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Track Bob

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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

Cannabis Act June 6th, 2017

Madam Speaker, I will try my best to answer the question.

What is of concern to all of us is the government's assumption that as soon as this is legalized, the crime will go away, and the problems with marijuana will just float away. The mental health issues, the lung issues, the issues of dealing with organized crime, all those issues will just magically float away, and that is just simply not the case. It is wishful thinking to presume that.

I would like to get back to the original reason why cannabis is illegal in Canada in the first place, and that is because it is not good for us. As a government we have responsibilities in this place to take care of our citizens, and this is one of those things, especially where there are kids. We should make it as difficult as we possibly can for them to get marijuana, and also to deal marijuana to each other, and to sell it to each other. The bill falls far short of that, and we need some significant changes for it to help our youth.

Cannabis Act June 6th, 2017

Madam Speaker, I would challenge the government side to change the legislation, so there is a recourse, so kids cannot sell to other kids up to 15 joints, that kids cannot sell to kids without recourse, or without a change of behaviour, because this will just open the floodgates to make this okay. Under no threat of prosecution, no ticketable offence or anything, kids being allowed to sell marijuana to each other is ridiculous.

Cannabis Act June 6th, 2017

Madam Speaker, it is a kind of strange exchange here, because I want to ask another question. I asked the question about whether the government side actually thinks the use of marijuana for kids is healthy, and the member said he does not think it is.

I would ask the government again, even though I am supposed to be answering his question. Let me say it this way. I would challenge the government side. Government members care about kids, I understand that. I would challenge you to change the legislation to deal with section 9 in the act when it talks about distribution. There is nothing in your bill--

Cannabis Act June 6th, 2017

Madam Speaker, when I hear members of the government side across the way heckling, maybe it is because they have not considered the health effects of marijuana on our lungs, youth and adults included. They need to look at reputable associations, like the American Lung Association, which state that very fact. Therefore, for them to stand in this place, and say they are concerned about our health is hogwash. They need to actually do some studying and research on the negative health effects that marijuana has on our bodies.

We hear the Liberals across the way say they care about our youth. We hear them stand up with some feigned indignation that they care about our kids. I trust they do care about our kids, but in this instance they really need to take a second look at what they are saying and promoting in this legislation.

I am sure that some of the members across the way are supporting it because they think the biggest problems with marijuana are the charges that come from using it illegally. The reason why there are charges there in the first place is because it is bad for people on many levels, such as lung and mental health. There are a bunch of different health issues we have concerns about that are proven to be negative health effects from marijuana use. Therefore, I would challenge the government side. If the Liberals are serious about health and keeping these drugs out of the hands of kids, they should change this legislation, so that it makes it more difficult for our kids to distribute marijuana.

I heard the member across the way. I respect him because we are on committee together. However, perhaps he needs to hear again about what his government is putting in the legislation with respect to the lack of penalties and recourse for kids. Youth under the age of 18 may be distributing 15 joints of marijuana to each other. If that member and the government across the way are really concerned about our kids, they would have a provision in here where there would be some recourse. There is not. If the member and the government across the way really care about young people using marijuana, because I would say it is a danger to their health, whether to their lungs or mental health, I would challenge them to make it much more difficult for youth to distribute to each other and to actually use it.

It is one thing to talk about health, and it sounds great for the cameras and for TV land out there, but when we get into the details of what this legislation is actually saying, Canadians across this country really have a lot to be concerned about.

I would ask the members across this one simple question. Do they think using cannabis is healthy? It is a simple question for me. I would like them to answer that. Maybe when some of them get up to ask me questions, they can provide me with that answer, because if they cannot answer in the affirmative that it is healthy, why are they saying tonight they are concerned about the health of Canadians when they want to legalize it?

Cannabis Act June 6th, 2017

Madam Speaker, I want to shout out to one of my fans watching from our riding, a young girl named Madison. I just want to say hi and thanks for watching tonight.

I want to talk about a couple of issues I have with cannabis. We have heard from the government side that legalization is supposed to reduce all harm to kids and make all the problems go away. There is a reason cannabis is illegal. It is because it is not good for people. I have a couple of articles on my iPad right now about the negative health effects on our lungs.

I want to dispute two supposed facts that are being put on the table tonight by the government. First, the government says it wants to protect our youth. Second, it says it wants to promote public health with the legalization of cannabis.

I am going to talk about youth. Part of problem with the bill is that the government members say they want to keep marijuana out of the hands of kids. I would dispute that, based on what the bill proposes. It does say that they want to prohibit it for anyone under the age of 18, but we know that kids are going to get hold of it. Kids are defined as anyone under 18. Guess what the penalty is if kids deal five grams or less to other kids? It is zero.

I will read from the distribution clause for everyone out there watching tonight, and for Madison, who is listening too. It states:

Unless authorized under this Act, it is prohibited...for a young person (i) to distribute cannabis of one or more classes of cannabis the total amount of which is equivalent, as determined in accordance with Schedule 3, to more than 5 g of dried cannabis.

What that says, in a kind of sneaky way, is that it is prohibited above five grams, but it is completely okay to distribute five grams or less. We have heard other members of my party tonight say that five grams can be as many as 15 joints of marijuana. I have a vision of kids selling marijuana to other kids.

The government members are saying that they are trying to protect our kids, when the bill says the opposite. They say that they are absolutely not going to do anything about kids selling marijuana to other kids. To me, the health of our kids is not being considered in what they are saying here. If they really cared about our kids, they would toughen up the regulations and laws they are putting forward on kids' possession and distribution of marijuana. This is not just about having one joint, even though that is still going to be harmful, potentially. We are talking about 15 joints they are going to be allowed to distribute among themselves, legally, with no threat of any kind of prosecution, ticket, offence, or anything.

I have four kids of my own. One concern I have is that as soon as this is legalized, it will make it sound as if the government is giving its blessing that it is okay to do.

I want to talk a little more about the second fallacy, the government saying it wants to protect the health of Canadians. I have an article by a pretty reputable association, the American Lung Association. This was one of the many reasons, when we were in government, we did not want to legalize cannabis. This is what it says about marijuana:

The American Lung Association is concerned about the health impacts of marijuana use, especially on lung health. We caution the public against smoking marijuana because of the risks it poses to lung health. Scientists are researching marijuana, and the American Lung Association encourages continued research into the health effects of marijuana use, especially on lung health.

Smoke is harmful to lung health. Whether from burning wood, tobacco or marijuana, toxins and carcinogens are released from the combustion of materials. Smoke from marijuana combustion has been shown to contain many of the same toxins, irritants and carcinogens as tobacco smoke.

On the one hand, we have great programs in this country where we have seen tobacco use reduced. We have these great efforts by Health Canada to make sure we do our best to not market cigarettes to kids, or for that matter to adults. We have packages that are negatively marketed to adults, with pictures of bad teeth and bad lungs. However, on the other hand, today, in 2017, we are saying it is really bad to smoke cigarettes, but it is okay to smoke marijuana because someone is an adult. To me, that is absolutely ridiculous.

Firearms Act June 2nd, 2017

Mr. Speaker, the member from Saskatchewan is also very much a firearms advocate and absolutely he is correct. Anytime that people's information changes they have to update it anyway. This would not change that. What this is meant to do is to have a provision that, regardless of whether there are changes, it might be the same information but they would just make sure that it is the same information.

The continuous eligibility system that we have that the RCMP operates already assures that on a daily basis that information is being updated and correlated with other information in Canada. This is just another way to make sure that the information is as up to date as possible.

Firearms Act June 2nd, 2017

Mr. Speaker, I guess it is a good sign that we have an audience on this Friday afternoon. It is not all bad. Members are across the way too, so that is good.

The comparison I am using is with a vehicle owner. Let us say someone's driver's licence expires. They may own a vehicle, but they certainly would not be allowed to operate it, and that vehicle is sitting in the driveway. Then, just because the person's licence has expired, the police do not come and take them away and treat them like criminals because they did not renew their licence.

We think the same latitude should be given to firearms owners here in Canada. They are the most law-abiding group that I have seen in Canada. They are very thorough in the way they store their firearms and they are very diligent about how they do things. Again, we do not want to see Grandpa Joe penalized for a small mistake that could be quickly rectified.

I would like to quote some people in the firearms industry. There are massive numbers of members in associations, and they support this bill.

Tony Bernardo, from the Canadian Shooting Sports Association, said that my bill reflects the reality that every firearms licence in Canada is reviewed every day by the police. The RCMP's continuous eligibility process should equate to continuous entitlement to possess firearms.

He went on to say that no law-abiding firearms owner should be criminalized for an expired firearms licence.

That is really the crux of this whole thing. It is just a little fixing of an administrative issue. Turning that administrative issue into something that is criminal is not what was intended by the law. There are other ways to get it done without turning Grandpa Joe into an outlaw.

One of the questions I have heard is whether my bill will make obtaining firearms easier.

It seems that whenever we want a positive piece of firearms legislation, it is always taken to a further degree and perceived as now enabling people to buy firearms at every corner store. That is not the case. It would not not make it any easier at all. To legally purchase a firearm or ammunition in Canada, as most firearms owners know, people need to have a firearms licence. That would not change with my bill.

To obtain the firearms licence, people need to go through a process of training, learning about firearms and how to safely store them and so on. My son just took his course. He is 19. He did his RPAL about a month ago. He is getting his the right way and is just waiting for it to come in.

There is also a process of background checks that regularly update the status of an individual. If there is ever an issue with a person, if there are family issues or mental issues, that is collected, and that person would not be able to purchase or possess a firearm. That is a good feature of our firearms licensing program in Canada. It is among the most stringent in the world.

Another question is about what “suspend” means in the bill.

“Suspend” refers to the status of a licence when the information has not been updated within the allotted 10-year period. Using the example of Grandpa Joe, if my bill passes—and I sure hope it does—and Grandpa Joe's licence expires, it goes into suspended mode. That does not mean he becomes a criminal just by possessing that particular firearm in his home; what it means is that he would be suspended from purchasing firearms or ammunition. He could not buy new firearms or ammunition. That is what it suspends.

The suspension is temporary. When Grandpa Joe goes back in and says that he needs to update his address or whatever, the suspension would then be cancelled when the information is provided. A key point for all the firearms owners out there—and this a big issue with my bill, because I know there is a cautionary thought around the word “suspend” and what that means—is that a suspended licence could not be revoked simply because it was suspended. That is a key point. Once someone has gone through the licensing process and done the work and done the training, they certainly do not forget all they have learned just because the licence has expired. They still know how to safely use and store that firearm. A suspended licence could not be revoked simply because it was suspended.

For too long, firearms owners have been treated as shady outlaws over an administrative issue, as I said in my video, and there is a good graphic of the outlaw in the cowboy hat. I want to make sure that no law-abiding firearms owner can be criminalized just for having an expired firearms licence. It goes back to needing to have a good conversation about firearms.

What many people do not know about firearms owners in Canada is that there is a huge demographic that is growing of people who want to own, possess, and use firearms at a range or to go hunting. It is the under 30 demographic. Some of that generation have seen firearms for different uses. They maybe have seen their fathers, grandfathers, mothers, and grandmothers go hunting and they want to experience that themselves.

We are seeing growth in urban areas too. We are seeing dramatic growth in legitimate firearms use in Canada. In Canada we need to rest assured that these people are law-abiding owners. They are licensed and trained, and we should not be worried about that growth. It is a legitimate group that obeys the law and does it the right way. Bill C-346 honours that and makes our firearms laws in Canada that much stronger.

I would like to recognize a few individuals in our party across the country, members of caucus who have seconded my bill from Ontario, all the way across to Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba, who support this kind of legislation. It is positive for our firearms owners and it really supports them well.

I would challenge the Liberals and the NDP to consider this demographic seriously. There are Liberals who own firearms. I am co-chair of the parliamentary outdoor caucus. We represent all parties in our group and we want to make sure that there are good laws that recognize our outdoor heritage in Canada. That is sports shooting, hunting, fishing, guiding, and outfitting. It is a group that we all represent, and I would hope and trust that the government across the way would support solid legislation like this to ensure that firearms owners are not going to be needlessly criminalized because of some administrative issue.

I am a firearms owner. I do not hunt as much as I would like to. I fish, but my children have all operated firearms safely. We have an event next week where members of Parliament from all parties get to experience what a firearm feels like and safely operate that firearm. One of my staff had never fired a firearm before, and she was concerned when we first went to the range, but by the end of the day there was a big smile on her face. She understood that this could be done safely. It is a lot of fun, and we have a great regime in Canada that sees that our firearms owners operate them safely and effectively.

Our party does not want to see the laws become regressive. We have seen some moves lately with UN markings and stuff. I am glad to see the minister from Saskatchewan pull back on some of what has been talked about in terms of UN markings and understanding this issue. This was due to the firearms groups in Canada that let us know that the laws need to be hospitable to firearms owners in Canada, not needlessly restrictive. We have a good regime already. We do not need to make it more restrictive. It is already very safe.

My desire in putting forward Bill C-346, which would remove firearms licences from expiring and also has a provision to relinquish one's licence, is meant to do just that and to make our firearms laws in Canada stronger and not regressive.

I want to say a special thanks to all firearms groups across Canada. We support them and support their good work in training. There are a lot of organizations that, while we are having fun on a weekend and mowing the lawn, they are out there training people how to safely operate firearms. They do this every weekend, 52 weeks a year, to make sure that firearms can be safely operated in this country. I thank those groups and say keep up the good work to all who are doing good work for the firearms community in Canada.

I look forward to hearing members' comments.

Firearms Act June 2nd, 2017

moved that Bill C-346, An Act to amend the Firearms Act (licences), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Speaker, it is my honour today to speak to my private member's bill, Bill C-346, an act to amend the Firearms Act on licences. I am going to go over some of the basics of it, and then I will talk about it more at length.

The aim of the bill is to ensure that no law-abiding firearms owner is criminalized for an administrative issue. The proposed changes reflect the success of the RCMP continuous eligibility system, which verifies the validity and conditions of licence requirements every day. The bill also proposes to create an avenue for individuals to voluntarily relinquish their licences.

I will speak to some key points about what this legislation would do, and also speak to some myths out there with people who are not sure what the bill would or would not do.

The bill would amend the Firearms Act to eliminate the expiry of firearms licences, with a mandatory provision that the licence holder update his or her relevant information every 10 years.

I have been talking with other parties in the House, and I am open to amendments, as long as they would not extremely affect my bill. I have been in conversations already about that, and I will discuss them more as they come to me.

An individual whose licence has not been updated will not be able to purchase a firearm or ammunition. If an individual fails to update his or her information, the licence will be suspended. The suspension is subsequently cancelled as soon as the holder provides the necessary basic information. No licence may be revoked simply because it is suspended.

The last provision of the bill, the relinquishment section, would allow an individual who no longer desires to possess a firearms licence to voluntarily relinquish the licence to a chief firearms officer with no negative consequences.

I have done some videos on Facebook and Twitter, and I use the character of Grandpa Joe. The desire is that Grandpa Joe not become a criminal simply because his licence expires. Many firearms owners in Canada have gone through the process of getting their licence. They have done their due diligence. They have gone through the process. They are safe, law-abiding firearms owners, yet simply because their licence expires, they can be charged with illegal possession of a firearm.

It could happen today. I have heard some interesting stories about people whose licence has expired, and literally have their door bashed down seven days after the expiry date because they are considered in illegal possession of their firearms. This is a dramatic event that can happen just because a licence expires. I am trying to get to the bottom of this. Poor Grandpa Joe who forgets to renew his licence becomes a criminal. That is the way our system looks at Grandpa Joe.

I often use the analogy of a vehicle owner. Most members in the House own a vehicle. I own a few—

Business of Supply June 1st, 2017

Mr. Speaker, the concern is the different perspective from which projects will be looked at. It is a type of mentality that either we look at projects as if the glass is half full, and we try to see them proceed, or we look at them as if the glass is half empty and we put up every roadblock type of attitude, and that is a concern where it is more of a negative process. Projects are considered almost as a default no and then they have to go through this process where they are proven. The concern for us is that the projects will be told no before they will be told yes, again not questioning whether they should be done safely, efficiently, and the rest, but a concern definitely that we see some major changes happening to the NEB.

Business of Supply June 1st, 2017

Mr. Speaker, I guess there is a slight disconnect between the federal New Democratic Party and the provincial New Democratic Party when we see the absolute blockage of every resource project. Let me be specific about natural gas or oil in the province of British Columbia. They have not said they are willing to talk or discuss a better way to do it or a safer, more efficient way. No holds barred, they are going to block the project. That is what they are saying. I acknowledge that the member seems to be more pragmatic, but I do not see as pragmatic the party in B.C. and the party at large here in Ottawa. I see them as absolutely blocking these projects, and that is a big concern to us and our future.