House of Commons photo

Crucial Fact

  • 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

Safer Railways Act June 4th, 2010

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-33, An Act to amend the Railway Safety Act and to make consequential amendments to the Canada Transportation Act.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Committees of the House June 4th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, as I have been saying repeatedly, we have a tradition of ministerial responsibility and we are upholding that. Our cabinet ministers not only answer questions in question period but they appear at standing committees to do that.

I would hope that all opposition chairs of these committees, rather than conduct kangaroo courts as they have been doing in the past, actually learn and apply the rules and procedures and not allow opposition MPs of the coalition parties to bully, intimidate and attempt to humiliate these junior political staffers.

Committees of the House June 4th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, this question or a reasonable facsimile has been asked many times in question period in this House. I have always answered the same, that we believe in ministerial accountability and responsibility.

Our ministers will not only be answering questions, as they do every day, in this chamber but at committee as well. Ultimately, it is they who are responsible for the actions of their staff and for their departments.

As to the hon. member's assertion about public servants, we are not talking about public servants and departmental staff. We are talking about political staff and they will no longer be appearing.

Jobs and Economic Growth Act June 3rd, 2010

Mr. Speaker, I move:

That in relation to Bill C-9, An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 4, 2010 and other measures, not more than one further sitting day shall be allotted to the consideration of the report stage of the bill and one sitting day shall be allotted to the third reading stage of the said bill and, fifteen minutes before the expiry of the time provided for government business on the day allotted to the consideration of the report stage and on the day allotted to the third reading stage of the said bill, any proceedings before the House shall be interrupted, if required for the purpose of this Order, and in turn every question necessary for the disposal of the stage of the bill then under consideration shall be put forthwith and successively without further debate or amendment.

Business of the House June 3rd, 2010

My colleagues are saying that is insulting. They do get insulted on a regular basis, and quite simply, we have no intention of allowing that type of abuse of our staff to continue.

We attempted to work with the opposition. Very recently, the chief of staff to the Prime Minister appeared voluntarily. He did not need to be subpoenaed. He went voluntarily to committee and defended the staff from his office.

We tried to work with the opposition, but it was all for naught, unfortunately. The environment at some of the standing committees has quite simply become toxic, with opposition-chaired committees in particular not respecting the standard rules under which our committees operate. They resort to kangaroo court antics and we are not going to allow that. We will continue as we have done as recently as yesterday where, as I said during question period, not one, not two, but three ministers appeared at the government operations committee to answer questions.

There was quite a bit of turmoil, because the opposition chair at the committee did not want to allow them to testify or allow questions to be posed. Finally, after a considerable length of time, there were questions posed to all three of my colleagues. I was not there, but my understanding is that they answered the questions openly, truthfully and honestly. Hopefully that will satisfy that committee and there will be no need to continue down the road they appeared to wish to travel, which is the road of charging some junior staff person with contempt.

I would contend that if that is the intention of the opposition, they should charge the ministers with contempt. It is they who are responsible. It is we in the cabinet of the government who are responsible, and we will continue to hold ourselves responsible and accountable by appearing at committees to defend the actions of our staff, our government and our departments.

I will let it go at that. I know one of my colleagues is looking to rise on a point of order and perhaps there are other colleagues who wish to do something like that, so I will take my leave.

Business of the House June 3rd, 2010

Mr. Speaker, that is quite a number of questions and I hope I have them all. My hon. colleague, the opposition House leader, says they are good questions. Indeed, they are very good questions and I appreciate him posing those questions today. I will go first to the business before the House and then I will get to his other questions.

We will continue today debating the report stage of Bill C-9, the jobs and economic growth act. As I said on Tuesday, Canadians are expecting this bill to pass before we rise for the summer.

I pointed out some of the consequences of not adopting Bill C-9 by the summer. Payments would not be authorized for over $500 million in transfer protection to our provinces. Bill C-9 also authorizes appropriation of $75 million for Genome Canada, $20 million for Pathways to Education Canada to provide support for disadvantaged youth, $10 million for the Canadian Youth Business Foundation, and $13.5 million for the Rick Hansen Foundation. These payments and many others cannot be made until Bill C-9 receives royal assent.

This process, I would remind the House, began on March 3, some three months ago, when the Minister of Finance delivered his budget. We debated the budget on March 5, 8, 9 and 10. On March 24, we adopted the ways and means motion required to introduce the jobs and economic growth act.

The bill was introduced on March 29. It was debated for five days at second reading and finally referred to the Standing Committee on Finance on April 19. The committee reported it back on May 14 without amendment. The opposition had almost a month to offer up amendments but reported the bill back without amendments.

This is the fourth sitting day that we have been debating report stage. The opposition and particularly, I would contend, the NDP have had the opportunity to raise their concerns. However, I want to point out a Speaker's ruling from April 14, 1987 in which he addressed this issue. He stated:

It is essential to our democratic system that controversial issues should be debated at reasonable length so that every reasonable opportunity shall be available to hear the arguments pro and con and that reasonable delaying tactics should be permissible to enable opponents of a measure to enlist public support for their point of view. Sooner or later every issue must be decided and the decision will be taken

I would also like to quote House of Commons Procedure and Practice, at page 210, which states:

it remains true that parliamentary procedure is intended to ensure that there is a balance between the government's need to get its business through the House, and the opposition's responsibility to debate that business without completely immobilizing the proceedings of the House.

Following Bill C-9 today, we will call Bill C-10, Senate term limits, and Bill S-2, the sex offender registry legislation.

Beginning tomorrow, if necessary, we will continue with Bill C-9, followed by Bill C-2, the Canada-Colombia free trade agreement.

Next week we will continue with the business from this week, with priority given to Bill C-9 and Bill C-2. In addition to the bills just mentioned, the government will call for debate on Bill C-22, protecting children from online sexual exploitation, Bill C-23, eliminating pardons for serious crime, and Bill C-24, first nations certainty of title. As usual, the government will give priority consideration to any bills reported back from committee or received from the Senate.

Thursday, June 10, shall be an allotted day. That was an additional question that my hon. colleague, the official opposition House leader, asked during his customary Thursday question.

The other thing he noted was a date for an important take note debate dealing with multiple sclerosis. That date has not been set yet, but there have been consultations between myself and my counterparts, the House leaders from all three opposition parties, and I am sure that we can arrive at a suitable date in the very near future.

On the issue of committee witnesses and that we are blocking other people, I would be interested to know who those other people are that we are blocking. I am not aware of any. I have said repeatedly in the House of Commons over the last week or so that we intend to uphold the principle of fundamental value of Parliament, which is ministerial accountability.

Our ministers have been appearing and will continue to appear at the standing committees. It is my contention and I would ask any Canadian who is interested in viewing, and in some cases where there is no video record, reading the Hansard of standing committees to see the types of questions and antics that the combined opposition coalition is resorting to.

In most cases, we had our very junior people. These are young people. They are people who are probably about the same age or perhaps even younger than my children. These young people are dragged before the standing committees. The opposition subjects them to abuse and intimidation tactics.

Committees of the House June 3rd, 2010

Mr. Speaker, we will continue to have our ministers appear at committee because we respect Parliament, we respect the concept and the principle of ministerial accountability and responsibility. Therefore, our ministers, as they did yesterday, will continue to appear before committee and defend the actions of not only themselves, but their staff, our government and their departments.

As for the hon. member's contention that the standing committees have become a circus, I remind him that the coalition has the majority on committees. If they end up with a—

Committees of the House June 3rd, 2010

Mr. Speaker, quite to the contrary, in fact, three of my ministerial colleagues appeared yesterday at the government operations committee and after a dispute, they were queried on questions and they answered all the questions that were put to them. Not one, not two, but three ministers appeared at committee to answer the questions, be held accountable to that standing committee and reveal information that the standing committee was requesting. I do not know how we can be more democratic, more accountable, more responsible than that.

Committees of the House June 3rd, 2010

Mr. Speaker, what is inappropriate and completely unacceptable not only to this government but to parliaments in the past is the tyranny of the majority; in this case, the coalition majority of the three opposition parties that have control of all the standing committees by virtue of the fact that they have the most numbers.

The fact is that we have no intention of allowing our junior staff, our political staff, to be dragged before these committees and these kangaroo courts and subjected to the type of abuse that anybody who views these committee operations can see.

Committees of the House June 3rd, 2010

Mr. Speaker, to answer my hon. colleague's question, no, I cannot answer his question from my seat. I have to stand in the chamber to do that.

The reality is that we have been extremely clear about this. When we talk about the law, the law is very clear. It is called ministerial accountability. It is the ministers' responsibility to be accountable for their staff. That is what we will continue to do.

While I am on my feet, I would urge all opposition chairs of these committees, rather than conduct kangaroo courts as they have been doing to actually learn the rules.