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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

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?

Modernizing Animal Protections Act September 28th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, my colleague across the way and I have a lot in common. As co-chair of the parliamentary outdoor caucus, I share that role with a Liberal from Newfoundland and Labrador. Sometimes these issues cross party lines and we are supportive of one another across the aisle as well.

I have three concerns with this bill. First, it would potentially criminalize traditional practices of hunting, trapping, angling and fishing, and farming. Second, it would change the definition of animals from property to people. Third, we already have extensive animal rights protection laws in Canada.

I will start with the first.

I think most of us have gone fishing with parents or family, and likewise hunting. A lot of us in this place have backgrounds in farming and agriculture, and have raised cattle to be harvested for hamburgers, steak, or whatever. Certainly, as was mentioned by my colleague on this side of the House, the last people who would want to be cruel to an animal are members of the groups that know those animals and see them every day, like farmers, hunters, fishermen, and anglers. To potentially put these groups of individuals into a place where they could be accused of being criminal is too far-reaching for us.

A key change in what the bill proposes is the new kill an animal offence. Proposed subsection 182.1(1) states:

Everyone commits an offence who, wilfully or recklessly...

kills an animal or, being the owner, permits an animal to be killed, brutally or viciously, regardless of whether the animal dies immediately;

kills an animal without lawful excuse...

The concern are the words “brutally or viciously”. For this chamber of 330-plus individuals, brutally and viciously have different definitions and different meanings. For one, brutally and viciously is understood as something that is inhumane, that affects an animal in a negative way without concern for the animal's sensibilities.

However, another meaning could be considered for the common practices of even catching a fish for instance, where once people catch a fish, they have to end its life so it can be consumed and eaten as a filet for supper. That could be deemed to be brutally or viciously killing. That is my concern. We have groups of people that have traditionally fished, hunted, and trapped, etc.. They would now be potentially accused of treating animals brutally or viciously. I know the member who put this bill forward said that would not be the case, but the potential for that definition to be taken far and wide is what concerns a lot of us in this place.

I will speak to the second point as well, about the changing in definition from property to people. The change is significant because it would take animal cruelty offences out of the section dealing with offences against certain property and would move it to the section of the Criminal Code dealing with offences against persons. That distinction is very important because instead of involving property, we would have potential offences against human-type individuals, which certainly would put it into a different level in the Criminal Code than I think most of us would consider acceptable.

Again, I want to get to the premise of Bill C-246. On this side we, and I know many on that side too, do not want to see cruelty to animals. I have a family pet. We have had family pets in the past and we cherish them as members of our family. However, to hold them as members of the family equitable to the human beings in our family is going too far, and I agree with my colleague who said that earlier.

Last, we already have extensive legislation that deals with animal cruelty in Canada. To say that we need more legislation to make sure that this does not happen is just not necessary.

I thought it was interesting that one of the members who said they were going to support this particular bill talked about a certain case of animal cruelty. I think it was dogs that the member said were abused. They were emaciated and down to a fraction of what their healthy weight should be. They were acknowledged as being abused and it was dealt with in the system. The owner was charged and the case went before the courts.

That is an example of the current laws in this place working. It already functions well in dealing with animal abuse and cruelty. We do not need more laws on the books to go even further.

I will go a bit more into what our current laws are, because I think people out there who are watching us tonight may not know and may think that we need laws. Therefore, I will state the laws that we actually do have, or part of them.

The offence is in part 11 of the Criminal Code entitled “Wilful and Forbidden Acts in Respect of Certain Property”. These are current laws on the books.

Section 445.1 states:

Every one commits an offence who

(a) wilfully causes or, being the owner, wilfully permits to be caused unnecessary pain, suffering or injury to an animal or a bird;

That is fairly comprehensive in dealing with animal abuse in my mind. Other subsections are more specific. Section 445 prohibits “wilfully and without lawful excuse...kills, maims, wounds, poisons or injures dogs, birds or animals”.

Section 446, “Causing damage or injury”, states that one commits a crime who:

(a) by wilful neglect causes damage or injury to animals or birds while they are being driven or conveyed; or

(b) being the owner or the person having the custody or control of a domestic animal or a bird or an animal or a bird wild by nature that is in captivity, abandons it in distress or wilfully neglects or fails to provide suitable and adequate food, water, shelter and care for it.

Those are just a few parts of the laws that are already on the books to deal with animal cruelty, although I applaud the member.

Shark finning is another one of those practices that is already on the books that cannot be done in Canada legally. If one is caught doing it, one will be charged. Those are laws that are already on the books currently today.

As co-chair of the parliamentary outdoor caucus, I have really learned to appreciate this part of our Canadian heritage. Our forefathers started this place. Hunting and sustenance fishing were part of what we did, and farming as well. It was all part of our tradition, and not just that, it was necessary for our survival. Therefore, to now come in with legislation that would potentially criminalize that historical activity unnecessarily, to us, is an overreach.

Again, I have gotten to know a lot of these folks who would be captured up in this type of legislation, me included, because I fish and hunt. We cannot ask for a bigger group who wants to help the conservation efforts in Canada proceed. Ducks Unlimited and many other groups are supportive of conservation. They do tireless work to see that animals are healthy and that they have places to grow and prosper. To affect this group of really good, well-meaning folks with possible charges of criminal activity, again, goes further than we want to go.

Again, I applaud the member for his intention. As I said, my family appreciates our pets. We had an English Bulldog, but lost our dog a year ago. When it died, it impacted our family. We care about animals, too, but we just think that Bill C-246 goes too far.

Likewise, I will be standing with my colleague on the Liberal side, from Newfoundland and Labrador, my co-chair in the parliamentary outdoor caucus, and we will both be opposing the bill.

Natural Resources September 28th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, as you know, residents in my riding have worked so hard to ensure their voices of strong support for B.C. LNG were heard. Yesterday's approval of the Pacific NorthWest LNG project was one step forward, but unfortunately the conditions attached were two steps backward.

Why did the Liberals ensure thousands of Canadian energy workers would remain out of work by adding potentially impossible conditions to their approval of Pacific NorthWest LNG?

Natural Resources September 28th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, unfortunately, the Liberals' approval of the Pacific NorthWest LNG project is not all that it seems. The reality is that many residents of my riding woke up this morning in the same circumstances as they were yesterday, unemployed.

Unemployment rates in northeastern B.C. are still the highest in the province. As I said before, approving this project is one thing, building it is completely another. Why did the Liberals put potential poison pills in the approval with unnecessary conditions?