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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was things.

Last in Parliament October 2019, as Conservative MP for Saskatoon—University (Saskatchewan)

Won his last election, in 2015, with 42% of the vote.

Statements in the House

World Down Syndrome Day March 20th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, I invite everyone to join the Canadian Down Syndrome Society in celebrating World Down Syndrome Day tomorrow, March 21. World Down Syndrome Day is observed on March 21 to increase public awareness about Down syndrome, a congenital disorder caused by having an extra 21st chromosome. It is my hope that someday March 21, World Down Syndrome Day, will be as popular as Terry Fox Day.

On my Twitter, I have re-posted a video of a boy named Christopher sitting at a table about to have lunch. Christopher has Down syndrome. Asked if he is bothered by having Down syndrome, Christopher has the perfect answer when he says, “No. Why?”

Tragically, most children with Down syndrome will never get old enough to answer this question, because up to 85% of pregnancies with this disorder are never allowed to come to term. Imagine if we had a truly inclusive and just society, one where children with Down syndrome were valued and supported.

Petitions February 27th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, I have the pleasure to introduce a petition from nearly 3,800 Canadians from across the country who note that Canada has been founded upon the principle of the rule of law and that section 7 of the charter guarantees the right to life of the person. Therefore, as citizens of Canada, they call upon the government to initiate a respectful debate in the House of Commons with the intent to form an all-party committee that will draft a bill governing the conduct of abortion in Canada, and that consideration of the bill be by a free vote in the House of Commons.

Criminal Code December 10th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member is asking me to comment on how the government mishandles its own schedule. I should leave that for our House leaders. We do not want to necessarily teach the government how to actually handle its own schedule. Suffice it to say that, yes, the Liberals are often incompetent and do not know what they are doing when it comes to handling legislation, legislative timetables and things like that.

I am not always sure I want the government to be more efficient, since most of the legislation it puts forward is poor legislation. Therefore, to some degree, I actually appreciate the fact that the Liberals do not pass a lot of legislation, as they are inefficient and often do not have a real idea of where they are going, because the direction in which they do head tends to be net negative, in my opinion, for the country.

Criminal Code December 10th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, I was not saying that as a broad principle for every situation every time, but with some of the examples being put forward in the legislation, it is not particularly wise to be hybridizing particular offences.

Criminal Code December 10th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, generally when the government hybridizes an offence, it allows the prosecutors to put the charge in a less serious form, whether it is a year, two years or more or two years less. This allows the government to keep the crime in the Criminal Code legislation but allows prosecutors to put a much softer charge to it. I think the message is that the government still views it as a crime, but not that serious of a crime, and it is sending a message to prosecutors that if they do prosecute, not to prosecute all that hard and go for a very minimal sentence.

I do not think that is a good message to be sending. Offences against religious worship are very serious. We can ask people in the Jewish community how they would feel if a neo-Nazi came in to intimidate them.

Criminal Code December 10th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to discuss Bill C-51, an act involving a variety of issues that have been put together. I will not deal with the entirety of the bill, but I will give a brief summary and deal with certain sections that are of particular concern.

This legislation has been described as consisting of four separate parts. The first part is provisions that deal with sexual assault and rules around that. I do not pretend to be an expert on this, and my speech will not concentrate on those areas of the bill, but what I am hearing from some of my colleagues is how certain sexual assault offences would be treated less seriously in this legislation than in previous legislation. That does concern me. I wonder why the government is making these changes. I do not see any reason to treat sexual assault offences less seriously in the future than we have in the past.

There are a couple of other provisions where it makes sense that they are grouped together. They are dealing with things that may be obsolete, or provisions that have been found to be unconstitutional. It makes sense those two would be together in this legislation, as they are sort of a cleanup in the legislation. They are no longer functional, and it is a housecleaning bill in that sense.

Then, for some strange reason, the government has put a provision in the bill about charter statements. It would require that statements and legal opinions about the Charter of Rights and Freedoms be attached to all government bills.

If I could give some advice to the government for the future, perhaps it should not try to package these four separate areas together. Issues around sexual assault in particular need their own legislation to be dealt with so members can properly discuss it and look for ways to provide justice both to the accused and to victims going forward. As has been mentioned, this is a criminal offence that has very profound life-changing consequences for those affected by it.

I am particularly interested in a couple of things the government has put together as far as obsolete provisions or provisions that have been found to be unconstitutional or are similar to other provisions that have been found to be unconstitutional. I understand the government's reason for putting in clause 28, where it repeals the offence to supply or procure a drug or instruments used to cause the miscarriage of a female person. I understand why it is putting that clause in to get rid of that element of the legislation.

Let me express my disappointment with it, because what that is doing is cleaning out what is left of the abortion legislation that we have in Canada. I know with the Morgentaler rulings and so forth it was struck down, so I can understand the government's legal reasoning on this makes sense. If I shared its philosophical perspective I would do this as a matter of housecleaning, but it does bring to the notice of the House that Canada is the only democratic country in the whole world that does not have legislation dealing with abortion. I, and I know other members of the House find that to be an absolute disgrace. This is really the last housecleaning aspect to get rid of what is left of legislation in our Criminal Code dealing with abortion.

Members of the House, particularly members who agree with me that this is a disgrace, should contemplate on this final bit of housecleaning to get rid of what is left of legislation that protected the life of the unborn and should actually think about possibly opposing this legislation on the final vote to send a message that we think something needs to be done to defend the life of the unborn. Again, I understand the government's legal reasoning behind it. I am not questioning it. However, I think the duty of the House is not just to always rubber-stamp what the courts have said. It also needs to send a message about what we feel is right and moral, even when the courts, in my view, usurp the role of the House.

The other change in this legislation that has caught the attention of a considerable number of people, including me, is regarding obstructing or violence to or arrest of officiating clergymen. Originally the government was arguing that this was an obsolete provision that needed to be taken out. However, I think what has happened in regard to this clause actually demonstrates that our democratic processes do work well in this country. Many Canadians were very concerned, because this clause has actually been used. I have been informed that not that many years ago it was used, I believe, with respect to St. Patrick's here in Ottawa. Members can understand why this would be of major concern.

I think the government was right to expand the definition beyond Christian clergy, such as a Roman Catholic priest. One can see very clearly how a rabbi conducting a service in a Jewish house of worship could be very concerned if someone came in to do a demonstration with respect to Israel, or if at a Muslim service something were to take place. A lot of foreign policy questions are, in some people's minds, now tied to religion. I think it was very important that the public spoke out and clearly said to the government that it is unacceptable to remove this and that it is something they want protected.

All forms of freedom of speech need to be protected and are of importance. Religious freedom of speech is not a singular, individual one, but rather it is done collectively. When a clergyman is officiating a service that is interfered with, it is interfering with something that is very profound and sacred to a group of people. It is invading their privacy. It is taking away from them an intimate, special moment, an act of connection with their god. The government's original suggestion was that this was redundant to other pieces of legislation, but I think it is clearly understood that is not the case. This is something special and distinct. The government did a wise thing by backing down under public pressure and to understand what this means to many Canadians.

My final concern with this legislation has to do with the requirement for charter statements being put into this bill. The bill is suggesting that every time the government brings forward a piece of legislation, it must table a charter statement in Parliament with the bill. If the current government wants to do that, that is its choice. I understand it has been done eight times. However, I have a couple of concerns with this.

When a legal statement involving the Charter of Rights and Freedoms is attached to a bill, it may very well give the public an incorrect impression as to the legality or illegality of the bill. I would expect all governments to check and be very thorough about whether or not a bill or a piece of legislation they are putting forward is just. However, a legal opinion from one, two or even three lawyers in the Department of Justice may be seen as something more than it is, something more consequential and more powerful.

My other concern about this is it could very easily be a way for the Department of Justice to steer, through its own opinions, political opinions of the government. Governments have the right to disagree with their own lawyers. They have the right to put forward legislation that pushes the grey line of charter rights. We have a notwithstanding clause. Governments do not even have to universally follow the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. That is the way it is construed. That is a concern I have. Again, if the government wishes to do it, it should feel free to do so. However, this is something that is creating an extra hurdle or perception that I am not sure members of this House would universally agree with.

Those are my concerns. I understand the basis for the legislation. However, there are things about this bill that I cannot support.

Road Safety November 26th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, a couple of weeks ago one of my constituents, the father of a young man who died in the Humboldt Broncos bus crash, asked to meet with me to discuss driver training for truckers, and other safety-related issues.

I would like to take this opportunity to reassure the families of the crash victims that members of this place, members of the provincial legislatures in Saskatchewan and Alberta and various industry organizations are all working together to improve training and safety standards in a variety of ways. For example, this summer Transport Canada announced that by September 1, 2020, all newly built medium and large highway buses must have seatbelts.

Other steps involving driver training and other safety measures need to be looked at to prevent a tragedy like the Humboldt Broncos crash from ever happening again.

I thank all members of the House and other levels of government for their work on policies to increase safety on large buses, and I look forward to seeing what improved safety and training requirements are implemented to prevent another tragedy like the one that happened to the Broncos from ever happening again.

Religious Freedom November 22nd, 2018

Mr. Speaker, upon her release after eight years on death row in Pakistan for blasphemy, Asia Bibi and her life and those of her family are still at risk. In Turkey, atheists are jailed for questioning on God's existence on Twitter. In Germany, Baptists are jailed for home-schooling their children according to their faith. Here in Canada, the Supreme Court has ruled that if a Christian law school wants accreditation, it must discard its biblical values.

Religious freedom is a fundamental freedom. It is too often casually ignored by governments and courts around the world, both democratic and totalitarian. Religious minorities are especially vulnerable. If we cherish our right to freedom of speech and belief, we must stand up for religious views we disagree with both at home and abroad. Canada was not founded as a secular state and it is not a religious state. Canada is a country that has learned that religious tolerance works best for all Canadians, both believers and non-believers alike. We in Parliament must do our job not to forget that lesson from our history.

Petitions June 20th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to present petitions from people in both Saskatchewan and Manitoba who protest the government's summer job attestation statement. They are very concerned that it discriminates against Canadians who have both pro-life and pro-traditional marriage viewpoints.

National Security Act, 2017 June 7th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to bring this to the top of the hour and to bring forward some general remarks on this piece of legislation. Not having been a member of the committee, I find it refreshing to take a look at this matter and to provide some perspective on it.

There are two ways to look at bills such this. We can look at the very detailed technical aspects, and we can look at a philosophical overview. In this speech, I will attempt to provide a bit of a blend of the two approaches.

One of the problems I have when I look at this legislation is that it has seemed to come forward with the general concept that our security forces, the RCMP, CSIS, and the Communications Security Establishment, have too much authority, too great an ability to disrupt and take activities to go forward to fight terrorism. The philosophy of this legislation seems to be to take steps to actually restrict our security organizations from implementing steps to go forward to fight terrorism and threats to our national security. I am fairly concerned about that, because it seems to be a habit of the government to take political nuance from what is happening in the United States and to apply that to Canada.

I understand by talking with a lot of voters and other people that they often confuse legislation and activities in the United States with what we do here in Canada. Our legislation and our activities are fairly different. There is a section in this legislation that indicates and makes clear that the government and the security forces do not engage in torture and activities like that. Of course, Canadian security organizations never have.

Looking at things such as that in the legislation, I begin to think that perhaps the government was responding to perceptions of what was happening in the United States. That is an important thing for Canadians to realize. What happens in other countries does not necessarily happen here, even though we may hear about things on the news and assume that they affect our country as well.

With that in mind, let me express a few concerns I have about this legislation. One of the things the legislation does is make it more difficult for government organizations to share information internally between one department and another and between one organization and another. That is a concern Canadian parliamentarians have had for many years. If the organizations' security apparatus become too siloed, and the information becomes too internalized, organizations that need the information cannot act upon it. This is fairly well documented and well known in Canada because of the great tragedy of the Air India disaster, when the RCMP was unable to get all the information around to everyone who needed it.

This is concerning, because it seems that we are taking a step back from previous legislation, in which we tried to have organizations, security personal, and police who needed the information have access to information from other departments. That is very much concerning.

I understand the concern that information will be misused or that information will be inappropriately obtained, but I think it is probably better to look at whether the information is necessary and whether it is appropriate in the first place. That may be the point the government should perhaps concentrate on in its legislation. If the information is necessary, valid, and properly obtained, it should be shared widely and easily so that the information can be applied for our security.

Another major concern I have with this legislation is the change on advocacy and the promotion of terrorism. This is one of those areas where I understand that there are difficulties between very robust freedom of speech and crossing the line over to what is advocating for terrorism, which is advocating for the destruction of our society.

I am very concerned about this, because here is the problem. This problem also ties in with the ability to disrupt, and I will talk about that later on. We need, in our society, to be able to get ahead of terrorism and terrorist activities before they actually cause the loss of life, before they cause damage to our institutions.

This is why we need to have fairly robust measures in our legislation to block the advocacy and promotion of terrorism. There are organizations that come very close to the line. Everyone knows what they are implying, without their explicitly stating that terrorism is good and necessary, whether directly against Canada or other places in the world. We know they are indicating to people what they want them to do. They use this to help raise funds and support, helping to build a cause that most Canadians would find repugnant. That is why I find it distressing that the government has watered-down these provisions in this legislation.

I would urge the government members to think very carefully about this, because we need to be able to stop terrorism before it happens. We need to be able to cut off the funds, political support, and the philosophical and public relations activities of terrorist organizations before they actually get to a point where they can damage our society.

That ties into my next concern about this legislation, which is the restriction on threat disruption. I think the latter is fairly commonsense to most Canadians when they look at it. We would like to our security organizations, our police forces, to be able to interfere and stop an event before it happens. I know that some members of the NDP have expressed concerns that this power should perhaps not belong with CSIS, but with the RCMP. However, here is the problem. If CSIS or the RCMP has information that something is going to happen imminently, they need to be able to move fairly quickly and rapidly, and not have to worry about the administrative procedures on how to get there. This is something that I have great concerns about.

I am going to make a couple of quick recommendations in the two minutes I have left about what the government could perhaps concentrate on in future legislation, or in related legislation, that would help our security. Number one, the government should concentrate intensely on the technological aspects of cyberwarfare, cyberterrorism, and things like that going forward, not just by private sector actors but also by state actors, as we have seen in other countries. This is becoming increasingly important and of increasing interest, and I would urge the government to take a look at the necessary steps to increase support for that, to look at legislative steps to get more tools, funding, and support to deal with those issues.

Finally, the government needs to look at the potential of Canada's having a foreign intelligence service getting ahead of threats before they come to Canada. We talk about globalization, and it is in many ways good. We can travel to more places. We have trade between Canada and other parts of the world, but increasingly when it comes to security issues, we are in a position where we, as Canadians, cannot really look to our own borders. We need to begin to think abroad. We are one of the few major powers in the world that do not have a foreign intelligence service. It is something that I recommend the government do. There are other recommendations and other things in this legislation that my colleagues have gone through, which I recommend the government take to heart.

Again, my major concerns about this bill are with its philosophical approach. This bill criticizes and implies that our security system is overly weak. I do not agree with that. I think the RCMP, CSIS, and the members of the Canadian security establishment have done a good job protecting our country, and I think the legislation by the previous government went in the right direction. Therefore, I urge the government to reconsider many of the changes it introduces in this legislation.