House of Commons photo

Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was aboriginal.

Last in Parliament October 2015, as Conservative MP for Okanagan—Shuswap (B.C.)

Won his last election, in 2011, with 55% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Member for Okanagan—Shuswap June 8th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I am taking this opportunity to acknowledge the three staff who have worked with and supported me over the past nine years that I have served as the member of Parliament for Okanagan—Shuswap. They are Jeannette Gasparini, my Ottawa executive assistant; in the riding, Penny Renyk, my constituency office manager; and, Tammy Martin, my constituency community and communication assistant, who has ensured that I was at the right place, at the right time, saying the right things. These ladies have made being an MP easy, and I thank them.

I also thank the many people from the constituency who have served on my EDA board and those who have worked on my three successful election campaigns.

I thank my bride of 45 years for making everything I do better. Without her at my side, I am only half the servant I should be. I know she will be missed by all of the MP and senator spouses whom she has encouraged over the years.

I thank the Prime Minister for being a principled and courageous leader. It has been an honour to be part of his team.

Finally, I thank all of those in this place who serve our great nation. May God bless them as they serve, and may God bless Canada.

Yukon and Nunavut Regulatory Improvement Act June 5th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, as the minister mentioned in his speech, last year the NDP acted unilaterally to impose a travel ban on committee travel. This is clearly a case of the NDP not acting in collaboration with first nations and northerners, as our government has been doing.

Thankfully, due to the strong leadership of the member of Parliament for Yukon, who strongly advocated for committee hearings to take place in Yukon, we were able to hear from Yukoners. I lived in Yukon for 28 years, consider myself a former Yukoner, and I know that Yukoners appreciate Ottawa hearing their voice.

This is significant. Could the minister please take a moment to highlight for the members opposite how this government continues to work in collaboration with northerners and first nations?

Respecting Families of Murdered and Brutalized Persons Act June 2nd, 2015

Mr. Speaker, this place is all about politics. I recognize the bill that has been brought forward by the government, and I am fully supportive of it. In discussions, I was encouraged to continue with my bill. Hopefully the government's bill will move forward in a timely fashion, which would preclude my bill, but if it does not, if for some reason things are held up, as we never know with the timelines in this place, my bill would go forward to the Senate and hopefully get approval there over the next number of weeks.

Respecting Families of Murdered and Brutalized Persons Act June 2nd, 2015

Mr. Speaker, that is an obvious question. I decided, as I stated before, to look at the life means life legislation and determined it was more comprehensive and, I felt, a better bill than what I have, but I am also very aware of the time frame for things to move forward.

I am not sure if the bill will make it through Parliament and the Senate, but since I have an interest in this bill and represent people who feel very strongly about victims, who have told me that they would really like to see these actions go forward, I decided to move this bill forward. If Bill C-53 goes through to the Senate, I would have no problem with the Senate moving Bill C-53 forward and my bill failing. I have no problem with that. I just want to make sure that these actions take place in this Parliament.

Respecting Families of Murdered and Brutalized Persons Act June 2nd, 2015

moved that the bill be read the third time and passed.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for Don Valley East for seconding my bill.

My private member's bill, Bill C-587, is a continuation of Bill C-478 that was previously introduced by the hon. member for Selkirk—Interlake, which was introduced in the first session of the 41st Parliament.

Although the hon. member's bill was read twice in the House and referred to a committee, it was withdrawn after he was appointed to the role of parliamentary secretary, a position that precludes him from carrying a private member's bill forward.

The House voted to send my private member's bill, Bill C-587, to the justice committee, and I wish to thank the justice committee and the witnesses called for their insightful and informative discussion on my bill.

Two of the witnesses, Ms. Rosenfeldt and Ms. Ashley, represent more than themselves, their families and loved ones who were taken from them. They represent the community of Canadians who span our nation, a community of Canadians whose lives have been changed forever by violent offenders.

Despite the tragic losses experienced by Ms. Rosenfeldt and Ms. Ashley, they have found the strength and courage to advocate on behalf of those whose lives were stolen away, and also the thousands of Canadians who face the challenges of moving on with their lives after experiencing trauma that the majority of Canadians thankfully have never experienced.

As members of Parliament, I believe it is our duty to demonstrate solidarity with this community of Canadians and support their advocacy with our own work in legislating toward a society that values victims' rights.

As members of Parliament, it is our duty to identify and address points of our legal regime that require improvement. Specifically to this bill, I believe we must not only examine, but reform the state of existing laws governing the removal from society and long-term incarceration of violent offenders who have abducted, sexually assaulted and murdered victims.

This bill is modelled on Bill C-48, which was passed in 2011, and allows judges to set consecutive rather than concurrent periods of parole ineligibility in sentencing those convicted of multiple murders. This bill would empower judges and juries to give stronger sentences.

In the same way that Bill C-48 now allows judges to acknowledge additional degrees of blameworthiness and offence when a conviction of multiple murders has been established, this bill seeks to provide judges the ability to extend the period of parole ineligibility to likewise acknowledge accompanying offences of abduction and sexual assault. All parties worked together and passed Bill C-48, and it is my hope that this bill will likewise benefit from the input and support from all sides of the House.

As members are likely aware, section 745 of the Criminal Code provides for life imprisonment for convicted murderers subject to varying periods during which they are ineligible for parole: for first degree murder, the minimum ineligibility period is 25 years; for second degree murder, it varies from 10 to 25 years.

While all convicted murderers are morally blameworthy, first and second degree murders are distinguished from each other by the higher degree of moral blameworthiness associated with first degree murder that justifies the current mandatory period of parole ineligibility of 25 years.

While some may believe that the current thresholds for parole represent an appropriate period of incarceration for a violent offender who abducted, raped then murdered their victim, many Canadians consider this to be insufficient in instances of extreme violence and murder.

As we all know, perhaps none more so than those who have lost loved ones, the investigation and prosecution of cases involving multiple offences such as abduction, sexual assault and murder combined can take many years. The time that it takes to arrive at a conviction and then sentencing for a violent offender is excruciating for survivors, family and loved ones. Regardless, as painful as it is, it is essential to the sound carriage of justice.

This bill seeks to provide greater certainty, and therein relief, for the families and loved ones in that, once sentencing is completed, the sentencing judge could be given the judicial discretion to waive parole eligibility for a period of 25 to 40 years, again, at the discretion of the judge.

If parole is to be considered for violent offenders who abduct, sexually assault, then murder their victims, it should not occur before the offender has served at least 25 years. The toll that parole hearings take on family members and loved ones of victims is excruciating as they await the hearing date when the violent offender who took their loved ones will present his or her case. Why should the offender be awarded parole while family members and loved ones have to mobilize to keep the violent offender behind bars? This amounts to a system whereby Canadians who have already suffered tragic loss and endured years of judicial proceedings are subjected to a system that requires their continued mobilization to help keep violent offenders behind bars. This bill would add three new provisions to the Criminal Code, mandating a 25-year minimum parole ineligibility period for anyone convicted of an offence under each of the following offence categories in respect of one victim: a kidnapping or abduction offence, sections 279 to 283; a sexual offence, sections 151 to 153.1 and sections 271 to 273; and murder.

The bill would also provide a judge the discretionary prerogative to replace that 25-year minimum parole ineligibility period with a longer period of up to 40 years based on the character of the offender, the nature and circumstances of the murder, and any jury recommendation in this regard. This bill seeks to provide the sentencing judge the discretion to increase the period of parole ineligibility and, therefore, uphold the principle of judicial discretion, which provides a safeguard of charter rights. I believe that this is an important strength of the bill. Expanding the discretionary prerogatives of judges with a broader range of judicial discretion rather than imposing automatic periods beyond 25 years of ineligibility upholds charter provisions.

Second reading debate raised questions about how the amendments proposed by this bill would interact with the Rome Statute. It is important to note that article 5 of the Rome Statute establishes the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court over the following offences: crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and crimes of aggression. Therefore, the Rome Statute does not directly apply to Bill C-587 for the following two reasons: first, the bill seeks to amend the Criminal Code, which is under the jurisdiction of Canadian courts, whereas the Rome Statute only applies to the proceedings of the International Criminal Court; and second, the four offences in article 5 of the Rome Statute are not included this bill.

In conclusion, I would ask that members of the House support Bill C-587, as requested by the victims who plead for justice for the loved ones they have lost as a result of brutal, violent, and heinous murder.

Committees of the House May 29th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 13th report of the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities, entitled “Main Estimates 2015-16”.

Social Development May 29th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, constituents from my riding of Okanagan—Shuswap are very pleased with our measures to help Canadian middle-class families.

Can the Minister of State for Social Development update this House on the impact the universal child care benefit is having on families from coast to coast to coast?

Government Programs April 29th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, although I will not be a candidate in the 2015 election, I feel a sense of accomplishment as I prepare to leave this place.

It has been an honour to be a small part of a government that has provided new direction for Canadians, moving from the past Liberal government focus on “I am entitled to my entitlements” to our government's focus on taxpayers and accountability.

Whereas the Liberals focus on minority interest groups, our government has focused on Canadian families and seniors. Our justice system is focused on victims of crime, not only the offenders. Our government has supported provinces and expanded health, education and social transfers, not cutting the transfers as the Liberal government did to balance the budget.

Our government's economic action plan is providing jobs, growth and prosperity for Canadians and a balanced budget, in contrast to the Liberals that have no plan for Canada's economy, just more taxes and more programs. Our budgets have invested in infrastructure by partnering with communities and provinces.

I have the comfort of leaving this place knowing I have had a small part in making a difference for Canadians and the constituents of Okanagan—Shuswap.

Child Poverty January 30th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for Scarborough—Rouge River for her motion to reduce poverty in our country and welcome the opportunity to comment on the government's progress in this regard.

On a national basis, we have had a great deal of success. The rate for children living in poverty was 18.4% in 1996. That rate dropped to just 8.5% in 2011. That translates into about 730,000 fewer children living in poverty at the end of the period than were living in poverty at the beginning.

Unlike what happened in previous economic downturns, the low-income rate for children remained stable during the 2008 and 2009 global recession. The fact is that Canada's social programs cushioned the impact of the global recession and prevented many more Canadian families and their children from falling into poverty.

Our government is taking a comprehensive approach to reducing poverty and is focusing on getting Canadians jobs and opportunities to achieve self-sufficiency, while providing increasing targeted support for those in need.

Helping to level the playing field with lower-income Canadians and moving more families and children out of poverty also includes direct support to families from the federal government. For example, we provide support through the Canada child tax benefit, the national child benefit supplement, the universal child care benefit and the child tax credit. This year the increase in the universal child care benefit will help families even more and the program is even broadened to cover children from the ages of 7 to 17. In all, the government provides over $15 billion per year in benefits for families and children.

We also work closely with governments in the provinces and territories, as well as with aboriginal organizations and voluntary group sectors to reduce poverty.

The annual Canada social transfer helps fund specific provincial and territorial programs targeted at families with young children, and represents a federal commitment that would raise to $1.3 billion next fiscal year.

The government is also helping families make better choices in areas such as nutrition. For example, proper food and nutrition are essential to growing children, no matter what their family income. Unfortunately, those living on lower incomes face particular challenges on that front.

Through Health Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada, the government is spearheading several initiatives that will improve nutrition and enhance food security for children. Child nutrition and food security is linked to a variety of factors and meeting these challenges requires the contributions of multiple sectors working together.

Our government is working with aboriginal partners, provincial and territorial governments, and other sectors to look at how to best address these factors and to provide Canadian families with the information and tools they need to make healthy choices.

Having proper shelter is also essential.

Through the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, also known as CMHC, the government has invested more than $16.5 billion in housing since 2006. Working with its partners, CMHC has helped nearly 915,000 Canadian individuals and families find adequate and affordable housing. Targeted groups include low-income seniors, persons with disabilities, recent immigrants and aboriginal Canadians.

Over the next five years, CMHC will invest a further $10 billion in making housing more affordable for all Canadians, particularly lower-income Canadians. This will support new affordable housing and existing social housing.

There is also a great deal of work being done by the Department of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development. I can recall that when we first became government, our first minister addressed this with a $2 billion contribution to housing on reserve and off reserve, especially in northern aboriginal communities.

The Department of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development funds a number of programs that seek to create safe and affordable housing; improve access to high-quality child care and childhood nutrition and improve the economic security of families; and meet the unique needs of first nations, Inuit, and Métis communities.

In addition to targeted support for those most in need, the government has also provided almost $160 billion in tax relief for Canadian families and individuals in the last eight years. Canadians at all income levels have benefited, but the greatest benefit has been to low- and middle-income Canadians. Overall, personal income taxes are now 10% lower, and more than one million low-income Canadians have been taken off the tax rolls altogether.

We know that many Canadians still face a variety of financial challenges. The major government initiatives I have just talked about will continue to help more and more people move up the income ladder.

In that respect, we are doing a great deal better than all our major competitors in the G7 or the OECD. Since the 2008 global recession, we have created over one million new jobs. That is 675,000 more jobs than we had before the economic downturn started, and a vast majority of those are new jobs. Over 80% of all jobs created have been full-time positions, and over 65% are in high-wage industries. We have weathered the global recession much better than most, and our economy continues to grow and provide good jobs for Canadians.

Both the IMF and OECD report that they expect Canada will have one of the strongest-growing economies in the G7 this year and next. We will also have a balanced budget next year, well before any of our trading partners. This is another sign that our economy is on the right track.

Again I would like to thank the hon. member for the motion. I hope that all members of the House will support it. I hope that all members will recognize the enormous strides that we have made in reducing poverty in this country and support our continuing efforts to do even more.

Forestry Industry December 10th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, the B.C. forest industry has been the backbone of the B.C. economy for the last century. Over the past century, forestry practices, environmental protection, and business models have improved to the point that the B.C. forest industry is recognized globally for its innovation.

Today, more trees are planted than harvested every year. Use of wood fibre per tree has increased from 66% to over 90% today, and the industry has become more efficient and profitable through technological advancement applications.

Our Conservative government has partnered with the forest industry to expand their access to new international markets, especially in the Pacific Rim. We have also invested in research and the development of new wood fibre products and have funded energy efficiency in the industry.

The B.C. forest industry, through innovation, has positioned itself for the next century, which will provide jobs and prosperity for all Canadians in the future.