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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
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.
Mike Landucci November 21st, 2016
Mr. Speaker, I rise today to honour a well-recognized hockey, softball, and community volunteer, neighbour, and friend, Mike Landucci.
Prior to his passing last spring following a short battle with cancer, Mike was a dedicated Fort St. John minor hockey referee, and softball umpire who was highly regarded as the referee committee member for northeastern B.C.–Yukon district. Further, he was instrumental in training the next generation of young referees in the B.C. Peace.
The Fort St. John Flyers hockey club recently honoured his memory at a pre-season North Peace Hockey League game against the Dawson Creek Jr. Canucks. North Peace referees are honouring Mike this year by wearing an ML patch like I am wearing today.
Michael Joseph Landucci is survived by his fiancée Faye; his son Chris; his sister Kathy, and her husband Michael and their children.
As one of our community volunteers, as a neighbour, and as a friend to all he encountered, not to mention for the Christmas eve visits to our house as Santa Claus, Mike will be missed. May he rest in peace.
Budget Implementation Act, 2016, No. 2 October 31st, 2016
Madam Speaker, I would like to thank the member for his comments. Many of us on this side wanted to ask some questions, but I got the luck of the draw tonight.
We are doing a study right now on poverty and poverty reduction strategies in the human resources committee. One thing we found particularly strange was how many departments had not actually costed the CPP increases, and also a carbon tax.
As was also mentioned by the minister, how are Canadians going to be able to afford the increases from a carbon tax, considering that they have tight budgets? Kraft Dinner is something that a lot of Canadians eat at the end of the pay period because they simply cannot afford anything more. Now we are going to put a carbon tax on top of it, plus a CPP increase. The CPP increase can be upwards of $3,000, and a carbon tax could be $3,000 as well.
The member talks about what the Liberal government is giving back to Canadians. What are you taking from Canadians?
Canada Pension Plan October 24th, 2016
Mr. Speaker, the one thing that both the member and I understand is small business. I was a small business owner myself. We are doing a study on poverty in the human resources committee, and we always expect a certain demographic to pay more, but there is a point at which that particular individual or business just cannot do it. Eventually something occurs and the inevitable happens.
The Conservative government proposed an 11%, 10% to 9% small business low corporate tax rate because those are job creators. The member spoke a bit about the negative potential of this, but what could possibly happen if small businesses are simply taxed too much?
Business of Supply October 17th, 2016
Mr. Speaker, I respect the member for asking the question about a loan type of program for the softwood lumber industry. That, to me, is one of the many issues that could be talked about in terms of what the deal finally looks like, but I find it awfully rich from the NDP.
We just talked about a Pacific NorthWest LNG announcement, of which the member who is from that riding was supportive. Then the NDP comes out and opposes the entire project when most of the member's constituents who work there would be employed through the LNG industry, yet the NDP wants to completely shut it down because of some ideological position.
To me, it is interesting that the New Democrats always talk as if they are pro-resource development, but they do not live by it. When it comes down to brass tacks, the NDP is not a resource-development positive party that promotes resource development in Canada. That is just the simple truth of it. It is sad, but let us hope that someday it will be the case that the NDP is a pro-resource development party.
Business of Supply October 17th, 2016
Mr. Speaker, yes, we have some deep concerns about agreements that were made and it was assumed were going to proceed, only to have a government over-regulate or step into the middle of the process and get in the way of good natural-resource projects.
The member brought up the tertiary industry. I always bring up the Starbucks coffee shop down the street from the mill, where everybody stops to get a coffee on the way to work. Those people will not have jobs as a result. Everybody is affected by the loss of jobs in the forest industry, especially in the forest capital of B.C., which is Prince George in my riding. The effects will be dramatic unless we get this deal solved.
Going back to what my colleague asked, the opportunity was there in June and it was missed. It was a perfect opportunity to sign the agreement when the President was in Ottawa and in the House. It would have been the perfect time to do it. Now, with the lead-up to the election, as we know, rhetoric gets more heated during this time and it is not looking good for us to get the agreement anytime soon.
Business of Supply October 17th, 2016
Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan.
We have often heard from the other side about agreements that have not been signed in the past 10 years. I would like to remind the government that it was our government actually, in 2006, shortly after being elected, that got the agreement done. It was a former lumber executive who came to the table and managed to get a deal done for Canadians. We have appreciated that work for the last 10 years. We have certainly seen renewals and extensions of the agreement, all based on that original success back in 2006.
Unlike what the government is trying to say, that the opposition when we were in government did not get it done, we actually got a lot done on the softwood lumber file. That kept communities, like my communities in Fort St. John, Mackenzie, and Fort Nelson, working in the lumber industry. Certainly, just with the downturn in the U.S. and the housing markets, all lumber-producing provinces across the country have had challenges.
I would like to clarify for the record that the previous Conservative government had a pretty good record when it came to softwood lumber, and trade deals specifically. That is why we are a bit concerned. We have seen negotiations where there is real progress. We had the former minister, the member for Abbotsford, get many trade deals signed while we were in government. We saw how much work it takes to get those deals done, when it was part of our mandate to get those deals done for the Canadian people so our trade and economy would be strong.
However, when we do not see it as part of a mandate letter to the minister, or as part of a budget, we are concerned, because it is a significant file and a significant part of our community and economy in Canada. It is huge. We are talking about a potential loss of 400,000 jobs. That is massive. Four hundred thousand just sounds like a big number, but it is 400,000 individual people that provide roofs over their families' heads, meals on their tables, etc. These are real people we are talking about.
We were led to believe that this new relationship, which has been talked about many times, between the Prime Minister and the President was a good thing. Relationships with other leaders, especially our number one trading partner is a good thing. For Canadians out there in TV land, our number one trading partner is the U.S. and its number one trading partner is us. It is the largest trade agreement in the world, and we would like to keep it that way. Lumber is a significant part of that trade agreement.
We had high hopes, because it was talked about. I have an article from the CBC, dated March 12, 2016, which stated that Canada's international trade minister had said the Prime Minister's official visit to Washington helped secure a real breakthrough in the contentious softwood lumber negotiations. She said, “We have now managed to get the Americans to the table, we have managed to raise attention to this issue at the very highest levels”.
There was an initial promise or high hopes that this new relationship was going to be much better and the deal was going to get done. That was back in March 12 of this year. We have all heard the quote, but I'll read it here. It says that the Prime Minister and President Obama “instructed [the minister] and her American counterpart, Michael Froman, to explore all options for solving the trade dispute and report back within 100 days.”
That 100 days was some time ago. It was that high hope though that led us, especially as a member from British Columbia, to believe an agreement would be done. We knew the President was coming June 29. Typically, when two leaders come together in a place like this, that is the time when significant agreements are signed. Not just pictures are taken, but real, solid agreements are done.
I will read from a CBC article, and this is June 30 now. It said that the Prime Minister and the President “didn't say anything publicly about one of the toughest files in Canada-U.S. relations when they met in Ottawa Wednesday.” It was strange, considering this new relationship that we hoped to benefit from in terms of a softwood lumber agreement. Our hopes really were dashed at that point, because it had been leading up to this crescendo where we would get this agreement signed. It was pointing to that. The 100 days would have fit and would have made that criteria fit with what they were trying to do.
However, what did we get? We actually have nothing now. As of October, we do not even have a pause anymore as to what was negotiated by the previous government. Now we are in a full softwood lumber trade war with the U.S., which is the last thing we wanted to see, especially going into an election in the U.S.
Therefore, it is not going to get better. Unfortunately, it is going to get worse before it gets better at this point. It is such a missed opportunity. Everything could have been done June 30 or June 29 and signed when the President was here with the Prime Minister. It could have all been done to much fanfare from us in B.C. and across the country; alas, nothing.
This brings us to why we formed the softwood lumber task force. We had a press conference this morning. Critics in the portfolios here were at the event. Part of its mandate is that it is not clear that the government is taking this seriously in negotiating behind the scenes. It just is not clear. We do not know. Therefore, our softwood lumber task force has a mandate, which is that the task force will hold the Liberal government accountable for solving the softwood lumber trade dispute with the United States in order to preserve market access for Canadian forestry products and protect thousands of jobs across Canada. Further, it is going to involve two components: stakeholder outreach and policy advocacy.
First, my colleague for Cariboo—Prince George and I have been meeting with concerned constituents of ours who work in mills and who also own mills. It is the smaller players who are going to be dramatically affected by this. The bigger players seem to be hunkering down and getting ready for the storm. However, it is the smaller players. We would call them smaller, but they are still companies that have 400 to 500 jobs per mill. That is 400 to 500 families that are fed and housed all within the softwood lumber industry. We have heard that they are deeply concerned about where this is going to take us.
The second part of that is the policy advocacy. What we are looking to do is to form our own negotiations, I guess, or a set of concerns to put to the government to make sure that the government is doing what it should and negotiating properly. I think some of the comments we have made on our side when we stand up and critique the government are really telling. It was interesting to see, on a former resource project I had been asking the other side about in repeated questions, that it actually makes a difference. We saw the difference when the minister responded that the Liberals were going to answer one of our concerns with one of their announcements, and they mentioned some of the things I talked about.
We know that the task force has the ability to influence the government in its negotiations, and that is the purpose of it. The purpose is to positively critique the government so that we get a good agreement at the end of the day.
We do know that it affects Canadians across this country. Again, I speak for my constituents in Prince George—Peace River—Northern Rockies, but it really affects colleagues of mine in Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Quebec, and Atlantic Canada. It is really right across the board.
Again, this is with the intent of getting a good agreement. Our task force will challenge the minister to do exactly that and get us a good agreement.
Tour of the Peace October 4th, 2016
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased today to rise to congratulate constituents of mine, Dan Webster and his son Sam, on the success of the first-ever Tour of the Peace. The 144-kilometre bike ride for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation allowed riders to travel throughout what is the most beautiful region in all of Canada, I must say, the B.C. Peace region.
The idea for the race came to Dan after 13-year-old Sam was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes last year, a disease that affects more than 300,000 Canadians and has no cure.
Dan and Sam, as well as almost 20 other participants, along with my constituency assistant Heather McCracken, raised over $15,000 for diabetes research, and plans have already begun for next year's big ride.
Congratulations once again to Dan, Sam, and all those who participated in the inaugural Tour of the Peace. I look forward to the second Tour of the Peace next year.
Paris Agreement October 4th, 2016
Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague across the way for his speech today about northern communities. Indeed, I am from northern B.C. We see how much costs are for diesel for aboriginal communities and how difficult it is to access it, as well.
We are embarking upon a study about poverty in my particular human resources committee. One of the issues that we brought forward was the carbon tax and how much the carbon tax is going to tax communities where, as the member said, the cost is already extremely high.
How is a carbon tax on something that is already a necessity in northern communities going to help?