marriage Act April 19th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, I have a preliminary comment to start off my discussion today. I found the Liberal convention very interesting this year. I place a whole lot of value on parliamentary democracy and having democracy determine our public policy. I also place a whole lot of value on our heritage, values, traditions and our social institutions such as marriage.

If someone would have told me 40, 30, 20 or even 10 years ago that a national political party, one that has been here since Confederation, would have a convention in which most of the delegates would be wearing “stupid” buttons telling people in Canada that if they believe in Parliament deciding the laws of this country they are stupid or if they believe in a social institution such as marriage they are stupid, I would not have known what to think.

This says in spades where this Liberal Party and this Liberal government have drifted in their positions on policy. They are very quickly becoming irrelevant to the Canadian public. I think that in the next year or two they are going to find that out in a very resounding way.

I used to teach high school. I taught history for four years to grade 10, 11 and 12. I always used to tell my students that we live in Canada and we live in a democracy that emphasizes representative democracy. We hold elections every three or four years and we elect our members of Parliament to a democratic institution. On issues of conscience and moral decision making and so on, what an MP has to do is read the wishes and the minds of his constituents on those issues and represent them in Parliament in Ottawa. That is a very basic principle, one as old as the hills.

I have received thousands upon thousands of messages from people in my riding who have let me know what their position is on this issue. Over 90% of these people have said that they want me to represent the traditional definition of marriage in this chamber. That is resounding. It is not a question of what I believe on this issue. When I get that sort of resounding message from my constituents, it is not a question of what I believe. That becomes irrelevant. My job as a member of Parliament is to represent that point of view in this House.

I am appalled and disappointed with the position of the other three leaders in the House of Commons. The Prime Minister has basically beaten his cabinet into taking his position on the issue. As for the NDP, of all parties, the party of Tommy Douglas, prairie populism, democracy and so on, the leader says no, that all of his MPs have to take his position and vote the way he wants or otherwise he will kick them out of the party. I am not sure what the position of the Bloc is, but I get the feeling that there is a good deal of pressure applied by that leader as well on this issue.

In the last election there were ridings in the country in which 50% or more of the people did not vote. What were they saying? They said, “It does not make any difference. We can send MPs to Ottawa but they are not going to listen to us anyway. The party leaders are going to make them toe the line”. The numbers of voters are dropping. If we do not fix this problem in this country, our parliamentary institutions and our democratic way of doing things are going to be at serious risk.

I would like to speak on a couple of related topics. I have heard both Liberal members and NDP members say that in Canada we have separation of church and state. When we probe them on that, what does that mean in their way of dealing with things? It says to church leaders that they must shut up on the issues of the day, that they have no right to speak on those matters, and that they should stay in their churches and not speak on the issues of the day.

To me this shows a profound ignorance of that concept of separation of church and state. In Canada and the United States we have built our societies largely on people leaving other countries and looking for freedom of religion. They were fleeing from countries in which the state persecuted them for their religious beliefs. Now, in this day and age, we have a government that says those people should shut up and not talk about the issues of the day. This is indeed a frightening proposition.

On that issue, let us remind this Liberal government of a few basic concepts. Section 2 of our Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees every Canadian, without exception, the right to freedom of speech or freedom of expression. Section 2 also says that religious freedom is a “fundamental freedom”. When the state in this country goes around telling people that they have to shut up, it is seriously violating the most fundamental rights in our Constitution and our Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Let us look at the great reforms in history. Let us put this to a historical test and see how educated some of these ministers on the other side are on this issue. Let us look at the great reforms of the last couple of hundred years: the elimination of slavery, the end of child labour in Great Britain, public education reforms and the end of racial discrimination and segregation in the United States.

Who led those causes? Not politicians. Those leaders were people of religious conviction who saw things that were sinful and immoral from their point of view and they wanted public policy and reforms to address those issues. They were successful. That led to some great reforms. What a travesty for history if we had lived in a society in which the government had told those people to shut up or else and they had not led us to those great social reforms. Would we have made the progress that we say we have?

For my friends in the NDP who spout this point of view, let me say that most of them show a profound ignorance of the founding of the CCF movement. The people who created the CCF movement had strong religious beliefs. They believed in the social gospel.

One of the most powerful people in that movement was Tommy Douglas. I am from Saskatchewan and I know what his election campaigns were about. He said to the people of Saskatchewan, “Vote for me. We will take care of you. We will create a new Jerusalem in Saskatchewan. We will take care of the people. We will eliminate poverty and the need for private health insurance.” So it went. But he was preaching religion. I say to a lot of the educated people on the other side of the House, to the Prime Minister, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Minister of Justice, that they should go back to school. I think they missed something when they were going to school.

Where would we be today without people such as Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Garrison, Lincoln, Woodsworth, Ernest Manning, T.C. Douglas, Bishop Tutu, Malcolm X and William Wilberforce? They were people who were motivated by their religious beliefs and were successful in leading great reforms in their societies. As for members opposite who are saying that this is wrong, that somehow people speaking out on the issues of the day because they have religious points of view are wrong, I say to them that they are wrong.

I want to make another observation. Members opposite say that there is something wrong with the majority deciding public policy, that there is something wrong with democracy and the democratic system because both of those things are dangerous to minority rights. I want to point out a few facts. None of the charter points existed in this country in 1982. They all came from the British system.

The British system stands on one principle and only one principle in its constitution: that parliament is supreme. It is the democratic parliamentary system that gave us freedom of religion, freedom of speech, the democratic principles that we have in our society, the criminal justice principles, and equality under and before the law. It protected these rights for hundreds of years before we ever put it into a written Constitution.

For members opposite to say that a democratically elected Parliament is a threat to minority rights shows the ignorance of the government.

Supply April 14th, 2005

Why would the Liberal Party not just take that money and put it into a trust account, and we are not presuming guilt or anything, so it will be unable to run another election with dirty money?

Supply April 14th, 2005

Madam Speaker, I cannot get over the constant reference to “let Gomery do his job”. I have heard that over and over again.

One day I came to the House and it was announced that the government was taking legal proceedings to collect $41 million from 19 organizations and individuals. I thought to myself that this kind of flies in the face of the comment about letting do his job.

Then I recalled what the Auditor General said when she gave her original report. She said that the Liberal government, in awarding these advertising contracts to these organizations it is now suing, broke every rule in the book.

My question for the member for Medicine Hat is this. We have had three elections in which a party has run a campaign with laundered money, dirty money. They have prejudged 41 organizations already. They have fired some people.

Income Tax Act April 13th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure, being from Saskatchewan, to speak to this issue. I thank the Bloc members for their support on this bill. I see a unity being built around this issue. Hockey is important in Quebec and it is important in Saskatchewan. Hockey is our national sport and very much a part of the culture of this nation, so anything that would promote amateur sports, especially junior hockey, would be a plus.

I would like to express a concern about government policy on athletics. Canadians rightfully, after an Olympic event or whatever, are concerned that maybe the lead athletes are not competitive, that we did not receive enough gold or silver medals and that we should have done better. The government approach seems to be to put more money in the elite programs.

I think it is too late at that stage. We will have elite athletes when our amateur athletic programs are strong at the grassroots. That will produce the high quality athlete and that is where the focus should be. I am not saying there should not be funding for lead athletes, but we should not lose focus. Lead athletes come out of very strong grassroots programs. The government, in this case, is not giving any support to grassroots junior hockey in this country. It is doing the exact opposite. It is trying to tax it out of existence with questionable applications of tax law.

The bill has wide applications. It deals with not for profit associations that are directly involved in amateur sports. It allows them to expend $8,000 per participant or team player under that umbrella without bringing on the wrath of the federal government and its tax collectors.

Somebody said $8,000 sure sounds like a lot of money. Let us apply it to the Saskatchewan junior hockey league. The Canada Revenue Agency, in its wisdom or judgment or whatever one wants to call it, has deemed a $100 a month allowance per player, players who are 17 or 18 years of age. They have left home, their parents are not paying an allowance, and they are under the guardianship of their junior hockey team. They are billeted into really good homes. The parents want that for their kids. They want to make sure they are in good homes. They get paid $300 a month. They eat that up in the first two weeks of the month, but the tax department says that is a taxable benefit. It assesses Canada pension, unemployment insurance and income tax deductions even though these players are never going to be eligible for the benefits that they are assessed.

It does not stop there. The $8,000 is needed for a whole lot of other reasons too. Let us use our imagination. If the expenses and billeting costs are taxable benefits, what about the transportation costs when they are on the road? What about the meal costs when they are out of town? We travel to Flin Flon. That is 200 or 300 miles away. Some of the teams travel 500 miles away. They have to eat on the road and the teams pay for their meals.

There are hotel expenses when they are on the road. They have hockey sticks and uniforms to buy. The list is endless. It would not take much of an imagination before everything the hockey team is doing is a taxable benefit. I raise these concerns. I almost think the $8,000 is too low, in my view, but it is a good start.

A team in my league was the first to be audited. The government got it up to $65,000. I know how that team operates. It is non profit. Seventy per cent of its revenues are derived from ticket sales, raffles and bingos. It is a community event. It is not a big community and the team has to put in as much sweat equity as it can to make the books balance. Along come our federal tax collectors into this community and they say the team has to pay $65,000.

Our national sport is a truly amateur production. They are killing the hockey dreams of these players. Most of the players came to that team with one objective and that was to hopefully continue their schooling, attract a scholarship from a major American university, and get a full scholarship to a university in the United States. The parents are behind them 100%. They are hoping that their kids' dreams will become their dreams.

The people in the community, from all walks of life, in January go out to the hockey rink to cheer their team on. Everybody in the community, every class of person we can think of gathers together to cheer their team: farmers, labourers, professional people, business people, the aboriginal community, low income people, high income people, and retired people. That is the culture in rural Saskatchewan communities.

What does the federal government, through its tax policies, want to do? It wants to destroy that; it wants to undermine that. I would remind the members opposite that in the last two major Olympic events or international competitions that Canada has had, our of the 20 players on the team, we had four players from the Saskatchewan junior hockey league alone. These were players who came up through the development of that league. There were four NHL hockey coaches only a few years ago who cut their teeth in that league.

What is the federal government's attitude for promoting amateur junior hockey at the grassroots level? What is its policy? Hammer them with taxes. If excessive regulations do not kill off something, let us bring in a whole bunch of government taxes. Maybe some day they will come back to the Liberal government on bended knee and ask, “Is there a foundation that can hand us out a grant or something so we can carry on?”.

That seems to be the government's mentality, to create a dependency in this country where nobody wants a dependency. They say, “Just get out of our lives, leave us alone and let us be amateur athletes”. However, that is not the Liberal approach. It is more taxes, more regulations, and more interference in the lives of day to day Canadians. In Saskatchewan it is killing something that is very important in Saskatchewan: junior A hockey.

Government members should really be ashamed of where they are at. I am hopeful on this point that logic will prevail and that government members will see the wisdom in supporting amateur athletics in this country by making grassroots amateur sports in this country strong and healthy, not weak and dependent on government.

The Saskatchewan junior hockey league has a long history. I got interested in hockey back in the fifties. That kind of gives my age, but I remember the Regina Pats were in the Saskatchewan junior hockey league and the radio station covered them. Bob Turner, whose obituary I just saw the other day, played with that team. He played with the five Stanley Cup teams of the Montreal Canadiens. The players on that team, Red Berenson, Billy Hickey, Terry Harper, Ted Greene and Dave Balon went to the Memorial Cup. There was a whole slug of really great players from Saskatchewan who were on that team. They played the Montreal Canadiens dream superstar team, the Ottawa-Hull Canadiens. For four or five years they were together on that team with Ralph Backstrom, J.C. Tremblay, Bobby Rousseau. It was a great series. This is the tradition we have in that league in Saskatchewan. There was Gordie Howe and Red Berenson, great hockey players.

What is the Liberal position on something that is so much part of our heritage and culture? The government spends millions of dollars through the Department of Canadian Heritage and it spends millions of dollars on elite athletes, but here it is going to send its tax collectors out to kill something that has a very rich legacy in this country.

The Minister of Finance prides himself on being born near Father Athol Murray's college in Notre Dame: the Hounds of Notre Dame. I knew Father Athol Murray, and if Father Athol Murray was around here today he would have the Minister of Finance chased around the block 15 times on this issue alone. There is nothing to be proud of on the government's approach to dealing with junior hockey in Saskatchewan. It is a disgraceful record.

I want to close on a positive. By making this one simple change in the law we would be helping every grassroots amateur sports association in Canada from coast to coast, right at the bottom. With the Liberal government's elite athlete programs, it is like trying to take somebody at 18 or 19 who cannot read or write, and start spending money on them to teach them how to read and write. It starts in grade one, it starts in kindergarten, it starts from the grassroots with a solid program.

I would ask Liberal members to please support the bill because it is a good approach to building a really strong, healthy amateur sports regime in the country.

Supply April 7th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, I would like to get a comment from the NDP member. I have been listening to the government's responses about all the money it has been spending on security, how it has learned its lesson from Air-India, how it has all these measures in place and everybody should rest assured that we will not have those kind of problems any more.

However, the point of the whole matter is the government was elected in 1993. It was not until 2002 that it did anything in terms of passing anti-terrorism legislation, which was basically modelled on the British model that had been in place with the Irish problem. It had been around for ages. It was the September 11 event that forced the government's hand to finally take steps to deal with it. All of the things the government has been talking about in the House, such as the measures it has in place to prevent this, have only occurred post-September 11. From 1993 to 2002, from what I can see, the government did nothing legislatively to deal with the terrorism problem.

It is not exactly correct for the government to say that it has done a lot in response to the Air-India crisis. It really has done very little on it. I would appreciate receiving any comment from the NDP member on that.