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Track Bob

Your Say


Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word is poverty.

Conservative MP for Prince George—Peace River—Northern Rockies (B.C.)

Won his last election, in 2015, with 53% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Firearms Act April 6th, 2017

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-346, An Act to amend the Firearms Act (licences).

Mr. Speaker, I especially want to thank the member for Foothills for being my first seconder on this bill.

The bill is an enactment that amends the Firearms Act to eliminate the expiry of certain firearms licences and to provide for the relinquishment of licences. It also requires individuals to update their licence application information every 10 years and provides for the suspension of licences in certain circumstances.

The essence of the bill is the premise that an expired licence should not make a law-abiding firearms owner a criminal.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Ethiopia March 6th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak to the concerns that have been raised to me by my constituents regarding the political climate in Ethiopia, and which have also been raised in the U.S. by my counterpart, Congressman Chris Smith.

What is happening in Ethiopia right now needs to be addressed in the strongest possible terms. Ethiopia is potentially on the verge of civil war and/or genocide, and we are in a position to stop it, but only if we do something more than reiterate concerns or call on the Ethiopian government to make genuine improvements.

Opposition party leader Dr. Mararaa Guddinaa was jailed upon his return to Addis Ababa following a speech he gave to members of the European Parliament condemning the government for its human rights violations. A six-month state of emergency has been declared in an effort to quell dissenters. Thousands of peaceful protesters have been killed or imprisoned. At least 88,000 people had to flee as refugees or migrants last year alone.

What is happening in Ethiopia is being called an abomination. I encourage the government to take notice and take the strongest possible stand against it.

Jewish Disability Awareness and Inclusion Month February 21st, 2017

Mr. Speaker, February marks Jewish Disability Awareness and Inclusion Month, a unified effort among Jewish organizations and communities worldwide to raise awareness, champion rights, and foster the inclusion of people with disabilities. This initiative, which began in 2009, highlights the importance of the accommodation and inclusion of people with disabilities within Jewish communal life and provides a focal point for Jewish Canadians to demonstrate leadership beyond their community.

I am proud to welcome a delegation to Ottawa, led by the Jewish Federations of Canada-UIA and the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, representing Jewish federations, service agencies, activists, and parents from across Canada. This group is here to promote the breaking down of barriers and the advancement of inclusion and accommodation of individuals with disabilities and their families.

I wish them well.

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns February 7th, 2017

With regard to materials prepared for Ministers since May 4, 2016: for every briefing document, memorandum or docket prepared, what is (i) the date, (ii) the title or subject matter, (iii) the department’s internal tracking number, (iv) the recipient?

Questions Passed as Orders for Return January 30th, 2017

With regard to the Prime Minister’s commitment to introduce an Indigenous Languages Act and specific plans the government has to implement this commitment: (a) when will the legislation be introduced in Parliament; (b) what proposals will be contained in the legislation; (c) what is the total amount of funding that will be attached to it; (d) what are the details of all the consultations conducted by the Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs prior to the announcement of the upcoming bill, including for each consultation, the (i) date, (ii) location, (iii) name and title of the First Nations, groups, or individuals consulted, (iv) recommendations that were made to the Minister; and (e) what are the titles of all briefing notes provided to the Minister regarding this proposed legislation between November 4, 2015, and December 13, 2016 from the Department of Indigenous and Northern Affairs?

Questions Passed as Orders for Return January 30th, 2017

With regard to the First Nations-Canada Joint Committee on the Fiscal Relationship: (a) what are the names and titles of each individual member of the Committee; (b) what are the titles of all briefing notes provided to this Committee between July 13, 2016, and December 13, 2016, from the Department of Indigenous and Northern Affairs; (c) what are the details of all meetings of this Committee, including for each meeting, the (i) date, (ii) location, (iii) agenda, (iv) minutes; (d) what is the total of travel costs for this committee covered by the government; (e) what is the total of accommodation costs for this Committee covered by the government; (f) what is the daily per diem rate which members of the committee are entitled to; and (g) what is the total paid out in per diem?

Questions Passed as Orders for Return January 30th, 2017

With regard to materials prepared for Ministers since May 4, 2016: for every briefing document, memorandum or docket prepared, what is (i) the date, (ii) the title or subject matter, (iii) the department’s internal tracking number, (iv) the recipient?

Questions Passed as Orders for Return January 30th, 2017

With regard to the government delegation led by the Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities to Brazil in July and August 2016: (a) who were the members of the delegation, excluding security and media; (b) what were the titles of the delegation members; (c) what was the total cost to taxpayers of the trip; (d) how much was spent on accommodation; (e) how much was spent on food; (f) how much was spent on other expenses, including a description of each expense; and (g) what were the contents of the itineraries of the Minister?

Budget Implementation Act, 2016, No. 2 December 6th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, the member talked about social infrastructure. I would like to refer to a comment made by a colleague of mine from Dauphin, Manitoba, talking about a bait and switch.

I am concerned about the government proposing a new tax break for Canadians, as it has said many times, and yet clawing it back with the other hand. We have seen this example. I am on the human resources committee, and we have heard the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development admit this. We asked about the carbon tax, and whether the government has considered its impacts on people in poverty and those close to poverty. His comment was that the government has given so much with the tax credits that it can afford to take it back with the other hand. The minister even admitted this.

With the great bait and switch that the government is putting across Canadians' tables, giving with one hand and taking back with the other, how does the member talk to people who are in poverty and answer those questions honestly? What is the government doing for people in poverty and close to poverty, with things like the carbon tax, etc.?

Poverty Reduction Act November 30th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, I would like to acknowledge the member who brought this private member's bill forward. I sit on the human resources committee with him, and as we have heard on the floor of the House tonight, we are working on a poverty-reduction strategy as we speak.

We all want to eliminate poverty, if possible. That is something we can all agree on. We are certainly concerned about families that are affected by poverty and cannot put food on the table or heat their homes. We have heard a lot of heartbreaking stories about poverty in Canada. However, I am concerned that this bill will create another level of bureaucracy instead of dealing with the issues of poverty.

As Conservatives, we had a good record to this effect. In 2004, poverty was at a record low, at 8.8%, which was dramatically down from 11.4% in 2004. What really affects Jane and Joe Taxpayer is lower taxes, because we are able to leave more money in their pockets and they can afford more at home. It is a Conservative principle that we like to leave more in taxpayers' pockets.

Some interesting testimony has come before us at committee. One that dramatically affected the committee, on all sides, was the testimony given by Mark Wafer. I do not know if the chamber has heard his story, but he has several Tim Hortons stores. One thing he has done that has really set the bar high for a lot of establishments is hire disabled persons at wages equal to those of the everyday people who work for him. There is no disparity between the disabled versus non-disabled people in his workplace. It is a great story. There have been hundreds employed, hundreds who essentially were taken out of poverty. They were sitting at home with no place to work and no place to go, and he gave them jobs. I asked him the number one way a person can get out of poverty. His answer was that the number one way to get a person out of poverty is a paycheque.

It seems like a very simple concept that a paycheque would help someone out of poverty, but that is as simple as it gets. It is more than just a paycheque. It is a way of life. It is hope, and it is a future. He gave an example of a person he hired who had a disability who had not had an opportunity before. After getting a job at Tim Hortons, he went on to work for a major accounting firm in Canada. We look at solutions like that as real solutions to poverty, not just another bureaucracy.

A Conservative principle that needs to be understood is that Conservatives care about people in poverty. The analogy I use is the old one we all know: Give a person a fish and you feed that person for a day; teach a person to fish and you feed that person for a lifetime. My concern is that this particular bill will establish a bureaucracy that attempts to study how to give a person a fish.

We want to look at real solutions to get people out of poverty. Mark Wafer is an example of someone who creates real change for people in poverty.

What concerns me about the different political parties' views on the way to get people out of poverty is that it is about larger bureaucracies and money through programs to help people out of poverty. What we on this side of the aisle are concerned about are Jane and Joe Taxpayer, regular people who are possibly watching tonight who are just home after a hard day's work. I was a former carpenter. Maybe Joe is a carpenter who is sitting at home trying to have a meal with his family, maybe Kraft Dinner again. It is the end of the month. Maybe they are stuck and that is all they have to eat, or maybe they have nothing at all. We are asking that same family to now pay for another program that will cost millions of dollars and will add more of a burden.

If we are talking about taxes, again the contrast is between the Conservatives reducing taxes as the true way for poor people to change and get out of poverty, and the reverse, which can also happen.

What I am going to refer to is more of a burden to Jane and Joe Taxpayer, but we seem to talk around it in this place. Indeed, I have not heard it mentioned tonight that much, and here I mean the carbon tax.

The government talks a good game. It talks about wanting to see people come out of poverty. I absolutely believe that the NDP as well as the Liberals want people to get out of poverty, but when we continually ask people to pay more, we know that people who are already close to poverty or in poverty will be disproportionately affected by these taxes, and the lower the income the greater the effect. If we put in place a carbon tax, the person who is at or below the poverty line would be much more dramatically impacted than someone who is not.

Taking a simple look at the carbon tax, guestimates have been made of its impact: $1,000 on individuals and $2,600 and upward on families. Of course, we have not factored in the inflationary effects on food prices, and the extra cost of clothing and absolutely everything. I think a fulsome conversation about carbon reduction has to consider taxation and the reverse effects of pushing people into poverty.

It is always assumed that Jane and Joe Taxpayer can always bear more. The effective tax rates of individuals is 50% in some cases. For some people, half of their paycheques are going to tax, whether provincial, municipal, or federal taxes. Now we will be asking them to pay some more for another governmental program.

We Conservatives want to see poverty eliminated in Canada if at all possible, but we also want to acknowledge the things that work.

Another witness who came to the human resource committee this week was a man named Kory Wood. He is from a little town about two hours away from my hometown in Chetwynd, B.C. He was a young guy who grew up in poverty. He did not even see himself as growing up in poverty, but just in a difficult situation. He now runs a energy company called Kikanaw that has a yearly balance sheet of $10 million.

This guy says he is not in it for the money, but to make a difference. He is a guy who gives people hope, gives people jobs, but he also sees himself and a lot of those employees he is hiring, and without having a program to tell Kory what to do, he is helping people out of poverty by establishing a business.

He is an aboriginal person, but he does not want to be known for just that. He wants to be known as a businessman, but he gives people, especially in aboriginal communities close to his own, a way out of poverty. He gives them hope for the future.

I used to teach some of these kids in high school. When people do not have job and all they can see in the future is high unemployment, with no opportunities in sight, poverty becomes a destiny rather than something that is optional. Kory gives a person like that a way out of these circumstances, much more along the lines of a Conservative real-life approach, a real way out of poverty.

To summarize, bureaucracies are fine and bills like this are fine and sound great. They establish things that sound great to people, but I am concerned about poor people being really affected by this, and I see it as a limited thing. Just having another policy will have very limited success.

However, I am really concerned about Jane and Joe Taxpayer who bear the burden of one more governmental programs, one more tax that pushes them closer and closer to poverty.

Although I acknowledge the hon. member's best intentions in putting the bill forward, and I think we all agree that we want to see people come out of poverty, we just do not think this is the right direction. We want to see actions that really take effect and really do provide a pathway out of poverty.