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Conservative MP for Banff—Airdrie (Alberta)

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

Statements in the House

Standing Orders of the House of Commons April 12th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, can members spell “hypocrisy”?

Let me fill the Prime Minister in on something else. Parliament belongs to Canadians and not to him. It will not be changed to suit his selfish needs.

Canadians certainly see through the Prime Minister's blatant disrespect for our democracy. They will simply not stand for the Liberals' ramming through substantive changes to how their democracy works, especially when they are changes that will remove any ability to hold him accountable.

Will the Prime Minister drop his “me, me, me” attitude and actually respect Canadian democracy for a change?

Standing Orders of the House of Commons April 11th, 2017

That was more Liberal spin and buzzwords, Mr. Speaker.

The opposition members are firmly against this Liberal power grab. The government House leader can try to call that a veto or whatever she likes, but Canadians see through this sham. Changes to the Standing Orders should be done with the unanimous consent of all parties, as was the case in the previous Parliament when the Liberal vice-chair on PROC used the veto on minor changes to the Standing Orders. That is right. None other than the parliamentary secretary to the government House leader understood the need for unanimous consent. Why was unanimous consent good for the Liberals then and not now?

Standing Orders of the House of Commons April 11th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, the Liberals can continue to use all the buzzwords and spin that they like, but Canadians see through this blatant Liberal power grab. It is their democracy and they will not stand for this. Liberals cannot say they are having a conversation when they are ramming through substantive changes that would remove accountability. Canadians expect the government to be held accountable. They expect legislation to be properly debated. They expect their Prime Minister to show up and answer questions more than once a week. Why do the Liberals think they can make these substantive changes without the unanimous consent of all political parties?

Standing Orders of the House of Commons April 10th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the government House leader said that she wanted all members of Parliament to be able to come together and provide some constructive feedback. Well, on this side of the House, all the opposition parties already have come together to stand firmly against this Liberal power grab. These are substantial changes to the House of Commons in the way it functions, which will see the Liberals be less accountable to the very people they are supposed to be accountable to, Canadians.

If this is just a discussion as the minister tries to spin it as, why are the Liberals trying to ram this through without the consent of all political parties?

Standing Orders of the House of Commons April 10th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, the government House leader needs to check her definition of conversation and discussion. She states that this is just a conversation, but the last time I checked, this conversation involved the Liberals trying to ram through substantive changes in an arbitrary time frame that would simply remove Liberal accountability to Canadians by limiting debate and giving the Liberals unprecedented control over the House of Commons and its committees.

Will the Liberals stop spinning this as a conversation and call it what it really is: an affront to Canadian democracy?

Privilege April 7th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, on a point of order, I was referenced as seconding the motion, but it was my understanding that you stood a couple of times during my intervention and indicated that you felt you had all the information you needed. It sounded to me as though you were prepared to rule. Therefore, I think it would be in order for the member to move the motion to have it referred to the committee.

Privilege April 7th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. It is my right to stand and speak to a matter of privilege in the House of Commons. I understand your desire to try to keep the debate as brief as possible. However, I have points to make, and it is my right to make those points. As I have said, it is the most fundamental part of our duties, and the most fundamental thing we need to deal with is a point of privilege. I find it very troubling, Mr. Speaker, for you to tell me my time is cut off.

Privilege April 7th, 2017

Understood, Mr. Speaker, and I will certainly make every effort to do so.

As I mentioned earlier, these issues are being dealt with in PROC. If you bear with me, Mr. Speaker, I will not take long to get to it, but it does come to a point, and it is this. The Liberals have this issue before PROC, which obviously they brought forward, to table drop this idea of changing the Standing Orders in the House of Commons.

It appears to me that was done in an attempt to try to ensure the Liberals had less accountability to the House of Commons, which means to the Canadian people we represent. We are here on behalf of them. Because of that, there has been a notice of motion brought forward in PROC, but we are seized by this other matter, with an amendment to the motion that has been put on the floor by a Liberal member to try to ram through the changes they want to make there.

That creates a great difficulty in order for this to be dealt with. More important, it should not be left to a committee of the House of Commons to make that decision as to how it is dealt with. That should primarily be before the House when it has been brought forward. The debate and the vote needs to occur here. That is the proper process.

It again ties back to how this is another use by the government of trying to change the way this place functions to suit its own purposes, much like the motion before PROC. It is an attempt to change the way this place functions to suit its own purposes. In that case, it is to try to ensure that the Prime Minister can avoid accountability to Canadians in question period. It is to try to take away one more day of accountability to Canadians by removing the Fridays. That is what it is about. In this case it is taking the ability for the House to deal with the most fundamental stuff we have to deal with, which is talking about privileges of members of the House of Commons, about their ability to exercise their right to vote on behalf of the constituents who have elected them to represent them in the House.

That is essentially why we have a breech of privilege on a question of privilege. That is what has happened here, and it is just staggering. It is almost hard to keep track of it, but obviously there is a need for us to look at it and deal with it.

I understand we want to keep this brief, but it is important to hear people out on this. This is a critical matter, one that if it is allowed to proceed in the way it has sets this great precedent that members of the government can change the way this place functions to suit themselves. This is the greatest breech of privilege of the members of the House of Commons and therefore the greatest breech of accountability to the Canadian people that I could ever imagine occurring.

I do not think we should try to rush this and say that members should only speak for a couple of minutes and move on to somebody else. That is very troublesome and problematic because of the very fact that we are talking about the heart of democracy, that ability to exercise the franchise that has been entrusted to us. We are put here for that very reason, to represent our fellow citizens.

For those two members who had those abilities breeched in that way and then to have the government try to avoid having the House deal with it in a proper manner, in the way it is supposed to be dealt with, in the way it always has been dealt with and instead have a committee take those responsibilities away from members is almost in itself another breech of privilege. It is the right of all of us to enforce something so fundamental about the way Parliament works, about the privileges of members and therefore the privileges of all Canadians to have their voice heard, to have their members of Parliament stand in this place and have a voice, on behalf of their constituents, that vote whatever that vote might be, to represent their constituents.

From that perspective alone, this is a serious and fundamental matter.

I see you are giving me the wave-off, Mr. Speaker. I understand your desire to try to move on, but I just cannot emphasize enough how important it is that privileges of all members be respected, and the privilege of all members to deal with a motion of privilege needs to be respected. If that cannot be respected, then how can we expect someone to have their privileges upheld in this place, if they have their vote taken away and then the government tries to find ways to procedurally prevent that from being dealt with in a proper manner?

It just speaks to exactly what we are seeing over and over again with this attempt by the government that I mentioned earlier, the one in PROC. We saw it happen in this House with ways to try to avoid accountability, with ways to try to change the ways things function, but with the consent of the people—

Privilege April 7th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, I understand your desire to move forward as expeditiously as possible, but I have some points that are important to this that I need to make, and I would ask that you give me that opportunity.

Privilege April 7th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate that. Obviously, I have some points to make, but I will attempt to be as brief as is feasible.

I want to speak in support of the member's question of privilege. It is centred around this idea, which seems to be a recurring theme that we are seeing from the government, that somehow it will try to twist or use the procedures in place in the House to avoid the idea of accountability. This is a corollary to that because it is avoiding being accountable to the members of this House, and therefore is breaching the privileges of the members of this House. That is what it boils down to.

I want to go back to explain how this began, because I think it is important to start from the beginning. I would remind everyone that we are talking about a breach of members' privileges that occurred. The member for Milton raised it. It was also raised by the member for Beauce. They were prevented from being able to exercise the most basic, most fundamental part of their duties as members of Parliament, which is to vote on behalf of their constituents. They were delayed and prevented from getting here to exercise that most fundamental part of their duties.

I would ask especially the government members to think about the seriousness of that. Had that been two members of the government who had been prevented from attending a vote, and had that led to the government losing a vote, that could have led to the fall of the government, which would lead to an election. That is how serious that contravention of a member's privilege can be. It can be that serious. It can mean the fall of a government. It can mean putting the Canadian people into an election. That is how serious that can be. That is the kind of privilege we are talking about.

I remember in the last Parliament being on the procedure and House affairs committee, PROC, when a similar, almost identical, privilege motion was brought by a member of the NDP who is no longer here, Yvon Godin. That had also happened to him, and a number of other members. In that case, the Speaker found a prima facie case of privilege, and it was referred by the House to PROC, which made it its first priority and dealt with it.

That has always been what has happened. There is a reason that happens. It is a very important issue to deal with, when a members' privileges have been breached, especially when it is talking about the most fundamental part of their duties, exercising their right to vote on behalf of tens of thousands of constituents. In my case, I represent about 140,000 people in my constituency. Others have varying numbers. However, each member represents tens of thousands of constituents. It is the duty of members to exercise that right on behalf of those tens of thousands of citizens who put them in this place, who put their trust in those members, and expect them to exercise that vote. When they are prevented from doing what is the most fundamental part of their duties, it is the most fundamental breach of members' privileges.

That is why that was taken so seriously at that time, and why it should obviously be taken that seriously at this time as well. I have always seen in my time on PROC, that when those matters have been referred there, they have been dealt with as a priority for that reason. As this matter was found to be a prima facie case as well, as it should have been, it should become the most important matter before this House, and should warrant the debates that are required, and a vote to refer it to committee should happen.

I appreciate that the parliamentary secretary to the government House leader stood up to cite procedure which allows the government to use the motion it did to return to government orders in order to avoid this debate and this accountability, I would say. What that means is that all members of this House have had their privileges breached by that action on behalf of the government, because this is a most fundamental question before us, when we deal with a question of privilege. I talked about why it is so important that we deal with these things and that they should be the most primary thing before the House. To use that kind of a motion is a breach of the privileges of the members of this House, and that is why my colleague raised this point.

What I will say at this point is that I understand the situation that is occurring right now. There has been a situation which almost seems like a side issue, but it is not, and I will explain why. There is this matter before the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs.