House of Commons photo

Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was tax.

Last in Parliament September 2016, as Conservative MP for Calgary Midnapore (Alberta)

Won his last election, in 2015, with 67% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Democratic Reform May 12th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, their excuses for trying to rig the system are getting more and more ridiculous and transparent with that answer.

The minister is talking about a fake consultation process that interest groups will be involved in, maybe a few thousand people. We want the ultimate consultation that allows ten of millions of Canadians to decide how they elect their representatives.

Why is the current Liberal government so determined to be the first government of a major democracy to change the electoral system without a direct popular mandate expressed in a referendum?

Democratic Reform May 12th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, Canadians are fair-minded people, and that is why they know it is wrong for one political party to seek to impose an electoral system on this Parliament, and our entire country, over the objections of other parties and the majority of Canadians.

The Liberal governments in B.C., Ontario, and P.E.I. all understood this, which is why they held referenda on electoral reform.

Why does the current Liberal government have so much less confidence in the common sense of Canadians? Why will the current Liberal government not follow the provincial precedent of a referendum on electoral reform?

Criminal Code May 4th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, those are kind words from my honourable friend. However, let me first challenge the hon. member's characterization of my position as being the socially conservative position. In fact, I think it is the Canadian position.

It was the position of the Canadian judiciary until a year ago. It was the position of the Supreme Court of Canada in the Rodriguez decision. It was the position of the majority of members in this place in at least three votes that have occurred in my 19 years here, including the vast majority of members of the Liberal Party and many New Democrats, like the former member of Parliament Bill Blaikie.

I would submit that this is not an ideological or political issue. It is an issue on which people have honestly held, different convictions. However, let us not pigeonhole them in that.

In terms of time allocation, I agree with the member and I have already addressed that.

Criminal Code May 4th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, obviously the bill passing at second reading appears to be a foregone conclusion, so the committee will be engaged. I must express some concern with the imposition of what I think are quite unreasonable timelines on this sovereign democratic Parliament by the Supreme Court justices down the way, who initially imposed a timeline without apparently being conscious that we had an election that would take this place out of business for several months.

On the member's second point, I did not make an ad hominem attack against the integrity of those who have drafted the bill. I simply disagree with their analysis and their conclusions. Two cases in point regarding the alleged requirements in the bill are first, that two physicians must authorize the act of euthanasia. That seems to be wholly inadequate in a country of over 70,000 physicians. We could easily end up with a handful of Jack Kevorkian-style enthusiasts for euthanasia, using their physician's licence to imprudently authorize acts of euthanasia even when they ought not to do so.

Second, another requirement is that death be reasonably foreseeable, as it is for all of us. I believe that the restrictions in the bill are wholly inadequate to prevent the kinds of abuses about which we are all gravely concerned.

Criminal Code May 4th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to rise to speak to this important bill on behalf of my constituents.

As a member of the House for 19 years, I have had many opportunities to consult my constituents about this, and they are deeply concerned about what we are doing here today.

Let me begin by amplifying comments we just heard about the unfortunate application of the guillotine of time allocation and shutting down debate at second reading of this hugely consequential bill.

As I said in this place an hour ago, I understand that from time to time governments must use time allocation in Parliament to address critical urgent issues, such as back-to-work legislation and national emergencies, and to prevent opposition filibusters from unreasonably stalling the government's legislative agenda. I understand that, but this is a different kind of issue. This issue is different in kind but not in degree from those normal prudential matters with which this House normally deals.

Let us be clear, the bill authorizes the taking of human life. I would argue, there is no greater power that could be exercised by this legislature than the authorization of the taking of human life.

That is why there is an ancient convention in this and other Westminster-style parliaments, other democratic legislatures, that on such matters of the most profound moral conscience two conventions apply: first, that all members should vote freely; and second, that all members should be able to speak freely.

Here we have a government that, based on media reports, was very close to violating the first one of those conventions in seeking to whip its own members to vote on this matter of moral conscience, and now we have a government that is violating the second ancient Westminster democratic convention, empowering members to speak their conscience, to reflect the convictions of their constituents, on a matter that could not be more grave.

We will hear lots of political noise about different governments that have used time allocation, but I hearken back to 1969 in this place when the father of the current Prime Minister brought forward the omnibus justice legislation that touched on very profound moral questions, including abortion, and there was no application of time allocation.

I hearken back to 1976. In the free vote and debate in this place on capital punishment, there was no limitation of debate. I reflect back to the difficult debates in this place in 1988 and 1989 about unborn human life, and again, no application of time allocation. Indeed, I believe when the former Liberal government brought forward the Civil Marriage Act in 2005, a matter of profound moral conscience, although perhaps not as grave in terms of human life, it was also unrestricted in terms of debate.

I want to put down that marker that we are crossing two Rubicons here today: first, in violating these ancient parliamentary conventions; and second, in authorizing the taking of human life.

On the substance of the matter, let me first reflect. We throw around a lot of terms here euphemistically, and whenever one hears the application of euphemistic language to matters as grave as the taking of human life, one should be concerned.

We need only reflect on the history of the 20th century, what Saint John Paul II referred to as the century of tears, the century when the taking of human life became industrialized. In fact, we mark today Yom HaShoah when we recall the sacred memory of the six million European Jews lost in the Holocaust, following the euphemistic application of language to dehumanize the Jewish people.

Aldous Huxley, the great British novelist in his novel Brave New World, in 1932, gave us a perfect depiction of what the euphemistic application of language to life and death questions can result in: the normalization, the banalization of the taking of human life.

I believe we see that in the very title of this bill. What was commonly known in the English language for centuries as euthanasia is referred to in this bill with the euphemistic phrase, “physician-assisted dying”.

First let me challenge that, so we understand the nature of this debate. Dying is a passive exercise and killing is an active exercise. When we use the word killing, it is bracing and disturbing. It should be so, because the administration of a drug or other medical means purposely to end human life is an act of volition. In the language of formal ethics, it is the teleological of that; the end purpose of the administration of that poison, that life-ending medical intervention, is to end life. In literal terms, it is a decision to kill.

However, that is radically different from assisting people in dying, which palliative care practitioners do with great dignity every single day. Let us not begin this debate in confusing these two radically different moral concepts.

When I was in university in San Francisco nearly 30 years ago, I volunteered occasionally at a hospice established by Mother Teresa's Missionaries of Charity, primarily to assist men dying from complications as a result of HIV and AIDS. I saw the incredible, authentic compassion demonstrated by those women and palliative care practitioners in assisting in the death of those individuals. They were not seeking to hasten death. They were not seeking to end the lives of those in their care. They were seeking to comfort them.

To address another euphemistic abuse of language, we often hear the term compassion thrown about here. We all want to be compassionate. We all want to empathize with those who are facing pain at the end of their lives. However, that same Mother Teresa who established that hospice, and dozens of others around the world, reminded us that the etymological root of the word compassion comes from the Latin words com and passio, meaning to suffer with.

I would argue that presenting people with the idea of ending their lives is not to suffer with them, as palliative care practitioners and compassionate family members do every day. We must stand by them in legislation and programs, and provinces must, through their health care programs. If one good can come from this debate, I hope it will be a radical improvement in the entire field of palliative care.

However, we have heard from palliative care practitioners and from physicians who are so concerned by the implications of this bill that they are prepared to withdraw from the field of palliative care. I would ask us to proceed with great caution, which indeed reflects the ancient moral consensus of western civilization, dating all the way back to the 5th century BC. In the Hippocratic oath, Hippocrates said:

I will use treatment to help the sick according to my ability and judgment, but never with a view to injury and wrong-doing. Neither will I administer a poison to anybody when asked to do so, nor will I suggest such a course.

There is great wisdom in that oath, which has been taken by physicians for millennia in the western tradition. I submit that we should not lightly disregard that great received wisdom, and I am profoundly concerned that the exceptions to the exceptions found in this legislation are radically inadequate to ensure a proper protection of the vulnerable, to ensure authentic compassion, and to ensure that we really do aid people in dying rather than presenting them with the slippery slope of killing.

Criminal Code May 4th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, I have been in this place for 19 years. I have been a student of parliamentary history much of my life. I cannot recall, and I stand to be corrected, a single instance where a government imposed the guillotine on a debate on a matter of grave moral conscience, on a matter of life and death ethics, on a matter such as euthanasia, capital punishment, or abortion.

The ancient convention in this and other Westminster parliaments on such matters has been to allow every interested member to speak. We do not regard such speeches as constituting opposition filibusters. I understand that from time to time governments must control the legislative calendar on emergency back-to-work legislation or to shut down opposition filibusters, but allowing members to speak on a free vote, on a matter of grave moral conscience, is the ancient convention of this place.

Can the Minister of Justice offer a single counter example of—

Foreign Affairs April 22nd, 2016

Madam Speaker, that is exactly why this government is refusing to recognize the genocide as such. This government decided to end Canada's combat mission against the genocidal terrorists of Daesh. It was this government that withdrew Canada's air force, which was combatting these genocidal terrorists in the Middle East.

Will the minister admit that the reason he is refusing to recognize the genocide as such is that Canada ended its combat mission?

Foreign Affairs April 22nd, 2016

Madam Speaker, that is legal pettifogging. Those are word games. This is not about a judicial process.

This House and the previous Conservative government recognized the historical reality of the Armenian genocide without an international judicial process. We did so with respect to other historic genocides. This is happening today. We do not have time to wait for lawyers. We do not want to give ISIS the benefit of the doubt in a judicial process. We need simply to reflect the reality that it is seeking to exterminate the indigenous communities of Mesopotamia. Why will the government not follow the lead of Britain and the United States and—

Foreign Affairs April 22nd, 2016

Madam Speaker, on March 17, United States Secretary of State John Kerry said that ISIS “is responsible for genocide”, but five days later in this place, the minister of global affairs denied Secretary Kerry's recognition, saying instead that the U.S. wanted to do more research.

The British Parliament and the U.S. House of Representatives have unanimously endorsed a recognition of the genocide as such. ISIS itself does not deny its efforts to exterminate these historic communities, so why will the government not just recognize this genocide?

The Budget April 14th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, I congratulate the new member for Winnipeg South on his election to this place and I wish him well during his time here.

In his speech he cited completely misleading statistics to support the central premise of this big-spending, big-borrowing, big-taxing budget when he said that the top 1% of income earners had benefited from all of the income growth in the past 35 years.

It is very interesting that he would replicate the Minister of Finance's statistical jiggery-pokery of choosing the 35-year time frame. That statistic is true if we start from 1982, from the period of the Trudeau administration, but interestingly, during the administration of the previous Conservative government, the average growth in real family income for the top 1% income earners from 2005 to 2014 actually shrank, while real average median after-tax incomes for the average middle income family went up by 11%. The actual picture of income distribution and growth between 2006 and 2015 looks radically different from what it does if we go back to 1982.

I have a very simple question. Why is he presenting misleading figures in order to justify his budget? Why does it not stand on its own?