House of Commons photo

Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was grain.

Last in Parliament October 2019, as Conservative MP for Cypress Hills—Grasslands (Saskatchewan)

Won his last election, in 2015, with 69% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Religious Freedom April 8th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, as a member of the House and of the International Panel of Parliamentarians for Freedom of Religion or Belief, I would like to bring the House's attention to the unjust imprisonment of Dennis Christensen, a prisoner of conscience.

Mr. Christensen is a Jehovah's Witness and a Danish citizen. In May 2017, he was arrested in Russia along with other members of his faith community. The charges related to nothing more than the peaceful practice of his religion. In February, after appearing in court more than 50 times and a detention of over 600 days, he was sentenced to an additional six years imprisonment for “continuing the activities” of an extremist group.

His arrest is one of the many measures Russia has taken to crack down on Jehovah's Witnesses, which include Russia's Supreme Court officially banning it as an extremist organization. This is a gross violation of article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Will the Liberal government put the spotlight on Mr. Christensen's imprisonment and oppose this grotesque assault on religious freedom in Russia?

Privilege April 2nd, 2019

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate this and I will be concise. I will stick as closely as I can to my notes and hopefully we will be able to get through that. I appreciate the opportunity to state this because it is relevant at this time.

On February 7 and 8, the Minister of Justice and his parliamentary secretary offered flat, bald denials of an article that appeared in The Globe and Mail. They referred to the allegations as false. The hon. member for Sarnia—Lambton has referred to some of these so-called allegations and the subsequent justice committee evidence that confirmed them.

I want to speak to two of the allegations, just very quickly, particularly in light of the evidence that was posted late Friday afternoon on the justice committee's website, which adds to a further corroboration of the reporting of Robert Fife, Steven Chase and Sean Fine. The original newspaper article's sixth paragraph informed readers that:

Sources say [the hon. member for Vancouver Granville], who was justice minister and attorney-general until she was shuffled to Veterans Affairs early this year, came under heavy pressure to persuade the Public Prosecution Service of Canada to change its mind.

At page four of the committee's February 27 evidence, the hon. member for Vancouver Granville said, “The Clerk then said that he spoke to my deputy and she said that I could speak to the director."

Later on page four, she recounted:

Mathieu and Elder also raised the idea of an “informal reach out” to the DPP. My chief of staff said that she knew I was not comfortable with that, as it looked like and probably did constitute political interference. They asked whether that was true if it wasn't the Attorney General herself, but if it was her staff or the deputy minister. My chief of staff said “yes”, it would....

Meanwhile, on the morning of March 6, Gerry Butts, the Prime Minister's ex-principal secretary, tried to spin all of this heavy pressure, saying, on page 26 of the evidence:

We thought that the more thought and advice and process that could go into this and the more transparency we could bring into the decision-making process, the better off we all were going to be, going forward.

In the sensational audio recording filed with the justice committee last week, we heard from Michael Wernick, the Prime Minister's hand-picked Clerk of the Privy Council, in his words saying, “Is there anybody that can talk to Kathleen then about the context around this or to get her to explain why”.

Recall again that the Attorney General and his parliamentary secretary called these allegations false. The evidence patently begs to differ. Again, these two government spokespersons misled the House or were themselves misled to that end.

The other allegation to address is the one at The Globe and Mail article's 23rd paragraph, where we read:

Sources said the justice minister was also encouraged to hire an outside legal expert to furnish an opinion on the suitability of a remediation agreement.

The allegation was also, as the Chair will remember, called false by the current justice minister and his parliamentary secretary. However, the former attorney general gave the following testimony to the justice committee on February 22, on page four of the evidence:

We did not hear from anyone again until October 18 when Mathieu Bouchard called my chief of staff and asked that we—I—look at the option of my seeking an external legal opinion on the DPP's decision not to extend an invitation to negotiate a DPA.

This would become a recurring theme for some time in messages from the PMO, that an external review should be done of the DPP's decision....

However, on October 26, 2018, when my chief of staff spoke to Mathieu Bouchard and communicated to him that, given that SNC had now filed in Federal Court seeking to review the DPP's decision, surely we had moved past the idea of the Attorney General intervening or getting an opinion on the same question. Mathieu replied that he was still interested in an external legal opinion idea. Could she not get an external legal opinion on whether the DPP had exercised their discretion properly, and then on the application itself, the Attorney General could intervene and seek to stay the proceedings, given that she was awaiting a legal opinion?

The Prime Minister's former principal secretary, Gerald Butts, corroborated this repetitive series of exchanges when he appeared at the justice committee's March 6 morning meeting. On page two of the evidence, he is recorded as saying:

So what, exactly, was staff talking to the minister about? We had a view, which was informed by Department of Justice advice, that it would be appropriate for her to seek independent advice from an eminent Canadian jurist or panel of jurists. We believed that this was appropriate....

Later, on page three, he said:

When you boil it all down, all we ever asked the Attorney General to do was to consider a second opinion.

Then in that audio recording filed with the justice committee we heard Michael Wernick saying, “I think [the Prime Minister] is thinking about getting somebody else to give him some advice.... He just wants to understand more at this point of why the DPA route is not taken up...he is thinking of bringing in someone like Bev McLachlin to give him advice on this or to give you advice”.

This blows a huge hole in the side of any claim that The Globe and Mail story on February 7 was false. It was just the opposite in fact.

Once again, the Attorney General and his parliamentary secretary misled the House or were misled by someone who wanted to achieve that same result.

In conclusion, I want to turn to the possibility raised by the House leader of the Official Opposition in her preliminary remarks that the Attorney General and his parliamentary secretary were merely victims of a poor briefing from the Prime Minister or the Clerk of the Privy Council and were fed falsehoods to be spread in the House of Commons.

I would urge you, Mr. Speaker, to consider the ruling of Mr. Speaker Jerome on December 6, 1978. The case is summarized at footnote 249 of page 116 of House of Commons Procedure and Practice, third edition, where it says:

On November 3, 1978, Allan Lawrence... charged that he had been deliberately misled by a former Solicitor General. Acting on behalf of a constituent who suspected that his mail had been tampered with, Mr. Lawrence had written in 1973 to the then Solicitor General who assured him that as a matter of policy the RCMP did not intercept the private mail of anyone. However, on November 1, 1978, in testimony before the McDonald Commission (a royal commission created by the federal government in 1977 to look into the illegal activities of the RCMP, and headed by Justice David McDonald of the Supreme Court of Alberta), the former RCMP commissioner stated that they did indeed intercept mail on a very restricted basis and that the practice was not one which had been concealed from Ministers. Mr. Lawrence claimed that this statement clearly conflicted with the information he had received from the Solicitor General some years earlier...On December 6, Speaker Jerome dealt with a number of points raised in the presentations on the question of privilege and ruled the matter prima facie.

In considering the testimony heard at the McDonald Commission, Mr. Speaker Jerome said in his ruling at page—

Privilege April 2nd, 2019

Mr. Speaker, I want to make some comments on the question of privilege that was raised from the question period answers on February 7 and 8. It is important that we do this now.

There is new information that has come forward, and certainly it is relevant, because in less than an hour the Liberal Party is going to be making some decisions that will impact the careers of a couple of its members. It is relevant that since the House last—

The Budget April 2nd, 2019

Madam Speaker, I do not at this point, but I certainly reserve the opportunity to do that a bit later. I would like to hear my colleague's point of order on the other side. It perhaps pertains to this, because it is incredibly important that we—

The Budget April 2nd, 2019

Madam Speaker, I am sorry to interrupt my colleague. I just want to make a point of order.

A bit earlier, we had the chair of the agriculture committee in here, and he talked about a correction to a report that he wanted to make. If he had really been doing his job, he would have come here on a different issue, which is to bring forward and support the proposal that one of our colleagues has now made twice, that we have an emergency debate on the canola issue. This is an incredibly important issue for Canadians. I want to challenge the chair of the agriculture committee to come back and take up that cause.

There are 43,000 canola farmers across Canada. This has been one of the most prominent success stories in agriculture across Canada in the last decades. From the 1970s, we have seen an industry develop, basically out of nothing, that now accounts for around $27 billion of economic activity in this country every year, and so—

Petitions February 28th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, the second petition draws the attention of the House to the issue of the trafficking of human organs. It points out that there are two bills on this issue in Parliament, Bill C-350 and Bill S-240, and they are urging that the Parliament of Canada move quickly on the proposed legislation so that we can begin to put controls on the issue of organ harvesting.

Petitions February 28th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, I have two petitions to present today.

The first is an electronic petition with 10,350 signatures, which is incredible. It is about Terri-Lynne McClintic, convicted of first degree murder, being moved from a secure facility to a healing lodge without fences when not being eligible for parole until 2031. They are calling on the Government of Canada to exercise its moral, legal and political authority to ensure this decision is reversed and cannot ever be allowed to happen again in other cases.

Mennonite Heritage Week February 27th, 2019

Madam Speaker, I have a personal connection to the bill, not because I am a Mennonite but because of the strength of the Mennonite community in my riding. I am from southwestern Saskatchewan. It is one of the areas where people have come from all over the world to settle and build communities, and the Mennonites have been a very large part of that. A whole area of my riding is primarily Mennonite.

A few years ago I was going through some of the language statistics for my riding on people's first language and what they spoke and trying to discover the different communities. I was surprised to find that German was by far the second largest language spoken in my riding.

When my colleague from Abbotsford introduced his bill, he mentioned some of the names, such of Klassen, Friesen, Toews, Penner, Reimer, Dyck, and I am familiar with those names.

A number of things really stand out about those communities and those people. Many of them had agricultural backgrounds. In my province, agriculture manufacturing has been a very large part of what Saskatchewan rural life has been about. Many of the Mennonites who worked in their shops were very thrifty. They were inventive and they led much of the early development of agricultural manufacturing in Saskatchewan. Because of that and because of the leadership they shown over the years, we are now one of the leaders around the world in agricultural manufacturing. A lot of that comes from small towns.

Canada–Madagascar Tax Convention Implementation Act, 2018 February 27th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, I can tell how desperate the government is right now when I hear my colleague opposite, particularly that colleague, talk about how the two major parties in the House can share credit on the trade issue. I do not think I have ever heard him say anything like that before, given that the Conservatives did most of the work. We did 46 trade agreements, and the Liberals have virtually nothing since then.

My colleague was talking a little earlier about pork. He was talking about evasion and avoidance and about investments leaving this country. As he was talking about avoidance and evasion, I could hardly help thinking that he is avoiding reality and is evading the truth. At the justice committee today, the testimony was a litany of coercion, of political corruption, of incredible pressure on a minister and of misleading information, much of it from the highest office-holder in the country, our Prime Minister.

Does he believe this epic of coercion, corruption, evasion and avoidance damages our relationships internationally? We are talking about international trade agreements. Does he think it will impact these agreements when other countries see a government demonstrating such remarkable levels of coercion and corruption at the highest level?

Corrections and Conditional Release Act February 26th, 2019

Madam Speaker, obviously there are a host of issues involved in that question, but I appreciate my colleague's question.

The bill talks about programming. It talks about setting up programs for every single prisoner who is in prison. I think we are probably going to agree that there is a lot of rhetoric in here the Liberals never have any intention of fulfilling. They lay these things out. They make it look like there is going to be some great change, but they are not actually going to see this through.

Again, I think this is virtue signalling. The Liberals are basically replacing the names of things, and we are basically going to end up with the same structures and the same prisons we had before. Those same issues my colleague talks about will probably be left unanswered and will not be dealt with.