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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was forward.

Last in Parliament October 2015, as Conservative MP for Westlock—St. Paul (Alberta)

Won his last election, in 2011, with 78% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Oil Sands February 2nd, 2007

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Liberals finally unleashed their winning platform for Alberta. They want to shut down the oil sands.

Yes, yesterday the Liberal natural resources critic, the member for Ajax—Pickering, said that his party would intrude on provincial jurisdiction and bring 10% of Canada's GDP to a crashing thud.

I understand that the Liberals do not care much about the west and will always pit regional interests against each other instead of building a united country, so why do I not put this in terms that the member might actually understand?

Sixteen per cent of oil sands related jobs are in Ontario. By 2004, the oil sands resulted in activity worth $102 billion for Ontario. That is energy, manufacturing, service and investment wealth, all based upon the oil sands.

Is he telling companies and workers in his own riding that because his leader does not have a plan to balance energy production with environmental responsibility they should lose their jobs?

That is not a real plan for Canada's energy sector or its environment.

The Liberals had their chance and they did not get it done.

Ed Stelmach December 4th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, I take great pride today in rising to congratulate a man who has always served as a role model to my generation of Albertans, the new premier-elect of the province of Alberta, the hon. Ed Stelmach.

This past Saturday marked the successful conclusion of a hard fought campaign based on ideas, hard work, honesty and respect and the beginning of a new era in Alberta. This was a long process and I would like to congratulate the other leadership candidates for their dedication over the past months promoting and building strong conservative ideals in Alberta.

Premier-elect Stelmach ran a positive unifying campaign. He will bring his years of cabinet experience, together with strong rural roots and family values to ensure that Alberta remains a leader in Confederation and is governed by smart, sensible decisions and good old-fashioned hard work.

It is good to see that in Alberta good guys can still finish first.

By choosing premier-elect Stelmach, Albertans have made a clean and unified choice.

The Economy November 24th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to talk about Canada's fiscal and economic update. Simply put, Canada is back.

Our first economic and fiscal update is a positive story. The economy is strong. Government spending is focused, our debt is lower, and taxes are going down.

To build on this prosperity, the Minister of Finance has put forward a long term economic plan entitled Advantage Canada. Advantage Canada will create the economic conditions and opportunities necessary for families and businesses to succeed.

I have spoken with Canadians across this great country. The message that they have given me is loud and clear. They want their government to remain focused and deliver responsible tax relief to make it easier for them to save for their priorities. Our government will reach higher and go further for the benefit of families, students, workers and seniors from coast to coast.

Just like on January 23, when Canadians won at the ballot box, under Advantage Canada, Canadians will continue to prosper under this Conservative government.

Business of Supply November 1st, 2006

Mr. Chair, I would like to say, as this is my first opportunity to speak in committee of the whole, that I am very proud to be a part of a government that is actually getting things done, as we promised. We are getting things done with the universal child care benefit. The minister has got more things done in the first six months of her term than the former Liberal government got done in 13 years. It is very important to mention that.

I would just like to give the minister my remaining time to talk a little bit more about the apprenticeship and training programs that we are putting forward and some of the things that we can look forward to in this department.

Business of Supply November 1st, 2006

Mr. Chair, I would like to hear the minister continue on that very important topic.

First I want to say how much admiration I have for the minister, Mr. Chair. I sit on the human resources and skills development committee and I have had the opportunity to do a little bit of work and a little bit of research into this. I found out through my own research that it took five ministers and ministers of state in the former Liberal government to do what the minister is doing now. Actually, I do not know if any of them got re-elected so I will go to a different question.

Could the minister please give the House a recap of the 2006-07 report on plans and priorities?

Business of Supply November 1st, 2006

Mr. Chair, I am pleased to have the opportunity to appear here tonight.

I especially want to thank both our ministers for coming before us tonight and taking the opportunity to enlighten the members of this House about the vision they have for this department and this country.

I am here today to talk about something that the human resources committee has agreed is a very important issue for our country. As we all acknowledge, our economy works best when everyone is participating and working to their potential. Currently, Canada's labour market is among the most resilient in the OECD. With among the highest participation in employment rates, we also have one of the highest post-secondary education completion rates.

While these figures bode well for our future prosperity, Canada's new government recognizes that there is always room for improvement. Where can we improve? Where do we need to focus our attention? A quick scan of the newspapers from across this country paints a particular picture.

The following are examples of some headlines I have selected from coast to coast: “New Brunswick faces labour crunch”, Moncton Times and Transcript; “Trade sectors vying for trained workers”, Halifax Chronicle-Herald; “Help (desperately) wanted”, Winnipeg Free Press; “Jobs going begging”, Regina Leader-Post; “Seller's market is looming for talented job seekers”, Vancouver Sun; and “Job fair garners little interest”, the Calgary Herald.

I could go on all night about just my own small riding on how important a topic this is. There can be no doubt that we face certain labour market challenges, especially given Canada's declining birth rate alongside an aging population. While our labour force grew 200% in the last 50 years, in the next 50 years growth is expected to plummet to a mere 5%.

Another challenge that we must face is increased global competition, including that from emerging competitors such as China and India. This increased global competition has resulted in an escalating search for talent and skills.

In Canada, labour and skill shortages are challenges that are being increasingly reported from coast to coast and across multiple sectors of our economy.

Nowhere is this more apparent than in my home province of Alberta, where the provincial government is forecasting a human capital deficit of 100,000 people over the next 10 years. That is right: 100,000 people over the next 10 years.

As a recent Calgary Sun article noted, “In city malls, sales banners vie for space with help wanted signs while radio ads troll for recruits almost as much as for buyers”. In my riding alone, there are 8,000 to 10,000 new jobs being projected in the next five years.

This is a major labour shortage and a major issue for those employers that are trying to continue to help promote our Canadian economy. Indeed, a 2006 survey conducted by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business found that more than 80% of small business owners in the province had difficulty finding workers. These pressures have made the recruitment and retention of skilled labour an exceedingly pressing concern, especially in Alberta's oil and gas sector.

According to Mr. Ali, president of Petro Staff International, oil and gas companies have a limited timeframe to make hiring choices. “They have to make a quick assessment within hours of getting a resumé, because there are 10 other companies looking at that resumé,” he says.

Such realities have ratcheted up the cost of doing business. Since 2002, the average hourly wage has gone up by 10% nationally. In Alberta, it has gone up 17.4%.

Canada's new government recognizes the importance of taking steps to address our labour market challenges by taking concrete action in three key areas: first, boosting the quantity of workers; second, enhancing the quality of their skills; and third, strengthening our economic union.

In optimizing the quantity of workers, we recognize the need to increase the participation of those presently under-represented in the workforce, particularly aboriginal Canadians, persons with disabilities, recent immigrants and older workers.

That is why I am proud to say that our new government is taking concrete steps to meet the labour market challenges that our country currently faces.

Let me briefly illustrate a few examples that highlight what Canada's new government is doing in advancement of such objectives.

Just recently, the Minister of Human Resources and Social Development approved three-quarters of a million dollars in funding to help increase aboriginal Canadian participation in Alberta's trades and apprenticeships. This is particularly important in my riding of Westlock—St. Paul.

Through the labour market agreements for persons with disabilities, we invest over $220 million annually to support provincial labour market programs and services for people with disabilities.

We have also committed to setting up a national credential recognition agency, ensuring faster integration for qualified, internationally trained recent immigrants so that they can more fully contribute to Canada's economic prosperity.

Our government recently announced the targeted initiative for older workers. This initiative clearly demonstrates our commitment to older workers, because Canada's new government values their talents and skills and recognizes the importance of doing all we can to retain, retrain and reintegrate older workers into our labour market. In conjunction with the provinces and territories, this new $70 million initiative will provide income support for older workers while investing in skills assessment and upgrading along with work experience to help older workers remain active and productive participants in our labour market.

We are also encouraging our youth in their pursuit of post-secondary education, either at community colleges, private institutions or universities. In budget 2006, we made it easier for young people to gain access to learning by introducing a new textbook tax credit for both full time and part time students and expanding eligibility criteria for students seeking Canada student loans by reducing the amount parents need to contribute to their children's education.

I have talked to a lot of parents about this issue. They say that if we can reduce the amount they have to pay for their children's education just a little bit, it would make life a lot easier for them. They are average, everyday Canadians.

We have also introduced an exemption of scholarship and bursary income for taxes. This helps the post-graduate students in particular.

In pursuit of improving the quality of our workforce, in budget 2006 we also announced important measures making apprenticeship and the skilled trades more affordable and accessible. The apprenticeship job creation tax credit encourages employers to give young workers an opportunity by providing them with a tax credit of up to $2,000 for each of the first two years of their participation in a red seal designated apprenticeship.

Likewise, commencing in January 2007, the apprenticeship incentive grant will provide prospective apprentices with $1,000 for the successful completion of each of their first two years in a red seal apprenticeship program. Moreover, we also introduced a $500 tax deduction against the cost of tools in excess of $1,000 required as a condition of employment. Taken together, these three measures will benefit over 800,000 apprentices and tradespeople per year.

Finally, our government recognizes the importance of a strong economic union in Canada, one that supports flexible labour mobility across sectors and regions. A key tool in this respect is our work with the sector councils to increase pertinent labour market information. For example, the construction sector council has created a labour market information forecasting model that informs and supports long range human resource decision making.

We also play a leadership role in resolving the interprovincial barriers in regulated professions and trades, actively supporting the interprovincial standards red seal program in the skilled trades.

In addition, the Minister of Industry and his provincial counterparts recently committed to an ambitious action plan to improve labour mobility across Canada. By the spring of 2009, it is expected that all existing regulated occupations will comply with the labour mobility obligations of the agreement on internal trade, allowing Canadians the freedom to work and live wherever they wish without restrictions. That is very key.

This also demonstrated Canada's new government's commitment to working with our provincial partners in a collaborative manner in this area. As even NDP premier of Manitoba Gary Doer admitted:

This has been debated in our country since 1994 so this is a significant step forward to get action on this item. Labour mobility in Canada will be quite different 30 months from now.

Canada's new government is clearly working on many fronts toward a more efficient labour market, one that can adjust quickly to new realities so employers can fill jobs and workers can take advantage of job opportunities.

As I conclude, I would like to ask the minister to further elaborate on what initiatives Canada's new government is taking to encourage more Canadians to enter into apprenticeships and the skilled trades.

Canadian Wheat Board Act October 24th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the member for Malpeque's interest in my speech.

I was also very interested in the airport tour he did a year or so ago, in which it was proposed to have a bunch of different solutions for agriculture producers, particularly in western Canada. Again, none of those solutions are now in the Liberal policy platform he just unveiled the other day, at least none of the core four solutions that he originally put forward.

I want to ensure I take the time to congratulate the member for Battlefords—Lloydminster in the exemplary work he has done, and the parliamentary secretary from Cypress Hills—Grasslands. They are men of ethics and moral standards. They fought for something in opposition. When they got to this side of the aisle, they continued to fight for the same thing. They did not flip-flop on these issues. They did not decide one day that they were for farmers and what was best for farmers and then the next day decide they would rather choose politics over it.

While the bill may be succinct and small, it is very important for providing the impetus of change and choice that we dramatically need in western Canada. I am proud to stand today and support the bill. I ask all members to take the time, learn a little more about the Wheat Board and support the bill.

Canadian Wheat Board Act October 24th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, I will not have time to read all my prepared remarks on this topic. I want to put a bit of an Alberta tint on this.

We talk about the oil and gas that we have in Alberta. It is a fact of life that the agriculture industry and the agrarian economy has been the backbone of the Alberta economy for many years. It will continue to be so.

If we do not start giving all farmers in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and across western Canada the same as they have in Ontario and in the other parts of eastern Canada, it is going to be very difficult for our agriculture producers in the upcoming years.

I want to address some of the comments that have been made in the past by the member for Mississauga South, the member for Thunder Bay—Rainy River and the member for Malpeque. None of these members are calling for single desk selling for the producers in their areas.

I have never heard the member for Malpeque call for single desk selling for the potato producers in P.E.I. Yet he pretends to care about and know what is best for the producers who live in our ridings in western Canada.

Canadian Wheat Board Act October 24th, 2006

Why don't you go run in one of those seats?

Haying in the '30s October 23rd, 2006

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to give recognition to an exceptional annual heritage event that takes place in Mallaig, Alberta.

The eighth annual Haying in the '30s is a volunteer and donation driven fundraiser that raised over $100,000 this year in the fight against cancer.

Haying in the '30s takes participants on a trip back in time, before tractors and swathers replaced the horse teams.

It brings people from all walks of life together to respect and relive a time when the community and its members supported each other through good times and bad.

The Haying in the '30s support society used the money that it raised this year to send cheques to over 900 cancer victims to help deal with and bear some of the burden of this unpredictable and indiscriminate disease that touches all our families.

I ask my colleagues to join me in endorsing Haying in the '30s as the 2006 recipient of the Alberta tourism award in the sustainable tourism category. This event enriches the Lakeland community and the lives of all its participants.