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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was fact.

Last in Parliament March 2011, as Conservative MP for Kootenay—Columbia (B.C.)

Won his last election, in 2008, with 60% of the vote.

Statements in the House

May 11th, 2009

Mr. Speaker, as we well know, in 2002, Omar Khadr was arrested by U.S. forces in the context of his alleged involvement in the armed conflict in Afghanistan following his alleged recruitment and use as a combatant by al-Qaeda. Mr. Khadr continues to face charges pursuant to U.S. legislation.

These are serious charges under any legal system and they are before a U.S. court. As such, it is up to the U.S. authorities to make decisions regarding the appropriate mechanisms to deal with the disposition of the case currently pending against Mr. Khadr.

It bears repeating that there are very serious charges facing Mr. Khadr, including murder and attempted murder, as well as other terrorism-related offences. News reports recently showed video footage of Mr. Khadr allegedly building and planting improvised explosive devices in Afghanistan, the very devices that have taken the lives of dozens of Canadian men and women.

We simply cannot prejudge the outcome of proceedings currently under way in the United States pursuant to those charges, nor can we prejudge the final outcome of the review and eventual resolution of Mr. Khadr's case. We know that the U.S administration is currently actively seized with the issue, as reflected by executive orders issued in January by President Obama.

The Canadian government has consistently asserted that it would be improper to interfere in the process put in place by the United States and we maintain this position in light of the work being undertaken by the United States to address the situation of Guantanamo Bay detainees as we speak.

Our government's decision to appeal the April 23, 2009, decision of the Federal Court of Canada regarding Mr. Khadr's repatriation, issued after careful consideration of the legal merits of doing so, is in keeping with our long-held position. This is further in accordance with our respect for the judicial sovereignty of the United States and allowing the process to play itself out without inappropriate intervention.

The work being presently undertaken by the United States to address the situation of detainees in Guantanamo Bay will assist in determining whether, among other things, detainees should be released or transferred or whether they should face prosecution and under what court.

As a Canadian citizen, Mr. Khadr's case is of interest to the Government of Canada and his treatment at the hands of the U.S. authorities. Regular, ongoing welfare visits have been carried out by Canadian officials in Guantanamo Bay in order to assess Mr. Khadr's condition, to provide him with a measure of support and to facilitate the provision of comfort items to him. Canadian officials will continue to visit with Mr. Khadr and will continue, as before, to assist in making arrangements for telephone calls between Mr. Khadr and his family.

Further, the Canadian government has facilitated access to him by Canadian legal defence counsel. The Government of Canada has also repeatedly requested that Mr. Khadr be provided with educational opportunities while in detention at Guantanamo and that he be provided with an independent medical and psychological assessment.

Firearms Registry May 4th, 2009

Mr. Speaker, how can the NDP members say they are standing up for their constituents?

The member for Western Arctic said he would vote against the gun registry because the majority of the residents of the Northwest Territories wanted the registry abolished.

The member for Thunder Bay—Rainy River said, “I am very pleased to tell the House that, for eight years since the turn of the century, my constituents have told me that we need to get rid of the long-gun registry”.

The member for Timmins—James Bay said, “It was never set up to deal with the realities of northern Ontario”.

The member for Winnipeg Centre said, “I wouldn't want one more penny to go to that gun registry”.

Yet, they all voted in favour of the registry. How can members of the NDP say they will vote against something then sit on their hands or oppose it? How can the NDP members say that they are standing up for their constituents?

International Cooperation April 3rd, 2009

Mr. Speaker, the Government of Canada believes that it is very important to focus our foreign aid, which is what we have done in this program. I have had the opportunity to speak to no less than nine of the countries that have been affected. I know the minister has also spoken to them. They understand what we are doing and why we are doing it, and every one of them is in support of what we are doing.

Business of Supply March 31st, 2009

Mr. Speaker, I realize that the member is new to this House, so perhaps she has not had an opportunity to read the Broadcasting Act. She would realize, if she took the time to do so, that the CBC is totally independent of this House, of the Prime Minister and of the government of the day, according to the terms laid out in the Broadcasting Act. Perhaps with a lack of information, I find her comments quite regrettable.

I would like to engage her in a debate about her assertion, which is a totally false assertion. She said that we, the government, are reducing the funding to the CBC. In fact, if she were to do a modicum of research, she would come to the realization that in fact our government has increased the funding to the CBC over the last four budgets continuously to the tune of $100 million.

If she is looking for a government that wanted to cut the CBC, it would be her government under Jean Chrétien and finance minister Paul Martin that removed between $400 million and $500 million from the funding envelope for the CBC. This created a major crisis in the CBC, caused the unfortunate loss of 4,000 jobs and the resignation of the president of the CBC at the time.

I would like to give the member the opportunity either to do some research or, at the very least, to correct the record and admit that her comment that this government is reducing funding to the CBC is without any basis of fact whatsoever.

Point of Order March 31st, 2009

Yes, Mr. Speaker, just an observation, if I may.

I understand the challenges that you have as Speaker of maintaining decorum in the House. In this particular instance, it goes well past the issue of politics. It goes to the issue of the very essence of this nation when the people who come to the House, as the Bloc Québécois come here, preface their address to members of our government. I do not have an understanding of French, but my understanding is, as if they were servants of the government. These members of the government are at the service of the people of Canada.

It is deeply regrettable when we get to a point where members of the Bloc Québécois are clearly casting aspersions. I would hope that you would see fit to rule that they stop this practice immediately.

The Economy March 31st, 2009

Mr. Speaker, someone just wrapped up his “telling them what they want to hear” town hall series out in B.C.

Someone called the forestry sector one of the “basement industries”. Someone obviously wants to abandon the resource sector.

Not only does someone not care about resource jobs, he also wants to lose the auto sector. In B.C. he told his audience he did not want to spend money to stabilize the manufacturing industry of southern Ontario. Someone would not dare say that to the communities in southwestern Ontario.

Someone may have dreams of killing the resource sector in B.C., or the auto industry in Ontario, but his real dream is to impose a job-killing carbon tax.

Since first suggesting the idea decades ago, someone has championed the carbon tax idea in the Liberal leadership and during the last campaign. If imposed by now, someone would have crippled the Canadian economy.

Someone, the Liberal leader, is bad for Canada's economy.

Business of Supply March 31st, 2009

Madam Speaker, the member and I have worked on the committee together and we have crossed swords from time to time, but I found his speech this morning to be quite thoughtful.

As opposed to the Liberals who cut 4,000 jobs and cut between $400 million and $500 million out of the CBC budget to the point that the CBC president resigned, under this Conservative government, which is committed to a public broadcaster, over the last four budgets that we have had the opportunity to present to this House, we have seen an increase of approximately $100 million. I wonder if he would acknowledge that.

Although that might not be as far as the member would like to go, there are things that constrain any party when it is in government, which is something regrettably for the NDP members I doubt will ever happen for them, otherwise they might be faced with exactly the same challenges we face. While we can have reasonable and responsible increases in pursuit of our goal of ensuring that we have a public broadcaster, on the other side of the coin, we have to make those increases in a fair and responsible way as a government.

Business of Supply March 31st, 2009

Madam Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to engage in this debate, because the member and I were on the same committee and I am very familiar with the report to which he refers.

I would suggest that the position the Liberals are taking today is, to use the English expression, “as bold as brass”. The definition of “as bold as brass” is “shameless, audacious, impudent”. The synonym is “shamelessness”.

It is impossible to believe that the member and his party would come into this place, having cut historically $400 million from the CBC to the point that 4,000 employees were put out of work and the president resigned, by comparison with the Conservatives who have put $100 million over the last four budgets into the CBC and the president of the CBC in fact is saying there would have to be these redundancies within the CBC whether or not this magic plan the Liberals are talking about today would happen.

I wonder if the member would care to comment on that history.

International Conference on Afghanistan in The Hague March 26th, 2009

Mr. Chair, the hon. member is correct that there were problems and have been continuous problems since 2001. He noted the advancements we made on polio, going back six to eight years ago. He also made note of the fact that in 1999 there were human rights issues and conflicts with women.

I am encouraged about the continued progress. I was very proud two years ago to stand with seven or eight of the women who came to Canada from Afghanistan as legislators, people who would be equivalent to members of the House of Commons. I am sure he would agree that there has been some excellent forward motion on that issue.

If the member and I have a difference of opinion, it might be on the fact that I see it more as the Afghan society, as with Canadian and all societies, being a living organism. We can move forward but we have to secure our position as we do that. We have to be careful that we are feeding that forward motion. There is always a problem that, as he put it, all could be lost.

What would happen if the world were to back away from Afghanistan at this point? We only need to look at Afghanistan 10 years ago to see the answer to the question. Afghanistan became a breeding place for terrorists and that came to our side of the Atlantic. The fact is that would happen again if we backed away.

The hon. member has asked a very valuable question. What is Canada doing now, and what can it do into the future? I believe the most important thing Canada as a nation can do, not only for the people of Afghanistan but for the world and especially the people of Canada, is to ensure we train, equip, motivate and give tools to the people of Afghanistan so they can stand on their own feet and do not continue to be subjected to the kind of demagoguery within the Taliban. We want the people of Afghanistan to have their own army and police force so they can stand on their own.

It is the reason that Canada, through CIDA and the RCMP, has equipped people in the police force in Haiti. There is a mirror image of what Canada is attempting to do in Afghanistan.

There are also the issues of jails and enforcement. We are ensuring that we will not fall back and Afghans will be fully equipped so they can live lives of their choosing.

International Conference on Afghanistan in The Hague March 26th, 2009

Mr. Chair, I would like to take this opportunity to thank my hon. colleagues for their reports on the current situation in Afghanistan. I would also like to thank the opposition members for their concern about the future of the mission and the lives of our brave men and women.

I personally would like to convey my deep appreciation for our troops who sacrifice to help people in need half a world away. This willingness to step up to the plate and answer the call of service for Canada is something of which we can all be proud.

Unfortunately we are still facing a formidable enemy in Afghanistan. When Canadian lives are lost, we mourn them, we honour them, and we move forward in their name. The good work we are doing in Afghanistan and the results we are achieving are proof of this.

We have already heard from the Minister of Foreign Affairs and my colleagues the parliamentary secretaries for national defence and foreign affairs. As part of our whole of government approach, it is crucial that national defence, foreign affairs and the Canadian International Development Agency continue to work together. This collaboration helps enable development and reconstruction in the hope of a better future for Afghans and a safer world for Canadians.

CIDA has set out six clear priorities by which we can also assess the work that we are doing in Afghanistan. We are focused on achieving results on three signature projects. One of Canada's six priorities for moving forward on Afghanistan is to help strengthen the Afghan government's ability to provide basic services, such as jobs, education, and water services to the residents of Kandahar province.

In achieving this goal, we are moving ahead on each of our three signature projects: the rehabilitation of the Dahla dam, working toward the eradication of polio, and building or repairing 50 schools in Kandahar province.

The minister was in Afghanistan in January. I am proud to say that during her visit, she launched the implementation phase of the Dahla dam project along with our Afghan partners. Canadians can also be proud that in an international competition, two engineering firms, SNC-Lavalin and Hydrosult, won the contract to spearhead the work on the Dahla dam.

In line with our goal inevitably to leave Afghanistan to the Afghans, with this project we are also creating jobs for the Afghans. In fact, with the necessary preliminary infrastructure work, such as access roads and bridges, local Afghans are already at work with our commitment. We will create up to 10,000 new jobs in the future. Barriers to employment and other economic opportunities remain a challenge. We are addressing the root causes of such barriers.

Afghanistan has some of the lowest educational levels in the world. It is estimated that half of all Afghan children do not go to school, but we are working to change this. We are making much progress on the education signature project to build and repair 50 schools in the key districts in Kandahar. Although serious security challenges remain, 22 schools are now under construction.

Adult literacy and vocational training programs are also continuing. In fact, in January, almost 11,000 students, most of them female, graduated from a 10 month literacy training course held in Kandahar. Vocational training courses continue for 470 students, and we are also planning for the long term. Canada will train up to 3,000 teachers and that will ensure more children can go to school long into the future. Canadian efforts, by focusing on education, are changing the reality on the ground for Afghan boys and girls, giving the future generations opportunities unimaginable only seven years ago.

All Canadians do their part. I am so proud to mention a young girl, Alaina Podmorrow, who was honoured by my minister last month for founding Little Women 4 Little Women, a not-for-profit organization here in Canada that raises money to pay for teachers' salaries in Afghanistan. This girl caught the vision of only $750 a year paying for a woman teacher teaching girls and she acted on it.

The third signature project I would like to highlight is our polio eradication project. Afghanistan is one of only four countries in the world where polio remains endemic. As part of the polio eradication signature project, Canada has supported three polio vaccination campaigns. I can report that 7.1 million children have been vaccinated in the last three months, including 370,000 who reside in Kandahar. That is an amazing number.

On the economic front, we are making a difference. In Kandahar province, 126 new micro-finance loans were made in this quarter, and a new investment in a micro-finance co-operative was established. More than 1,000 small and medium size businesses are now operating in Kandahar city.

The security situation, especially as it relates to progress on development and reconstruction, is part of the reason that security has to continue and to be strengthened so that our aid workers can get the job done. That is why we are also working with the Afghan police helping to build their capacity so when our troops are no longer in Afghanistan, our important development work can continue. I note that just last week we renewed this commitment with 50 new RCMP officers who will go to Afghanistan.

The work of the international community is greatly valued by Afghanistan. The work of Canadians especially brings hope to the people of Afghanistan. On the Dahla dam, we are not only bringing Canadian expertise to Afghanistan to remove an economic bottleneck, we are also creating jobs for Afghans.

On supporting Afghan education, we are currently the lead donor to the national education program. We are supporting the government of Afghanistan in its rollout of its national education strategy in Kandahar.

On the elimination of polio, Canada is the largest single international donor in this area, and in this quarter alone, as I said, we administered over seven million vaccinations.

While serious challenges do remain, encouraging signs also persist. From the strong support at the community level for the Dahla dam rehabilitation project to the co-operation between our troops and the Afghan police, we are moving in the right direction.

As we look ahead, our work on all these priorities will continue. Our ultimate goal remains the same: to leave Afghanistan to the Afghans in a country that is better governed, more peaceful and more secure.