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Track Blaine

Your Say


Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word is alberta.

Conservative MP for Red Deer—Lacombe (Alberta)

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

Statements in the House

Ministerial Expenses June 17th, 2016

Madam Speaker, Liberals believe they are entitled to their entitlements. We know that a three-day trip to New York cost taxpayers over $160,000. So far, we see $35,000 spent on transportation, $5,000 on tips and gratuities, a $2,000 fuel surcharge, and someone even claimed a $17 glass of juice.

How can Liberals continue to defend this type of out-of-control spending?

Committees of the House June 16th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the second report of the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics entitled “Review of the Access to Information Act”.

This report was agreed to unanimously by all members of the committee who worked together cordially and produced an excellent report. We are expecting comprehensive legislation from the government forthwith.

Pursuant to Standing Order 109, the committee requests that the government table a comprehensive response to this report.

Main Estimates 2016-17 June 14th, 2016

Madam Speaker, I was here when that happened.

Here is the recollection I have. In 2008-09, we saw the start of the global financial crisis, the worst financial crisis in modern history. I remember when the leader of the Liberal Party, the leader of the Bloc Québécois, and the leader of the NDP made a three-way pact to take the reins of government away from the duly elected government at the time, because they were not spending enough money.

They wanted more money to be spent. Then, after they got what they wanted, all they did was complain about the deficit. Which one is it?

Main Estimates 2016-17 June 14th, 2016

Madam Speaker, my office is more than fine. I have been there for about 10 years and, God willing, I will be there for a few more. However, the point my colleague makes is well taken.

All kidding aside, taxpayers work very hard for their money. I remember picking rocks and roots out of the field when I was a kid on the family farm. We bought a quarter section of land and cleared it. When I came in, the only white thing on me was my eyes and my teeth. I was covered in dirt from doing back-breaking work when I was a teenager, growing up on that farm.

I have laid tile. I was a tile-setter. I spent hours on my hands and knees, laying tile until there was sweat on my brow and my back was aching, so that I could pay taxes, just to have them squandered by decisions like this.

I am not saying that every decision the Liberals are going to make will be a bad one, but our job in the opposition is to point out a bad decision when we see one. It is regrettable that I have to shame the minister this way, but I have to do my job as a critic and as a member of the opposition to make darn sure that these kinds of lavish expenses are not made again.

That office could have been furnished a lot cheaper. We know that is true, because we have never had to do it when we were in government. All the other ministries that had to change as a result of the change of government did not have to do it. Why this one?

Main Estimates 2016-17 June 14th, 2016

Madam Speaker, at least I was part of a government that could be proud to advertise a program that was worth delivering to Canadians, one that actually balanced the budgets, one that kept taxes the lowest in 50 years, one that delivered more infrastructure program spending than any other government in Canadian history.

I am very proud of that record. I have nothing to apologize for, insofar as that is concerned.

What have the Liberals actually got, after 10 years? There was $750 million spent on advertising; that was completely legitimate. There was a $16 glass of orange juice, and $93,000 that was inappropriately paid back to the taxpayers.

We can just wait and see what we are going to see with these guys at the end of four years.

Main Estimates 2016-17 June 14th, 2016

Madam Speaker, I am thrilled to have the opportunity to speak on behalf of my constituents of the brand new riding of Red Deer—Lacombe. I am happy to have the opportunity to represent such great hard-working people.

I wish the Liberals would get out of the way of some of the economic things that are holding us back when it comes to pipeline approvals and so on, because there are a lot of folks in central Alberta who would love to get back to work and pay their fair share of taxes. The deficit might not be so high if we did.

The motion that we have before us today deals with the Minister of Infrastructure and his lavish spending. I want to be clear for the record so that Canadians who are watching right now understand what this is about. This is almost $1 million in renovations for 32 staff members. I went on to the government employment site. According to that there are only 12 people in the minister's office and six people in the deputy minister's office. Those numbers to me total 18. If the minister says there are 32, I will give him the benefit of the doubt. We know what a Liberal job creation program looks like. It is just about taxes and hiring people to work for the government. We will see that time and time again over the next four years.

The renovation costs for the minister's own office amounted to $204,889. The renovation costs for the deputy minister's office amounted to $138,673. The cost of furniture for both offices came to $486,378. This gives us a grand total of $835,252. That is money that we had to take out of hard-working taxpayers' pockets just so the new Minister of Infrastructure could have a lavish office, a minister who comes from Edmonton where politicians ought to know that when they start spending taxpayers' dollars on lavish entitlements for themselves and things like the sky palace that Alison Redford had and now sky palace 2.0 for the Minister of Infrastructure, Albertans for sure do not tolerate this kind of behaviour.

I want to put things into perspective as to what $835,000 or almost $1 million would get us.

In my riding of Red Deer—Lacombe, previously the riding of Wetaskiwin, the town of Bentley had a memorial park playground for $465,000 for Canada 150 that it applied for. Everybody in the community could have used this playground for many years to come, not an office for a couple of bureaucrats in downtown Ottawa.

Ponoka Splash Park wanted to upgrade to make it safer. They asked for a mere $28,150. Ironically, that is about the same as the cost of one of the offices for the 32 staff members. If we divide $800,000 by 32 that gets us a safe splash park or an office for one staffer who is likely only going to be there for four years.

The Ponoka Ag Event Centre had a request for a digital sign, a storage shed, permanent seating for the wonderful events it puts on there, indoor roping events and so on with horses and dressage, all these kinds of things. It is looking for $242,000. I am sure taxpayers in Ponoka in central Alberta would have much rather seen their tax dollars come back to their constituency to be spent on infrastructure investments for them not on a minister's office.

The sewer system and lagoon in the town of Bentley would cost $190,000. The Lacombe Athletic Park wanted $210,000. We could have repaved the whole village of Clyde for about $500,000. The Thorsby Seniors Club building renovation only wanted $20,000. The Calmar Arena upgrades would cost $500,000 so the kids could play hockey for many years to come. Instead, the newly minted Minister of Infrastructure needed a nice new office.

In fact, the Ponoka splash park, the Bentley sewer system and lagoon reconstruction, the Lacombe Athletic Park, the Thorsby Seniors Club, the Ponoka Ag Event Centre, and the Mirror and District Museum projects would have all been funded for $700,000. That is less than what the Minister of Infrastructure spent.

The money comes out of the pockets of the taxpayers who live in these communities. It should go back to these communities in the form of investments, but no, it is going into the minister's office.

The next question I have is this. What could we do with $1 million? What would we do with $1 million if we had to make a decision like the Minister of Infrastructure did? Thankfully, we do not have to ask everybody. We just have to ask the Barenaked Ladies, because the Barenaked Ladies back in the eighties published a song entitled If I Had A Million Dollars. If I had a million dollars, what would I do?

If I had a million dollars
Well, I'd buy you a house.

It turns out that the average cost of a home in the minister's riding is $283,000. He could have bought three homes in his riding, putting homeless people in his riding inside a home, but no, he has a nice office.

If I had a million dollars
I'd buy you furniture for your house
Maybe a nice Chesterfield or an ottoman

We know there are nice chesterfields out there. For about $15,625 per office suite, they have brand spanking new furniture, and I am sure there are a couple of ottomans thrown in there. By the way, the average Canadian household spends about $2,000 a year on new furnishings, so this is looking pretty good for those 32 lucky people who are going to have those pretty swanky new renovated offices to work in.

If I had a million dollars
Well, I'd buy you a K-Car
A nice Reliant automobile

In its prime, the K-car went for $5,880 brand new. That is 142 K-cars that the Minister of Infrastructure and Communities could have bought for Canadians who had transportation needs, but no, we are not going to get that from the minister.

I'd build a tree-fort in our yard

Five hundred dollars built me a tree fort for my kids. It was not quite that lavish, but that is 1,670 tree houses. Does a tree house not remind everyone of a sky palace, or sky palace 2.0 perhaps? could help
It wouldn't be that hard

He should be asking John Baird for help, because John Baird as minister spent $42 billion on things that Canadians actually needed. He did so with complete approval from the Auditor General, not a questionable expense, and he did it in his half-time role as the minister of infrastructure. It is kind of ironic that a fully dedicated minister could not find a cheaper way to do it than a half-time minister could.

Maybe we could put a little tiny fridge
In there somewhere

They could have pre-wrapped bacon and sausages laid out.

But they don't have pre-wrapped bacon
However, bacon goes for about $1 for 100 grams. Therefore, we could have bought 83,500,000 grams of bacon or 42 tonnes of bacon. The minister could have brought home 42 tonnes of bacon with that money, but no, he just has a nice office.

If I had a million dollars
Well, I'd buy you a fur coat
But not a real fur coat, that's cruel

I do not necessarily subscribe to that point of view, but an average fur coat costs about $2,000. Therefore, we could have lavishly outfitted some homeless people who were looking for coats. We could have done it for 417 people, nice seal skin coats to keep them nice and warm, but no, the minister needed new office renovations instead.

Well, I'd buy you an exotic pet
Yep, like a llama or an emu

Did everyone know that a llama today is about $50. We could have bought 16,700 llamas. We could be the llama capital of North America if only the minister had some vision that went beyond his own immediate needs of putting together a very lavish office for himself.

The song goes on to talk about John Merrick's remains. I have nothing funny to say to that, so I am going to pass.

However, if the minister had $1 million, he would not have to walk to the store. It actually costs about $20,000 to stock a convenience store, by the way. That is 41 stores worth of products that we could put out there for Canadians' needs, but no, we are not going to do that.

He could take a limousine because it costs more. He is a Liberal. I expect he will be taking a limousine everywhere he goes.

If I had a million dollars
We wouldn't have to eat Kraft Dinner

Kraft Dinner goes for $1 a box or about 25¢ a meal. That is 3,340,000 meals of Kraft Dinner that we could have fed people who needed to go to food banks, or whatever the case might be, but no, instead we got some nice furniture for the Minister of Infrastructure and Communities.

We could have even got the fanciest ketchup, Dijon ketchup. That is 240,000 bottles of ketchup.

Well, I'd buy you a green dress
But not a real green dress...

No, Statistics Canada says household expenses on clothing are about $3,500. We could have clothed 238 homes with that money.

Well, I'd buy you some art
A Picasso or a Garfunkel

If he is getting Art Garfunkel to perform at the taxpayers' expense, I need to know.

Well, I'd buy you a monkey
Haven't you always wanted a monkey?

A monkey at a pet store costs about $2,500, which is 334 monkeys. That is one for every member of Parliament: a monkey for that member, a monkey for that member, that member, and that member. We could all have monkeys. As a matter of fact, I think the folks at home watching this right now might actually say something about that. The point of the matter is that there are so many more things we could do with this money.

The last line of the song says:

If I had a million dollars
I'd be rich!

It is pretty rich that the Minister of Infrastructure and Communities spent $834,000 on his own office.

Main Estimates 2016-17 June 14th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, I am a hockey player and I have ragged the puck before, but I have never seen anything like this. I will get to my question really quickly.

I wonder if the hon. minister across the way can explain why, when the federal cabinet goes from 39 down to 30 and the next closest ministry has spent on renovations around $50,000 and when his division of his department is excised off from the transport minister, the transport minister did not need to spend 800-and-some-thousand dollars on a newly dedicated office? When we go to the Government of Canada website and look at surplus items, such as $20 for chairs minimum bid, times 32, is $640, $40 for work stations, times 32, is $1,280, $100 for boardroom tables, times 10 let us say, is 1,000 bucks, he could have refurnished pretty much his entire office for about 3,000 bucks.

Can he explain and justify to the taxpayers of Canada why, when there is extra office space, with nine fewer ministries, and the surplus items are already here, available to be used, he needed to drop close to a million bucks on an office for himself and 32 people?

Business of Supply June 14th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, I hate to pass up an opportunity to ask my esteemed colleague, the member for Calgary Rocky Ridge, a question.

I have been up on my feet today advocating for this. My constituents have been advocating, through me, for this for a long time. We have managed to have some gains on the international trade front over the last 10 years, with some 46 new countries we have trade agreements with. Some of my constituents would tell me that it is actually easier for them to trade, buy, and sell goods and services with other countries than it is to purchase goods and services from other provinces.

I wonder if my colleague has any particular examples when it comes that, and if he could cite some of the absolutely ridiculous barriers we have as well. They are all non-tariff barriers. We do not have tariffs, I believe. He mentioned the organized trades, when it comes to Blue Seal versus Red Seal, and how people who have the same credentials from a school in Alberta cannot work in Saskatchewan, and vice versa. These are ridiculous barriers and impediments. Perhaps he could comment on the, hopefully soon, accession of Manitoba into the new west economic partnership, with B.C., Alberta, and Saskatchewan, and, as a fellow Albertan, talk about how Alberta's initiative has resulted in years of prosperity that we have had there.

Business of Supply June 14th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague for his eloquent speech.

Folks in my riding cannot understand trade barriers, especially the non-tariff barriers that we face, not only between our countries, particularly in the agricultural sector, but even for the consumers in my riding. They are very frustrated, and we saw what happened in Quebec when that province regulated the colour of margarine. For 20-some years, we could not even have margarine traded across the provincial boundaries simply because of the colour of the margarine, which was all based on a protectionist philosophy.

Protectionism might seem like an expedient thing to do for politicians to get re-elected, but it leads to division and to treating some more fair than others. When it comes to free trade, we do not need government at all. Individuals can decide anywhere in Canada how they want to trade. If they have a deal that is mutually acceptable to both parties, they can trade. Trade agreements are usually about what we are not going to trade in the context of hoping for what we will trade.

We have barriers when it comes to loading our trucks. A trucker who is travelling across 10 different provinces has to load for the lightest province. These are ridiculous things that cost consumers and cost industries billions of dollars.

I am going to ask my colleague, who is very learned when it comes to trade, whether it is extremely prudent for the Government of Canada to get involved and get a decision rendered that is in the best interests of Canadian consumers and Canadian businesses.

Innovation in Canada June 14th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, running its events through a non-profit that also happens to be run by a lobbyist is quite innovative. For a government that says it is dedicated to inclusive growth, it is quite shocking to see how many exclusive pay-to-play events it promotes.

Today, the Liberals have outsourced the innovation agenda to their Liberal friends at Canada 2020. Not only that, but Canada 2020 controls the invite list for this so-called government announcement. Therefore, there is in fact nothing public or inclusive about the Liberal innovation agenda.

How is the minister protecting the taxpayer by granting exclusive access of a $2 billion policy to well-connected Liberal insiders?