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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was money.

Last in Parliament September 2008, as Conservative MP for Edmonton—St. Albert (Alberta)

Won his last election, in 2006, with 60% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Budget Implementation Act, 2006 May 15th, 2006

Yes, and let me ask members if they recall when the GST was first introduced. The Liberals fought it tooth and nail. They just about tore the building down and the doors off the other place as they fought against the GST.

Now they are fighting against the reduction of the GST. It beats me. I do not understand it. We can be on one side of the fence or we can be on the other side of the fence, but to be on both sides, I guess, means they are Liberals.

Let us take a look at the other things we have done for Canadians. We have heard a lot of talk about the $100 a month, the $1,200 per child.

By the way, I am going to be splitting my time with the member for Sarnia—Lambton.

The $1,200 per year is a great boon for all Canadians with children under the age of six, and not just those in urban areas, but parents who live on the farm or in the country. Were they ever going to get a day care place from the other party? No, they were not, never. We have given them an opportunity to augment their own incomes so they can afford to have a spouse stay at home, perhaps, or to have someone else help them with the children. It is this type of benefit that Canadians want.

Then there is the $1,000 for the Canada employment credit. We want to help people in the employment area.

We have reduced personal income tax from 16% to 15.5%. I will acknowledge that members on the other side thought they would like to reduce income tax too, but they lost the election before they put it in place, so we are putting it in place.

Not only have we reduced the lowest rate of personal income tax, but we are also increasing the basic exemption before people start to pay tax, so that means another 650,000 people off the tax rolls, paying no tax at all and paying less GST. How much better could it be? That is why we think this is a great deal for Canadians.

For small business, we have done this the same way. We have increased the basic threshold before they come up into the general tax rate for businesses. They can now earn up to $400,000 at the lower income tax rate, and even that lower rate is coming down from 12% to 11.5% and then to 11% in subsequent years. It is all a great deal for Canadians.

Then, of course, for those who like to imbibe or those who produce wine--my colleague here is from a wine producing area--for small vintners we have taken the duty off Canadian wine. Also, for the small breweries, the excise tax has been removed from the beer they produce. We want to help employment in Canada. Is that not what building Canada is all about? I would think so. We want to give everyone in small business, the backbone of our economy, a great helping hand.

The corporate tax rate is now down to 20.5% and will continue going down.

There is the apprenticeship job creation tax credit of $2,000 to help young people get involved in getting an apprenticeship so they can get training and a skill to carry them through the rest of their lives. It is a small investment by us and a great investment by young people, who learn a trade and go on to earn a satisfactory income for their families. This is building Canada. This is why it is such a great deal.

The apprenticeship incentive grant of $1,000 is the same thing. We want to help employers help young people get the skills to become lifelong earners who look after their families.

In addition to that, of course, many tradespeople have to buy tools. It costs some mechanics $40,000 or $50,000 to invest in tools. We are providing $500 a year. The Liberals refused year after year to do anything about it, knowing full well that these people were incurring costs. We have done it. That is why it is a great deal for Canada.

For those in university, we have eliminated the federal tax on scholarships, bursaries and fellowships, again helping young people to get educated so they can become solid, contributing members of our society.

Is this rocket science?

Budget Implementation Act, 2006 May 15th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, I am also pleased to engage in the budget debate and listen to my hon. colleagues in the House. I listened to the member for Trinity—Spadina earlier this morning, who talked about the fact that Canadians need a better deal.

After 13 years of Liberal government, of course we on this side of the House have to agree with her. Canadians absolutely need a better deal because we have been taxed to death and every time the Liberals see a tax dollar they try to find a way to spend it. I am glad to see that the NDP is also on our side, where Canadians need a better deal.

Let us just look at some of the ideas that we have for Canadians in this budget, which is a great budget. It has been extremely well received by Canadians because they are going to pay less tax. They are going to pay $20 billion less in taxes over the next couple of years.

The GST will go down by 1%. Who would object to a reduction of 1%?

Budget Implementation Act, 2006 May 15th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, I listened to my hon. colleague across the floor trying to explain this concept. I think his phrase was “legislation not passed but in force” regarding a proposal by the Liberals last November that could perhaps be an income tax cut, which is one of those deathbed conversions. I think it was the fourth budget last year that brought in some proposals regarding tax relief.

However, the point is, as we all know, that legislation passes this House, it goes down the hall and passes in the Senate, receives royal assent, and then, after being published in the Canada Gazette, it comes into force, so that Canadians understand the law of the land. It is this Liberal arrogance that we still hear coming from the other side of the House, where those members say they just have to make an announcement and they think it is the law of the land.

Would the member please tell us how he thinks that the Liberals can make these kinds of pronouncements and call them legislative tax cuts when they have not even been debated in this place or in the other place or given royal assent?

Federal Accountability Act April 25th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, of course I would like to answer the questions. We always want to do that and be held accountable for what we say.

I know the member has introduced legislation regarding anyone crossing the floor. It states that they cannot cross, they actually have to stop halfway, resign, and see if they can win a byelection before they travel the rest of the way.

I believe in free speech and I have contemplated this bill many times. While I understand the member's motivation, there are two things that are important here: first, is the freedom of free speech in the House, free of party discipline. We are given the opportunity to speak out in this place.

If we feel strongly about any particular issue and if we want to go against our party, then that should be our privilege without any fear of any kind whatsoever of losing our job. It is like tenure at a university. When people come up with radical new ideas and we laugh them out on the street as we have done before in the past, at least their job is protected. That is what tenure is about in university and we need tenure in the House as well to guarantee the right of free speech because if we do not have it here, it will not be anywhere else in this country. So we must defend it here.

Federal Accountability Act April 25th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, the questions the member has posed are complex. I also would like to acknowledge the great work that he did on public accounts when I was the chair.

This is the institution of oversight. We are the ones who approve legislation or otherwise. We are the ones who approve the budget and the estimates or otherwise. We are the ones to whom government reports. If we do not like the way the government does things, we should change it.

When I think back over the 13 years of Liberal government, I did not see any effort by it to improve accountability. I did not see any situation where the Liberals did not use the Senate to their advantage. They continued to appoint members to the Senate even though we were calling for elections to the Senate. Now we have to wait until we get that legislation forward in due course.

The point is, if we do not like what is going on in government, we are the ones who can change it. Therefore, I would expect the member opposite to propose changes along the lines that he would like and they would be considered by this institution and if deemed favourable, would be adopted.

Federal Accountability Act April 25th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, I congratulate you on your re-election to the chair.

I would again like to thank the citizens of St. Albert for having re-elected me for the fifth time, and I appreciate very much their support.

I am pleased to support the government's new FAA, the federal accountability act, which has been introduced. As has been said many times, this is great legislation that will set back the concept of people helping themselves to the government's cash with impunity, hopefully by many years. The notion that governments have to be accountable to Parliament, that Parliament and the government have to be accountable to the people and that they have an obligation to act with honesty and integrity should be taken for granted. Unfortunately, we have had to entrench it in law to ensure that everybody who is in government, or who may come into government or who has been in government gets the message that we have to act with honesty and integrity.

We also have to think about why this bill has been required. We all know what happened with the sponsorship program under the previous government. The Auditor General reported in February of 2004, with a tremendous jolt to the nation, that there was large-scale corruption in our government, that $100 million had been lost and that every rule in the book had been broken. We found out during the investigation that it had been ongoing for years and that the people responsible for ensuring the rules were adhered to were turning a blind eye.

It had tentacles leading right into the Prime Minister's office. Many of the questions were never answered as to exactly what was the culpability of senior ministers and the prime minister, under whose personal directive this program was being managed. His chief of staff, who as we all know appeared as a witness before the public accounts committee and the Gomery inquiry, admitted that he had hands-on administration of this program too. The former minister of public works, Mr. Alfonso Gagliano, had hands-on management of this program, as did his chief of staff, Jean-Marc Bard, and it went on and on. People who should have been, by the rules, barred from being involved in the daily administration of the program were actively involved. I do not know if we ever will know the real story of the particular involvement by these senior public officials, but the result of it has been the new accountability act to ensure that it does not happen again.

It is pointed out in the Gomery report that government reports to Parliament. The public accounts committee, which I chaired at the time, was conducting a full-blown investigation into the sponsorship program, from February until May of 2004, at which time it was cut short by the prime minister of the day who dissolved Parliament and called an election. This is why we told Canadians that we believed in a parliamentary cycle of four years, to ensure that prime ministers of the day could not pull the plug and dissolve Parliament to avoid their embarrassment.

When a public accounts committee, or any other committee for that matter, or Parliament itself is involved in holding the government accountable, it is very archaic for the government of the day to say, “Everyone go home and leave us alone”. That belongs in the middle ages, in the evolution of Parliament back in the 1400s, 1500s and 1600s in the U.K., where the king could dissolve Parliament at will every time they asked an embarrassing question. Surely it does not belong in our hopefully mature democracy in Canada.

That investigation, which was truncated, was followed by the Gomery inquiry. We had a four-volume report from Mr. Justice Gomery, which talked, among many things, about the role of Parliament.

I am looking at the volume “Restoring Accountability” and his recommendations. He talks a great deal about parliamentary oversight in a democracy and our responsibility as members of Parliament to hold government accountable. It is unfortunate that, while he waxed eloquent on many areas of Parliament, his recommendations contained nothing about Parliament, as an institution, being required to be stronger in order that Parliament can oversee government, get the facts and figures and demand answers to ensure that honesty and integrity is the order of the day.

I look at Mr. Justice Gomery's recommendations and the majority of them seem to be that the government should do something.

For example, recommendation 2 on page 199 says, “The Government should adopt legislation to entrench into law a Public Service Charter.”

Recommendation 4 says, “--the Government should modify its policies and publications to explicitly acknowledge and declare that Deputy Ministers and senior public servants who have statutory responsibility...”.

Recommendation 5 says, “The Government should establish a formal process by which a Minister is able to overrule a Deputy Minister...” and so on.

Much of that has been included in the federal accountability act, but I would have thought that Mr. Justice Gomery, after waxing eloquent on the role of Parliament in a democracy, would have had some greater recommendations to strengthen this institution to ensure that we as parliamentarians fulfill our responsibilities.

I want to talk a bit about other countries and the problems they have with parliamentary oversight. There is now an organization, which I chair, called GOPAC, the Global Organization of Parliamentarians Against Corruption. It is aptly named because while we have had and may still have corruption in our country, it pales in comparison to what happens elsewhere. I believe many of the undeveloped countries are undeveloped because of grand corruption by governments. They are not held accountable by the institution of parliament.

The whole philosophy of GOPAC is an organization of parliamentarians committed to improving the institution of parliament, to strengthen parliament, to ensure that it does really act as institution of oversight for governments rather than being a lapdog of government, in the pocket of government, to ensure that government gets what it wants, and no doubt parliamentarians get well paid along the way. If we could stop corruption in Africa, in Asia and in Latin America, for example, we would find that their prosperity would rise.

We spend $60 billion a year collectively from the developed world into the undeveloped world in foreign aid and yet we do not seem to see much improvement, mostly because of corruption.

The president of the World Bank, Mr. Paul Wolfowitz, has now talked about how corruption is a major agenda of his presidency and how he would like to and is tackling corruption through the World Bank.

GOPAC wants to work with parliamentarians to ensure that parliamentarians who are speaking out against corruption, not just in Canada but elsewhere around the world, can do so knowing that they have a greater opportunity to do so without recrimination. There are some parliamentarians around the world whose lives are on the line, or who have disappeared or who have been found murdered because they spoke out against corruption. Parliamentarians need to know that they have support from their colleagues around the world. We want to provide that support.

We also want to provide education to parliamentarians. When we are elected to this job, nobody tells us how to do our job. Therefore, we need to understand the institution to which we have been elected. We need to know the rules and we need to know that our job is oversight of government, not to be cheerleaders of government, not to oppose it at every turn but, as an institution, to hold government accountable.

The third issue deals with what we call leadership for results. Far too many parliamentary organizations travel, but they really do not accomplish very much. We would like to see GOPAC be an organization that actually achieves things. Our Latin American chapter is working with the Organization of American States to implement the Inter-American Convention Against Corruption. There is the African Convention Against Corruption and the UN Convention Against Corruption. We would like to see these adopted.

The accountability bill being proposed today would ensure that we hopefully would never fall into the pit of corruption that has destroyed the prosperity and the economies of so many countries around the world and that we continue to be a beacon of prosperity and governance around the world.

Interparliamentary Delegations April 25th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 34(1), I have the honour to present to the House, in both official languages, the report of the Canada-Africa Parliamentary Association respecting its participation at the parliamentary seminar on Africa, Partnership Beyond 2005: The Role of Parliamentarians in Implementing the NEPAD Commitments, in London, U.K., October 19 to October 22, 2005.

Petitions April 24th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, I have a petition signed by a number of people in my constituency. The petitioners ask my colleagues in Parliament to protect children from adult sexual predators by raising the age of consent from 14 to 18 years of age. While we may not go all the way to 18, we are going to hear their petition.

Volunteerism April 24th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, in my first words in this House since the election, I would like to thank my constituents of Edmonton—St. Albert for the trust and confidence which they have placed in me, by electing me as their member of Parliament on January 23.

Our country is a great country. It is great because of the people who serve this country. I think of our military personnel, many of whom reside in my constituency, which is adjacent to the Edmonton Garrison. They are defending our freedom in dangerous places, and we are proud of their dedication, commitment and sacrifice.

Our great country is also being built by volunteers. I express gratitude to them during this National Volunteer Week. Millions of unsung heroes give of themselves to help others in need, here at home and around the world. Our volunteers are an inspiration to us all.

We are proud of our military, proud of our volunteers, and proud of this great country. Under this new Conservative government, we can only go from strength to strength.

Bank Act November 23rd, 2005

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. In my point of order I referred to an order in council. I have it here and would like to table it in both official languages.