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

Criminal Code October 30th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, I listened very carefully to the member's comments and concerns and have a specific question for the member. I raised it earlier in the day.

In Saskatchewan a few years ago, three young individuals in their twenties picked up a 12 year old girl and gave her some beer and so on. The evidence showed that some pretty serious sexual exploitation took place in respect to the 12 year old girl. Two of the accused had a trial before a jury. They had a very good defence lawyer. The defence lawyer's main argument was that the relationship was consensual. Second, the lawyer argued that the girl looked like she could be 14 or even older.

Let us guess what happened when the jury came in after hearing that pitch. Reasonable doubt is all we have to raise if we are defending an accused person. The jury acquitted those two individuals of the charge. It was a horrendous, scary situation.

My point here is that if we cannot find any reason to support the bill, that particular situation shows the need for this sort of legislation. That 12 year old girl should have had the protection of the law on her side. She should have had the protection of every single member of Parliament in the House of Commons on her side, to make sure that our laws are there to protect the victim, not to give loopholes to defence lawyers and allow adults to prey on and exploit our young people.

Fortunately, the Court of Appeal in Saskatchewan reversed that decision, which was very commendable, but I find it very upsetting that at a trial before a jury, because of the way we have framed our laws, we leave people like this girl open to a lack of protection such that it is open season on young people for adults who want to prey on them.

Could the member please express his comments about the need to make sure that our laws are strong and can protect a 12 year old girl from a gang of youths in their twenties seriously exploiting and abusing her? Could he comment on the fact that we have a really strong need to move in that area?

Criminal Code October 30th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, I was going to try to address the need for the change in the age of consent. However, we had a situation in Saskatchewan a few years ago, and I think most members would recall it, where three individuals in their twenties picked up a 12 year old first nations girl, had her consume a fair amount of liquor and, from what I can gather, sexually exploited that young girl. It was quite a controversial case. Through the appeal system, eventually all three were found guilty.

However, I want to point out what happened at the trial of two of these individuals. They had a very good defence lawyer. I know members opposite sometimes take their advice from defence counsel and defence lawyers in designing the laws of the country, and sometimes that is an error. The defence lawyer at a jury trial made a very compelling argument to the jury that the girl looked like she might be over 14 years of age, although she really was 12 years of age. All one has to do is raise a reasonable doubt to get an acquittal in our criminal court system.

Therefore, that is a fairly major loophole in the law. I think any fair-minded person in the House should understand, as parliamentarians of all parties, that we should not create laws that allow that sort of loophole to be exploited by defence attorneys in a criminal court system. Let us take that away from them.

Could the member enlighten us as to why we need to increase the age of consent from 14 to 16? I think I have given every member in the House of Commons one good reason to support the bill, without any doubt, unless they are taking their cues from defence lawyers. Young people in our country need protection and the way the law is right now it is not very good protection.

Criminal Code October 4th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, I heard the member's comments about studies and to me the best study is real experience.

The State of New York and the City of New York in the 1980s and 1990s had bleeding heart liberal democrats running both the city and the state. It was not safe to walk through Central Park at two o'clock in the afternoon, as a prosecutor found out back in the 1990s.

There was a change in that state. Rudy Giuliano was elected mayor of New York and George Pataki as the governor and they got tough on crime. They pushed aside all this liberal bleeding heart stuff to the sidelines, and got to the root cause of crime and got tough on it.

Today, New York City has a lower crime rate than any city in Great Britain of 500,000 people or less. That is based on real experience, not a bunch of bleeding heart criminologists cranking out some sort of opinionated, slanted report on crime. This is a real study in criminology.

If we want results, look to where we are getting results and follow those things. We have had 13 years of Liberal dithering. The only thing the Liberals could come up with was to register every firearm in the country as some sort of way of getting tough on crime. It did not make any difference in this country, as we have seen.

The Liberals did not want to put resources where they were really needed, putting police on the streets where crime is happening and getting the people that endanger our communities off our streets and out of our communities, especially the chronically dangerous type of criminals.

This is what the member opposite fails to address. I think he must have spent most of his years defending criminals in the criminal courts of our land. I am here to--

Federal Accountability Act September 19th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, thanks to the leadership of the Prime Minister, the new federal accountability act has passed in the House.

Liberals in the Senate appear determined to retain the Liberal culture of entitlement. Canadians voted to end Liberal corruption and Liberal kickbacks. Canadians voted to end the funding of the Liberal Party with dirty money. Canadians voted to end the Liberal practice of passing cabinet secrets to their Liberal friends. Canadians want an end to the Liberal culture of entitlement.

Liberals in the Senate are blocking this legislation. Liberals in the Senate should be hanging their heads in shame. Canadians are saying it is time to make the Senate a democratic, accountable institution.

It is most unfortunate that a group of unelected Liberals and hacks are blocking the democratic will of Canadians.

Income Tax Act June 1st, 2006

I was going to reprimand him for that, Mr. Speaker, but I do not have to do that. That is a very good question.

The president of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League, Mr. Ryan, is a graduate of Notre Dame College and we still have a team from Père Murray's Notre Dame Hounds. It has a tremendous legacy.

That school instills a philosophy in people that there is no obstacle in life that one cannot overcome, that people do not walk away from something and become a victim. People overcome those barriers and become self-reliant, hard-working individuals, not a burden on society. The college has a tremendous legacy through sports and other programs of turning people who have had difficulties in life into real success stories.

I told Mr. Ryan that the Liberal government liked to take money from people and then hand it out in grants and make teams dependent on it. What the Liberals would like us to do is to come on bended knee to Ottawa and ask the government for some sort of grant to pay for or help support the team.

The teams do not want that. They want their independence. They want the Gordie Howe way of doing things, the Père Murray way of doing things, the old fashioned way of hard work, self-reliance, independence, and not being dependent on governments and so on. That is instilled in the players in that league. There is a tremendous legacy of players who have come through that system.

I think of two members in this House of Commons, I believe the goalie on the Liberal side went to Cornell on a hockey scholarship and our Minister of Finance went to Princeton University. However, there are tons of players from Saskatchewan who have become really successful people in this great country--

Income Tax Act June 1st, 2006

moved that Bill C-294, An Act to amend the Income Tax Act (sports and recreation programs), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Speaker, I want to point out that my colleague, the member for Saskatoon—Humboldt, will be making a friendly amendment, which I have no objection to when he speaks later on today.

I will start with a rhetorical question to get everybody's attention in the House. What if the Canada Revenue Agency decided tomorrow that the housing allowance, which members of Parliament receive while in Ottawa, would now be considered a taxable benefit and it would have to be brought into our income tax returns? We would be looking at full taxation on that. How many members in the House would applaud that move?

This is precisely what happened a number of years ago with amateur junior hockey in Saskatchewan. The tax department told tier two junior teams, struggling to keep their heads above water and keep their teams alive in their communities, that the room and board being provided to the players was a taxable benefit and that it was subject to Canada pension and income tax deductions. These are 17, 18 and 19 year old kids who generally attend school and board hundreds of miles away from these communities.

This brought a real hardship to the teams. Some of them were looking at $20,000 to $25,000 assessments on their operations and they were already in debt. They were selling lottery, raffle tickets, et cetera, to keep their teams alive and then along came the ruling by the Canada Revenue Agency.

The amendment to the Income Tax Act would have the effect of providing a small exemption to amateur athletic teams of $300 per month per player for the duration of the season. That would be exempt from the reaches of the income tax department. It would extend to all amateur sports teams in which the membership would be 21 years or under. It also would be limited to teams that were non-profit, community-based organizations trying to operate a junior team, or a midget triple A team, or a skate team, or gymnastics team or whatever it may be.

There are restrictions on the amendment to avoid abuses by people who are not legitimately amateur and who try to find loopholes to get around this. I think it is well crafted to ensure that it meets the test of helping amateur athletic development in all provinces of Canada.

I will give a bit of history on this matter. About four or five years ago, the tax department descended upon the 11 teams of the Saskatchewan junior hockey league, audited their books and came to the determination that they should have been reporting the room and board being provided to the players on the teams as a taxable benefit.

It is like a person who has a garden in the backyard and grows potatoes, carrots, peas. The tax department tells the person that is a taxable benefit, saying that normally people buy potatoes and carrots at the grocery store with after tax money and this person is getting the vegetables without having to pay for them.

The rationale was very questionable. The rationale was that this was an employer-employee relationship. This is not an employer and employee relationship. That is a questionable determination. In the fall, 70 or 80 kids will show up in these communities to compete to be on these teams. What are they trying to do? They are trying to enhance their skills as hockey players. It is like a school for hockey players.

Parents entrust their kids to those teams, to put them in good homes, to attend school and to develop their hockey skills. For a lot of parents, the end game of going to tier two hockey is to obtain an athletic scholarship to the United States.

Every year in Saskatchewan two or three players on a team receive a full four-year scholarship to major American universities to pursue their hockey careers and also to receive an education. This ruling quite seriously casts some doubt over their continued eligibility on this matter.

However, 80 players show up in the fall and they compete to get on these teams. Twenty to twenty-four players make the team. The other ones take the bus ride home. There is no payment to these players. There is no employer-employee relationship. The parents basically entrust their kids to the guardianship of these junior hockey teams. They attend high school or if they are over the age of 18, they attend a community college. They are expected to behave themselves and conduct themselves in a responsible manner in those communities.

That was the criteria for imposing this case. I know a junior team is taking on the Canada Revenue Agency and fighting it in court on such an issue. This is not the same as the softwood lumber dispute where millions of dollars are spent fighting something big for many years, hoping to get somewhere. Junior hockey teams do not have that kind of money. These teams are selling raffle tickets to pay the room and board for players. They do not have the money to spend on lawyers to go to court to fight our tax department.

This is some of the background of the bill. It is more than just the Saskatchewan tier two junior hockey league. This year the Prince Albert Mintos won the AAA midget Canadian hockey championship. It is the third time in the last fives that Saskatchewan has won the premier Canadian championship for the best midget hockey players in the country. Tisdale, a town of 3,700 people, won it in 2002. Since 1978, Saskatchewan has won the AAA midget championship something like 35% of the time. This is from a province with less than a million people.

There is definitely a culture of hockey history in Saskatchewan. We should be encouraging this part of our heritage. Saskatchewan is the home of Gordie Howe and Johnny Bower. A whole list of players have come through the Saskatchewan junior hockey league. We should encourage our young people to be involved in this type of program. Our tax department should not be there with assessments that almost have the effect, in some cases, of virtually putting these teams out of existence.

This is a major cultural event in the community. I come from Nipawin, Saskatchewan, which has a population of 5,000 people. When winter sets in, it is long. Hockey brings the community together.

If I go down to that hockey rink, professional people, business people, retired people, first nations people, people from all income perspectives in that community all come together. They are united in that community for one thing, and that is to cheer on their team and hope that it will advance through the hockey process. This happens in 11 communities throughout Saskatchewan. It has been going on for well over 60 years. It has been going on as long as Gordie Howe laced up his first set of skates in Saskatchewan.

Dave King is a product of that league. He has received the Order of Canada. He coached our Canadian team at the Olympics many times. He has coached in the NHL. I talked with Dave King and he could not believe the tax department would do something like this. He thought it was outrageous.

At that time, five NHL coaches had cut their teeth in the Saskatchewan junior hockey league. I believe four players on the team won the Olympic gold medal. They came from that league. They had developed their skills and worked their way through that league. Our policies should encourage the sport of hockey.

Too many Canadians sit at home watching TV, especially our young people. Young Canadians have a problem with obesity and diabetes and all kinds of problems. Why in the world does the government not encourage our young people to be active and to get involved in different activities, whether it is hockey, gymnastics or any other sport? The whole point of the amendment is to give these teams a bit of a break and some leeway.

There are 130 tier two junior hockey teams across the country. It is not just something for Saskatchewan. It would benefit other teams as well. Ontario has a whole pile of Junior B teams, maybe more of them than tier two teams. This would benefit them. The AAA midget teams would benefit as well. I am not an expert on other sports programs throughout the country, but if the tax department wanted to take its policy approach and extend it to gymnastic clubs, swim clubs, or junior football clubs, which have players under 21 years old, it would have a negative effect.

I want to also bring home a point with respect to the $300 amount. Some people would say that the income tax on $300 would not be a lot, but that is not the issue. The issue is the Canada pension assessment, which is very high when one is either at the beginning or the end of the income scale. It is basically 10%. The assessment for EI benefits, especially under the Liberal administration, was more a tax grab than an insurance premium. If we do the math involving a team with 25 players at $300 a player, it adds up. If we could pass the amendment, it would eliminate this hardship. I estimate that we are talking $5,000 or $6,000 a year.

A large group of volunteers selling tickets to raise funds for a community project would probably make $5,000 at the end of the day. What in the world would be the sense of selling raffle tickets so $5,000 could be paid to the Canada Revenue Agency? It does not make any sense. I have real doubts the amount collected, whether under EI or Canada pension, would ever amount to any tangible benefit to the player anyway. It is not enough to qualify for anything.

Some of my Liberal colleagues have mentioned disability benefits for players who might get injured. This is not enough to get them into any real meaningful disability benefit. Those members do not understand how our junior hockey leagues operate. They have disability insurance plans in place so if a player is injured, those plans provide them with much better benefits than they could ever get under the Canada pension plan. This shows a profound ignorance on the part of some members to even raise this issue. This argument could be used for school basketball teams or football teams as well. There are no Canada pension benefits for them.

A lot of my Liberal friends like to talk about our culture. I cannot think of anything that is more a part of our culture than hockey. We can go to just about any country and ask people, especially Europeans, what really sticks out about Canadian culture. They will tell us it is our hockey. Canada is the hockey centre of the world. It is our culture and it is very much a part of rural Canada.

This thing was an anti-rural Canada decision too. Our rural communities were the ones that were really hit by this. Larger cities like Toronto do not have a room and board issue. The kids live within close distance of the rinks. Nipawin, Saskatchewan is three hours away from Saskatoon and an hour and a half from Prince Albert. It is a long way away from other communities. Players travel long distances and are put in good homes.

I encourage everyone in the House of Commons to stand up for our culture, for our hockey and rural way of doing things. I urge them to tell people that the government is here to help them, not always to get in their way and make life difficult for them.

Income Tax Act May 17th, 2006

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-294, An Act to amend the Income Tax Act (sports and recreation programs).

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise on behalf of the constituents of Prince Albert to introduce this bill entitled “An Act to amend the Income Tax Act (sports and recreation programs)”.

With this legislation an allowance given to young amateur athletes of up to $350 per month by non-profit sports organizations for board and lodging will be exempt from taxation. The bill would allow non-profit amateur junior teams to once again operate without the fear of being taxed out of business. The bill would also protect the amateur status of athletes wishing to pursue athletic scholarships elsewhere.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Business of Supply May 11th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I do not think the member intended it, but I think he should apologize for referring to the people of Fort McMurray as being nuts, if I heard the member correctly. That is a sentiment that exists with too many members making reference to Albertans and this just reinforces the stereotype that we have to get rid of in this country.

Business of Supply May 11th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, the province of Quebec is in the fortunate position of having a generous supply of hydro power, which probably explains why Quebeckers are doing a better job. They are blessed with that asset whereas the rest of us are not so fortunate.

I would like to refer to the member's ancestral forefathers. I recently read articles that said France had met its Kyoto standards. One explanation for it reaching its standards is the fact that almost all of its electrical power comes from nuclear power. The second explanation is the fact that the price of petroleum in France is two or three times higher than it is in Canada. Therefore, it has modified behaviour as far as reliance on motor vehicles. These are probably the two driving forces in France that explain why it has met Kyoto standards.

This is a global problem, not just a Quebec problem. As far as the plan for Canada, would he be advancing dramatic increases in the price of petroleum and the use of nuclear power?

Business of Supply May 4th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, I welcome the new member to the House.

I agree with the member when he says that the housing problem with aboriginal people has deteriorated, that schooling has deteriorated, that suicide rate has deteriorated, that the crime rate has become worse, that water quality problems in our aboriginal communities have deteriorated and that the lives of aboriginal people have been deteriorating and the gap is widening. The Auditor General will confirm that.

To me he has just described a damning indictment against a government that has governed this country for 13 years. From of his own lips, he has said that the lives of aboriginal people have deteriorated and the culture of poverty that exists among aboriginal people has become worse.

Why is the member involved with an organization that has basically failed the aboriginal people over the past 13 years and led to this really dreadful situation that we are seeing today?