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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was chair.

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

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act, No. 1 May 6th, 2013

Mr. Speaker, as always, I am happy to see my friend from Winnipeg North standing up. Unfortunately the Jets are not in the playoffs this year, so he has a little more time to spend here than he would otherwise. As he likes to trade quotes, and he is always prepared, I would like to read him a quote, as well.

From Mr. John Lounds, president of the Nature Conservancy of Canada, in committee last week:

You will no doubt hear many witnesses tell you where government hasn't got it right. We'd like to tell you about something where the government has got it right in our view, which is the natural areas conservation program. In 2007 the Government of Canada made a bold investment of $225 million in this unique public-private partnership led by the Nature Conservancy of Canada.

I am proud of the fact that we are part of a government that has helped establish important habitat conservation for over 875,000 acres of land across 10 provinces of this country, including saving habitat for 148 species at risk. I think that is a record of success.

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act, No. 1 May 6th, 2013

Mr. Speaker, I am very familiar with the project the member is talking about. In fact I grew up in that area.

The local councillor, Mr. Bert Seatter, has been a strong advocate of this project. If the member wishes, I would be happy to share information on the company that he talked about.

It is very important, as I said, when we start talking about these issues that we look at it as a balanced approach, that we look at economic development and growth of our economy in balance with the environment.

I am glad the member brought it up. My home province of Alberta is one of the leading provinces when it comes to wind and solar technology, which invests more money in renewable fuels than many of the provinces twice its size in this country. I am proud to be from a part of the country that does not just talk about environmental stewardship but actually takes a step forward and starts practising it.

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act, No. 1 May 6th, 2013

Mr. Speaker, it is a privilege to speak on budget 2013 and the budget implementation act. As I prepared for this speech, I reviewed from budget 2006 onward with an eye to looking at how our government is focused on the economy, jobs, growth, and long-term prosperity. One thing I was very happy to see was that even in the early days of our government, in 2006, we have always had an eye towards providing stability and environmental stewardship.

The Prime Minister has always recognized that environmental protection goes hand in hand with our economic future as a country. Whether it is through strategic investments in clean energy infrastructure, strong partnerships with our provincial and municipal partners, NGOs, industry and even landowners, or whether it is actually doing the tough work of regulatory reform, our government has always had an eye toward making sure we have the balance between our economic prosperity and increasing our environmental stewardship and habitat conservation. Whether it is looking for results in increasing air and water quality or reducing greenhouse gases, this government has consistently set targets and moved toward actual results in hitting those targets.

As a young boy growing up in rural northern Alberta with a grandfather who was both a trapper and farmer, I was always very close to the land. I was always in an environment where I understood the importance of environmental stewardship and good conservation, being a good Conservative. I contrast that upbringing with my niece Vienna, who was born and raised in Ottawa. I see how she would have a different opinion of what environmental stewardship and the problems of our country look like today, when she tunes in to CTV News or any of the news stations, as she likes to do, and sees evil oil and gas companies destroying thousands of hectares of land, and mining companies putting big holes in the ground, making it look like some kind of sci-fi moon landscape from the 1970s.

I understand how this negative connotation that people constantly receive from the media can lead this generation to perceive that these are the problems of environmental stewardship today. In fact, in the last 50 years, when it comes to issues such as wetlands conservation, air quality, water quality or greenhouse gas emissions, the largest problem in our country has been urban sprawl. More and more urban areas have taken up more and more wetlands and have increased the output of effluents.

I can remember, as a young man, going to the University of Calgary, and when I left the north end, between Calgary and Balzac and then Calgary and Airdrie, there were actual green spaces. Now there are houses from one end to the other, just like Toronto to Hamilton. It has become concrete. This is one of the biggest issues that we have to deal with. This is one of the issues we have to make sure we pass on to Vienna's generation, that it is a problem we have to engage in.

I am proud to be part of a government that has made strategic investments in partnerships, not just with municipalities but organizations like Nature Conservancy Canada. An additional $20 million was put into budget 2013 to help them leverage it three to one so we could protect more habitat and species at risk. Since budget 2007, we know this has been a successful program. We have invested $225 million and preserved over 875,000 acres of land over all 10 provinces in our country, and conserved habitat for up to 148 species at risk.

The fact is that we can still have growth and economic prosperity at the same time as increasing our environmental sustainability. That is a message we have to pass on. We can actually continue to grow our environmental conservation habits, not just be happy with some kind of net zero through innovative partnerships like we have already demonstrated.

One of the other things we have to do in these partnerships is win the hearts and minds of Canadians. We have to show Canadians like those in my niece's generation that habitat, wildlife and the environment are things worth saving, and to do that, we have to give them a value. We have to be able to attribute a value to that, and it is very hard to attribute a value to something that one has never really encountered.

We have Thousand Islands National Park, a beautiful park, about two hours away from Ottawa, but for my niece to pack up her family and go there takes a couple of hours. To go to Jasper National Park from Edmonton, it is two and a half hours. It limits the number of encounters they are going to have with nature and natural habitats.

That is why it is so important that our government's initiatives and investments in parks such as Rouge national urban park, where we are investing $143 million over 10 years, including in this budget as well, to bring nature closer to Canadians and to that generation that has grown up in urban sprawl. This is critically important when we talk about winning hearts and minds so that they can understand the importance of habitat and species at risk.

I am proud to be part of a government that has created over 149,000 square kilometres of national parks, including parks such as Sable Island. This government has always had an eye toward making sure that we invest in the future, and not just in job training and job growth but also in environmental stewardship.

One of the other aspects that is very important, perhaps one of the most important, is working with industry and taking a real approach. If we want to continue to extract and develop our natural resources and sell them around the world, we have to have a regulatory approach that is perceived to be one of the best in the world, not just talked about as being one of the best in the world.

That is where the Prime Minister's leadership in regulatory reform is so important. Whether it is in the transportation sector, the coal-fired electricity sector, or the oil and gas sector, we have worked with these sectors one by one. It is not just to do a redistribution of wealth, which is what a carbon tax is, taking from one to give to the other, but the rich never really have to make a sacrifice. We are talking about changing the way sectors operate so that they actually become better environmental stewards and bring reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and improved air quality.

This kind of work is far harder and politically far more difficult, but it brings the benefits of real results for Canadians and for the next generation, at the same time respecting our jurisdictions and understanding that the coal-fired electricity issues in Ontario or Quebec are not the same as the issues in Alberta. We have to have some flexibility, yet have targets that we are moving forward to meet.

At the same time, as we see in budget 2013, we are investing $325 million in Sustainable Development Technology Canada to help develop clean technology and help industry to continue to move forward. I come from an oil-rich part of the country where we have in situ oil sands that are nothing like what most Canadians would perceive when they think of the oil sands in Fort McMurray. These are oil sands with a very small footprint. These are oil sands for which our government has just put water monitoring in place in the Athabasca River so that we can make sure we are open and transparent and can actually demonstrate the positive results coming out of the work we have done on this sector.

I would be remiss if I did not mention the importance of working with landowners and the importance of respecting property rights when we are doing all of these things. It is important that we incentivize landowners so they are not worried about running into a species at risk on their land, yet see the natural habitat area as a value to their land. That can only happen through strong partnerships with our municipalities, as we are experiencing in Vermilion River.

To close, I would like to say it is our responsibility to look the next generation in the eye and say that we have been good stewards of both the environment and the economy. Environmental protection goes hand in hand with our economic future.

God bless Canada.

Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal Recipients March 19th, 2013

Mr. Speaker, as we commemorate and award the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee medals to citizens across Canada, I would like to bring to light a few of the honoured individuals from my riding who share Her Majesty's ideals and devotion to service.

Ms. Dorine Kuzma is a lifelong volunteer and one of the founders of the St. Paul and District Ukrainian Dance Club and the St. Paul 4H Light Horse Club. Mr. Ajaz Quraishi is the ambassador of Cold Lake who considers volunteering a full-time job with organizations such as United Way, the Cold Lake Victim Services Society and the Cold Lake Islamic Society, to name a few. Mr. Jack Dennett is a dedicated member of the Redwater Agricultural Society and a town councillor since 1971. Mrs. Margaret Modin is a passionate advocate of seniors, health care and everything else that goes on in Elk Point. Mr. Robert Wayne Willis is a military veteran who was awarded the Royal Canadian Legion's branch service medal for more than 35 years of volunteerism.

I ask all members of the House to join me in congratulating all of the exceptional citizens who have received this award and have done so much for our communities and our country.

Natural Resources March 4th, 2013

Mr. Speaker, the mining sector is a critical sector of Canada's economy, creating jobs and economic growth from coast to coast to coast.

Yesterday I was proud to join over 40 of my Conservative colleagues at the PDAC conference in Toronto to hear about the over 200 active mines in Canada, producing more than 60 minerals and metals, which help fund social programs from health care to education. Last year, over $7.1 billion was paid to governments across Canada in royalties and taxes.

Could the parliamentary secretary explain to the House what our government is doing to support this important sector?

Homes Not Connected to a Sanitation System February 5th, 2013

Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate my colleague opposite on putting forward, I believe, her first motion to the House of Commons. I have done so myself. It is not an easy thing to do, and sometimes it can cause a lot of work in one's own office. I appreciate that, and I want to make sure that my comments reflect that tone of appreciation.

I would, however, like to comment on some of the comments by the hon. colleague opposite in her speech with regard to the summer villages in Alberta, for example, which I am very well aware of. In fact, I actually just got off the phone with one of my municipalities. We were talking about this issue.

When a member puts forward a motion in the House of Commons and calls up different municipalities and says, “I'm going to do something that's going to get you more money for vital infrastructure in your riding”, that raises their expectations, which I think is unfortunate. There are a couple of things to look at. First, we know that this is a provincial jurisdiction. We know that this is under municipal jurisdiction. Under the wastewater systems effluent regulations under the Fisheries Act, we know that septic systems for individuals fall under provincial and municipal jurisdiction.

The other problem is the fact that the member herself acknowledges that she wanted to put forward a motion, knowing that it would not bind the government's hands. I find it somewhat troubling when the member opposite decides not to take the concrete steps of actual legislation. She would rather talk about it in the form of a motion, because she knows that it would require a royal recommendation and the government would not even have a chance to vote on it. Instead, it was put forward in this manner, which I find to be somewhat troubling. It raises the expectations of a municipality such as Bonnyville, which I just spoke to. They are not necessarily cognizant of all these facts.

The other aspect, as members well know, is that our government has invested a lot of money in many of the lakes and rivers for environmental protection. I know that Lake Simcoe has. I know that Georgian Bay has been announced. I know that Lake Winnipeg has received money for this. These are great things that should be celebrated. It should not be used as a fearmongering tactic to say that the environment is being penalized.

I would like to continue by thanking the member for Simcoe—Grey for the excellent work she has done in trying to advocate and for ensuring that everybody understands what the motion actually represents.

While I certainly appreciate the hon. member's good intentions, I must inform the House that the government will not be supporting the motion. The regulation of household septic systems off reserve is, as I said, the responsibility of provinces and territories. This simply is not an area of federal jurisdiction.

We continue, however, to take action, in areas of federal responsibility, to protect Canada's environment and the health of our citizens. Last July, for example, our government announced the new wastewater systems effluent regulations, which were established under the authority of the Fisheries Act, after consulting with the provinces, territories, aboriginal communities and other stakeholders. These regulations are the federal government's principal instrument for implementing the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment's Canada-wide strategy for the management of municipal wastewater effluent. While the regulations do not apply to household septic systems, they do tackle the largest source of water pollution in Canada.

Our government is also making historic investments in public infrastructure. Public wastewater infrastructure has been one of the key categories of investment under the federal infrastructure program. Since 2007, approximately $1.8 billion has been committed to over 1,200 wastewater projects across the country under the building Canada fund and a number of economic action plan infrastructure programs. Also, under Canada's economic action plan, our government provided $2 billion in low-interest loans to municipalities for housing-related infrastructure projects, including sewage and water systems.

Since 2005, over $600 million has been allocated under the gas tax fund toward wastewater infrastructure across Canada.

The Government of Canada will continue to support public wastewater infrastructure through programs such as the gas tax fund, which is now permanent at $2 billion per year. Municipalities can choose to spend 100% of this funding to upgrade their wastewater infrastructure. In ridings such as mine, in northeast Alberta, that have tremendous growth pressures and enormous responsibilities for more infrastructure, I know that many, but not all, of my municipalities are putting significant amounts of their gas tax money into exactly these kinds of projects. That is exactly the way they would like us to continue to fund them.

It is also worth noting that our government provided $550 million to the Federation of Canadian Municipalities to establish the green municipal fund. The fund supports partnerships and the leveraging of public and private sector funding to achieve higher standards of air, water and soil quality as well as climate protection.

While the federal government does not have jurisdiction over private household septic systems, Canadians may be able to access federal support in a couple of ways. The first is through mortgage loan insurance, which can be purchased from Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, with the full backing of the Government of Canada. The current parameters for government-backed mortgage loan insurance allow homeowners to refinance their mortgages up to 80% of the value of their homes. Qualified homeowners can apply for CMHC-insured loans for any purpose, including for upgrading septic systems.

Homeowners may also have access to federal funding under the investment in affordable housing framework 2011-2014. Under this framework, CMHC is providing more than $238 million per year to provinces and territories to reduce the number of Canadians in need of housing by improving access to affordable housing that is sound, suitable and sustainable.

Most jurisdictions, provinces and territories match the federal investment and are responsible for program design, delivery and administration. They have the flexibility to invest in a range of solutions, which could include assistance for the repair of septic systems, if they so choose.

In the Yukon and Prince Edward Island, CMHC delivers renovation programs off reserve. Under these programs, forgivable loans are available to qualifying low-income households to address major deficiencies in dwelling structures or systems, including plumbing.

On reserve, first nations chiefs and councils are responsible for planning and developing their capital facilities to provide for the basic infrastructure needs of the community. They are also responsible for the day-to-day operation of water and wastewater systems on reserve.

Our government is making significant investments to support first nations communities in managing their water and wastewater systems. New wastewater treatment systems are eligible for funding when managed centrally by the first nation.

I see that I am running out of time. I would like to once again highlight a couple of things our government has done, not only with CMHC and not only on reserve but in tackling some of the environmental issues in our rivers and lakes. As I have said before, I know that the House is very familiar with the upgrades in Lake Simcoe and Lake Winnipeg through our government. Those are real investments.

These are ways the government can take concrete action without members simply bringing motions forward that have no opportunity of being binding on the government or even on their own parties.

I would like to thank the member for bringing forth this motion so that we have the opportunity to discuss and talk about some of the options. However, at the end of the day, it is important to recognize that our Conservative government is taking real steps to help our environment and to tackle some of the real issues rural Canadians face every single day.

Homes Not Connected to a Sanitation System February 5th, 2013

Mr. Speaker, I have just one question for my hon. colleague. Why did she decide to make this a private member's motion rather than a private member's bill, which if passed would have far more power and far wider implementation?

Financial Literacy Leader Act October 31st, 2012

Mr. Speaker, it is important not only to talk about what is in the bill and what we have been doing, but also about the dissemination of information, as the minister brought up.

Many Canadians in today's technological age do not realize the information we should be disseminating and the information that we definitely should not be disseminating online. It is important that we raise that.

The awareness factor is something that has to be out there. A lot of my friends who are highly educated and have master's degrees do not realize that they are not very financially literate and do not understand how to calculate mortgage interest or credit card interest fees.

Regarding the awareness aspect of this, as the member for Edmonton—Leduc has acknowledged and done a great job in highlighting, could the minister talk about the impact on Canadians of our raising the awareness of this and having this debate on increasing their financial literacy?

Events in St. Paul October 31st, 2012

Mr. Speaker, it is with a heavy heart that I rise today to speak about the tragic event that struck our community of St. Paul, Alberta, last Thursday when a van drove through a window of a grade six classroom of Racette Junior High, resulting in the death of one student and injuring several others.

I would like to extend my condolences to the Wolitski family who are suffering with the loss of their daughter, Megan. Our community's thoughts and prayers are with those still in hospital, as well as all the children, families and teachers who were affected by this tragedy.

It is important to also acknowledge the tremendous bravery demonstrated by the first responders. Whether they were teachers, paramedics or volunteer firefighters, they all placed themselves in harm's way without a thought to their own personal safety and deserve to be commended. I would also like to thank the superintendent of schools, Mr. Glen Brodziak, for his leadership throughout.

When senseless tragedies like this occur, they strike at the heart of each and every parent. Today, I encourage Canadians across our country to hold their children just a little bit tighter.

Indian Act Amendment and Replacement Act October 18th, 2012

The member is right, it has to be politics. They like the system because they benefit from it. They would rather stick first nations communities in neutral and never see actual action taken. They would rather have another white paper to discuss racist comments from 30 years ago than actually look forward into the future, as my hon. colleague from Desnethé—Missinippi—Churchill River would have us do, and start having the discussion and debate. That is how we make changes in this great country. It is through rigorous debate. It is okay to bring positions forward and have first nations communities bring their positions forward and have this reported back to Parliament every year. I could not think of a more democratic, collaborative approach than what the member is actually proposing and I congratulate him for that.

I will make one other comment, a plea actually. I would like the members of the New Democratic Party of Canada to stand up for once and throw off the shackles of their whip. On this side of the House, we have proven that we have the courage to stand up for our constituents and vote their conscience. I would ask the New Democrats to do the same. We are talking about having a conversation with first nations communities and Canadians with political parties reporting it back to Parliament. The New Democrats will still get a chance to have their input but I urge them to vote their conscience for a change.