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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was certainly.

Last in Parliament November 2005, as Conservative MP for Westlock—St. Paul (Alberta)

Won his last election, in 2004, with 67% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Supply October 21st, 2004

Mr. Speaker, that is an excellent question. It is certainly one of the topics that I most often hear about. Not only do I hear it from people who are deployed internationally over and over again at great cost to them personally and to their families who do not qualify for that. However, there are other cases of high ranking officers who fly into these hot spots for a matter of days or hours and claim the tax exemption. The whole thing is a nightmare and there are endless concerns about it. It needs to be addressed because it is a huge issue.

Supply October 21st, 2004

Mr. Speaker, the member makes a good point, because our military people are the best trained people in the world. My son went with a crew from his squadron years ago to an international airlift rodeo in North Carolina, and our crew was one of the best in the world in spite of the fact that they went there with a 20 year old aircraft when countries like Israel and the United States flew in with brand new aircraft. Our people represented us proudly. They did great.

When the government finally does get around to providing them with new, state of the art equipment, instead of giving these highly trained service people the responsibility of maintaining and being proud of the aircraft, for political reasons the government hires civilian contractors to do the maintenance on this equipment.

Members have no idea how demoralizing that is to someone who has made a career of learning how to maintain this equipment and becoming the best in the world at maintaining it for Canada and for the Canadian armed forces. Clearly this government does not even think about that. Its first consideration is political, it is spinning, it is providing smoke and mirrors to cover up what it is doing. The government is making promises that it has no intention of fulfilling and I think that is tragic for those people.

Supply October 21st, 2004

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to join in this debate on our supply day motion from a couple of different perspectives.

Certainly from the perspective of a member of Parliament, in my riding I represent the only two armed forces bases in Alberta. There is the Cold Lake air base, which is world renowned for its Maple Flag operation, which brings countries from around the world to the best facility in the world for training and practising among air forces in the work they do flying and training for combat capability. I also represent the Edmonton garrison, of course, which is one of the Canadian super bases and certainly a base that continues to deploy soldiers around the world.

I speak from both of those perspectives because in just the few short months that I have been the member of Parliament for Westlock--St. Paul, which is now Battle River, the file in my office from Canadian Forces personnel is by far and away the largest file, with both current and retired members of the forces contacting my office.

I am sure that my colleague who just spoke and who represented the Cold Lake area before I did probably had the same experience. Certainly the amount of mail we get and the problems we recognize I think indicate just how serious the morale situation is in our Canadian armed forces and how abandoned by the government the members of our forces feel. I want to talk a little about that.

I also want to talk from a personal perspective, because my family has a long tradition of service in the Canadian armed forces, both in wartime and in the days of the Pearson peacekeeping tradition. Today my son has served for 18 years in the military. It makes me very proud as a father to support what he is doing for his country.

However, particularly in my speech I want to focus more on the enlisted ranks because I think that group has truly been let down and betrayed by the Liberal Government of Canada, going way back to the years of Pierre Trudeau and the amalgamation of the three wings of the forces and what that did to morale. It has been a constant downhill slide ever since then.

I have to say right up front how disappointed I am with the parliamentary secretary and his words and his statements, because I served in the same caucus as the parliamentary secretary for 10 years and I always knew him as a man of great principle and integrity. In his years in our caucus, he was a person who did not buckle down, who stood up and took controversial positions on things like health care because he believed in them. I believed that he was serious, that he believed what he was saying was right, yet his party sends him in here on this supply day to stand in response to almost every speaker and defend the government's position,knowing full well that the record is here, the record of his comments over the last 10 years on how Canada has treated its military.

My sympathy goes out to the member because it must be very difficult to have sold your principles to that degree: to be a member of the Liberal Party. Of course what he is doing today has to be the supreme test to see if he belongs in the Liberal Party or not. My condolences to him. It seems he does.

As I have said, I think it certainly is the non-commissioned ranks that are being shafted in the way the government is treating its armed forces. This is for a couple of reasons. Certainly the mail that I get does not come from the officer corps. Occasionally I do have a few letters from officers who, after retirement, seem to have been released from the bonds of this esprit de corps and are able to speak out. I think the officer corps has an advantage in a couple of ways.

First, the top levels of our armed forces are so overloaded that they do not face the strain our non-commissioned ranks do in doing the day to day work. We have such a surplus of officers that they do not face the redeployment pressure that I think the non-commissioned ranks do. Second, I think the officer corps has let down the non-commissioned ranks in their responsibility to stand up, speak out and defend the foot soldiers, the airmen and the seamen when they are facing the kinds of problems that they do.

I focus more on that direction because it is the families of the enlisted ranks who are being destroyed by this lack of personnel and the requirement to redeploy over and over again. It is the families of those ranks who really face that challenge and it is a huge one. If we were allowed to see the statistics of family breakdown, suicide and alcoholism in those enlisted ranks compared to the general population, I think we would be absolutely shocked and appalled at what we are doing to our armed forces personnel, who continue to be, in spite of all these things, so proud to wear Canada's uniform and stand up and represent Canada all over the world.

Second, it is the non-commissioned ranks that face the funding shortages. As an example, I will refer back to the group of servicemen who were on course in British Columbia and were awarded some $70 a day in an expense allowance. They were paid, but when they came back after the course the payment was clawed back. It was clawed back to the point where at least one of those servicemen had to mortgage his home in order to pay that back. I do not think the officer corps faces those kinds of challenges. That is why I focus on the ranks. I just think this is unforgiveable.

The parliamentary secretary actually stood up and defended and talked about the Canadians in Iraq and Afghanistan. I think it was in Afghanistan that they were recognized, where the snipers were honoured for their ability and the work they did in Afghanistan. The parliamentary secretary actually stood up and said he was so proud of them, but the government that he is speaking for today refused to allow the U.S. government to honour those guys with a service medal. Maybe he is proud of them, but his government did not seem to be proud of them. I do not understand why.

According to the Americans, they were doing an exemplary job, the best there was. Then when the Americans wanted to recognize these people on the international stage, for some reason the Canadian government did not want our soldiers to be recognized for that kind of work. It is far better to be recognized with peacekeeping medals, I suppose, but that is not what being a soldier is all about. That was really a shame.

Certainly it is again the non-commissioned ranks that face the challenges to keep obsolete equipment operational. It is the ranks that have aircraft and ships and army equipment that has to go to work. They have half the fleet cannibalized for parts for the other half in order to keep it operational. How discouraging is that? They do not have the tools. They do not have the parts. That really is demoralizing.

Here, of course, the Liberals, like they do in every department I have seen in the last 10 years, always talk the talk but never walk the walk. There is all this talk about spending money and giving money. Let us look at the shipborne helicopters if we want to see how they walk the walk. It is 11 years later and we still have not ordered the helicopters.

Income Tax Act October 15th, 2004

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-214, an act to amend the Income Tax Act and the Income Tax Regulations (public safety occupations).

Mr. Speaker, in the budget plan of 2003, the finance minister increased the maximum pension accrual rate for firefighters from 2% to 2.33%. Historically, police officers, corrections officers, air traffic controllers and commercial airline pilots have been provided the same consideration under the income tax regulations as firefighters.

This private member's bill seeks to provide equal benefit for all individuals who work in public safety occupations. It would allow police officers, corrections officers, air traffic controllers and commercial airline pilots to receive the same pension benefits as firefighters.

Individuals who work in these important public safety professions endure long hours and stressful working conditions to give us the freedom to live our lives with minimal concern. It is because of this important contribution made by these workers that I believe they should be treated equally under the law.

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

Marriage Act October 15th, 2004

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-213, an act to protect the institution of marriage.

Mr. Speaker, this particular bill is an essential step in upholding the promise that Parliament made in 1999 to protect marriage, and that the Liberals campaigned on in the 2000 election.

It provides an opportunity to revisit the tie vote that occurred in the House during the 37th Parliament as the bill does not contain the notwithstanding clause.

The law that was recently struck down in the Ontario Court of Appeal was a common law definition. It was the deliberate inaction on the part of the Liberals that allowed us to arrive at the chaotic situation in which we now find ourselves, with traditional marriage being the law of the land in most provinces but not all provinces.

Had the Liberal government appealed the Ontario decision to the Supreme Court there is every reason to believe, based on past decisions, that the Supreme Court would have found this definition constitutional.

Finally, and more importantly, the bill also notes that the provinces have the jurisdiction to provide an appropriate legal recognition to relationships outside marriage.

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

Nuclear Amendment Act, 2004 October 15th, 2004

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-212, an act to amend the Nuclear Energy Act and the Nuclear Safety and Control Act.

Mr. Speaker, this is a re-introduction of a bill that I introduced in previous Parliaments. It is simply to split the responsibility for Atomic Energy Canada Ltd. and the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission into two ministries instead of one.

In my opinion, and that of many others, there is clearly a conflict of interest that one minister is both the marketer and the public safety supervisor of the nuclear industry.

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

Great White North Pumpkin Fair October 15th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, earlier this month I attended the 16th annual Great White North Pumpkin Fair in the small community of Smoky Lake in my riding.

In early October of each year, contestants and observers come from all over western Canada and the northern United States to this festival, swelling the population of Smoky Lake to near 40,000, requiring almost every permanent resident of the town to volunteer to help make the weekend a success.

The residents of Smoky Lake have worked tirelessly to make this weekend a real success with steam thrashing demonstrations, a farmers market, displays, and of course, giant pumpkins. The winning pumpkin weighed in at a staggering 817 pounds and gained 20 pounds per day at the peak of the growing season.

Sincere congratulations to the community of Smoky Lake.

Department of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Act October 15th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, I want to inform the Chair that I am splitting my time. I forgot to mention that yesterday.

When I started my presentation yesterday I wanted to acknowledge that the parliamentary secretary made a fine speech in introducing this new department and in explaining what it will do and its purpose. Of course words are always easy and he said all the right things, but in my experience with the government over the last 11 years, actions certainly speak louder than words. Its actions have not indicated that it is willing to do anything serious or take any decisive action about the terrorist threat in Canada.

My first concern with the bill and the creation of the department is the fact that I do not believe the government intends to take the threat seriously or to take action. My other concern is that the department lacks an adequate oversight mechanism to evaluate whether we have the kind of protection that we should have in Canada before we have a terrorist incident and before Canadians lose their lives.

I quoted some examples yesterday of evidence to back up my accusation.This morning in the National Post the Prime Minister's own national security advisor, Robert Wright, said that it would be absurd for Canadians to think that they would not be the target of a terrorist attack. I think that is one more piece of evidence that says that we should take this threat every bit as serious as the United States and that we should be doing things to protect Canadians from the terrorist threat.

The member from the Bloc and even the NDP to some degree focused a great deal of time on the issue of emergency preparedness in the face of natural disasters. As the Quebec spokesman suggested, Quebec has long done a good job of preparing for a natural disaster. I would suggest most provinces in Canada, if not all provinces, have done that. The primary responsibility for natural disasters is the provincial government with backup from the federal government, but that was not what motivated the government to bring this department forward. It was the terrorist threat on 9/11 that motivated the government to create this bill.

I do not think it makes much sense to focus on the issue of government response to a natural disaster. Our concern is that we protect Canadians in the face of the terrorist threat and I do not believe the government is willing to do what it needs to do. Even though it has been given the responsibility and the ability under this bill, I do not believe it will take the actions needed to protect Canadians.

Department of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Act October 14th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, since this is my first opportunity to stand in the House in the new 38th Parliament, I would like to take the opportunity, as so many others have, to thank my constituents for sending me back here. As a matter of fact, I would like to thank the constituents in my new riding, now Battle River but soon to be Westlock--St. Paul again, for having confidence in me. Of course I thank the constituents of Athabasca for the many years I represented their riding and for their support for me. It is quite humbling to be shown that kind of confidence and to be sent back for a fourth time.

I am also pleased to be able to join this debate on Bill C-6. I have certainly been listening to the debate on the bill as it has gone on this afternoon. It was interesting to hear the exchange we just heard a few moments ago about the oversight agencies, because that really is one of my greatest concerns about the bill as well.

Certainly my party recognizes the need for this agency and supports the creation of this agency and will support the bill. But that does not really mean that we believe it is the answer to all the problems or, for that matter, that we have any confidence in this Liberal government to implement the bill and act on it.

Considering the amount of time this agency has existed and the fact that the minister has been responsible for it for 10 months, we have seen relatively little action on this file. We had the photo op today with the secretary of homeland security and all of those nice things that the parliamentary secretary talked about, but the fact is that trucks are still sitting for four hours at the border and delays are extraordinary. It has been three years since 9/11 created both this new world we live in and the need for this security agency. I think one would have to be pretty forgiving to think that now the Liberal government is ready to act on these issues, to implement this act and to move forward with some urgency on this issue, because it never has been before.

I recognize that the minister says she has been very busy in the last 10 months consulting, communicating and gathering information and she cannot talk about these things because they are a matter of public security. There is probably some fact to that. But I think that because of that very fact this agency in good measure will operate in secrecy, which I recognize the need for, there needs to be some real oversight of this department and some real evaluation of the effectiveness of this department and how it is working.

Certainly one of the first mandates this department has is to streamline communications between the different security agencies. That is a laudable goal, because if there has been one obvious failure in North American security since 9/11 or leading up to 9/11, it has been identified as the lack of communication between the various security agencies. Had we had that communication and cooperation between those agencies, in fact, we might have avoided 9/11 and some of the other terrorist incidents that have happened. That has been the breakdown.

The parliamentary secretary referred to the number of agencies that would provide oversight to the various security agencies. Among them, I think he mentioned the RCMP public complaints commission. If the member has ever directed a constituent to the RCMP public complaints commission with an issue, he has to know how ineffective that organization is. It simply turns around and sends the complaint back to the RCMP detachment where it came from for an internal investigation. That hardly gives me confidence that somebody independent is looking at the issue and going to review, evaluate and rule on it. I very much suspect the other oversight agencies are not much stronger than that.

On this particular bill we need a far stronger oversight just in view of the criticisms we have heard, not only from our own Auditor General but from agencies in the United States since 9/11. Canada has had criticisms pointed at it for its apparent willingness to harbour terrorists, for dragging its feet on outlawing terrorist organizations and in dealing with those organizations.

When the current Prime Minister was finance minister he even attended a fundraising dinner for a terrorist organization, and to this day probably still denies that, but I think it is generally accepted that the organization was the Tamil tigers.

Department of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Act October 14th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, I listened carefully to the member's speech and I was quite shocked and surprised at her reaction to our government and other governments creating a list of people that they deem to be a national or international security threat and preventing them from flying. On 9/11 there were four large airplanes full of innocent people who would have been saved if there had been such a security list of people who were a terrorist threat.

Quite frankly, it makes me feel a lot safer flying every week as I do to know that our security organizations are investigating and creating this list of people who pose a public threat and denying them the right to fly on an airplane with me and my family and others. I cannot understand why having that added security would not make the member feel better about flying and safer when she flies.