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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was money.

Last in Parliament September 2008, as Conservative MP for Edmonton—Sherwood Park (Alberta)

Won his last election, in 2006, with 64% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Petitions June 9th, 2008

Mr. Speaker, we continue to receive petitions, name after name, day after day, supporting Bill C-484. These petitioners recognize that pregnant women who have decided to bring their pregnancy to term and have a child actually deserve protection in law for that choice. The most poignant part of their petition is that they ask that injuring or killing an unborn baby during a violent act be a criminal offence.

I am very pleased to present these petitions, which today come mostly from the town of Estevan in Saskatchewan.

Extension of Sitting Hours June 9th, 2008

Mr. Speaker, I once again appreciate the good work of our interpreters so that I could understand every word that the hon. member opposite was saying. He addressed a number of things on this issue, but I would like to respond to just a few of them.

The first is he claimed that the bill which proposes that senators be elected is doing indirectly what cannot be done directly. I would like to point out to all members and anybody who happens to be watching that this is not true. The fact of the matter is that the prime minister of the day recommends and appoints senators. He chooses from a list.

I remember when I was on that side of the House I asked many times the prime minister of the day, Monsieur Chrétien, why it was that the list he got from Liberal Party hacks was a more legitimate list than the one given to him by the provinces of people they elected. In both cases, he would choose a senator from a list. That is the response to that point.

The member accused us of pandering to our western roots. I would like to increase the level of respect on that. All of us are elected to represent our constituents. I do not think I am pandering to my people when I properly represent them here. He said that he represents Quebec. Members of the Bloc use that phrase more often than anybody in this place, that the Bloc members are here to represent Quebec.

The difference between Bloc members and me is that I also think globally in terms of Canada and its role in the world. Certainly I think of Canada as a whole when I debate and vote on issues here, whereas he is focused on Quebec only and as such, I think he is doing only part of a job as a federal member of Parliament. I say that respectfully.

I can assure the House that if the shoe were on the other foot, the member would be saying a lot more a lot louder about representation. He indicated that 75% of the seats must come from Quebec regardless of population. That is what the Constitution says and I do not have any particular issue with that, but what about the people in the parts of the country where, because of the demographics, their vote in the House of Commons represents maybe 120,000 people whereas in other areas, it represents less than 100,000?

We should work toward equality for people around the country. That would be a really good nation building thing to do.

Petitions June 4th, 2008

Mr. Speaker, support for Bill C-484 continues to grow and is expressed right across the country. These petitioners come from: St. John's; Regina; Lambton; Gander; Dauphin, Manitoba; Dartmouth; Sudbury; Barrhead; Saskatoon; Golden; and a place called St. Alban's, which I had not even heard of. The petitioners are universal in their support right across the country. They urge the Government of Canada to support Bill C-484, a bill that would provide for a separate offence in the event that an unborn child is injured or killed during an attack on its pregnant mother.

These petitioners recognize that it is a severe and serious offence to force upon a pregnant woman the death or injury of her unborn child. It is a violation of her right to protect and give life to that child she wants.

Petitions June 2nd, 2008

Mr. Speaker, once again, I have 1,500 new names on Bill C-484. The petitioners come from right across the country, but most of them are from Calgary and Fort McMurray in Alberta, and a large number in this group is from various locations in the province of Quebec.

The petitioners draw attention to the fact that when a pregnant woman decides to have a child, the forcing upon her of the death or injury of her unborn child is a violation of a woman's right to protect and give life to that child.

They urge Parliament to support Bill C-484, the unborn victims of crime act.

Old Age Security Act June 2nd, 2008

Mr. Speaker, it is my delight to enter into the debate on Bill C-490, which proposes some amendments to the Old Age Security Act.

I have thought long and hard about income for seniors after they are no longer gainfully employed. One of the questions I have always asked is, should a retiree's income be totally as a result of savings and investments the individual has made over his or her lifetime, or should it be totally paid for by the taxpayers in a current regime and money that is collected by taxation is transferred to the seniors of the day, or should it be some combination thereof?

I am quite convinced, in having studied this over the years, that we need to have a combination. We have to have a regime in which, through tax measures and other government initiatives, people are encouraged to save a certain amount for their own retirement income.

I used to teach math and finance at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology, but I also taught exponentials. Those were the wonderful days when we went from slide rules to calculators and we could do these fancy computations. I remember one time challenging my students, who were then in their late teens or early twenties, that they should consider putting money away at that age for their retirement. I gave them a problem to solve. I will shorten the situation here, but at that time, a pack of cigarettes cost about five bucks and I told them to put away the equivalent of the cost of a pack of cigarettes a day over their lifetime, from age 20, when presumably a person would be starting his or her employed service, to age 65, when the person retired. At that time interest rates were really high, around 18% for mortgages and a little less for savings accounts. I said that properly invested, they could get 10% on the investment.

The students computed this. First, we had the mathematical problem and in a class of 40 students, I heard about 20 different answers after they had computed the formula. So, we first reconciled the number, and the number in the end was $1.3 million. I asked them if they knew what they had computed. I gave them the formula, and then I told them the story of the $5 per day over 45 years. It totalled $1.3 million just for saving the equivalent of the cost of a pack of cigarettes a day. Many of the students whom I meet and who remember me say, “You never smoked, did you?” I say, “No”. Then they say, “So how are you doing? Where is your $1.3 million?” I say, “I gave it to my wife.”

It is an interesting question, how we should look after the needs of seniors.

It is totally fair to say that under this government the financial position of seniors is much better than it has ever been. As my colleague previously mentioned, over the last 10 or so years, the income of seniors in this country has actually more than doubled. The OAS and the GIS, the Canada pension plan, and of course, the ability to put money away into RRSPs during one's early life and shield it from taxation until it is withdrawn are all wonderful measures that enable people to look after themselves to the degree that they can when they reach retirement age.

Of course, there is also a segment of our population which cannot or do not do this. We live in probably the best country in the whole world for people who either have not had the ability to save for their own future or have just been careless in not doing it. We have in Canada in our wonderful taxation system and our social programs the ability to provide at least a minimal income for people who have not done this.

I remember that my grandfather, who brought his family to this country in 1923, always put away a little. They were a poor family. There were 10 kids in the family. They worked very hard on the farm. Sometimes their crops were poor. They worked with animals and they had huge gardens to feed themselves.

But my grandfather always put a certain amount of money away and I remember my dad saying, talking about his dad, “My dad wasn't all that smart”. I asked, “How's that?” He said, “He always saved his money instead of spending it on meeting the needs of his family. He looked ahead and he planned for saving. Then when he finally did retire, lo and behold, he was ineligible for some of the social programs of the day because he had too much income. If only he would have done, as all the other equally poor neighbours in Saskatchewan did where we grew up, and like all of the other neighbours did and spent the money that the family needed. Some of them even went on vacation with their extra money, they did not save it. When they retired, they had such a low retirement income that they were eligible for the supplement”.

Therefore, I think that is another issue that needs to be addressed. I do not think that we should punish people who plan for their own retirement.

Nevertheless, I must speak a little about Bill C-490. This is a bill which takes certain measures to increase the amount of income that seniors would be eligible for and other measures. I would like to speak briefly about a few of those things.

First, it must be recognized that our government has taken some substantial measures to improve the lot of seniors. Not only have we increased the amount of pension, both the Old Age Security and the GIS that people are eligible for, we have followed the same formula as was done by governments previous to ours and in some cases we have enhanced it.

There is one which is not often mentioned when we talk about people's financial well-being. In this country, everybody, seniors and those still in the workforce alike, have seen huge decreases in the amount of their taxation. They have more disposable income, seniors included, especially because of the fact that the rates of taxation have gone done and the thresholds have gone down.

I think members will remember very well in the fall of 2007 when in our economic statement the finance minister announced that he was increasing the basic amount by $1,000 from $8,600 to $9,600. That means another $1,000 that everybody, including seniors, can earn before they pay any tax at all. If the income of a senior is based simply on some investment income or on some income from pensions and so on, and if that amount is relatively small, percentage wise that is a huge decrease in tax payable and similarly then, a considerable increase in the amount of money that is available at their disposal.

The economic statement went on to predict and to announce, and our government will do this, on January 1, 2009, just a scant seven months away or thereabouts, that the basic exemption is going to go up again to $10,100. When we increase that amount, that is a very significant percentage increase in disposable income for seniors.

Of course, we have not even talked about the reduction of the GST from 7%, to 6%, to 5%, which again, not only seniors but everybody who is earning wages and earning income, has the ability to pay.

Therefore, I think of Bill C-490 and I see that the measures in it are certainly well intentioned, but I believe that we must as a government look at the big picture. The idea of retroactivity for seniors who did not apply is a fine idea, if we want to do that to make people feel good, but as a government we also have to be fiscally responsible and the cost of that is estimated to be close to $6 billion, which could throw a serious wrench into our economic works.

In conclusion, we cannot support this bill because of that and other measures that are included in it. One thing that our government has done with respect to notice is if in the income tax system we recognize that individuals, when they file their income tax, if they are eligible, we send them a notice so they can apply and receive what they are entitled to.

Petitions May 30th, 2008

Mr. Speaker, I am honoured again to have a large number of names on petitions, almost 2,000 today. These keep pouring in from right across the country. I am pleased to see this time a number from Sherwood Park, but also a large number of signatures from Abbotsford; Wetaskiwin; La Crete, which I do not know if members have even heard of; Laval; and Montreal.

It is a very great honour to represent Canadians from right across the country who recognize the difference between a woman who wishes not to have a pregnancy and one who wishes to have one, to complete it and to give birth, life, love and care to her child, and that that right ought not to be interfered with by any third party intruder, a violent offender, who would attack her.

Partnership Group for Science and Engineering May 30th, 2008

Mr. Speaker, I have long been a regular at the Bacon & Eggheads Breakfast sponsored by the Partnership Group for Science and Engineering, PAGSE for short. I have found these breakfasts to be very educational and inspiring. It is a real pleasure to hear from the brightest and most articulate researchers in our country.

PAGSE is a cooperative association of more than 25 national organizations in science and engineering, representing approximately 50,000 individual members from industry, academia and government. It was formed in 1995 at the invitation of the Academy of Science of the Royal Society of Canada.

Here are just a few of the topics that have been covered in the past: understanding the brain; bionic limbs; preparing for the next pandemic; nanotechnology; fighting cancer with food; building the car of the future, idea by idea; wind power; fuel cell technology; and the list goes on.

I invite members to visit pagse.org for more information. Also, I invite--

Petitions May 28th, 2008

Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to present another 550 names of petitioners who urge Parliament to pass Bill C-484, the unborn victims of crime act. These petitioners recognize that the bill specifically does not apply to elective abortion. They also recognize that when a pregnant woman has a child that she wants, there ought to be second offence when that choice and child are taken away from her against her will and with violence.

Petitions May 13th, 2008

Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to present a large number of petitions. It almost makes me think of the Hank Snow song I've Been Everywhere when I look at the names on these petitions, people from North Bay to Morinville, High Prairie, Devon, Bonavista, Edmonton, Sooke, and many other cities.

These people have signed their names in support of Bill C-484, a very important bill which says that when a woman is pregnant by choice and wants to give her child life, love and care, no one has the right to take that right and that child away from her before the child is born. They are urging Parliament to pass Bill C-484.

With these over 2,000 names, I believe the total is now approaching 24,000 names that have been tabled in this House.

Petitions May 9th, 2008

Mr. Speaker, I am encouraged by the number of people who are responding positively to Bill C-484, the bill that would provide protection for unborn children when they, as well as their mothers, are victims of a criminal attack.

The people who are sending in their names today come from right across the country, as I have experienced over the last number of days. They draw particular attention to the fact that forcing upon a pregnant woman the death and injury of her unborn child is a violation of a woman's right to protect and give life to her child.

This petition contains another 735 signatures today. I am very proud to present the petition.