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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was benefits.

Last in Parliament October 2015, as Conservative MP for Souris—Moose Mountain (Saskatchewan)

Won his last election, in 2011, with 74% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Business of Supply January 28th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, as has already been mentioned, two-thirds of Canadians do not receive their mail door to door, and certainly this is something that the other one-third need to address.

The bigger question, of course, is that through the consultation it has been revealed that many customers are prepared to pay a reasonable portion for their services, provided they are not subsidizing a part of the business that is losing a significant amount of dollars. It has been quite clear that if nothing is done and everything is left to go as it is, it will cost Canadians up to $1 billion a year. Someone will have to pay for that. Through the consultations that have taken place throughout the country, generally the indication has been that they do not want taxpayers to be subsidizing a part of the business that is not profitable.

I think Canadians would expect that Canada Post would focus its attentions, dollars and infrastructure on those areas that are very competitive, that Canadians demand and expect as a service, and to remain competitive and profitable in that area.

Business of Supply January 28th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Don Valley West.

I would like to take this opportunity to address the subject matter. Last month Canada Post Corporation released a comprehensive five-point action plan, “Ready For the Future”, which was designed to realign how it delivers and prices postal services to meet Canadians' emerging and future needs while substantially reducing the cost for taxpayers. In all of this, we have to keep the taxpayers in mind and appreciate that the corporation needs to ensure that it is itself viable and that the services it provides continue to make it so.

Canada's national postal service is at a crossroads as we speak. Letter mail volumes have been declining since 2002, when Canada Post delivered one billion more letters than it did in 2012. The writing is on the wall. It shows a significant increase in one type of service and a specific decrease in letter mail volumes. The corporation estimates that for every 1% drop in mail volume, it loses $30 million in revenue. This is the reality. This is placing a huge strain on Canada Post's finances, as witnessed by losses of $129 million, before tax, in the postal segment alone, in the third quarter of 2013. It is clear that the services currently provided by Canada Post are no longer sustainable. Action is required and corrective steps must be taken.

There is, however, strength in the parcel delivery part of the business. An important component of Canada Post's proposed strategy is its intention to build on its current strength in parcel delivery, which has demonstrated solid growth over the past few years, thanks in large measure to the fast-growing market in online shopping.

It is clear that Canadians have become enthusiastic online consumers. Statistics Canada reported in October 2012 that the value of orders placed online by Canadians reached $18.9 billion in 2012, up 24% from 2010, when the survey was last conducted. More than half of Internet users, 56%, ordered goods or services online in 2012. Perhaps even more encouraging, most Internet shoppers, 82%, placed an order with a company in Canada.

Canada Post's parcel line of business currently offers a range of domestic and international delivery services and is the largest player in the Canadian parcel market, with more than 50% of market share. The corporation sees an unprecedented opportunity for additional growth linked to e-commerce as online business activity increases. Customers for parcel services include businesses, customers of all sizes, government, international and postal administrations, and other delivery companies.

According to a recent report by the Conference Board of Canada, residential and small business customers indicated that their demand for parcel service will continue to rise with the spread of e-commerce. Parcels are, in fact, the fastest growing line of service in the core Canada Post business. The corporation reports that overall growth in parcel volumes experienced a record-breaking holiday season, which runs between November 11 and January 4. Canada Post delivered 30 million parcels during this period, which was five million more than during the holiday season last year. The corporation delivered more than one million parcels a day on 10 different days. Weekend deliveries were also very successful, with Canada Post employees delivering a total of 1.1 million parcels over the six weekends of the holiday season, with the highest number of deliveries occurring on December 21 and 22. There were 317,000 deliveries.

The main reason for this growth is that parcels are the one postal product that is seeing growth driven by the digital revolution. Canada Post advises that its top 25 retail customers are making major e-commerce gains. January parcel volumes from these retailers shot up 35% compared to January of last year. This dramatic increase follows a highly successful holiday season in which year-over-year parcel volumes from this top performing group grew by 50%. These are the facts. This is the new reality Canada Post examined as it made its five-point plan. Overall revenue and volume growth reflect the strength of the fast-growing consumer-to-business e-commerce delivery market.

In 2013, Canada Post's increased revenues from parcel deliveries contributed to offsetting significant revenue declines from letter mail volume erosion. There is no doubt that we are in the midst of a changing postal environment. Canada Post must manage its business as a viable commercial enterprise that competes effectively in every product line. Even its traditional direct marketing business is facing digital rivals that use mobile and smart technologies.

The parcel business operates in a highly competitive environment. The corporation is well aware that to build on recent successes it must attract customers in an increasingly complex economic environment. Unlike letter mail, the parcel business is highly competitive, and parcel volumes have been rising worldwide. Postal services in many countries have been aggressively using their extensive sorting and delivery infrastructure to expand in this sector. This only makes sense. The infrastructure that presently exists across the country can be used as an advantage to further its market share in this particular area.

Globalization means more parcels coming into Canada to be processed to the same high standards. The highly competitive parcel delivery market means that service providers must modify operations in order to win and retain customers with the quality and reliability of the service. In the business-to-customer parcel delivery market that means providing fast, reliable and convenient delivery, excellent tracking options and reasonable prices.

The growth in the parcel industry has also intensified local and global competition. For example, FedEx and UPS have increased their competitive positions with Canada. Consumer patterns have also shifted from premium to less urgent products that cost less. The increased competitive landscape has put increased pressure on Canada Post to manage costs, improve product offerings and provide a superior customer service.

With approximately 40% of parcel deliveries to Canada originating internationally, Canada Post has negotiated bilateral agreements, notably with the United States and China, to increase its share of this inbound traffic.

The corporation has also made extensive investments in new facilities, including a 700,000 square foot plant at Vancouver International Airport, increased real-time tracking through portable scanners for employees and added to its capacity for motorized delivery to handle growing package volumes. All of this has required internal reforms and changes in the way it does business.

Canada Post is aware of the changing face of the postal industry and has been preparing for the future with less mail and more parcels for the last number of years. The corporation has implemented measures to expand its parcel volume, both through its postal operations and its Purolator courier service. For example, changes to internal operations, which first began in 2010, have made for a more efficient flow of parcels through the network to the customer.

Canada Post has launched an aggressive plan to invest in replacing its aging processing infrastructure and delivery processes with more modern and cost-effective approaches driven by technology. This is something businessmen have had to do all along. As we all know, technology has changed dramatically in the last number of years. Businesses have had to stay attuned and abreast of what is happening, and so do businesses like Canada Post. The sorting equipment in place today is faster and more accurate. From a delivery perspective, it has made a massive shift toward motorization.

Canada Post has also offered on-demand parcel pickup for small businesses in 2011. In 2012, it provided enhanced web services for online retailers, including the seamless management of returns.

Canada Post will continue to leverage these investments, and it must. Doing so will further reduce the costs of processing the mail and will allow the company to better serve the growing parcel market and provide the services Canadians will need in the future.

In many urban areas, Canada Post has moved away from letter carriers delivering mail by foot, to carriers who leave their depot every morning with a fuel-efficient van containing the mail and parcels for delivery to their route. Putting mail and parcels in one truck for delivery provides a better customer experience, especially in the parcel business, at a much lower cost to the corporation.

These improvements will allow Canada Post to compete more effectively in a fast-paced and technology-driven global parcel market.

It is quite remarkable what Canada Post does handle, which is everything from health care products, gourmet food, to live bees. It must continue to adapt, to modernize, and to ensure it is able to service the demands of the Canadian public.

Situation in Ukraine January 27th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, if I recall correctly, the member who put the question in question period was the member for Wascana.

In fact, when I look at the recommendations made by Mr. Paul Grod, president of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress, I see he listed a number of suggestions of actions that could be taken. Of course, the ambassador of religious freedom is in Ukraine almost as we speak. The very specific types of actions that the member for Wascana put forward are the types of actions that have been listed by the Ukrainian Canadian Congress and are taken into consideration by the foreign minister and the Prime Minister, in concert with the allies, to decide what actions will be taken. I think that is totally appropriate. That is exactly what I would do.

Situation in Ukraine January 27th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, first and foremost, the kinds of actions that I talked about must be condemned categorically. There is no question on that.

Second, Canada has to work with its allies and look at the options that are available. Today we have heard a number of options that are available for Canada to take, and Canada has said it will take them.

I know that the Ukrainian Canadian Congress, along with its president Paul Grod, has actually done an admirable job in identifying what is happening on almost a day-by-day basis, informing parliamentarians, but also suggesting the kinds of things that the Ukrainian community in Canada would like to see happen, and some of the options are very realistic.

It is a range of options. We heard them today. I will not go through all of them. Many of the opposition members have actually asked that we undertake those options. However, it is the kind of thing that is put into a basket for those who are dealing with the situation on an immediate basis to make a decision. I would prefer to leave it in the hands of our foreign minister, in the hands of our Prime Minister, in concert with other allies, to take precisely the kind of action they feel is appropriate, under the circumstances, at the immediate moment that it needs to be taken. I would trust their judgment on this because I know where they stand. I know the statements they have made. They have been very public about them. They have been very straightforward and sincere about them. I would expect that the actions they take would be in the best interest not only of Ukraine but of Canada as well.

Situation in Ukraine January 27th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, it is certainly a pleasure to add my voice to the many voices that have spoken today, many eloquently, putting forth the position of Canada and uniting in a common voice to indicate that what is currently happening in Ukraine is not acceptable and that there needs to be a change.

I truly feel that Ukraine is at a crossroads and at a turning point in its history. It is difficult to say exactly how it might turn out. We do know that those in authority will be meeting and discussing what needs to happen and what will be taking place.

Of course, the worst would be the imposition of force in a semblance of some sort of security and causing more deaths and injuries. It would be my hope and desire, and I am sure the desire of all in the House here, that those in authority will think long and hard in terms of where they are going. As Amnesty International said, they do not want to take Ukraine back 20 years or more from where it was. They want to take Ukraine forward to enjoy the rights and freedoms that we take for granted here in Canada and enjoy day by day.

The actions of the president, the government, and the security forces must be condemned loudly and unequivocally. I think that is what we are doing here, not only today but day by day, in response to the intimidation we have seen, the humiliation, the use of brutal force by Ukraine against its own people, who are assembling in a peaceful way to protest and express their views. That is fundamentally essential in a free and democratic society. I think what we are seeing is a culmination of a series of steps that have taken Ukraine to where it is today.

Of course, the trouble is that once one tastes of democracy, of freedom, it is difficult to take it away and it is hard to give up. The people of Ukraine have been in that place where they have tasted of freedom. They have tasted how democracy works.

I have been to Ukraine, as my colleagues have, on a number of occasions to monitor the elections that have taken place. There was a spirit of hope and aspiration. However, the steps that we have seen taken in the last while have suppressed these hopes, have suppressed these aspirations, and the people of Ukraine are not prepared to accept that. They are standing up for forward progress, for their legitimate aspirations, and we must support them at every turn of the way.

A political system that is manipulated and orchestrated so that laws are passed in a hurry, and perhaps not in the way that they should be, to achieve an individual's result or for the benefit of a certain sector of society at the expense of the majority of the people is a problem. It goes against the very core of what we know is right.

I think there is a better way, and it is unfortunate that the better way was not taken. I truly feel that if individuals can express themselves, if their abilities can be used in an appropriate way, if there is due process so that one can do things without fear of intimidation or fear of suppression while knowing that the judiciary actually works, and if the fairness of the laws apply evenly and equally to everyone, the country would prosper.

The Ukraine had an opportunity, or perhaps we could say at the moment a missed opportunity, to sign an association agreement with the European Union. Ukraine, in failing to do that, missed an opportunity to further develop democracy and to ensure the prosperity of the country by setting in place some rules and regulations that business would know would be enforced. Those who wanted to invest in the country's great potential would have known that they could, and that they could expect the rule of law and due process to prevail. That opportunity was there, and it continues to be there in large measure. Western countries and European countries are prepared to work with Ukraine and invest quite heavily.

Instead, a comprehensive agreement was signed with Russia that has taken Ukraine back a number of years to the old ways, something that did not need to happen. What is worse, when the people took exception to that, when they peacefully assembled and demonstrated, the reaction was to pass really draconian laws that anyone could objectively say are anti-democratic and do not respect individual rights. I will just go through some of them to indicate the direction that was taken.

The state could decide to ban Internet access. Maybe in days past things could have been done in a corner, but in today's society where we have the Internet, television, and cameras, and telephones that take pictures, things are not done in the corner and we can see live action, so the authorities try to suppress that. Today's society is remarkable. I would urge this type of action not be taken.

Criminalization for libel and targeting of the media for criticizing government officials was another law, with sentences of up to two years in jail. That is remarkable. Moreover, the blocking of government buildings could result in a sentence of up to five years in jail. The unauthorized installation of tents, stages and sound equipment could result in up to 15 days' arrest for someone doing something that is fundamentally their right to do.

A group of more than five cars driving together requires permission from the ministry of interior affairs, otherwise the drivers face a loss of licence and vehicle for up to two years. Imagine that: five vehicles driving in a row is considered offensive.

A broad definition of extremist activities adopted prevents NGOs and churches from engaging in the support of civil protests.

The Canadian Ambassador for Religious Freedom observed that the Ukrainian culture minister has threatened to delist the Ukrainian Greek Catholic church as a legal body if its priests continue to publicly pray with the protestors. Can anyone remember the last time that churches were delisted as entities? We know when that was, and it is a very regressive position to take. How can the people of Ukraine stomach a law like that? How can anyone impose a law like that? It must be challenged. It must be reversed. Reason must prevail.

MPs may be stripped of immunity by a simple majority vote in Ukraine's parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, thereby allowing the initiation of criminal proceedings, detention or arrest, with such cases no longer requiring prior review by the relevant parliamentary committee. When election rules can be changed, when opposition members can be put in jail because of the position they take, where is the country headed? A number of political prisoners really ought to be released, because when we look at the process that put them there, when we look at the weight of the law the president placed upon them, a quick look would say this cannot be right.

Another law indicated that NGOs that accept foreign funds must include in their title the term “civic organization that fulfills the functions of a foreign agent”.

Those kinds of actions are regressive and go back to an era and a time we would like to forget.

Of course, we have seen a protestor killed. A funeral was held for a 25-year old who paid the ultimate price.

The deliberate beating of protestors and journalists, kidnappings and disappearances, people falling off tall buildings are the kinds of things one would expect in a very regressive and totalitarian regime. The use of deadly force, physical assaults, home visits, requests for statements, censorships are the kinds of things that cannot be tolerated.

I probably will not have time to mention an article in the Daily Herald, in which a young person who came to Canada decries what is happening. Two fellow students, one a poet and one going to university, were arrested for protesting and put in jail. How is that appropriate in a democracy? It is not.

I would encourage the Ukrainian people to continue to stand for that which is right, at this very critical moment in history.

Situation in Ukraine December 10th, 2013

Mr. Chair, it is always important to be engaged, I think. We cannot have one particular incident or situation overbalance what we might do in the big picture.

I know Canada has involved itself financially through a number of programs related to improving the justice system through education and through providing resources to the judicial system and the judges who are involved. Canada is helping along in a number of areas that the Ukraine would need.

That said, there may be specific types of actions that are narrow in scope and that do not harm the people who have a desire to see the Ukraine go forward. Such actions could make a point succinctly while at the same time using all the channels available to exert pressure, not only from within this country but also through a consortium of countries, to make the point that it is important for forward progress to be made.

The financial circumstances of Ukraine and some of the counterbalancing issues draw them either to the Russian side or to the European Union. It is important that all nations look at that and be very constructive and instrumental in ensuring that there is value, not only for the people of Ukraine but for those in authority, to go in the direction that their people would like them to go.

Situation in Ukraine December 10th, 2013

Mr. Chair, there is no question that there are all types of potential consequences to this type of action. Other countries, including Canada, could deal with ensuring President Yanukovych and those in authority would understand how seriously this is viewed.

Obviously I would not be one to suggest or indicate in any way what the foreign minister may do, but I can say that through its foreign minister, Canada has certainly spoken very clearly on this issue. He has not only spoken but has also travelled to Ukraine and has indicated what Canada's views are on this particular point. I am sure that if there was consensus among a number of democratic nations and they were to take some very specific action to reinforce that point, then something could always be considered.

Obviously it is a delicate and complex situation, so it would take the utmost consideration to decide on appropriate steps and measures at this time.

Situation in Ukraine December 10th, 2013

Mr. Chair, as I said previously, we need more than just words on the part of the government and the president: we need some action, and not of the type that we are seeing today.

Freedom of association, freedom of speech and the freedom to make a point or express one's point by demonstrating, as these demonstrators have peaceably done, are fundamental rights and values that any democracy would cherish. They go to the root of what a democracy is. It is unfortunate to see those kinds of actions. As members of Parliament, we would call on those in authority to cease and desist that kind of action. It is absolutely unacceptable.

The president and the government have a responsibility there. It is fine to say they will release some of the protesters, but this kind of action is intolerable. It cannot happen, and as the member has said, we have to condemn that type of action. We also have to ask the government and those in authority to intervene to make sure this form of expression is not thwarted.

I know that from government to government there are various kinds of actions that can be taken to show how seriously this situation is viewed, but when we are in the midst of history taking place, in the midst of actions by both sides, it is important to be constructive, to try to move the moment forward, and to condemn those things that need to be condemned while yet keeping the lines of communication open.

I think there will be a back-and-forth as we go forward, but it would be my desire that ultimately the president and those in authority would do the right thing and call their people off.

Situation in Ukraine December 10th, 2013

Mr. Chair, it is a great pleasure for me to take part in this debate.

I have had an opportunity with some of my colleagues here to attend Ukraine's elections, on two occasions. I have had the opportunity to see the desire that the people have for democracy and the rule of law. Certainly it has been a struggle, and I appreciate that there are many aspects to it and that it is more complex than we can sometimes see. However, overall, the desire is to go forward. There have been obstacles along the way in many situations, but the desire is always for this to go forward.

The situation, of course, has deteriorated over the last little while. It is understandable that many Ukrainian people are disappointed with the negative direction the government took most recently when it turned its back on signing the EU-Ukrainian association agreement.

I think the Ukrainian Canadian Congress stated it quite well when they said that this “puts a stop to reform and the path of European integration and the modernization of the Ukrainian economy to put in line with the international standards. It further impedes the path to democracy and protection of human rights”. There is no question about that, and I think that is sort of the central core of the upset by the people.

The Ukrainian Canadian Congress also expressed disappointment, as it has become clear that Ukraine's President Viktor Yushchenko arrived in Vilnius without any intention to reach an agreement. They say this is extremely disappointing and counter to the formal position taken by the government of Ukraine, the Parliament of Ukraine and the expressed will of the Ukrainian people, who have taken to the streets across Ukraine to peacefully demonstrate their opposition. They know instinctively that the president was heading in a direction that was taking Ukraine further away from the free and democratic nation that they desire and expect for Ukraine, a nation governed by justice and the rule of law.

Many see this direction as a regressive step at a pivotal time in the nation's history. As one young demonstrator stated, “I don't want to go back to what my parents lived under the Soviet Union. When I am old, I want to live like people in Europe. I want to live in a normal country”.

The pressures on the president to align with Russia may well have been great, especially given the fact that Ukraine's economy has been in recession for more than a year and the government is in desperate need of funding to avoid default. No doubt, Moscow has worked aggressively to derail the agreement with the EU. However, this must be resisted at all costs by the people of Ukraine and must be taken into account by western democracies and other countries in the world to work with Ukraine to help it see its way through this current financial crisis.

Most Ukrainians would agree that a signed agreement would provide a baseline for Ukraine's reforms, with guidelines for Ukraine's development by changes in Ukraine's legal system, a stop of the misuse of courts for persecuting political opposition leaders, and observing at least some elementary and rudimentary rules of law and basic democratic standards. An independent and impartial judiciary is the essence of a democratic society governed by the rule of law. Justice must not only be done, but it must also be seen to be done.

Fundamentally, I found it remarkable that one of the most likely contenders in the political elections was charged and convicted prior to the elections on what would appear to be politically motivated actions, and here I am speaking of Yulia Tymoshenko, former prime minister. It is remarkable that political losers end up in prison.

As many have stated, this is symbolic of Ukraine's clinging to the Soviet past. Anyone looking at the situation objectively would find it remarkable to see political opposition members tried, sentenced and jailed to remove them from political contests. Another arrest relating to Yuri Lutsenko, Ukraine's former interior minister, also raised the same concerns.

I would say this is a pivotal time in Ukraine's history and choices must be made. The people have made that choice by taking part in the demonstrations in the streets throughout Ukraine.

Many in Canada have supported that action, through demonstrations taking place in Montreal, Ottawa, Winnipeg, Regina and other places. However, it was those who gathered in Kiev's Independence Square who ended up being targeted by government forces. They were there simply and peaceably expressing their desire to integrate into the European Union.

Many see the suspension of continued discussion as a signal that the current leadership is veering away from the ideals, goals and aspirations of most Ukrainians, particularly the youth. It is no wonder, then, that we have seen many people out on the streets demonstrating.

During the three weeks of protests against Yanukovych's decision to align with Russia, police violently dispersed demonstrators twice, and went even further by storming the office of the top opposition party, breaking glass and reportedly smashing doors. This kind of action is simply unacceptable. It is intolerable. It must cease and desist. It is unacceptable to have peaceful demonstrators seriously injured. That is just a fact.

The Ukrainian Canadian Congress was deeply disappointed, and denounced the government's decision to stop the process of preparing for the conclusion of the association agreement between Ukraine and the EU and to resume an act of dialogue with the Russian Federation and other countries of the customs union. It said that this unilateral decision by the Government of Ukraine does not further the cause of the Ukrainian people.

When I was there, I saw how the electoral system works, some of the changes that had been made and the actions of President Yanukovych's government. What option do the Ukrainian people have but to protest? The human spirit at some point is prepared to resist wrong simply because it is wrong, no matter what the cost. We have seen good upstanding people, who otherwise might not have been involved and who are not be easily moved, who are prepared to take that stand at some point. That point is here now.

The action that the authorities should take in response to this is to change their direction, to take popular discontent into account, and to take reasonable steps to ensure that peaceful gatherings are not broken up and that the participants are not injured or incarcerated.

It was interesting, and to some measure good, to see a news release where President Viktor Yanukovych promised that some demonstrators arrested in the massive protest sweeping the capital would be released. In that news release, he vowed to renew talks with the European Union, talking to others within the country on concluding a much awaited trade and political agreement. He also said that he was still up to signing the deal at a summit in spring, but only if the EU could offer better financial terms.

This is talk, and perhaps rhetoric, that needs to be backed up by action. However, it is the kind of dialogue that needs to take place. It is the kind of response that needs to happen. Many times when we reach a crossroads or a certain turning point, the end result is uncertain. It is important during those times to be watchful and helpful to a situation that could possibly resolve itself.

To the participants of the demonstrations, it is a time to be encouraged as each of them takes their stand. They are certainly beacons of light during a dark moment in Ukraine's history. In making their point, they are making their mark, and they are being noticed here in Canada and in other parts of the world. They are on the side of right, and history will show it to be so. Although they do not know the full impact of what they are doing now, know that their actions, words and stand have already changed the situation so that it may never be the same again.

I would say “Take courage. Do not despair. Continue to stand and continue to speak true words that will echo truth into the generations to come”. It is through actions like the ones they have taken that change and results will come.

We can only hope in the House that the end result will be better for it.

Foreign Affairs December 5th, 2013

Mr. Speaker, our Minister of Foreign Affairs is working hard in Ukraine on behalf of Canada.

Yesterday he met with the foreign ministry of Ukraine, as well as with more than a dozen civil society representatives, a broad group of religious leaders, business people and opposition leaders.

Could the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs please tell the House what strong messages the minister delivered to these important stakeholders and what he will be doing in Ukraine today?