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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was going.

Last in Parliament October 2019, as Conservative MP for Yellowhead (Alberta)

Won his last election, in 2015, with 72% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Corrections and Conditional Release Act October 19th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, the member is absolutely correct that we need to go further. We need to scan all people coming into and out of our jail institutions to protect the guards and the inmates. We know that contraband is increasingly entering our prisons. We know it is being brought in by people and we have indications that it is being brought in by some guards. It is not going to hurt to scan all individuals coming into our institutions, as many high security institutions already do.

Corrections and Conditional Release Act October 19th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, I do not see anything in the bill about extra training or education for either the prisoners or the guards. My concern at the present time is the safety of the guards and prisoners in our institutions. The member can talk about programs for them, and those are good. We need to interact with and get prisoners back into civilization as law-abiding citizens, but it is the safety of our guards that I am concerned about and their proper training. There is no mention of that in Bill C-83.

Corrections and Conditional Release Act October 19th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, I never said I disagreed with providing mental health supports. I said that we need to spend more time and more resources training our personnel at the jails. I clearly stated this a number of times in my comments. Jail guards are concerned that they are not receiving the proper training to deal with people with different mental situations, different stress situations and different violent tendencies. We need to ensure that our guards have the best training so that they understand the situations they are being put into so they can keep themselves and the prisoners safe.

Corrections and Conditional Release Act October 19th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, I am speaking to Bill C-83 because I am concerned that the changes it would make may put in jeopardy the safety of our institutional staff and that of the inmates who are under our care and control.

I was confused when the government introduced the bill.

In February of this year, the government appealed a ruling by the B.C. Supreme Court that struck down Canada's law on indefinite solitary confinement, arguing that it needed clarity on the decision. Therefore, why is the government introducing legislation before receiving that clarity? Why are the Liberals fighting the court decision to strike down solitary confinement, while at the same time introducing legislation to do just that? Are they just changing the words and calling it a structural intervention unit?

I have a federal prison in my riding of Yellowhead, the Grande Cache Institution. It is a medium-security institution with approximately 300 employees and 240 offenders. I have a lot of respect for my constituents who work there. Working for Correctional Service Canada often means working with violent offenders. Proposed section 36 of the new act will deal with the obligations of service and the rights of prisoners in structural intervention areas. It states:

...The Service shall provide an inmate in a structured intervention unit

(a) an opportunity to spend a minimum of four hours a day outside the inmate’s cell; and

(b) an opportunity to interact, for a minimum of two hours a day, with others, through activities including, but not limited to,

(i) programs, interventions and services...

(ii) leisure time.

Proposed section 37 of the new act states that proposed section 36 does not apply if the inmate refuses or the inmate “does not comply with...instructions to ensure their safety or that of any other person or the security of the penitentiary.”

As part of their job, employees are responsible for providing a safe, secure and positive environment for offenders, which is an essential element in helping offenders reintegrate into society. However, is the government fostering a safe and secure environment for our prison guards to work within these institutions?

Solitary confinement is a common safety measure many western countries take to protect guards from dangerous and volatile prisoners. I wonder if any of our front-line workers have been consulted on taking this tool away from them. Are we properly training our guards who deal with the most dangerous of offenders, offenders with possible mental conditions and psychological problems? Are these guards being given the necessary tools and knowledge to recognize, work with, protect and, for their own safety, help reintegrate these prisoners?

I am concerned that the bill does not mention new training programs to assist prison guards in these changes or in the current programs. It is paramount that the guards dealing with the most dangerous of our offenders have the knowledge and expertise to deal with them. This is for everyone's protection and safety.

I have heard concerns from prison staff members that more training should be given to them when they are dealing with high-risk offenders, such as murderers, compared to someone serving six months for theft. We need to ensure they feel prepared and comfortable, instead of taking away the tools they use to manage inmates.

Instead of solitary confinement, the government would create structural intervention units, SIUs. Let us be fair: This is just white-washing with some finely tuned words.

Under the new SIU model, inmates who misbehave and cannot be safely managed in the mainstream population will get personal programs tailored to their own needs. Are we forgetting the protection and safety of other inmates and prison staff in order to meet the new guidelines as outlined under the SIU? The segregation of certain prisoners in some cases has been done to protect those persons from internal conflicts with other inmates because of their character or mental disposition. In other cases, it is done for legal reasons that could cause interference with an investigation that could lead to criminal charges or a charge relating to serious disciplinary offences within the institution.

Under the new act, prisoners segregated for their own safety may spend up to four hours outside their cells each day. This is where I am concerned. This will require more resources and will create longer periods for the chance of an incident to occur. The replacement of solitary confinement strips the ability of guards to use segregation for disciplinary purposes. This change will make prisons more dangerous for the guards as they deal with the worst and most volatile prisoners.

Because the guards are dealing with the most violent criminals and those who do not care to follow the prison rules, when an incident does occur, it is going to be a lot more serious and require more force. Why are we putting our front line workers at risk?

I am also concerned that these prisoners who are segregated for their own safety may demand equal opportunities under the new act. This may open up an opportunity for their safety to be jeopardized and also put the safety of our guards in question.

This is just another example of the Liberals going soft on criminals and showing indifference to everyone else. Once again, the Liberals are prioritizing the rights of Canada's most violent and dangerous criminals.

Let me remind everyone of Bill C-75, which proposes sweeping changes to the Criminal Code and reduces the penalties of crimes to fines. Through Bill C-75, the Liberals are reducing penalties for terrorism, gang members, prison breaches, human trafficking, and the list goes on and on. It is not a surprise to me that the Liberal government is now prioritizing the rights of convicted and violent criminals inside our prison system.

Another aspect of the bill that I find deeply concerning is the new provision that would allow the commissioner to sub-designate parts of institutions to be a different level of security. It reads:

The Commissioner may assign the security classification of “minimum security”, “medium security”, “maximum security” or “multi-level security”, or any other prescribed security classification, to each penitentiary or to any area in a penitentiary.

Theoretically, could the commissioner authorize that a room, say in a healing lodge, to be designated as maximum or medium security by adding an extra lock on the door? There needs to be clarification on whether this is to be used as a temporary measure or if this is a declaration that can be made indefinitely of an area. If so, what is the security protocol that would be put in place to change an “area” to a higher designation than the rest of the facility? Under what circumstances would it be used?

This provision will lead to more cases where higher security prisoners are allowed into lower security spaces, all based on technicalities. Why are we allowing prisoners who should be in maximum or medium-security facilities into lower designated facilities?

I agree with one part of the bill, and that is body scanners. Already in use in the provinces of British Columbia and Ontario, body scanners should be used to scan prisoners in federal institutions. The more effective we can be in our searches, the better. That means fewer drugs, weapons and other contraband entering our prison systems.

I wonder why the government decided to stop there, though. Why only scan prisoners? In 2014, the CBC broadcast an article on the statistics of contraband entering prisons. The data obtained by CBC showed that corrections seized almost 9,000 unauthorized and contraband items, up almost 2,000 from a few years earlier. That was an increase of 20%. The article noted:

CSC spokesman Jonathan Schofield said the spike is due to enhanced security measures brought in to stem the flow of drugs and other contraband into institutions, including increased searches, random urine tests, and tools such as metal detectors, X-rays, drug-detecting ion scanners and dogs.

Howard Sapers, the former correctional investigator of Canada, said that likely sources of contraband included other people coming in to the prison and sometimes even trusted personnel.

Maybe we should be using body scanners to scan everyone, not just the prisoners, entering our institutions. This will help ensure that everyone inside the institution, prisoners, staff and visitors, all have a safe and secure environment in which to live and work. There are different types of body scanners, some detect drugs, others detect metal. We use them in our airports, and there is no reason we cannot use the most sophisticated equipment in our jail system.

I am not in favour of the recently announced needle exchange program and a good scanning system would eliminate the need for such a program.

We must remember that any legislation brought in that changes how we manage our prisons must take into consideration the safety of our government employees and the safety of other inmates within our institutions. This to me is paramount over catering to the needs of convicted criminals. We must remember they are there because they have committed crimes and are being punished for those crimes. Yes, they have rights to a certain extent, but our institutions are not summer camps or recreational retreats.

Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities October 15th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak to Motion No. 177, which instructs the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities to study issues faced by flight training schools in Canada. As the chair of the all-party aviation caucus and a pilot myself, I am quite familiar with the industry, the flight training and the lack of pilots.

I hate to date myself, but back in 1968 when I applied for pilot training, it was not very expensive. It cost about $500 to get a private pilot's licence. Later on, in the late 1970s, I went on to get a commercial pilot's licence. It gave me a chance to expand my experience and to do different things.

Motion No. 177 calls for the committee to study the challenges faced by flight schools in providing trained pilots and to determine if the infrastructure is adequate in our flight schools. However, I am concerned, because even if we have state-of-the-art infrastructure, we cannot use it if there is no one to train. I think the study would have a much larger impact if it were amended to focus on pilot shortages and the factors that deter students from enrolling in the first place.

The 1950s and 1960s are often referred to as a golden age of air travel. Pilots and flight attendants were seen as an elite class, and recruitment was high. Flash forward to the last 10 or 15 years, and all those recruits have retired. At the same time, it has become increasingly expensive and difficult to become a pilot. Members will remember that I said it cost $500 back in the day when I started to fly. Today, an average private pilot's licence in Canada would cost upwards of $14,000.

As safety standards have increased, which is by no means a bad thing, more requirements have been placed on young pilots learning to fly. When I learned to fly, I could get a pilot's licence after 35 or 40 hours of flight time. Today, in Canada, the average is 60 hours. Therefore, one has to train more hours and maintain a certain number of flight hours each year to maintain the licence. All of this extra time means that one has to spend extra money for certification.

For a commercial licence, a minimum of 200 hours of flight training must be obtained. I mentioned that a private pilot's licence costs about $14,000. If one is really good, fast and does everything correctly, to get a basic commercial pilot's licence would cost about $18,500 over and above the cost of the private licence. This is for such things as 5 hours flying at night, two of which must be cross-country. You also need to accumulate five hours more cross-country time than for your private licence. You also require at least 20 hours of instrument time, 30 hours of solo time after obtaining your private pilot's licence, and 100 hours of pilot command before you can go on to obtain a commercial pilot's licence. By the end of all of this, with the cost of living and everything else included, you would have spent $50,000 or more to get a commercial pilot's licence.

The Canadian aviation regulations tell us that in addition to having a valid licence or permit and a valid medical certificate, there are some other things pilots need to do every five years, every two years and every six months to maintain their licences, and this scares a lot of people. Every five years, a pilot must fly as pilot in command or as a co-pilot at least once. Every two years, pilots must complete a recurrent training. Every six months, pilots who wish to carry one or more flights with passengers must complete five takeoffs and five landings. Also, there are the medicals, and as one gets older, at age 40, one has to have medicals every six months. Therefore, I do not think the problem is as much the quality of the flight schools in Canada but the inability to attract recruits due to the cost and time required to gain a pilot's licence.

Even the Canadian Air Force is experiencing a shortage. The shortfall of pilots and mechanics was referenced in an internal report recently published by the Department of National Defence. The air force is authorized to have 1,580 pilots, but it is short by around 275 pilots, or 17%. In the civilian world, Boeing has projected that worldwide aviation will require 790,000 new pilots by 2037 to meet the growing demand, with 96,000 pilots needed to support the business aviation sector.

At the Farnborough air show in the United Kingdom, Airbus recently estimated the demand at 450,000 pilots needed by 2035. Even with Airbus's more conservative number, the gap between demand and supply is vast. It is why I believe this motion is very important. We need to study the availability of pilots, including how we can increase recruitment levels.

There are a lot of ways this can be done. For example, the government could create incentives for experienced pilots to stay in the industry or set up financial assistance for flight schools. Back in the 1960s when I went for my private pilot's licence, the cost was $500. If I continued on for my commercial licence, I would receive a fifth of that money back, a whole $100. Then when I received my commercial licence, I believe I received one-third of that back and there was a tax deduction as well. These are just some of the examples that we need to study more in-depth.

An increase in pilots could also help in consumer choices down the road. When I flew to Ottawa from my riding yesterday, I only had two options of airlines. It is hard to expect an industry to diversify and compete when it does not have enough talent to draw on. I have read of many cases in the news where flights were cancelled because the crew members needed to rest and there was not another crew to replace them. From a pilot and safety standpoint, I completely understand the need for rest, but as a consumer, this can be incredibly frustrating. If there were more pilots, perhaps a lot of these cancellations could be avoided because there would be someone to replace those who need to rest. Increasing the number of pilots and retaining them could help increase airline choices for Canadians and benefit the consumer experience when flying.

Not only do we need pilots for the large airline companies, but there are also a lot of other industries in Canada which rely on pilots. They courier our mail, help control forest fires, help rescue stranded hikers, and monitor our forests and pipelines. They belong to CASARA, the Civil Air Search and Rescue Association. In my own riding, oil companies have pilots who fly over pipeline routes to make sure there are no leaks or other issues. We also have pilots who fly over the forests in Jasper National Park to document the spread of forest pests like the mountain pine beetle.

Pilots are needed in many industries across the country, and we need to explore ways to increase the number of recruits to flight schools.

As a pilot and a member of the all party aviation caucus, I want to see this study go to committee. I hope the sponsor will consider our amendment to ensure this study has the most impact possible.

Justice October 4th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, I do not think there is anybody here in this House who can deny that Bill C-78 is well overdue and is needed.

I listened in depth to the conversation about separation, families relocating, the court sitting down and evaluating a mechanism to look at both sides, and that body deciding if it is appropriate for the parties to move from one location to another.

I was reading through the bill and I am wondering if there is a mechanism of repeal if the court were to say that one party could not move. Is there an appeal mechanism built into this bill that would allow people to appeal that decision?

Justice October 4th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, I wonder if the hon. member would be able to clarify something under clause 54, the increased term of services binding by Her Majesty for five years to 12 years. Could he explain to me why it was raised?

Justice October 4th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, in one of his answers just a few minutes ago, the member mentioned Bill C-75. I am still concerned about Bill C-75. It would reduce sentences for very serious crimes, including the abduction of a child under the age of 14, participating in activities of criminal organizations, forced marriages, marriages under the age of 16 and concealing the body of a child. These policies are very alarming to me. Would he like to comment on them?

Justice October 4th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, I noticed that the government has also allotted, under this bill, approximately $77.2 million to be utilized in a program to help in situations like this. Often I get people calling my office, either one spouse or the other, who are in financial hardship, especially over these last three years of things happening in Alberta, and they do not have the funds to sit down and negotiate with a lawyer because of the cost.

I wonder if my friend from St. Albert—Edmonton could comment again on this alternate resolution process that might be started as a result of this program and whether it would be of benefit to couples and save them a lot of money. We used to have an old saying in Alberta that if people end up going through divorce, they take their estate and half goes to the legal firms, and they might end up with a quarter each if they end up going through a dispute.

Business of Supply September 25th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, with all the new and enhanced benefits indicated in the member's speech, I wonder if he believes a 30-year-old murderer of an off-duty police officer should receive treatment programs designated to address post-traumatic stress in our military, programs that were set up for veterans, even though he was entitled to treatment for mental health issues through Canada's corrections services.