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Track Blaine

Your Say


Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word is liberal.

Conservative MP for Red Deer—Lacombe (Alberta)

Won his last election, in 2015, with 71% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Ethics February 23rd, 2017

Mr. Speaker, the lobbying commissioner is clearly looking at lobbyists who are lobbying the Prime Minister, which only makes sense as the Prime Minister and the House leader think this all is a big joke. The Prime Minister thinks he is untouchable. It is the Prime Minister's conduct and lack of ethics that has him under several investigations by multiple commissioners. It is hard, actually, for Canadians to keep track of them all.

The lobbying commissioner is now investigating the Prime Minister's cash for access events. We know he does not answer his own questions in the House. Therefore, will the Prime Minister answer the lobbying commissioner's questions or will he send the government House leader to answer questions for him?

Ethics February 23rd, 2017

Mr. Speaker, here we go again. Another day, another investigation launched as a result of the Prime Minister's questionable cash for access events.

First, the Ethics Commissioner and now the Commissioner of Lobbying are asking the Prime Minister about his unethical conduct. We already know the Prime Minister has zero regard for the rules and ethics laws, and we learned yesterday that the lobbying commissioner is investigating the Prime Minister's shady cash for access events with this wealthy lobbyist friends.

Has the Prime Minister been questioned by the Commissioner of Lobbying regarding his cash for access fundraising activity?

Preclearance Act, 2016 February 22nd, 2017

Madam Speaker, I know that the minister cannot tell us what she has discussed at the cabinet table. However, could she assure the House that in the agreements passed in the United States as part of the agreement the two countries would have, because there would be legislation, I am sure, appearing in the United States, if there were provisions for U.S. customs officials not to be prosecuted under the Criminal Code, Canada Border Services agents would have that same privilege in the United States?

Preclearance Act, 2016 February 22nd, 2017

Madam Speaker, one of the benefits of having a Liberal federal government is that our dollar is usually worth less, which means we get more tourists coming to our country. Therefore, we will have an influx of American tourism and the tourism portion of our economy will do better.

The hon. member, my colleague, is right. Notwithstanding my chiding, the reality is that we have certainty and predictability so that when we are travelling as a tourist we will able to get to our destination. Obviously, this is a good thing. Certainty and predictability are also good when we are travelling for business, and when it comes to shipping goods and cargo, which is where I think the future is going with this because both administrations and both governments are currently looking at how the same kind of pre-clearance can also be implemented when it comes to the commerce and trade, and not just people and passengers. Although this bill applies specifically to people and passengers, a variant of this bill could come forward with pre-clearance for things like trade and commerce. That is where a tremendous amount of wealth and opportunity would come. Therefore, we hope for that confidence-building with respect to Bill C-23, which I am sure will be passed in this House. It is a government bill and there is a majority government. I do not think this bill will get held up anywhere. I will stress in my comments that there may be some good ideas and concerns that will come forward from people at committee, and I hope that amendments that are in the best interests of Canada would be looked at and adopted at committee.

Preclearance Act, 2016 February 22nd, 2017

Madam Speaker, my colleague is right that it is an issue. I am from Alberta and I am lucky that at both the Edmonton and Calgary international airports we have those NEXUS offices. Bill C-23 does add a few more places for pre-clearance. Unfortunately, Saskatchewan seems to have been overlooked from that list. My colleague from Saskatchewan has some valid points. Saskatchewan has a booming and burgeoning economy. The premier there is doing a great job expanding the economy. Economic refugees are fleeing Alberta back to Saskatchewan. We hope that the export of Saskatchewanians to warmer climates is only temporary and that they will come back home soon and keep our economy in the west churning right along. It would be nice to see the current government take a look at the legislation and perhaps add something for the good folks of Saskatchewan, who deserve these benefits.

Preclearance Act, 2016 February 22nd, 2017

Madam Speaker, my colleague from Selkirk—Interlake—Eastman mentioned all the opportunities for tourism in his great riding and he talked about hunting and fishing, but he did not mention the Crown Royal plant there. I thought that was what most people went to Gimli for, but perhaps I am giving away my secret travel plans.

All that aside, it is great to see colleagues in the House today having a bit of bipartisan co-operation on a matter as significant as this. This is an issue where most common-sense folks are looking to their parliamentarians, to their elected people, and to the government to do things to make their lives easier.

As members of Parliament we all travel a lot. Some of us travel a lot more than the everyday average Canadian does, but there are lots of Canadians who travel for purposes of work or for leisure on a daily basis. I have seen statistics somewhere that at any point in time there are half a million people in airplanes around the world. It just goes to show the sheer volume and magnitude of the importance of some of these kinds of agreements.

Of course, the arrangement between Canada and the U.S. is just astronomical. We share just under 9,000 kilometres of border with the United States. There are no other two countries in the world that share this kind of an arrangement or have this kind of opportunity. It has been mentioned by many in this House already the enormity and vastness of the trade and the like-mindedness of the cultures. Although we as Canadians like to separate ourselves and remain distinct, and we are, we have far more in common with our American cousins than we have differences, despite some of the differences that we do have.

It is important that we maintain that relationship. It is important because not only is the United States one of our closest friends and allies, it is obviously our closest neighbour and we have to continue to build that trustful relationship. The United States is our best trading and commerce partner. It is not any secret at all that north of 70% of all the goods and services that are exported from Canada go to the United States. We rely on the United States' consumer marketplace in order to keep our economy healthy and strong here at home. One of five or six jobs here in Canada actually depends on our ability to export goods and services, so this is absolutely critical and vital.

While this particular agreement does not deal specifically with cargo, this is the precursor. At a major airport, whether at the Calgary airport, here at the Ottawa airport, Toronto airport, or other major airports, when travelling to the United States, the only pre-clearance that I am aware of and have used is to pre-clear U.S. customs on Canadian soil. For Canadians watching right now and wondering what this debate is about, it is about clearing U.S. customs on Canadian soil and about Canadians clearing Canadian customs on U.S. soil at various points of departure and points of entry. That way, when we land in our respective countries, we are already there and we can just walk straight out the door of the airport or train terminal or whatever it happens to be and go about our business. That is why these agreements are so important.

The impetus for these things started long ago. Various administrations come and go in Canada and the United States. Sometimes there is a thickening of the border and sometimes there is a thinning of the border, but I can go back to the previous prime minister, Stephen Harper, and the agreement that he made with then president Barack Obama, in order to work on some of these initiatives in 2011. I would encourage members of Parliament who have not done so already to get a NEXUS card. I remember when Stockwell Day was here and he was the minister, he did a great job working with U.S. counterparts so that we had that trusted traveller program. That trusted traveller program is absolutely critical for anybody who travels on a regular basis. For people who do not have a NEXUS card, I can assure them that if they get one they will see the immense benefits. That is just one aspect, for those folks watching right now, where they do not need a passport per se. If they are going to the United States on a regular basis, they simply need to get that NEXUS card and for any land or air crossing they can just show their NEXUS card; it is as good as a passport for getting into the United States and getting back home to Canada. The process is sped up because they are trusted travellers going through security and through customs. It is absolutely fantastic. With these kinds of things, we have an opportunity to build upon the trust that we have between our two countries.

Now we come to Bill C-23. The current Liberal government has put this bill forward. The bill has obviously some good intentions in it. I have some concerns, but those are matters for debate. I applaud the government for moving ahead with this. It is important that we facilitate the movement of goods, services, and people back and forth across the borders.

Bill C-23 is about moving people, though, people and the stuff they have with them. This is not actually about moving massive goods and freight and cargo between the borders. This is pre-clearance of individuals and the items they have with them at that particular point in time. It is very important that folks understand what that is.

There are a couple of concerns I have with the legislation. One, as has been brought up by others, is that there seems to be, and I hope that the question that I have will be answered, a Criminal Code exemption for U.S. customs officers in Canada when it comes to basically immunity for any charges under the Criminal Code of Canada. I do not know why we would acquiesce to that request. I can only assume that request came from the U.S. administration. If it was a request that we actually had of the American administration as well, so that there would be reciprocity, so that Canada Border Services agents in the United States working at pre-clearance destinations there would have the same kinds of protection provisions, I suppose I would be okay with that. I need to know if that is actually the case or some American administrators and legislators would be making those decisions down there. I am hoping somebody on the government side can answer that question to make sure that we actually have that reciprocity.

The other concerns that I have go directly to the larger policy issues between the two administrations. We have seen a marked shift, I will call it a bromance for lack of some better terminology. The short-lived friendship between former president Barack Obama and our current Prime Minister of like-minded political ideologies is in contrast I think quite sharply now with the new administration and some of the things that we are seeing from U.S. President Donald Trump.

I am not here to debate the policies of Donald Trump, but suffice it to say that the policies of Donald Trump and the policies that are going to be put forward when it comes to immigration, when it comes to legalization of marijuana, when it comes to dealing with criminals, and so on, are going to be markedly different between the U.S. administration and the Canadian government. These are going to be issues that are going to cause friction. That friction, in most cases, manifests itself at the border. We need to make sure that we are looking after Canadian interests at that border.

I do have concerns when that fellow my colleague from Selkirk—Interlake—Eastman was talking about, Mr. Harvey, admitted or confided truthfully, and we should be truthful when we are talking to a border official, that he was a marijuana user and was put on a lifetime ban from travelling.

That seems to be a bit of a difficult conundrum. If Canada is going to pursue a policy where not only is it decriminalizing, with the legalization of marijuana, but it is going to fly completely in the face of what the U.S. administration policy is going to be there, notwithstanding several states in the United States have legalized marijuana. We are not talking about crossing into Colorado, we are talking about crossing into the United States in a pre-clearance zone in a Canadian airport.

Now imagine a Canadian citizen inside a Canadian airport inside a U.S. pre-clearance zone being basically detained by American administration authorities because he has admitted to a U.S. customs agent that he has legally, after supposedly the law is changed by the current Liberal government, which I am expecting will happen sometime in the near future, said to that U.S. customs official, “Yes, I use marijuana because it's legal in Canada now”. That is a problem because that is illegal or could be deemed illegal or a problem for that Canadian citizen in a Canadian airport in a U.S. pre-clearance area being detained for admitting to doing something that would potentially be completely legal in Canada. This is a problem. This is very much a potential problem. I think Canadians at home watching right now need to know that, whatever legal activities that we do here in Canada that might be different from the policies in the United States, Canadians, especially those still in Canada even though they might be in a U.S. pre-clearance area, should have the full protections of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and be able to excuse themselves from that travel and not get themselves into any further predicaments.

When it comes to the issue with refugees, policies that the current federal government is going to have versus what the current administration in the United States has are markedly different. They are night and day different, from the messages that are being sent.

These kinds of issues will cause issues at the border. We are seeing already a migration of people coming across the Canadian border from the United States at non-disclosed or non-border crossing areas. That is in current violation of Canadian legislation. If we have these kinds of grievances and issues where we have differences in domestic policy that affect the thickening of our border, then we need to be sure that in Bill C-23 all the provisions that are there provide the protections that Canadians citizens are going to need.

I will close there. There are concerns about this piece of legislation. However, I do applaud the government for bringing it forward. I hope it will listen to folks at committee, go through the process, and amend the bill if it needs to be amended.

Preclearance Act, 2016 February 22nd, 2017

Madam Speaker, I appreciate the comments from my colleague across the way. It looks like there is going to be a little co-operation in the House on this, given the fact that this legislation goes back a number of years and has crossed many different administrations.

My concern going forward is not necessarily so much in the text of the legislation, although I will have some concerns addressed in my speech in a few minutes, but the apparent disjointedness when it comes to the policies of the U.S. administration versus the new Canadian administration when it comes to marijuana legalization, when it comes to refugees and dealing with cross-border issues, and the implications of Bill C-23 being passed at this time.

We have come to this point because of confidence building measures. We are adding more destinations, more terminals, and more facilities to the list, as the member aptly points out, but at a time when the Canadian policy seems to be completely disjointed from the U.S. policy.

Can he expect, going forward, that an implementation that is based on good faith between two countries will not cause some issues?

Ethics February 16th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, the Liberals are embarrassing. Day after day, the Prime Minister refuses to stand in this House and answer the questions that Canadians have. Instead, the government House leader makes a mockery of this House by responding to our questions by saying that the Prime Minister will respond to our questions. Where is the answer?

Canadians deserve better. They deserve an answer. I will ask the Prime Minister again: Did anyone at PMO or PCO advise him that it would be illegal to travel on a private aircraft for his island vacation, yes or no?

Ethics February 16th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, Canadians deserve answers. The Prime Minister is not fooling anyone. It is not like he can just whip out his Challenger and land it wherever he wants. There is planning, scheduling, and security assessments that need to be done.

The Conflict of Interest Act is clear. The Prime Minister claims that he has read it. If that is true, then he knows that it is illegal for him to accept travel on private aircraft.

Will the Prime Minister confirm that he was advised by his officials in the Prime Minister's Office or the Privy Council Office that he would be breaking the law by taking this trip?

Ethics February 15th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, for the first time in the history of our country a sitting prime minister is under multiple active ethics investigations. This Prime Minister has zero respect for ethics and ethical standards. This Prime Minister believes he is above regular, everyday, law-abiding Canadians, and that the rules simply do not apply to him.

When will the Prime Minister admit that he broke the law, and finally answer Canadians' questions about his unethical behaviour?