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Conservative MP for Red Deer—Lacombe (Alberta)
Won his last election, in 2015, with 71% of the vote.
Statements in the House
Ethics March 22nd, 2017
Mr. Speaker, it is no wonder the Prime Minister only wants to be here one day a week. When someone thinks he is elected royalty, he does not have to work, and the average Canadian can pick up the tab for caviar and champagne, but when the Prime Minister wants to fire up the old Challenger, jet off to an island, and get away to entertain his friends, he just pulls out the old taxpayer credit card.
Can the Prime Minister justify to Canadians why they are on the hook for his $127,000 vacation and his $1,700 snack bill?
Ethics March 22nd, 2017
Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister thinks he is elected royalty and Canadians should lavish him with exotic island vacations, nannies, and a jet-setting lifestyle. The Prime Minister spent $127,000 on his island excursion with the famjam and his BFFs. Seventeen hundred dollars were spent on food and drinks alone for a three-hour flight. There are people in my riding who are struggling to pay the mortgage, but the Prime Minister thinks he is entitled to his caviar and champagne.
Why does this wealthy trust-fund Prime Minister think he can abuse taxpayers' dollars entertaining himself this way?
Leader of the Alberta Progressive Conservatives March 22nd, 2017
Mr. Speaker, it is my honour to rise today on behalf of the Alberta Conservative caucus to congratulate our friend and former colleague, Jason Kenney. Over the weekend, Jason was elected in convincing fashion as the leader of the Alberta PC party.
First elected to the House in 1997, Jason held many portfolios while he was an MP and cabinet minister, but leader of the Alberta PC party might be the most important position he has ever held.
Jason has been recognized for his tireless work ethic, and he is one of the strongest and most respected voices within the conservative movement.
My friends, Brian Jean and Jason, are now tasked with a monumental challenge in uniting the conservative principled parties in Alberta. A task of this magnitude left to lesser individuals might not succeed. Their co-operation, understanding, and dedication to all Albertans will be what puts our province back on track to prosperity, to the benefit of all Canadians. The road may not always be smooth, and there may be disagreements, but the outcome is too important and the stakes are too high.
On behalf of the Alberta Conservative caucus, I want to congratulate Jason on his victory. We stand ready to restore the Alberta advantage.
Ethics March 21st, 2017
Mr. Speaker, lots of Canadian families travel by plane on a special getaway once a year. On these flights, one could buy a sandwich or maybe a diet Coke and a bag of chips for a snack. It is not great, but it is certainly reasonable. What is not reasonable is over $1,700 worth of food and drinks for a three-hour flight between Canada and the Bahamas, which is how much the taxpayer was billed by the Prime Minister getting to his private island vacation.
My question is simple. Just what in the world was the Prime Minister eating on that plane ride?
Ethics March 21st, 2017
Mr. Speaker, more details have now emerged about the Prime Minister's New Year's vacation. Taxpayers now know they are on the hook for over $120,000, and that is not even counting whatever the numerous ethics investigations are going to cost. The Prime Minister made a conscious decision that it is the responsibility of the taxpayer to pay for his luxury travel. When did the Prime Minister forget that it is his job to serve Canadians and not the other way around?
Government Appointments March 9th, 2017
Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister is under multiple investigations. He refuses to answer questions about his ethical shortcomings. The Minister of Innovation was forced to admit that he misled Canadians over the Anbang boondoggle. The Minister of Finance is engaged in a carbon tax cover-up and the secret sell-off of airports.
When will the Prime Minister finally act like a leader and be honest with Canadians instead of thinking he is above the law?
Government Appointments March 9th, 2017
Mr. Speaker, we know that governing is hard, and there is more to it than taking selfies and holding hands. The Liberals have failed to make a single parliamentary watchdog appointed in their 18 months in government. It seems the only appointments the government can make are to friends and former chiefs of staff.
Eighteen months have passed. How much longer do we have to wait for the Prime Minister to start doing his job and appointing people to these watchdog positions? Or is it taking so long because he is trying to find people who will turn the other cheek to his ethical transgressions?
Business of Supply March 9th, 2017
Mr. Speaker, I will remind my hon. colleague that it was his government's decision to withdraw our six pack of CF-18 fighters from the fight against ISIS. Our troops were in better shape because they had the superior air power there to defend the troops on the ground. That capability is now lost. In return, there are several hundred more men and women on the ground.
Members do not have to listen to my opinion. We can listen to the chief of the defence staff, John Vance, who said, on February 9, “We want Canadians to know that we will be involved in engagements as we defend ourselves or those partners who we are working with.” The chief of the defence staff clarified “You put a lot more people on the ground in a dangerous place, it is riskier overall.”
Brigadier General Peter Dawe, updating Operation Impact on October 6, 2016 said:
The key takeaway for Canadians is we are more engaged at the line. There should be no doubt about that. And by extension, the risk has increased to our troops simply by virtue of time spent at the line and the work we’re doing right now in a more dynamic and fluid environment.
I could go on with several others. I do not know why the hon. colleague has not listened to the advice that his own government bureaucrats have been providing. Everybody there seems to think they are in a riskier situation than they were when the fighter jets were there.
The policy of the government is to withdraw the six pack of fighter jets, which provided more certainty and predictability and more protection for the soldiers on the ground, and instead put more soldiers on the ground, putting them in a riskier place, and then has taken away their pay. Well done.
Business of Supply March 9th, 2017
Madam Speaker, I am not sure what the hon. member is talking about. If he was paying attention, over the past 10 years when Stephen Harper was the prime minister of Canada, we had never seen more historic investments made into the Canadian Armed Forces after a decade of darkness. That included the purchase of Nyala light armoured vehicles and tanks for our soldiers on the ground in Afghanistan, the purchase of strategic lift airplanes so we no longer had to rely on Russian Antonovs to get our disaster assistance response teams, and other equipment we needed to get around the world. Now we have the C-17 program. We have five Globemasters that we can count on at any particular point in time. We also have tactical lift helicopters. We were poised to replace our entire fleet of fighters as well, and were going through that process, which has now been sidelined.
The hon. member should be asking me questions specifically about the policy when it comes to the pay, and the record the previous government had with respect to pay, which I was glad to address in my speech. All I know is, thank God Stephen Harper was the prime minister of our country for 10 years. The Canadian Armed Forces is better off for it.
Business of Supply March 9th, 2017
Madam Speaker, I really appreciate the opportunity to share time with my esteemed colleague who just spoke, who has proudly represented the folks at CFB Petawawa for years. It is no accident that she has been here longer than most members of Parliament because of her advocacy for members of the Canadian Armed Forces and the military.
I am pleased to have the opportunity to clear the record on some of the misconceptions that have been put before the House by other members, but more importantly, it is an opportunity for the House to do the right thing.
Yesterday, we voted on three private members' bills that went through, and two of them actually went against what the government wanted. The people of Canada, through their elected representatives, got what they actually wanted. If members in the House are listening to the debate on today's motion, Canadians widely across this country would want members of Parliament to do the right thing again and vote in favour of the motion, because the motion corrects an injustice. Whether anyone here wants to admit it or not, it is an injustice.
When Canadian Armed Forces members are asked to serve their country overseas in a theatre of operations, the policy generally speaking is that these members would have tax exempt status for their salary while they are there. There is a process whereby they can go through a bureaucratic rigamarole, a set of rules that are set up to basically do an assessment as to whether somebody should or should not get this tax exempt status, but that does not mean it is right.
What the problem and the issue here is, and this is a pattern of behaviour that we see from the government across the way, is the Liberals hide behind the rules all the time and then they blame the rules when things politically go wrong for them. Without having the good common sense to know what the right thing to do is, when they are only guided by a set of rules because they do not have a compass when it comes to ethical lapses, we know they are going to change the rules because it must be the rules' fault because they cannot get it right because the rules are not right. They do not have a compass when it comes to genetic discrimination. They have to hide behind the rules again. They do not have a compass when it comes to Wynn's law. They do not have a compass when it comes to this issue because this is what Canadians would expect their members of Parliament to do.
Members of Parliament, especially those like me who travel great distances to come here, get thousands of dollars a year to accommodate us for our living expenses while we are away to help us do our jobs better. We are not home on Tuesday night to mow the lawn or shovel the driveway and we cannot be out of pocket for the extra living expenses that come from our being away from our homes, because those resources from our pay and salary need to support our families back in our ridings where we actually live.
This is the exact same issue. It is a different way of dealing with it, but it is the exact same issue. These men and women put their lives on the line to serve us. We can have debates about whether or not they should or should not be in a particular theatre of operations, but that is not the point. The reality is these soldiers in the Canadian Armed Forces are deployed right now and 15 of them have lost this benefit going back to September of last year. Another 300 of them are slated to lose these same benefits this year. This is absolutely unacceptable.
We need the House and Liberal members to take the bull by the horns and realize the solution is simple. Ask the Minister of National Defence and ask the Minister of Finance, simply with the stroke of a pen, to fix this problem. This is what happened when the Conservatives were in government. It was brought to the attention at that time to the minister of veterans affairs, the minister of defence. “When the interdepartmental committee recommended the same benefits be stripped” this was back when Stephen Harper was the prime minister, “from our troops who were serving in Afghanistan, we cut through the red tape to ensure these troops received exactly what they deserve”.
I will quote what was said at the time, because the folks who were in charge at the time actually had a compass on this issue. They knew what the right thing to do was. They did not run and hide behind the rules.
“This decision about hardship and risk pay was made by officials; we believe it is incorrect, and the government intends to re-examine it.” This is from the press secretary of former defence minister Peter MacKay on April 10, 2013. “This decision was not appropriate, and we are asking for this decision to be reviewed”. This was said by the then veterans affairs minister on April 10.
“Our troops left with an agreed-upon salary, including risk benefits for those missions, and now halfway through their deployment this government is making significant reductions to the income on which they and their families depend.” That was said by Liberal Senator Roméo Dallaire.
When our troops were overpaid by a departmental error, former defence minister Peter MacKay demonstrated how we stood on guard for those who defended us, and we did not ask them to pay that back. Rather than penalize the soldiers who were deployed overseas, who were overpaid by $1,600, we had a compass that said it would be inappropriate to even ask them for the slight overpayment back. It was departmental error, an error that was no fault of the soldiers who were serving overseas and who had probably already spent or invested that money. We are not talking about millions or billions of dollars. We are talking about 15 soldiers receiving about $1,500 to $1,800 a month, and another 300 soldiers.
For a government that actually has no compass when it comes to balancing the books, and does not have one for any foreseeable future, surely the Liberal argument cannot be that we will balance the budget on the backs of soldiers and veterans. We have seen this before. However, I do not see any intention from the government across the way to balance the books.
If we ask Canadians what issue would be so compelling that the government would even consider going into debt for, surely it would be to compensate the men and women in out Canadian Armed Forces who stand on guard for us on a day-to-day basis, and those veterans who have served valiantly in the past. If there were ever a group in Canada that we needed to go into debt for or run a deficit for, those are the people we need to do that for.
We need the unanimous support of the House for this motion. The issue is not what he or she has said, or this is what was done years ago, or this is what has been done throughout the years. The issue is that there has been an injustice done to 15 soldiers serving overseas, and that there is about to be another injustice done to 300 more, we can fix that injustice. This is what Canadians elected us for and sent us to this place to do.
While I am on my feet, I want to talk a bit about something that is going on in my riding, and why this issue is so important and so near and dear to my heart. The mission in Afghanistan, the current mission notwithstanding, was a mission of a next generation of Canadians. We have to go back to the Korean War, the Cold War, and World War II for previous generations of Canadians. The last Canadian soldier killed in the mission in Afghanistan was Master Corporal Byron Greff from my riding and my hometown of Lacombe, Alberta. Right now I am asking for support from anyone across the country or who is watching today. There is a project in place to remember that sacrifice by bringing a light armoured vehicle monument to my home community of Lacombe. Stickers are being sold and there are other various fundraising campaigns. I think this will take off for the same sentiments that are being discussed in the House today.
The people of my community and of Canada really want to support the men and women in the Canadian Armed Forces. I know I can count on that kind of support from my community. I also know I can count on the same kind of support from my colleagues in the House, across all political divides, when it comes time to vote on this motion. This is the right thing to do.