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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word is liberal.

Conservative MP for Banff—Airdrie (Alberta)

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

Statements in the House

Canada Elections Act February 1st, 2018

Mr. Speaker, I certainly heard what the member was saying and wondered what his thoughts would be.

I have described this legislation a number of times as “I got caught with my hand in the cookie jar, so I will blame the cookie jar act”. Obviously, the Prime Minister and some of his cabinet ministers have not really followed the legislation that is in existence already, so this is kind of a PR stunt to make it look like something will change.

If the Prime Minister has not followed the laws that are already in place, does the member think that with this change the Prime Minister is going to follow this and it will make everything all right, or does he think the Prime Minister is going to carry on doing the kinds of unethical things he has done in the past?

Canada Elections Act February 1st, 2018

Madam Speaker, if the member wants to stand and be proud of a piece of legislation that is simply a PR stunt, I guess that is up to him. If I were him, I would be much prouder to stand up and say that we are actually going to fix the problem. However, they are not doing that. They are simply saying that they would put this on a website somewhere and people would know when it would occur. That is all wonderful.

He mentioned the media being invited. There are a few media members who might disagree with that, because they were told to get the heck out of the room on some of these occasions, but that is another story. It is all out there. They can check that out for themselves.

What this boils down to is that we have a Prime Minister who does not want to follow the rules that already exist. He does not want to follow the laws. We already discovered that. He has now broken four of them. Why does he not just start by following the rules? We do not need to have a piece of legislation that says that we will put this on a website somewhere. Let us actually see the Liberals stop taking cash for access and start following their own rules. There is no one set of rules for everyone else and another for the Prime Minister and the cabinet. They should be treated the same as everyone else. It is time for the Prime Minister to wake up and figure that out.

Canada Elections Act February 1st, 2018

Madam Speaker, actually, we are the ones talking about the need for openness and transparency, but we have a government that simply thinks it will throw this out in the open and do it in public but still take the cash for access. Does that somehow make it ethical? In what world does that meet the smell test? It certainly does not.

I have lots of constituents in my riding who would love the opportunity to tell the Prime Minister exactly how they feel about certain pieces of legislation. What do they have to do? I guess they go and pay $1,500 to the Liberal Party. Then they get to attend a fundraiser with him and can give their ideas there. That is what the government is telling them.

The Liberals say it is okay because they would let it be known when the fundraiser is going to occur and put it on a website somewhere, and that would make it all better. However, they would still take the cash for access, no problem. In what world does that make any sense? It sounds to me like just a PR stunt. That is all it is.

Why do they not actually start following the rules that are already in existence? They do not need to create new laws, just follow the rules that exist. They should follow the guidelines they put out for themselves. Does the Prime Minister believe that there should be one set of rules for everyone else and a different set for him and his cabinet? They know better than that.

Canada Elections Act February 1st, 2018

moved:

Motion No. 5

That Bill C-50 be amended by deleting Clause 5.

Motion No. 6

That Bill C-50 be amended by deleting Clause 6.

Motion No. 7

That Bill C-50 be amended by deleting Clause 7.

Motion No. 8

That Bill C-50 be amended by deleting Clause 8.

Motion No. 9

That Bill C-50 be amended by deleting Clause 9.

Motion No. 10

Bill C-50 be amended by deleting Clause 10.

Motion No. 11

That Bill C-50 be amended by deleting Clause 11.

Madam Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to rise to speak to this bill and these amendments. As a member of a political party and a member of Parliament, I certainly understand the importance of fundraising for our ability to campaign. Without it, we certainly could not carry out the activities that we do for our campaigns and our political parties.

However, there is certainly a difference between fundraising by asking supporters or friends to chip in $10 or $20, $50 maybe, to help buy some lawn signs or pamphlets to distribute door to door, and, for example, a swanky $500-a-plate dinner at a law firm attended by top Bay Street lawyers, with the Minister of Justice as the special guest. I cannot imagine how the Liberals cannot see the issue of lawyers being able to buy access to the Minister of Justice, for example.

That is exactly what was happening before the Liberals hastily introduced this bill. They were caught with their hands in the cookie jar and had to scramble to come up with an excuse. Bill C-50, or as I have called it in the past, the “got caught with my hand in the cookie jar so I am blaming the cookie jar” act, is their excuse. This is what they are using as their cover. They have broken their own pledge of having an open and accountable government. The legislation that has been introduced is certainly incredibly underwhelming.

In a document entitled “Open and Accountable Government”, one of the general principles listed for ministers and parliamentary secretaries when fundraising and dealing with lobbyists states, “There should be no preferential access to government, or appearance of preferential access, accorded to individuals or organizations because they have made financial contributions to politicians and political parties.” That is a pretty clear statement. Who was that document signed by? It was signed by none other than the Prime Minister himself. This is hardly shocking to Canadians, as this government is well known for being all talk with, at best, very little action.

Apart from explicitly stating that there is to be no preferential access to government by people who have made financial contributions to politicians and political parties, the document also clearly states that there should be no appearance of that. “Appearance” is a word that I am sure the Liberal government is quite familiar with. Does having a $500-a-plate fundraiser at a Bay Street law firm, attended by the justice minister, pass the appearance test? I would say it does not.

Does having Chinese nationals with business interests in Canada attend a Liberal fundraiser with the Prime Minister and then provide six-figure donations to the Trudeau Foundation pass the appearance test? I would say no.

Does the Prime Minister vacationing on a billionaire's private island in the Bahamas, a billionaire who heads an organization that actively lobbies the government, pass the appearance test? I think I know the answer to that one, too, and it is no. It did not just fail the appearance test; it also failed the Ethics Commissioner's test, and the Prime Minister became the first one to have broken ethics laws. For the record, there are many ways to have a vacation on a private island that do not require selling access to the government. By all means, if that is the lifestyle that the Prime Minister likes to enjoy, I can certainly connect him with a number of travel agents across the country who could help him with his next trip.

However, let us get back to the serious issue at hand, which is simply this. How can Canadians trust a government that pledges to take accountability seriously and then fails its own appearance test at every single turn?

In an attempt to change the channel, Bill C-50 was introduced. It is like letting the foxes guard the henhouse. The Prime Minister is supposed to lead by example, but if his cabinet ministers see him enjoying a vacation on the private island of someone who lobbies the government, they probably think to themselves that there is nothing wrong with fundraisers attended by people who are going to lobby them. Therefore, it is no surprise that this bill was introduced.

There is only one thing this bill would do. It would bring these fundraisers into the open. The bill would not end the question about how appropriate it is for ministers of the crown or even the Prime Minister himself to attend fundraisers where they are being lobbied. No, it would not do that at all. The bill would simply move it into the public eye. Again, it is about appearance.

At least the bill would fulfill one aspect of the “Open and Accountable Government” document. The Liberals think that if the public can see it, everything is just fine. That is the logic they are going on. However, let us be clear. Cash for access does not become ethical simply because it is conducted in public. The Liberals should not need rules or laws to know that cash for access is unethical. That should simply be clear. There should not be a need for any rules or laws to make it clear.

Special interest groups and lobbyists should not have preferential access to very powerful figures simply because they can afford $1,500 for a fundraiser ticket. To the Liberals, bringing these fundraisers into the public eye is enough, but is it really? Have we come to expect so little of our government that simply doing the bare minimum, simply having the appearance of doing the right thing, is acceptable?

Someone once said this:

Most of all, we defeated the idea that Canadians should be satisfied with less, that good enough is good enough and that better just isn’t possible. Well, my friends, this is Canada, and in Canada better is always possible.

Who said that? It was none other than the Prime Minister himself, on election night in 2015.

Well, if better is always possible, according to the Prime Minister, then we need to do better than this bill, to be more accountable to Canadians. Certainly the Liberals need to do better.

Better does not mean a PR stunt where the actual issue is not addressed. Again, that is what Canadians have come to expect from this Liberal government: PR stunts that give the appearance of something being done, but in reality nothing changes. In this case, which is one of many examples, wealthy lobbyists will still be able to gain access to the Prime Minister and to senior cabinet ministers by simply buying a ticket for a fundraiser. That is what they have to do, put out a little cash and get some access. The Liberal government has missed a great opportunity to address this issue. Instead, the Liberals have chosen to duck and hide.

There is a very simple solution to this. If the Liberals would just take a moment to listen to the opposition, we can fix this. The Liberals should simply follow their own guidelines and stop attending these fundraisers, and that includes the Prime Minister. That is all it would take. We do not need a piece of legislation to figure that out. It is common sense.

By attempting to pass this underwhelming legislation, all the Liberals are doing is ensuring that the Prime Minister gets to continue to charge $1,500 for wealthy and connected insiders to meet him and discuss government business. Perhaps they meet him and then make big donations to the Prime Minister's family foundation.

At this point, one thing is clear. The Prime Minister does not believe that the rules should apply to him. A new law would not make the Prime Minister's cash for access fundraisers ethical. He does not respect even the laws we have now. What in the world would make us think that he would respect this law?

The Prime Minister knew that the vacation he took was not allowed, yet he did it anyway. Then he just apologized because he was caught. Clearly, the Prime Minister believes that these laws are meant only for regular Canadians and not for him. That is why we have an issue with this bill. It is simply a PR stunt designed to cover up the fact that the Liberals are engaged in unethical behaviour, and it does not do anything to actually address the problem.

Canada Elections Act February 1st, 2018

moved:

Motion No. 1

That Bill C-50 be amended by deleting Clause 1.

Motion No. 2

That Bill C-50 be amended by deleting Clause 2.

Motion No. 3

That Bill C-50 be amended by deleting Clause 3.

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns January 29th, 2018

With regard to the Skills Link Program under the government’s Youth Employment Strategy: (a) what is the total amount of funding provided to date; (b) what is the total amount of funding provided to each (i) project, (ii) group or recipient; (c) what is the breakdown of projects or recipients by federal riding; (d) what is the description and purpose of each project; (e) what specific criteria were used in the selection of each project and recipient; (f) what are the review outcomes for all (i) projects, (ii) recipients, (iii) applications; (g) what was the processing time for each project from application to announcement; (h) for the projects that were rejected, what was the processing time from application to when proponents were informed of the rejection; (i) which projects have been announced to date; and (j) what is the amount of funding still outstanding?

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns January 29th, 2018

With regard to the Prime Minister's trips to the Lac-Saint-Jean constituency in Quebec and to Edmonton, Alberta, and surrounding areas, in October 2017: (a) what are the costs associated with (i) the flights, broken down by individual expense, (ii) other transportation costs, (iii) accommodation costs, (iv) food and beverage costs, (v) other expenses, broken down by individual type of expense; (b) what specific government events did the Prime Minister attend while on the trip; (c) what were the dates, times, and locations of all events in (b); (d) how many employees of the Privy Council Office (PCO) traveled with the Prime Minister on either the entire trip, or a portion of the trip; (e) what public business did PCO employees, including the technical employees, conduct for this travel; (f) was any of the work conducted by PCO employees partisan or to the benefit of the Liberal Party of Canada or a local Liberal campaign and, if so, was the government reimbursed; (g) did any PCO employees provide assistance, including technical set-up or assistance, related to any by-election related campaigns or events by the Prime Minister and, if so, (i) what assistance was provided, (ii) what are the details of any invoice submitted to the campaign, or to the Liberal Party of Canada resulting from such assistance; and (h) was any government property used for partisan purposes during the Prime Minister's trip and, if so, what amount was the government reimbursed by the Liberal Party of Canada or a local Liberal by-election campaign?

Petitions December 13th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, as I table this petition today I want to say that, as part of the October 15 campaign, I had the privilege and opportunity to walk alongside Canadians in support of thousands of families across our country who have suffered the loss of an infant.

Events in my home province of Alberta, like Quinn's Legacy Run in Airdrie, or the Baby Steps Walk to Remember in Calgary, Edmonton, and Sherwood Park, or Vaughn's Memorial Color Run in Cochrane, to events in Saskatoon like the No Foot Too Small Perinatal Loss Awareness Walk, to events like them all across the country, commemorate the lives of children who were taken too soon.

Therefore, I table this petition, which calls upon Parliament to walk alongside Canadian families, and to look for ways to better support parents dealing with pregnancy and infancy loss.

Charitable Contributions December 11th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, Christmas is a wonderful time to focus on our charitable giving. Canadians are extremely generous, and nowhere is this more evident than in our communities. Two groups I want to mention and congratulate today are 100+ Women Who Care, with chapters in Cochrane, Airdrie and the Bow Valley, and 100 Men Who Give a Damn, in Cochrane and Airdrie.

These two great organizations show what a big difference can be made when people work together toward a common goal. Once every quarter, these organizations meet and hear pitches from local charities. The group then votes for one of the charities to receive the money. Each participant kicks in $100 per meeting, resulting in tens of thousands of dollars raised throughout the year.

Often, all of the charities end up receiving support when members step up to give a little extra, as evidenced in the first meeting of the Airdrie men, thanks to Bill Martin and others.

I want to thank all those who joined me in being a part of either the 100+ Women or 100 Men, and hope that their spirit of charity and generosity is spread across the country during this Christmas season.

Petitions December 6th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, the tragedy of infant loss touches our nation and the lives of thousands of Canadian families each year.

In these times of great sorrow, organizations such as Hazel's Heroes, the Pregnancy and Infant Loss Network, Baby's Breath, Cuddle Cots for Canada, the October 15 campaign, and Hope Boxes have all come alongside parents and loved ones during the mourning and their healing.

I table this petition today calling on Parliament to join that cause, to stand up and look for ways to better support parents who are dealing with pregnancy and infant loss.