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Conservative MP for Regina—Qu'Appelle (Saskatchewan)
Won his last election, in 2015, with 45% of the vote.
Statements in the House
Business of the House June 16th, 2016
Mr. Speaker, I do not want to be presumptuous but I think it is reasonably foreseeable that this may be the last Thursday question of this session, so I would like to take this opportunity to thank you, Mr. Speaker, for your hard work over the past few months.
I would also like to thank all the chair occupants, the deputy speaker, and the assistant deputy speakers who make sure the chamber runs smoothly. I would also like to thank the clerks at the table. I know what a tremendous team they provide you, Mr. Speaker, but indeed all members of the House. Last, but certainly not least, we have such a great group of young Canadians every year. I would like to thank the pages for all that they have done.
On behalf of all members of our caucus, and I am sure the same is true for all MPs, I would like to thank the staff in our offices, at our lobby desks, and in our research bureaus. They all do a tremendous amount of work to make their members of Parliament look good and sound intelligent.
I was going to thank our spouses, but if the hon. member for Chilliwack does not want to thank our spouses, we could make note of that. However, I would like to extend a big “thank you” to our spouses back home who allow us to do our jobs.
With that, I wonder if the government House leader would like to indicate to the House what the business of the House may be for the rest of this week and maybe next week as well.
Oil and Gas Industry June 16th, 2016
Mr. Speaker, the downturn in the oil and gas sector has left many western Canadians without work. Shamefully, the Liberals want to increase taxes on job-creators and keep the industry down indefinitely. They continue to ignore a ready-made solution, which is to clean up decommissioned oil and gas wells. Cleaning up these wells would put unemployed Canadians back to work, retain expertise, and create economic and environmental benefits.
Will the Liberals stop their attack on oil and gas workers and help get them back to work?
Mr. Speaker, I am not familiar with the steps the Government of Alberta took to survey people in Alberta. If it was not a referendum, then I do not know how accurate a reflection of the people it could be. I would not look to the current Government of Alberta to inform basically any of my decisions, especially about something as serious as this.
Let us be honest. We are talking about very complex legal principles. We are talking about medical terminology that touches on many different aspects of different kinds of care.
The will of Canadians was reflected through the House, which is a pretty fundamental principle. Political parties and MPs come here to represent their constituents. We did vote on this several times in my life here as a parliamentarian, and every time we rejected the call to legalize assisted suicide, and rightly so.
I have had people in my family reach the end of their lives and go through very tough medical conditions. However, upholding the principle of the sanctity of life is our job, and it is the medical industry's job to protect life, to extend life. That is a fundamental principle, and if we lose that anchor, I worry a lot of unintended consequences will come down the pike in the foreseeable future.
Mr. Speaker, I have voted on this subject a couple of times in the House. It came up through private members' bills. I think a member of the Bloc Québécois, in the 39th Parliament, proposed a bill to remove the restrictions around assisted suicide. It was not as comprehensive as the bill before us. I think it just deleted a clause. This obviously is a more robust response to the issue.
I do take the hon. member's points. Once the House came back after the election, there was a great number of opportunities for members to weigh in on what direction it should take. There was the special committee before the legislation was drafted, obviously debated in the House, the standing committee, and now over to the Senate.
However, none of that kind of matters when we are dealing with the original principle that the Supreme Court hoisted it back on to us. Several times in the last decade or so the elected representatives have voted against legalizing assisted suicide. The Supreme Court, in my lifetime, has upheld the rules and laws against assisted suicide and now has reversed itself. This is my beef with the whole question.
It was quite clear, through the will of the elected by Canadians, that Canadians were comfortable with assisted suicide being illegal, that the sanctity of life being upheld all the way through to natural death was an important principle, and that Canadians were afraid of where this might lead to. However, the court, having reversed its decision, has now placed it back on the lap of Parliament, so there are limited options for parliamentarians to take.
The bill is not perfect. I voted against it at second and third reading. I would have liked to have seen more protections for conscience rights for medical practitioners. I wish we had talked more about that. It is not in the amendments that we are dealing with today, so I cannot speak to that. However, it would have been easier for me to support the bill if those types of protections for medical practitioners to reflect their conscience were in it.
Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan.
I will be brief. I want to speak to a few of the amendments the government has chosen to accept and also express a few words of caution.
I want to thank the minister for keeping the language as tight as possible. “Reasonably foreseeable” is a much better situation than “grievous and irremediable”. As this is such a fundamental change to our society, we do not want to open the door to assisted suicide in such a manner that a large number of people who may be suffering from physical or mental ailments would have access it.
I understand the slight wording change on the palliative care amendment. It is important that any patient make an informed decision, whether it is about something as simple as a normal medical procedure, but certainly in a situation like this of such a grave and serious matter. In essence, as this may be the last decision some people make, making an informed decision is critically important. Knowing what other options there might to alleviate of pain as well as palliative care are also so important.
I hope the government will work with the provinces in the coming months and years to establish a robust palliative care regime so this type of decision is not made without having real and practical options to extend life in as comfortable a manner as possible, while understanding the significant challenges that are often placed on family members.
I wish the government had included the amendment that dealt with beneficiaries of estates or insurance policies not being able to participate directly in the act of assisted suicide. That is an important amendment to keep. This is going to be a new thing in Canada and we do not know how it will unfold, so having some kind of safeguard in place to avoid pressure being put on people to make this decision is important.
Many members may be familiar with the Terri Schiavo case in Florida. It was a bitter dispute with a lot of allegations all around. One of the facts that came out was that one of the family members pushing for end of life care to be withdrawn from Terri Schiavo was a beneficiary of an insurance policy. That conjures up gloomy images of what might happen to people who do not wish to end their life and are not able to either grant consent or put up opposition to it and have those decisions made for them.
I want to touch on a few comments that are troubling to me. I have heard comments made by government members and the minister about how this is a first step and that this could be expanded in the future. Those types of things very much concern me. The House is taking this decision because of a court decision. The Supreme Court of Canada reversed its original decision that upheld the laws against assisted suicide and has thrown this on to Parliament.
I understand the need that the government had to fill in this legal vacuum, and I commend it for using the language “reasonably foreseeable” and not “grievous and irremediable”. However, I am wary about what might be coming down the pike. It really worries me when people talk about this being a first step. I shudder to think where this might go. If this type of regime is opened up more, people who may be going through difficult times in their life, maybe temporary difficulties, both physical and mental, will access it.
I hope we have created a tight box that will not be expanded. I will be watching in the future and will do everything I can to ensure that this is not expanded, and I hope many of my colleagues will do the same. I do not want to go down the road of what has transpired in some European countries where this is used in a much more aggressive and expanded way. Many times it involves vulnerable people or people with severe disabilities who are not able to communicate their desires and other family members or other caregivers make that decision for them.
Canada could be going to a very dark place if this is a first step. If it is filling in that legal void and we have created a strict enough and a tight enough box around it, then I hope this is as far as it goes. I will be doing everything I can to ensure that is the case.
Mr. Speaker, I suppose I caught your eye first. That is the way it normally works.
Before I begin my remarks, under the parameters of the debate, I have an unlimited time slot. I wonder if I could get the unanimous consent of the House to be deemed to have a normal 20-minute speaking slot and I would share that time with another colleague.
The Environment June 14th, 2016
Mr. Speaker, only to a Liberal would increasing taxes result in lower costs. It makes no sense. However, if the Liberals are so keen on helping the middle class, Premier Wall has an idea that would put Canadians back to work.
Across the oil sector lie countless decommissioned oil and gas wells; out-of-work Canadians in the energy sector have the skills to clean up these abandoned wells. This is a practical idea that would actually clean up the environment. Instead of raising taxes, will the Liberals adopt this common-sense idea, and help create jobs?
The Environment June 14th, 2016
Mr. Speaker, maybe the Minister of Environment and Climate Change does not realize that, when the market imposes a fee, it is a cost; but when the government does that, it is a tax. While carbon taxes may be lucrative sources of revenue for politicians, they do not actually do anything to reduce emissions.
The Minister of Finance and his cabinet colleagues are scheming to impose a carbon tax on the middle-class workers who make their living in the oil and gas sector. The Liberals see that the energy sector is hurting, and they want to kick it while it is down. This cold-hearted plan would only delay the recovery. When will the Liberals stop their mean-spirited attack against the hard-working middle-class workers in the energy sector?
Democratic Reform June 13th, 2016
Mr. Speaker, they are shoving it right down the provinces' throats.
Today we learned why the Minister of Democratic Institutions has been pushing town halls so hard. It is not because she wants to increase participation. It is not because she wants to hear from people who normally do not vote. It is certainly not because she wants input from Canadians.
It is because she wants their cash. The electoral reform town hall the Liberals have planned in Dufferin—Caledon will be charging people to attend, and that money will go straight into the Liberal Party's bank account.
Is the reason the minister is so opposed to holding a referendum because her party cannot make money off one?
The Environment June 13th, 2016
Mr. Speaker, Canada's natural resource sector is still reeling from the low cost of oil. Just when there starts to be a glimmer of hope that prices might start to recover, the Liberals are coming along with a plan to tax the sector back into submission. New taxes will kill jobs, not create them.
If the provinces decide that a massive federal cash grab through a carbon tax is a bad idea, will the government allow them to opt out or will the Liberals impose their “Ottawa knows best” approach and dump another new tax on hard-working Canadians?