- His favourite word was debate.
Last in Parliament October 2010, as Conservative MP for Prince George—Peace River (B.C.)
Won his last election, in 2008, with 64% of the vote.
Statements in the House
Resignation of Member October 4th, 2010
Mr. Speaker, I rise today with deeply mixed emotions. Where has the time gone? It seems like yesterday that I first walked into this august chamber. It was so intimidating and, in some ways, even after nearly 17 years, it still is. What an honour, privilege and, most days, a pleasure it has been to have a seat here, one of 308.
I wish I had a minute for every year I have been here for there are so many to thank in such a short amount of time.
First, and perhaps most important, I want to thank the constituents of Prince George—Peace River for their trust, loyalty and consistent majority support throughout six elections and three party incarnations.
Second, I thank my party loyalists, those who served so generously on my board of directors or on successive campaign teams and who worked so hard over the years to win me this job pounding the election signs through snow and frost of winter campaigns, sitting through countless town hall meetings or all candidate forums in one of the eleven communities, large or small, in northeastern British Columbia.
The folks back home know who they are and there have been far too many of them over these many years to name them all. However, I do want to mention one, my mentor and great friend, Short Tompkins, a man of unshakeable integrity. His eulogy was another very difficult speech, for saying goodbye is never easy.
Third, I thank my caucus colleagues. There are about 250 MPs, past and present, who have served in the caucuses I have been privileged to be part of. Politics is best played as a team sport and I have been honoured to be a part of some of the best. I hope they will somehow forgive me for all those years I expected and asked so much of them as their whip or House leader.
Fourth, I thank colleagues from other parties because, no matter what our personal party of choice, we are all here for the same reason: to try our best to faithfully represent our constituents in this, Canada's house of democracy.
Fifth, I thank my staff, current and former, the dozens I have been privileged to have on my teams over the years, loyal, talented, committed and hard-working Canadians.
I only have time to mention the longest suffering, er...I mean serving, Mr. Speaker. These are: Charmaine Crockett, more than 14 years; Christine Wylupski, 10 and still counting; Ann Marie Keeley from the whip's office, on and off for the last 15; and, in my hometown of Fort St. John, Carol Larson, my senior constituency assistant for more than a decade, including serving as my campaign manager for the last three elections. Their steadfast support, exceptional talent, hard work and friendship over these many years made this life not only tolerable, but enjoyable. I will miss them all.
I thank Kera and Kenzie for being here as well today, along with a number of close personal friends.
My best parting advice for new members is that they choose their staff wisely because their choices can make or break their career.
Sixth on my list to thank is you, Mr. Speaker, at the risk of sucking up, for your guidance in all things procedural, your friendship and our shared adventures abroad as part of your delegations. On behalf of Leah and myself, thank you, Mr. Speaker, or should I say, PMilly? You have not only been our longest serving Speaker but, in many ways, one of the very best, despite what I may have said recently.
I also want to thank and pay special tribute to our table officers, clerks, guards and all the staff on Parliament Hill, especially for their terrific leadership, our Clerk and Sergeant-at-Arms.
I have had the honour to serve four times as the whip and twice as House leader both in opposition and in government. I thank the leaders who had that much faith in me, Preston Manning, like Short, a man of impeccable integrity and a true visionary.
I would like to thank our Prime Minister, whom I first met in Calgary's Heritage Park more than 22 years ago, prior to both of us running for the fledgling Reform Party in the 1988 election. Much later he and I shared adjacent offices in the attic of the Confederation Building, between 1994 and 1997. I was honoured and humbled when he brought me into cabinet in 2007 as secretary of state to assist the Prime Minister in addition to being his whip, and I hope I was of some assistance.
Then following the 2008 election I received the ultimate privilege when he named me the leader of the government in the House of Commons. Thank you, Mr. Prime Minister, for entrusting me with such weighty responsibilities.
Next is my family: my father, now passed away, tragically something else that the PM and I share, for we both lost our fathers on the very same day; my mom, how can I every thank her enough; my older sister and three younger brothers, their partners and families; my three wonderful children who really were just kids when I began this journey, Holly, Heather and Heath. I hope someday they will forgive me for subjecting them to the political life and that someday they will be half as proud of me as I am of each of them and their partners. To Leah's father, Bill Murray, who is here today supporting us as he always has, and his wife Michelle, thank you.
Naturally, Mr. Speaker, I saved the best for the last, and you know her well. I thank Leah for helping with my transformation, not just from being the second worst dressed MP into the member who is notable for his terrific ties, but for chiselling off the rough edges, for making me a happier man, a much better person and a stronger representative for the great people of northeastern British Columbia. Leah's unwavering support, constant encouragement, persistent good humour and unbelievable work ethic throughout the past 11 years have been a huge part of whatever success I have managed to achieve.
Lastly, I want to say that the thing I will miss most about politics is the people, vibrant, passionate people. For life is about relationships, our personal ones with family and friends, our professional ones with workmates, staff and colleagues. Because of politics I have been privileged to meet great Canadians in every corner of our great nation, and indeed great men, women and children of many nationalities, religions, cultures and colours all around the world. It is those relationships and the ones with friends here on both sides of the aisle that I will always cherish and that I will miss the most.
However, in the end it is ultimately up to each of us to determine when it is the right time to leave, when the passion has begun to wane, when we may no longer be sufficiently motivated to give the job the 100% that our constituents deserve. We are fortunate if we get to choose the time of our departure rather than our constituents making the choice for us. For me that time is now, Mr. Speaker, for you will soon receive my official letter of resignation effective October 25.
Over the past 17 years I have come to respect, to honour and to cherish the traditions, practices and history of this place but in the end, I would ask all colleagues to reflect upon and to keep in mind the title of Erik Nielsen's biography, The House is not a Home.
Right to Vote October 1st, 2010
Madame Speaker, I rise today to remind Canadians of their democratic duty.
Never have I been prouder to be Canadian than when I helped to serve a hot Christmas dinner in 2006 to troops just coming off the front lines in Afghanistan, and again in the last election when I received an email from a commanding officer detailing how his troops were willingly accepting additional risks to deliver ballot boxes to those same front lines, to ensure that no soldier missed the opportunity to vote.
Compare these young Canadians, who are already putting their young lives on the line to bring democracy to a war-torn land, including extra risks in the name of democracy, with citizens back home in Canada who have become so apathetic, they cannot even be bothered to cross the street to vote.
There is no greater privilege than having the right to vote. People have died to preserve that right; indeed some people still are in some lands. I implore all Canadians to think about their choices and re-engage in the political process.
Business of the House June 17th, 2010
Mr. Speaker, I think if you seek it, you may find unanimous consent for the following motion. I move:
That, notwithstanding any Standing Order or usual practice of the House, when the House adjourns today, it shall stand adjourned until Monday, September 20, 2010, provided that, for the purposes of Standing Order 28, it shall be deemed to have sat on Friday, June 18, Monday, June 21, Tuesday, June 22, and Wednesday, June 23, 2010.
Mr. Speaker, if the House accepts this, I would wish all hon. members a pleasant summer. Hopefully, we will not have to return to pass back-to-work legislation in the Jazz Air labour dispute.
Celebrating Canada's Seniors Act June 17th, 2010
Mr. Speaker, I do have a second motion dealing with Bill C-40. I move:
That, notwithstanding any Standing Order or usual practice of the House, Bill C-40, An Act to establish National Seniors Day, shall be deemed to have been read a second time, referred to a committee of the whole, deemed considered in committee of the whole, deemed reported without amendment, deemed concurred in at report stage and deemed read a third time and passed.
I believe my colleague, the Minister of Public Works, also has a point of order and a motion.
Mr. Speaker, I have two motions. The first one is a rather lengthy one. It deals with the new Bill C-23A. My counterparts in all the parties have copies of the proposed motion because it is quite lengthy. I will now table it and ask consent for it to be printed in Hansard as if it had been read to the House.
Mr. Speaker, I hope you will find unanimous consent for its adoption.
That, notwithstanding any Standing Order or usual practice of the House, it be an instruction to the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security that it divide Bill C-23, An Act to amend the Criminal Records Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts, into two bills, namely Bill C-23A, An Act to amend the Criminal Records Act, and Bill C-23B, An Act to amend the Criminal Records Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts;
that Bill C-23A be composed of
(a) a clause that sets out the short title as Limiting Pardons for Serious Crimes Act;
(b) clause 9 of Bill C-23, amended
(i) to renumber subsection 4(1) as section 4;
(ii) to amend sections 4 and 4.1 as follows:
Restrictions on application for pardon
4. A person is ineligible to apply for a pardon until the following period has elapsed after the expiry according to law of any sentence, including a sentence of imprisonment, a period of probation and the payment of any fine, imposed for an offence:
(a) 10 years, in the case of a serious personal injury offence within the meaning of section 752 of the Criminal Code, including manslaughter, for which the applicant was sentenced to imprisonment for a period of two years or more or an offence referred to in Schedule 1 that was prosecuted by indictment, or five years in the case of any other offence prosecuted by indictment, an offence referred to in Schedule 1 that is punishable on summary conviction or an offence that is a service offence within the meaning of the National Defence Act for which the offender was punished by a fine of more than two thousand dollars, detention for more than six months, dismissal from Her Majesty's service, imprisonment for more than six months or a punishment that is greater than imprisonment for less than two years in the scale of punishments set out in subsection 139(1) of that Act; or
(b) three years, in the case of an offence, other than one referred to in paragraph (a), that is punishable on summary conviction or that is a service offence within the meaning of the National Defence Act.
4.1 (1) The Board may grant a pardon for an offence if the Board is satisfied that
(a) the applicant, during the applicable period referred to in section 4, has been of good conduct and has not been convicted of an offence under an Act of Parliament; and
(b) in the case of an offence referred to in paragraph 4(a), granting the pardon at that time would provide a measurable benefit to the applicant, would sustain his or her rehabilitation in society as a law-abiding citizen and would not bring the administration of justice into disrepute.
Onus on applicant
(2) In the case of an offence referred to in paragraph 4(a), the applicant has the onus of satisfying the Board that the pardon would provide a measurable benefit to the applicant and would sustain his or her rehabilitation in society as a law-abiding citizen.
(3) In determining whether granting the pardon would bring the administration of justice into disrepute, the Board may consider
(a) the nature, gravity and duration of the offence;
(b) the circumstances surrounding the commission of the offence;
(c) information relating to the applicant's criminal history and, in the case of a service offence within the meaning of the National Defence Act, to any service offence history of the applicant that is relevant to the application; and
(d) any factor that is prescribed by regulation.
(iii) to delete the remainder of clause 9 of BIll C-23;
(c) clause 10 of Bill C-23, amended
(i) to amend section 4.2 by
deleting paragraph (1)(a);
deleting the words “if the applicant is eligible” from paragraph (1)(b);
substituting pardon for record suspension in subsections (1) and (2); and
(ii) to delete the remainder of clause 10 of Bill C-23;
(d) clause 12 of Bill C-23, amended as follows:
Paragraph 5(a) of the Act is replaced by the following:
(a) is evidence of the fact that
(i) the Board, after making inquiries, was satisfied that the applicant for the pardon was of good conduct, and
(ii) the conviction in respect of which the pardon is granted should no longer reflect adversely on the applicant's character; and
(e) clause 15 of Bill C-23, amended
i. to amend subsection 6.3(2) by substituting pardon for record suspension; and
ii. to delete the remainder of subclause 15(1) of Bill C-23;
(f) clause 22 of Bill C-23, amended
i. to delete subclause 22(1) of Bill C-23; and
ii. to delete paragraph 9.1(c.2) in subclause 22(2) of Bill C-23;
(g) clause 24 of Bill C-23, amended to renumber the schedule to the Criminal Records Act as Schedule 2;
(h) a clause that adds to the Criminal Records Act a Schedule 1 having the same content as Schedule 1 in the schedule to Bill C-23;
(i) clause 46 of Bill C-23, amended
(i) to delete the words “as though it were an application for a record suspension”; and
(ii) to replace the reference to subsection 47(1) with a reference to section 47;
(j) clause 47 of Bill C-23, amended
(i) to delete subsection (2); and
(ii) to renumber subsection 47(1) as 47;
that Bill C-23B be composed of
(a) clauses 1 to 23 of Bill C-23;
(b) clause 24 of Bill C-23, amended to provide that Schedule 2 to the Criminal Records Act is replaced by the schedule set out in the schedule to the Bill;
(c) clauses 25 to 48 of Bill C-23; and
(d) a schedule that includes a Schedule 2 having the same content as Schedule 2 in the schedule to Bill C-23;
that Bills C-23A and C-23B be printed;
that, for the purposes of printing Bills C-23A and C-23B, the Law Clerk and Parliamentary Counsel be authorized to make any technical changes or corrections in those bills as may be necessary to give effect to this motion; and
that Bill C-23A be deemed to have been reported from the Committee without amendment, deemed concurred in at report stage and deemed read a third time and passed.
Business of the House June 17th, 2010
Truly there are good feelings across the aisle here this afternoon. Mr. Speaker, in recognizing you, your staff, Madam Clerk, and all the staff that serve us so well, I would note that sometimes toward the end of these sessions, we see an accelerated rate of activity in trying to complete a lot of government business. I have certainly appreciated that. The staff, as always, has stepped up to the mark and even surpassed it, as usual, in getting the job done for Canadians.
Business of the House June 17th, 2010
Mr. Speaker, first of all, perhaps to deal with the issue that was raised by one of my colleagues, the member for Kelowna—Lake Country, about Jazz Air, the Minister of Labour, who has been working diligently on this file for weeks now and certainly at an intensified rate over the last 48 to 72 hours, has addressed that issue.
As she noted, the government filed a notice that appeared on the order paper this morning, indicating that were there to be a work stoppage that would threaten our communities serviced by Jazz Air, threaten the livelihoods of many Canadians, indeed inconvenience business, threaten the fragile economic recovery that we are seeing in all parts of Canada, but obviously would severely threaten the economic recovery in those parts serviced by that airline, the government is prepared to act expeditiously to ensure that work stoppage would be of the shortest possible duration.
As for the business of the House, as it is the Thursday question, today we will continue to debate the opposition motion and then later this evening, the business of supply.
In a few minutes, to address the other question that the official opposition House leader asked, I hope to create and complete, at all its remaining stages, Bill C-23A, an act to amend the Criminal Records Act. We will also be adopting, at all stages, Bill C-40, celebrating Canada's seniors.
As we near the end of this sitting, I want to thank my colleagues for their co-operation, particularly in these last few weeks. We have had many challenges and I think we have met most of them. Most notably was the challenge of these two five-week sitting blocks. I would point out, however, that anyone who just watched question period would have to draw the conclusion that it truly is silly season here in the House of Commons, given the level of the debate.
However, the challenge being that we had to be absent from our constituents and families, the upside of course was that we as members had the opportunity to spend so much quality time together. Just like any good family visit, unfortunately all good things must come to an end.
I would also like to speak briefly to express my appreciation to the House staff who serve us so well.
Fairness for Military Families (Employment Insurance) Act June 16th, 2010
Mr. Speaker, there have been the usual consultations among all political parties and if you were to seek it, you would find unanimous consent for the following motion. I move:
That, notwithstanding any Standing Order or usual practice of the House, Bill C-13, An Act to amend the Employment Insurance Act, be deemed to have been amended at the report stage as proposed in the report stage motion in the name of the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development on today's Notice Paper; be deemed concurred in as amended; and that the House be authorized to consider the Bill at third reading later today; and when the House begins debate on the third reading motion of Bill C-13, a Member from each recognized party may speak for not more than 10 minutes on the motion, after which the Bill shall be deemed to have been read a third time and passed.
Documents Regarding Mission in Afghanistan June 16th, 2010
Mr. Speaker, I would like to table the memorandum of understanding between the right hon. Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition and the leader of Bloc Québécois. This memorandum of understanding deals with the issue of striking an ad hoc committee of members of Parliament from the signatory parties who will review government documents related to the transfer of Afghan detainees from the Canadian Forces to Afghan authorities.
Committees of the House June 15th, 2010
Mr. Speaker, the last motion that I have, although I understand there is one more coming following this, is the following. I move:
That, notwithstanding any standing order or usual practices of the House, the debate pursuant to Standing Order 66 scheduled for tonight be deemed to have taken place and the motion to concur in the first report of the Standing Committee on International Trade, presented on Wednesday, May 26, 2010, be deemed adopted on division.