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Track Blake

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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word is obviously.

Conservative MP for Banff—Airdrie (Alberta)

Won his last election, in 2015, with 63% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Taxation February 23rd, 2017

Mr. Speaker, yesterday I asked the finance minister a clear question, but the answer I got was about as clear as mud. It is just like the muddled answers that small business owners are getting from the CRA. Because they cannot get a clear answer, small businesses are fearing the worst: yet another Liberal tax grab.

Again, I ask the minister, will the new rules requiring Canadians to report the sale of their principal residence on their tax returns eliminate any portion of the capital gains exemption if they run a small business from part of their home?

Taxation February 22nd, 2017

Mr. Speaker, another day, another way the Liberals are trying to overtax small businesses. When they announced new rules requiring Canadians to report the sale of their principal residence to the CRA, it turns out it was just the Liberals trying to sneak in another new tax grab on small business owners.

Financial advisers are warning small business owners that this change will eliminate the capital gains exemption on the sale of their primary residence if they run a business from their home office. The Liberal war on small business continues.

Would the finance minister commit today to reversing this attack on hard-working Canadian small business owners?

Phoenix Pay System February 16th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, Canada is known globally for its natural wonders, and people from all over the world come to experience our national parks. In my riding, millions of visitors come to Banff National Park every year. Banff is Canada's first national park and the crown jewel of the parks system. With free admission this year for Canada's 150th, more visitors than ever are expected to come see the beauty of Banff National Park.

Unfortunately, there are many Parks Canada employees who work in Banff who are not being paid their proper salaries, or even being paid at all, due to the issues with the Phoenix pay system. These employees help to make Banff National Park the top tourism destination it is. However, many of them are being forced to leave to take other jobs so they can finally receive a paycheque.

First, the government forced the implementation of the Phoenix system, despite warnings that it was not ready to go, and now it is dragging its feet while thousands of employees are struggling to makes ends meet.

I stand today to acknowledge the hard work of these employees and to demand that the government come up with a fix immediately for this pay fiasco.

Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement Implementation Act February 13th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, I would ask the member to take the opportunity to elaborate, because I have heard him respond to others about his concern that there is no plan from the Liberal government. Could he elaborate, for members on the other side of the House, on what would be a good approach going forward, based on the past record of the Conservative government? I would like to hear his thoughts on that.

Democratic Reform February 13th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, in November, the Chief Electoral Officer said that there was no way to restrict or prevent foreigners or foreign organizations from trying to influence Canadian elections, that there was no restrictions on unlimited third party spending for things like polling, phone banking, or election websites. At committee, the minister claimed that she was committed to ensuring there was no foreign influence in our elections.

However, actions speak louder than words. If the Liberals are truly committed to preventing foreign interference in Canadian elections, will they commit today to closing these loopholes?

Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement Implementation Act February 13th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, I would agree that trade is a very key part of creating opportunities. That is why our Conservative government was so ambitious in our trade agreements. However, what is the current government doing? I do not see any new trade initiatives being undertaken. What are they? I did not hear the member mention a single initiative or a single country with which the Liberals were working toward an agreement. As I said earlier, it falls in line with the typical approach of the Liberal government.

The Liberals want to talk in generalities and platitudes about things being important, but when it really comes right down to it, what do they do? Nothing. What are we seeing as a result?

Look at my province of Alberta. Thousands of people are out of work. People are looking for opportunities. They are looking for hope. They are getting nothing from the government. Instead they are getting huge deficits and new tax increases in carbon taxes and other taxes. The Liberals will not grow the economy that way. They need to get to work and do some of the things like creating opportunities.

Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement Implementation Act February 13th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, the member raises a very key point. I have to give credit where it is due. The Liberal government had picked up on the work we were already doing, which was largely completed. To finish that is good, and I will give credit where it is due. However, I agree with the member that Liberals seem to lack any kind of ambitious agenda of their own in this regard. It seems to fall in line with their view of the economy in general. I do not get a sense they have any plans that would help to grow and build our economy.

Trade is one example. As the member mentioned, Canada has all kinds of opportunities to build on the record of the Stephen Harper Conservative government. I do not get a sense of any ambition on the part of the Liberal government to try to build upon that, beyond what we see here. It seems to line up with how the Liberals view the economy in general. Their tendency is to try to grow government rather than have the private sector grow, develop, and create jobs so Canadians get back to work. Their focus seems to be more on growing government and putting money in the pockets of their Liberal friends.

Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement Implementation Act February 13th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, there certainly was one thing I heard the member say that was new and novel, and that was a trade agreement the NDP could get behind. It is nice to hear there is always hope. In one instance, the NDP chose to see something that was good for the economy, for Canadian businesses, for Canadian workers and support it. However, it is not something we often see from New Democrats, which is unfortunate. With Canada being a trading nation, it is so important to ensure there are opportunities for free trade with as much of the world market as possible.

Diversity in markets that we can trade with is key as a country like Canada relies so heavily upon our trade with other countries. In an increasingly global world, there is no question that this is a key thing. It is quite unfortunate that the NDP does not really see fit to support more Canadian businesses and Canadian workers through the importance of trade.

The New Democrats should try to focus on that and think about the jobs and opportunities this creates for Canadian businesses and families. I talked about some of the benefits during my speech about Ukraine agreement and the EU agreement and what it would mean. When we talk about the European Union agreement, I said that it was about $1,000 for the average Canadian family, about 80,000 jobs created for Canadians. Is that not important to the NDP?

Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement Implementation Act February 13th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, first, I would concur with the statement that there was work done obviously by both parties. The previous Conservative government did a lot of hard work, a lot of heavy lifting to get us to the goal line, and yes, I would certainly acknowledge the work done by their government, which was able to push it across the goal line. It is a positive thing. We are glad to see that the Liberal government has taken up the work on something that we believed was so important for the economy. As I said during my speech, I certainly would hope their government would seek to do that more often, that they would seek to build on the record and important work that was done by our Conservative government, in particular, with respect to balancing the budget. The member talked about building on some of the work that we did. We left them with such a great position, in terms of the fiscal situation, with a balanced budget, but they just blew it, absolutely blew it, in less than a year. Certainly one would have hoped they maybe would have chosen to follow our example and that work in some of those areas as well, such as balancing the budget, lowering taxes, things like that.

However, at the very least, we can give some credit where it is due. On at least one area of our economy, they have been able to follow some of the work that we have done on some of these trade deals and that is a huge benefit. I just hope they might pick up on some of—

Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement Implementation Act February 13th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, I am happy to rise today in the House to speak to Bill C-30 and about the important role trade plays in our Canadian economy.

This is one of the few bills I can praise the current government for. It is something I wish I could do more often, if the Liberals would follow the Conservative path.

They obviously picked up on the great work we were doing as a government and have been able to help carry it through. Maybe the Liberals can take some of those lessons on things like balancing the budget or lowering taxes. One can only hope that maybe their understanding and recognition of the importance of trade will extend to other things that are important to our economy and to our fiscal situation in this country. Again, that is me being an optimist.

Let me get to the heart of the matter we are speaking to today, which is trade itself. Canada is a trading nation, and trade really is the lifeblood of our economy. In fact, one in five jobs in Canada, and about 60% of our GDP, are linked to exports. We do not have to look very far or very hard to figure out how important trade is to our economy and to opportunities for Canadians, based on those statistics.

History has shown that trade is the best way to help us create jobs and growth and long-term prosperity here in Canada. As trade increases, so does our nation's economic success, which obviously then puts more money into the pockets of hard-working Canadians. That is really what it is all about, at the end of the day. People talk about a strong economy and opportunities. What it all boils down to is putting more money into the pockets of Canadians to feed their families and provide better opportunities for their children. That is really what we are speaking about when we talk about trade and economic prosperity.

Under our previous Conservative government, the Stephen Harper government, one of our key accomplishments was that we launched one of the most ambitious pro-trade plans in our country's history. It was probably the most ambitious, in fact. I would like to take a moment, while I am on that point, to add a note of praise. I have heard others who spoke do the same, but it is important that it be said, because credit should be given where credit is due.

I look at the member for Abbotsford, who was the former minister of international trade, and the member for Battlefords—Lloydminster, who was our agriculture minister, and the great and hard work they put in. I know the travel schedules those two individuals and others had to undertake to accomplish some of the things that were accomplished under the Stephen Harper Conservative government. Under the leadership of former Prime Minister Stephen Harper himself, some great things were done, but it was a lot of hard work on the part of those members in particular. I want to note the legacy they created, because I think that is important. The two of them remain here in the House and continue to work hard in opposition to encourage these kinds of things to continue.

Under the leadership of those individuals, we were able to conclude free trade agreements with 38 countries. Examples are Colombia; the European Free Trade Association, which includes Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland; Honduras; Jordan; Panama; Peru; South Korea; and the 28 member states of the European Union. There were some pretty significant advancements there.

We also concluded, signed, or brought into force foreign investment promotion and protection agreements, FIPAs, with 24 countries. That was more than any other government in Canadian history as well.

One of our historic achievements was the Canada–Korea Free Trade Agreement, which was Canada's first free trade agreement in the Asia Pacific region, which is one of the fastest-growing regions in the world. South Korea is not only a major economic player and a key market for us in Canada but also serves as a gateway for Canadian businesses to the entire Asia Pacific region. This agreement is projected to increase Canadian merchandise exports to South Korea by 32% and to boost Canada's economy by $1.7 billion.

Additionally, in November 2013, our Conservative government released the global markets action plan, which was our pro-jobs, pro-export plan. It was aimed at creating new opportunities for Canadians, through trade and investment, by targeting emerging and established markets with broad Canadian interests.

Obviously, when we look at our record, we strongly support international trade, and we support international trade initiatives that will generate increased economic activity, jobs, and a collaborative relationship between Canada and emerging economies.

Canada should also strive to maximize the benefits we have as a free trading nation and establish trading relationships, beyond North America, with these emerging markets. To that end, it is important that the government vigorously pursue the reduction of international trade barriers and tariffs. This is why we supported Bill C-13, the trade facilitation agreement, which received royal assent not long ago. The trade facilitation agreement will simplify customs procedures, reduce red tape, expedite the release and clearance of goods, reduce costs associated with processing, and make international trade more predictable for Canadians.

Predictability is certainly key. We see the effects when we lack predictability when we look at the current government and its never-ending, constant changes to regulatory processes for energy project reviews. We can see what the lack of certainty creates when the chill is put on investments. Certainty is certainly key when we look at providing opportunities for businesses to help grow the economy. They need to have certainty.

Canadian investors, importers and exporters of goods, and small and medium-sized businesses will certainly benefit from the implementation of the TFA.

Another trade agreement that was successfully negotiated by the previous Conservative government was the Canada-Ukraine free trade agreement. This agreement will continue to strengthen the Canada-Ukraine partnership in peace and prosperity. Total bilateral merchandise trade between Canada and Ukraine averaged $289 million in 2011-15. It is expected to expand by 19% as a result of the implementation of this trade agreement. With this agreement, Canada and Ukraine will eliminate duties on 99.9% and 86% of our respective current imports, thereby benefiting both Canadian and Ukrainian exporters and consumers. Our GDP will increase by about $29.2 million under that agreement, and Ukraine's GDP will expand by about $18.6 million. Canada's exports to the Ukraine will increase by about $41.2 million.

Canada's export gains will be broad-based, with exports of pork, machinery and equipment, transport equipment, other manufactured products, motor vehicles and parts, and chemical products being some of the leading industries. Our previous Conservative government also established market access for beef in Ukraine in July 2015. Canada exported about $35.5 million worth of agriculture and agrifood and seafood products to Ukraine in 2014. These obviously show some of the benefits of trade and trade agreements and what they can mean for Canada.

Let me get to the trade agreement we are talking about today, the Canada-European Union comprehensive economic and trade agreement. Negotiated by our previous Conservative government, CETA is by far the most ambitious trade initiative Canada has ever concluded. Once this agreement comes into force, Canada will be one of the few countries in the world to have preferential access to the world's two largest economies: the European Union and the United States.

The Conservative Party strongly supports international trade initiatives that will generate increased economic activity, drive prosperity and job creation, and foster greater co-operation between our democratic allies.

A joint Canada-EU study concluded that a trade agreement with the EU could boost Canada's economy by about $12 billion annually, and increase bilateral trade by 20%. It is important to put some sense to what that means for the average Canadian and Canadian families. It is the economic equivalent of adding about $1,000 to the average Canadian family's income. It would add about 80,000 new jobs to the Canadian economy. That is something that the government has failed at to this point. This would be something to help create some jobs to put people to work, and provide new opportunities for Canadian families to increase their income.

When CETA comes into force, nearly 100% of all EU tariff lines on non-agricultural products will be duty-free, along with close to 94% for agricultural products. The agreement would also give Canadian service suppliers the best market access the EU has ever granted any of its trading partners. That is great news for the 13.8 million Canadians who are employed in the industry. It accounts for about 70% of our country's GDP.

Under CETA, Canadian firms could bid on contracts and supply their goods and services to the three main EU level institutions: the European Commission, the European Parliament, and the European Council, as well as the EU member state governments, and thousands of regional and local government entities. The Canada-EU trade agreement would give Canadian suppliers of goods and services better access to the EU's $3.3-trillion government procurement market, which would provide them with significant new export opportunities.

Investment plays a key role in the Canadian economy. CETA would provide Canadian and EU investors with greater stability and transparency for their investments. The stock of known foreign direct investment by Canadian companies in the EU totalled about $210 billion at the end of 2015, representing about 21% of Canadian direct investment abroad. Conversely, in that same year, known foreign direct investment from European companies in Canada totalled more than $242 billion, representing 31% of total foreign investment in Canada.

This is a landmark agreement. It has resulted from years of hard work, especially by our world-class trade negotiators who did all the heavy lifting on this.

I would like to focus in and speak to the benefits CETA would bring to my home province of Alberta. Times are tough in Alberta right now, so when we hear any good news on the economic front, it is something we can greatly appreciate. There is no question Alberta stands to benefit from the preferential access to the EU markets. The EU is already our province's fourth largest export destination and our third largest trading partner. Once in force, CETA would eliminate tariffs on almost all of Alberta's exports, and provide access to new market opportunities in the EU. CETA also includes provisions that would ease regulatory barriers, reinforce intellectual property rights, and ensure more transparent rules for market access. Alberta exporters could benefit from all of these improved conditions. When we look at some of the opportunities there, the main merchandise exports from Alberta to the EU are agriculture and agrifood products, advanced manufacturing, metals and mineral products. Some of our other exports include chemicals and plastics, fishing and fish products, forest products, and information and communications technology.

I would also like to take a minute or two to talk about one very specific opportunity that we have already seen open up as a result of this agreement.

In 2014, when negotiations had proven to be successful toward this agreement, a beef processing plant in my riding reopened. It had been a farmer-owned plant that had closed down in 2006, and had been sitting vacant since then.

In 2014, we were able to announce that there was a buyer, Rich Vesta from the United States, who is well known in the beef industry and has brought a lot of great opportunities to some of the businesses he has been involved with in the United States. He decided to purchase this facility and bring it back online. He chose to do that largely based on this agreement. He saw an opportunity for specific cuts of beef to go to some niche markets that would be based around some of the trade agreements we had been able to sign for Canada, in particular, the opportunities that CETA would create. Even before being implemented, we already could see the benefits of these opportunities.

That plant had been sitting there dormant since 2006. I was able to tour it recently and it is nearing its opening. It is expected to open later this month, in fact. When I toured it a couple of months back, I could see it was really coming together. I heard about all of the innovations and improvements being made. This is going to be an absolute world-class facility. The processing innovations that it is going to bring to Canada are amazing. They are all based on trade opportunities being created by some of the trade agreements under the Conservative government and the hope generated by this particular agreement as well.

We can already see the success stories and I am sure they will continue. It is something that people are very excited about and proud of in my home community of Airdrie, as well as Balzac in Rocky View County, where the facility is located. It will create jobs for people in the area. Many people are struggling right now and trying to find work. Not only will this create opportunities for people, but down the line there will be opportunities, such as more buyers for our cattle as well. Small cow-calf operations would benefit, right up through feedlots, etc., because it would create opportunities for everyone. People are really excited about what it would mean for my area.

I will take a minute to speak about some of the opportunities and benefits that CETA would bring to the forestry sector in Canada, which is another example. The EU is actually the world's third largest importer of forest products. In 2015, it accounted for about 14% of global forest product imports, or about $46 billion. While most Canadian forest products already enter the EU duty-free, when CETA comes into force, Canadians will also enjoy quota-free market access. This means Canada would have a preferential trade advantage with the EU that many competitors will not have.

As well, bilateral dialogue on forest products would enhance Canada's ability to influence the development of EU measures, reducing the potential negative impacts of EU measures on Canadian exports, and help ensure continued access for Canadian forest products to the European Union. That would provide Canada with a really unique window into the regulatory development process in the EU. Canada would then be able to raise industry concerns with proposed regulations at a very early stage. That would be of benefit to our forestry producers as well.

We are also looking at a new phytosanitary measures joint management committee that would facilitate discussions between Canadian and EU experts. It would provide a venue for experts to resolve issues impeding trade before they become major problems.

CETA would also establish a framework for co-operation on the full scope of animal health, plant health, and food safety provisions.

Tourism is also something that I focus on greatly. It is pretty important in my riding. We already have great links and ties between Canada and the European Union countries when it comes to tourism. I have often said that tourism breeds trade and trade breeds tourism, so opportunities would be created by those links that already exist. This agreement would help to build on all of those things.

I stand today to show my support for CETA and for the opportunities that it would create, the jobs it would create certainly for small and medium-sized businesses in our country and right on through. I appreciate the opportunity to speak in support of the bill.