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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 April 27th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, on behalf of my colleague from Elk Island, responding through you to the member, I do not think it is possible that an election campaign could get longer or more expensive to Canadians than this one. The Prime Minister has been on a tax paid campaign for months. I do not think that is a valid argument or a credible argument.

Supply April 27th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, I well remember the 1993 campaign. We are facing that same kind of uncertainty with this election, whether it will turn out to be as long as the uncertainty was then.

In the 1993 campaign, as in this campaign, I remember the uncertainty and the requirement for people to make that kind of commitment to stand and put their name forward as candidates. In more than one case it actually prevented good individuals, strong and well-intended individuals who wanted to run to represent their constituencies, from doing that. The uncertainty made it impossible for them to do that because of job obligations.

If that happens in our party, I am sure it also happens in the Liberal Party, and that is to Canada's loss. That is not a positive thing. We in Canada have a big job to do in rebuilding the credibility of the political process and getting Canadians to participate in it in a major kind of way. This kind of gerrymandering of the system will do nothing to enhance the credibility in the eyes of Canadians.

Supply April 27th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, I am glad to join in this very timely debate that is going on, and a very interesting debate it is.

Certainly I very much support the concept of fixed election dates. It was a fundamental plank of the platform of the Reform Party, which I helped found so many years ago, and it remains a position of this Conservative Party today, I am glad to say.

It has become increasingly obvious over the last number of months that there is a real, genuine need in this country for governments and government members to do what is in the national interest rather than their own interest or that of a political party. Certainly that has become more and more obvious with this whole ad scam.

It has become particularly obvious as we see this endless dithering of the current Prime Minister on when he is going to the polls. It certainly in every way makes the argument for us and for our supply day motion today that we must provide fixed election dates in Canada. I really cannot understand this bugaboo about destroying the British parliamentary tradition and all the rest of it. If we want to talk about credibility, I do not think that has any credibility.

Certainly in Canada, as we have heard a number of times, British Columbia has gone to fixed election dates and the Queen has not taken any action against the Government of British Columbia in terms of abandoning the sovereignty of the Crown. I do not think that is an argument. As a matter of fact, the Government of Ontario, the Liberal government, on April 7, 2004, passed first reading of Bill C-51, a bill proposing fixed election dates in Ontario. So the Ontario Liberals do not think it is a bad idea and the British Columbia Liberals do not think it is a bad idea. Certainly in response to the question from my colleague from across the floor, if Ralph Klein were in the habit of asking any of us for advice, we would give him the advice to implement fixed election dates in Alberta. It only makes sense.

From a personal perspective, I have been in this place for 10 years now, having successfully campaigned in and won three elections during that time. Each one of those three elections gave the Liberal government a five year mandate to govern this country. In other words, it had a mandate to govern for 15 years and we have only been here for 10. Given the cost of each election, that is a complete election cycle that could have been added onto its mandate. In my view, perhaps it should have been, because in the last three elections there has been no pressing need to go to an early election, yet the Prime Minister chose to do that three times simply because the polls favoured his government. There was really no other reason in the world.

The suggestion that our idea is less democratic than the present system does not make any sense either, simply because it takes power away from the Prime Minister and disallows the Prime Minister from playing the games that are now being played in Canada. Quite frankly, it empowers the people of Canada and brings in more democracy, not less. Certainly before this Prime Minister became the prime minister, he talked about distributing some of that power from the PMO. He talked about how that would bring in more democracy and create perhaps more interest in the democratic process in this country, so that maybe more than 40% of the people in this country would participate in the process.

Of all of the democratic reforms that the current Prime Minister has talked about for so long, this particular one would seem to me to be the easiest and quickest and would have the most impact of any of the proposed democratic reforms. However, this one, like so many of the other democratic reforms about restructuring the House of Commons and committees and empowering backbench MPs and all of those things, seems to be very quickly falling by the wayside and is becoming less of a priority than it was leading into the Liberal leadership.

This is a shame, because I think that this particular motion and this particular action we are urging the government to adopt would do more to enhance the credibility of the Prime Minister on the democratic deficit than any of the other things that he could do and certainly should do.

A fixed date general election is also the best thing for the country in terms of the cost of this system and the uncertainty involved in an election. Just last weekend, I called my local Elections Canada returning officer to get the number for the Elections Canada office in my riding should we need to contact the office for information during the election. He informed me that he does not have a telephone number yet and has not booked an office space yet, simply because he does not know when the election is going to be.

So there we are, with the entire machinery of Elections Canada in the riding on hold, waiting for the Prime Minister to make up his mind. There has to be a cost there, and there is certainly an uncertainty there, not to mention, as some of my colleagues said, those of us who are running in the election and who have to rent space, sign contracts and make arrangements for the campaign. We are unable to do so simply because only the Prime Minister knows and he is not sharing that with all of us.

Certainly the media themselves are becoming very impatient with the Prime Minister on the issue of when the election will be. That is not like the media in relation to this Liberal government. In my view, the media have been very patient on all kinds of issues, but even they are becoming less patient, simply because they as well have a huge stake in this. They have to assign individuals to the various campaigns. They have to make arrangements to replace those people in their current positions and they have to provide for the costs of these media people who are following the campaign. As well, of course, the national networks have an obligation to provide free election time to the parties involved. They have a scheduling issue in regard to being able to do that and they as well have no idea of when the election might be.

Overwhelming numbers of arguments can be made in support of fixed election dates. I have not heard a valid one, at least in this morning's debate and to this point, against fixed election dates. The idea that we would need a constitutional amendment is rubbish. The idea that it would somehow destroy years and years of British parliamentary tradition in Canada is also rubbish. Other Commonwealth countries have adopted this system and that has not been the case. They continue to respect and hold the British monarch as their monarch, much as we do. They continue to have a parliamentary system in the British tradition, just as we do.

In my opinion and from every perspective, having fixed election dates is a good idea. If the government would listen to its experts at Elections Canada, I think it would hear that they themselves would favour such a system.

The only argument to be made against it is that it takes power from the Prime Minister and that is not acceptable to the government. I do not think that is a valid reason.

Energy Sector April 27th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, the energy sector is one of the most important industries in the Canadian economy. It accounts for 45% of our trade balance and is the single largest private investor in Canada. In public policy discourse, though, its significance remains under-appreciated. There is neither a parliamentary committee nor minister solely devoted to energy, nor is there much public debate about the federal government's role in this industry.

The federal government has the responsibility to provide energy security and reliability across Canada. Research and development money should go toward developing cost-competitive technologies in new non-renewable resources in the medium to long term.

Our energy policy should seek to encourage a diversity of energy supply choices and focus on a long term view that builds a sustainable energy framework for Canada.

The federal government must also help facilitate future investments. The federal government must institute an environmental assessment program that balances environmental and industry concerns.

Income Tax Act April 2nd, 2004

Mr. Speaker, I welcome the opportunity to support my colleague from Prince George--Peace River on his private member's bill. I think it is a worthwhile cause.

As my colleague from Lethbridge suggested, it is perhaps not often that our party advocates this kind of piecemeal tax relief, but on the other hand, this particular bill fits very well with our longstanding commitment of supporting families and doing what we can to help families.

Certainly, we support adoption and helping parents who, because of rising infertility rates or whatever the reasons might be, are not able to have a family of their own, and choose to adopt. There is all kind of evidence and studies to show that a child growing up in a strong, loving environment produces the best results, not only for the child, but for society in general.

I am a parent and know well the joy and pride that we take as parents in raising children, watching them succeed, and turning out well and being contributing members of society. It is appropriate that we, as a government, support as many children as possible, be it children in Canada or children from around the world, by taking them out of sometimes very difficult and unproductive circumstances and putting them into loving families. Anything we can do to help that happen must be positive.

It is just sheer coincidence that there happens to be a lengthy article today in the Ottawa Citizen dealing with this issue. The Ontario Liberal government is moving to increase the number of Ontario orphaned and abandoned children being adopted. Its goal is to increase crown ward adoptions by 15%.

Quite frankly, the federal Liberal government could do much to help that initiative of the Ontario government by passing this bill and providing this help. The vast majority of couples looking to adopt children are younger couples, in their twenties, thirties and forties, who want to have a family and at the same time are establishing their careers. They are probably buying homes and generally getting established. Therefore, the outrageous costs of some $10,000 to $15,000 for a domestic adoption and $20,000 to $30,000 for an international adoption is pretty daunting to those kinds of families. We could certainly do a lot to help them.

It is unfortunate, and I do not think there is any way to avoid it, but the process of adopting, both the process of putting a child up for adoption and the process of adopting a child, are legal processes. I do not think there is any way to avoid that. However, it seems whenever something in today's world becomes a legal process, it also becomes a very expensive process and those costs are pretty prohibitive.

I think it is a great way to go. It is not only the best outcome for society and the child, but it is a cost saver as well. The article in the Ottawa Citizen today quoted the cost of keeping a child as a ward of the state at $40,000 a year. There is a lot to be gained if those children can be put up for adoption more quickly and the process speeded up. The costs to those parents would be somewhat reduced through this tax benefit of up to $7,000, based on a percentage of the costs incurred.

The state could save money as well. There is also an issue of fairness because the process of having children and raising one's own children is subsidized by the state. It has been for as long as I can remember. As regrettable as it might be, with 30,000 pregnancies a year, babies that are terminated before birth are also a subsidized process by the state. Surely, with the tremendous benefit that is derived by everybody involved from the adoption process, we can justify the subsidization of the adoption process.

I have had occasion, several times in my 10 years as a member of Parliament, to help parents adopt, both domestically and internationally, with all the red tape and all the roadblocks that are put up. It is a daunting process to enter into as some of my colleagues described. It takes a lot of courage to start that and it takes years and years to go through the process.

We could do a lot of other things to help those parents, to help them through the process and to speed the process up. This is perhaps one part of it, but at least it is something we can do to help others enjoy the experience that we as parents have in raising children and having that pride.

I support the bill enthusiastically and hope the government would look at it from a compassionate point of view and support it as well.

Government Contracts April 2nd, 2004

Mr. Speaker, again the parliamentary secretary says that the contract has been retendered, but nothing has changed in the retendering process to protect it from the kind of abuses we heard about last time.

Why would Canadians believe that the process would be any fairer this time than it was the last time if nothing has changed?

Government Contracts April 2nd, 2004

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the parliamentary secretary brushed off the member for Lakeland's question regarding the $1 billion contract to Royal LePage. When the finance minister was minister of government supply and services, he cancelled the contract because even he could not stand the stench of corruption and bribery surrounding it.

There were alleged internal and RCMP investigations but we have never heard any results or recommendations. Does the government intend to table the results of these investigations or will this be yet another Liberal cover-up?

Athabasca Constituency March 30th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to say farewell to the riding of Athabasca, a riding I have represented since being first elected to Parliament in 1993.

I have always tried to represent the constituents of the riding with perseverance and conviction, and certainly enjoyed the time I spent there.

I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate Brian Jean who recently won the nomination for the Conservative Party of Canada and will hopefully soon be a colleague in the House of Commons. I know Mr. Jean will do a good job representing the people of Athabasca when he is elected.

Due to redistribution, my residence no longer lies in Athabasca but rather in the new riding of Westlock--St. Paul.

Concerning media reports about my future in the House, I would quote Mark Twain, “reports of my death are greatly exaggerated”. I would like to clarify that I do in fact hope to be around for some time to come.

It has also come to my attention that I am not running in the upcoming election. Might I just say that I fully intend to run and represent the new riding of Westlock--St. Paul.

Income Tax Act March 30th, 2004

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-508, an act to amend the Income Tax Act and the Income Tax Regulations (public safety occupations).

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to introduce my private member's bill, seconded by the member for Elk Island, which is an act to amend the Income Tax Act and the income tax regulations in regard to public safety occupations.

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. My 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)

The Budget March 29th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to be back in the House today to participate in this budget debate, having been away for a while contesting a nomination back in Alberta. Of course that process gave me a great opportunity to connect with hundreds of people in my riding and get a sense of how they are feeling these days about the government and its budget. It is a real opportunity to be able to bring those thoughts back to the House.

Of course there is a huge amount of distrust out there among the public concerning the government and this budget, particularly when we look at the budget and see that really there is nothing new to speak of in it. With a few exceptions, it is simply recycled promises from the last 10 budgets of the government. We could not believe in the government following through on those promises in the last 10 years, so I do not know why anyone would believe that it will be any different this time.

The Liberal government claims that it is new and changed, but besides the facelift that the front bench has been given, the Liberals have not created any new initiatives. The budget just gives more proof to Canadians that the government is stagnating and has nothing new to offer.

For instance, we see no return of tax dollars to overtaxed Canadians and Canadian families. There is no reduction in individual tax levels, and the promise to reduce them seems to be absolutely empty. Do members know why it is empty? It is empty because the government and the Prime Minister had 10 years to do better and did nothing. Why should Canadians believe any of these promises in the new budget when the Prime Minister, as finance minister, had 10 years to make them happen? He had his chance and that chance is past.

The budget tries to make the claim that the government can be trusted to manage public funds, but clearly it cannot. We have continued record levels of spending. The government has been exposed as ripping off taxpayers in scandal after scandal. The government has been exposed as wasting taxpayers' dollars in program after program. This budget will change none of those things.

What reason has this government given Canadians to trust it? For a decade, the Liberal government has refused to create a genuinely independent ethics counsellor, failed to allow Parliament to review its appointments, failed to prudently spend Canadian tax dollars, failed to deliver on municipal infrastructure programs that adequately meet the needs of our communities, and failed to clean up contaminated sites such as the Sydney tar ponds.

These do not seem to be promises that were followed through on and, more so, they are failed attempts to pull the proverbial wool over Canadians' eyes.

I am my party's critic for natural resources. The budget has promised $70 million for mapping purposes in the Arctic as well as on the east coast. The government should have used this opportunity to start mapping the west coast, where there has been a moratorium in place for the past 32 years. The area off the Queen Charlotte Islands on Canada's west coast is believed to contain some 26 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and nearly 10 billion barrels of oil. With the moratorium lifted and the go-ahead to begin development, the west coast offshore drilling project could be one that brings British Columbia back to being a have province.

It would have a positive effect, not only on the local community and the province of British Columbia but also on Canada's oil and gas supply as a whole. With the technology available today, it is possible to develop energy resources without destroying the environment. As well, the record of offshore drilling in Canada is an exceptional one, as we have never had any major oil spill due to offshore drilling.

The government's involvement in Petro-Canada is a relic of the old national energy policy. The Conservative Party has long held that it should sell its stake. The free market is the best mechanism to determine prices at the pump. The government should get out of the business of selling gas.

The revenues from the sale of our $2.25 billion stake in Petro-Canada should not and must not disappear into the black hole of general revenues of the government. The profits should be used for fixing environmental problems that affect Canadians day to day in the prevention and elimination of air and water pollution.

The money from the sale needs to go to programs that are well defined and managed as well as having the ability to be measured. Gone should be the days when money is just thrown into programs that are more dreams and less reality.

The reduction of smog in cities such as Toronto, Vancouver and Calgary is an environmental priority that is a reality. If it is not used for this purpose, then the profits should be used to pay down the federal debt which is a result of the creation of Petro-Canada and should not be used to pay for more Liberal boondoggles.

Like everything the Liberals do, their timing is off. The government has waited too long. A month ago Canada's share of Petro-Canada stocks was worth $3.3 billion. Who knows what it will be by the time it finally gets around to actually selling the shares.

I, along with millions of Canadians, thought that in 1993 the Liberal government's plan was to eliminate the GST. It is now 2004 and this tax, which created endless surplus dollars for the government, seems nowhere near being eliminated. This money could be better used by returning the massive surpluses to taxpayers' pockets instead of ripping them off and taking it out.

The EI surplus, or EI ripoff, is sure to continue with an increase of $4.3 billion. The surplus will go from $43.8 billion last year to $48.1 billion.

The overspending on the ridiculous gun registry will continue. As well, the government has created an incredible amount of room for spending scandals in the future. The government's spending is rising, but the outcome for Canadians is not changing.

We have seen tragically in the past few months that our soldiers are dangerously ill-equipped. When will the government start making decisions for the betterment of Canadians, not for the betterment of its individual luxuries?

This new budget also promises an aid package for farmers hit by BSE. This aid is long overdue and much needed in this torn industry. Canada's case of BSE was detected 10 months ago and our beef industry has been suffering since. I have a hard time believing that the announcement came in a genuine act of support and concern. I believe it came more as an act preceding a federal election campaign. Sadly, it does nothing to address the issue of surplus cattle on farms, nor what to do if the U.S. border does not open soon. This aid package did not include any solutions for that situation and therefore is left wanting.

The budget reannounced a $2 billion Canada health and social transfer supplement promised in the previous budget. I think it has been announced five times now. The government announced $665 million over three years for the new public health agency that does not exist yet. Both measures were promised in the throne speech.

When the current Prime Minister was finance minister, he cut $25 billion in purchasing power from transfers to the provinces for health and education. Without this money, provinces were forced to double tuition fees in the 1990s and put more of the burden on students. I must point out that the government has made more promises to assist students, but its track record has been less than stellar for the past 10 years.

For instance, the government has not met any of the education targets it set out in the 1998 budget. If a budget from four years ago which the Prime Minister himself presented failed, why then would we believe that this one would work?

The millennium scholarship program has been so unsuccessful that even the government's own review has realized that it was flawed. Like this program, most of the other programs announced in the 1998 budget have failed to deliver even half of the money promised to our students. Our students are buried in debt.

The government has attempted to do something positive in terms of education, such as the Canada learning bond which would allow an RESP contribution of up to $2,000 for low income families. It is a good effort but quite frankly, who can predict what tuition fees and education costs will be 18 years from now? To help students in the first year and abandon them in the following years is unforgivable.

I could go on and on, but obviously I am out of time. I will save the rest for another opportunity.