- His favourite word was farmers.
Last in Parliament March 2016, as Conservative MP for Medicine Hat—Cardston—Warner (Alberta)
Won his last election, in 2015, with 69% of the vote.
Statements in the House
Energy East Pipeline February 4th, 2016
Mr. Speaker, the Liberals voted against our motion on Monday to support the energy east pipeline.
My riding of Medicine Hat—Cardston—Warner, in southern Alberta, has been greatly impacted by the recent downturn in the oil industry. Over 100,000 Albertans have lost their jobs. However, this is much bigger than local politics; it is about the entire Canadian economy.
This is one time when the Prime Minister does not need to favour Quebec politicians over Alberta. Quebeckers are with us. They need jobs and a stable economy too. Liberals should not talk to us about social licence. Countless Canadians desperate for work and desperate to make ends meet are all the social licence the Liberals need.
The Conservative Party will always stand up for Canada's natural resources sector. The pipeline is the most effective way, the most efficient way, and the most environmentally responsible way to get our energy resources to market. What is the holdup? The Liberals should get that pipeline going and get Albertans back to work.
Points of Order June 18th, 2015
Mr. Speaker, I hope I heard wrongly, but while the member for Calgary Centre was asking her question, I overheard the member for Wascana say that she was a pathetic creature. I hope I am mistaken, but if that is correct, I ask him to apologize.
Criminal Code June 17th, 2015
Mr. Speaker, the bill certainly would not force every parolee to go back to jail. It actually has a maximum sentence of two years. It does not mean that every single violation would send someone back to jail for two years.
It also is important because it requires that all parole violations be reported. When future parole boards considered situations, they would have the facts about prior parole violations. It is something the police have requested and it is something which they applaud. It certainly is the right balance between rehabilitation and making sure we have punishments that fit the crime and that crimes are called crimes.
Criminal Code June 17th, 2015
Mr. Speaker, I am not surprised that the NDP is opposed to this reform.
This does not address the release of prisoners through parole. It addresses a clear shortcoming in our Criminal Code where someone can violate parole and that violation is not a criminal offence. It is a criminal offence to violate probation and it is a criminal offence to violate bail. In fact, it is a criminal offence to violate any court ordered release from jail.
This is a clear problem. Police have said it is a problem. It allows a small number of offenders to repeat that offence over and over again. It is not going to stop anyone's rehabilitation if the person truly is rehabilitated because the person will keep his or her parole conditions.
Criminal Code June 17th, 2015
moved that Bill C-644, An Act to amend the Criminal Code and the Corrections and Conditional Release Act (failure to comply with a condition), be read the second time and referred to a committee.
Mr. Speaker, nine years ago, our Conservative government made a pledge to overhaul our criminal justice system. We told Canadians we would make sure that our laws, the police and the courts would be focused on the needs and rights of victims, and we have followed through on that pledge.
Notwithstanding the bleeding hearts who think that every violent criminal just needs a hug, most Canadians want a more just justice system, one that puts the rights of the victim above that of the criminal and one where punishments fit the crime.
As happy as people are with measures like the Faster Removal of Foreign Criminals Act, they shake their heads in disbelief when they find out why we needed such a law in the first place. They cannot believe that such a particular measure was actually needed to address a real problem that allowed foreign criminals, individuals who committed a crime in their home country, to enter our country on false pretenses, which is crime two, and then commit crimes in Canada, which is crime three.
These foreign criminals were able to exploit our generous nature and our generous systems by making appeal after appeal for up to 10 years before we had the legal right to get rid of them. Thankfully, that mind boggling problem is fixed. Even though, for the vast majority of Canadians, this change is simply common sense, I actually heard opposition members say that the Faster Removal of Foreign Criminals Act discriminated against criminals. Canadians want to see us continue on with our commitment to common-sense reforms of some of our laws that clearly fly in the face of our sense of justice.
As part of our ongoing efforts toward a more just justice system, I have introduced my private member's Bill C-644, An Act to amend the Criminal Code and the Corrections and Conditional Release Act (failure to comply with a condition) to create a new offence for violating parole and requiring these violations to be reported.
Canadians would probably be astounded to know that violating parole is not a criminal offence. It is not even necessary to report parole violations to judges when criminals are being considered for early release or release in general. Currently, the singular method for parole review does not work.
It is well documented that a disproportionately small number of offenders are responsible for a disproportionately large number of offences. Yet, when it comes to parole, all criminals are reviewed in the same manner which permits the most dangerous offenders to slip through the cracks and back into society to offend again and again.
My proposed legislation will correct that shortcoming through two simple reforms. First, the bill would make parole violation a criminal offence. Second, the legislation would also make it mandatory for the Correctional Service of Canada to report to the police all cases parole violation.
Reporting parole violations will help ensure the justice system has all the information on an offender in order to make the best public safety decisions before determining whether an offender should be given parole in the future.
By legislating parole violation as a criminal offence and making it mandatory to advise judges and parole boards of these violations prior to sentencing and early release considerations, we establish firmly that early release from jail or parole is a privilege to be earned and not a right to be demanded.
This legislation is consistent with other kinds of release from jail laws. For example, it is already a criminal offence in itself to skip bail and it is already a criminal offence in itself to violate probation. Then why is the violation of parole not a criminal offence in itself? There is no good answer.
Let us look at how the system works today. Under the current law, offenders who are granted conditional release or parole are subject to a certain number of conditions. That is why it is called conditional release. Some are standard conditions such as staying within Canada at all times and reporting regularly to a parole officer. Some offenders receive additional special conditions depending on their specific risk for reoffending. This could include a condition to live in a halfway house, or to abstain from drugs and alcohol or to refrain from associating with certain individuals.
If offenders violate parole by breaching any of these conditions, such as showing up late for a meeting with their parole officer or breaking curfew, the law provides a range of options for correctional authorities on how to deal with that violation. They can either do nothing, other than tell the offender he or she should not violate parole, which is usually what happens, or they can add stricter parole conditions, like an earlier curfew, or they can revoke parole and send the offender back to jail.
If he commits a crime while violating parole, he will be charged for that crime, but there will be no additional penalty for violating parole. It is as if the only punishment for escaping jail is a return to jail, with no additional sentence. The violation does not even have to be reported to future parole boards. In fact, until the changes we made in 2012, police could not even arrest parole violators caught in the very act of violating parole. Now, thanks to the Safe Streets and Communities Act, they can do that.
Let me re-emphasize that it is possible, and based on research it is even highly likely, that an offender can violate parole and receive no penalty. Of course, this does nothing to promote respect for the rule of law, and it greatly increases the likelihood that offenders will reoffend.
After the initial astonishment of learning that violating parole is not already against the law, people gave strong support to this amendment. For example, the mayors and reeves of my region of southern Alberta have written a joint letter urging the government to support this legislation. The good news is that it supports this legislation.
Tom Stamatakis, president of the Canadian Police Association, said:
Our members appreciate the step taken...to introduce this legislation which will ensure accurate records are kept, and that a full history of an offender’s actions can be considered before any parole is earned.
This legislation is named after Constable Ezio Faraone, who was killed in action while he was attempting to arrest repeat criminal Albert Foulston. If one Googles Constable Faraone, Albert Foulston's name comes up over and over again, even though it was Foulston's accomplice, Jeremy Crews, who pulled the trigger.
Albert Foulston was out on parole. He had repeatedly violated parole, yet he was on the streets. He was under surveillance, but police were not able to do anything until he actually robbed a bank. Constable Faraone had him cornered in an alley when Foulston feigned surrender, allowing his accomplice to shoot Faraone with a sawed-off shotgun at point-blank range.
In 2009, Foulston was released on parole after just 20 years of a 30-year sentence. His parole was automatic, even though he was involved in about 100 incidents while in prison, including fights and assaults on staff, and even though the parole board assessed his risk of reoffending as moderate to high. According to the board, it had no choice but to release him, because the law said that parole was automatic after serving two-thirds of the sentence. All the parole board could do was impose various conditions on that parole.
The trouble is, no matter how many or how limiting the conditions of parole are, there are no criminal consequences for violating those conditions. If Foulston's parole conditions said he could not hang out with other drug dealers or bank robbers, it would not matter. It was not until he actually robbed a bank that he committed an actual crime. If my bill had been law, he could have been arrested just for hanging out with his accomplice, Mr. Crews.
Sure enough, the next page in our Google search shows that in 2012, Albert Foulston recommitted again and was facing jail time for trafficking illegal drugs. No wonder the Edmonton Police Association refers to Faulston as the poster boy for problems in the Canadian correctional system. Faulston has spent more than 30 years behind bars on more than 50 convictions. He has been released ten times.
Sadly, his name came up more recently. In fact, it was in an interview with retired police sergeant Tony Simione, the sergeant who replied to Constable Faraone's fatal shooting 25 years ago. Sergeant Simioni was responding to the tragic death of Constable Daniel Woodall recently, on June 8, in Edmonton. He said that the incident brought Faraone's shooting home like it was yesterday. He said that it was very vivid, very profound, and brought back very traumatic memories and emotions.
He said, “It's surprising how long it does last. And the [Edmonton police] who went through what they went through [June 8] will be experiencing the same, I'm sure”.
While this legislation would give police important tools for crime prevention, there are other important reasons to support these changes. According to the Criminal Code and the Corrections and Conditional Release Act:
The fundamental purpose of sentencing is to contribute, along with crime prevention initiatives, to respect for the law and the maintenance of a just, peaceful and safe society by imposing just sanctions...
There is more to it than just crime prevention. Critics of our tough-on-crime measures focus only on the impact of the measure on the criminal himself. Clearly no amount of deterrent would be enough to dissuade someone like Albert Foulston, but our laws are not in place just to control the criminal. Laws and the rule of law have great power over the minds of law-abiding citizens. One of Canada's great values is the rule of law, or respect for the rule of law. We are a law-abiding people.
Why do most Canadians honour and obey the law? It is not because we fear punishment and it is not because we fear a minimum sentence. It is because we want to be a law-abiding people.
However, law has the power to command a willing respect and obedience of those who are subject to it only if the law is legitimate. There are a few key principles or elements that make law legitimate. One, for example, is how the law was made. Was the process leading to the development of the law legitimate?
As well, the law must also contribute to a just, peaceful, and safe society. For law to be legitimate, it must satisfy our sense of justice. This is one reason that we say the punishment must fit the crime. Anything more or less than that violates our sense of justice. A society can only find themselves saying “that is ridiculous” about so many laws before they start saying that the law itself is ridiculous.
When we reach that point, there will never be enough police to monitor and enforce obedience. Of course we do not want to lock up someone for life for making a youthful mistake. While mercy cannot rob justice, mercy is actually compatible with our sense of justice. We do not want to live in a Hugo-like miserable society that would force Jean Valjean to live for a lifetime carrying a yellow passport for stealing a loaf of bread for his sister's starving children. Punishments that are too severe are unacceptable, but so are punishments that are far too lenient. They simply violate our sense of justice.
This bill addresses an important particular loophole in the justice system, but it is just part of our overall common sense reform of our justice system. Simply put, Canadians want a more just justice system. Our sense of justice cries out that the rights of the victim must take priority over those of the criminal and that the punishment must fit the crime.
This legislation complements our government's ongoing work to support victims of crime in this country and further holds offenders to account for their actions. I look forward to receiving support from all parties on this much-needed piece of legislation.
Economic Action Plan 2015 Act, No. 1 May 14th, 2015
Mr. Speaker, income splitting is long overdue. It addresses an injustice that has been around for a long time. Undoing an injustice does not solve every injustice in the world, but that does not mean we should not address that injustice.
Income splitting acknowledges the real benefit and value that stay-at-home parents provide to their families and to society as a whole. It acknowledges the real value of spouses who do not make as much as the person to whom they are married. It acknowledges what they contribute to their family and to society in a non-financial way.
I would not have trouble explaining this measure door to door because people already understand that it is a just offer and a just principle. They are confused about the notion that it really does not help. They know it helps. They are the ones who would benefit from it. I would not have to explain that for very long.
Economic Action Plan 2015 Act, No. 1 May 14th, 2015
Mr. Speaker, it is funny to hear the NDP say that our tax deduction is not high enough.
The member from the NDP is saying the tax deduction is not high enough. It is a little bit of a disingenuous criticism to say we should not be giving this benefit at all, but now that we are, we should give it all without it being taxed.
People are used to paying taxes at the end of the year. I would prefer nothing to be taxed, but it cannot be that way. The fact that it is taxed at the end of the year would also make it fairer, since the people with higher incomes end up getting slightly less benefit than those with the lower income because their tax brackets are higher. I am not quite sure what they are complaining about.
I know what the people who are Conservatives are complaining about: they would rather not be taxed at all. However, we cannot get everything we want just yet.
Economic Action Plan 2015 Act, No. 1 May 14th, 2015
Mr. Speaker, in April we introduced economic action plan 2015, this year's federal budget. As we promised in the 2011 election, we have balanced the budget. In fact, we have a $1.4 billion surplus. We have also kept our commitment to balance the budget without raising taxes and without cutting transfer payments to our most cherished social programs like health care. Not only have we not raised taxes, but we have cut taxes and provided even more tax incentives for individuals, families, and businesses.
In fact, this budget builds on measures introduced since we first formed government, providing a typical two-income family of four tax relief and increased benefits of up to $6,600 more than in 2006. The 2015 budget has been praised by a broad and diverse group of business experts, economists, entrepreneurs, and most importantly, ordinary Canadians.
This budget is family-friendly and sensitive to seniors' needs. It addresses students' concerns. It is pro-business, the economy's job creators, and supportive of our veterans and Canadian Armed Forces. It supports communities through significant infrastructure investments and it is designed to create jobs, spur economic growth, and ensure long-term prosperity for all Canadians while ensuring future generations.
Our Conservative government remains focused on what matters most to Canadians. Our priorities are and will remain jobs and economic growth. We are keeping taxes low and supporting families. We are investing in infrastructure and helping to create jobs, while keeping to our plan to return to a balanced budget.
This year's budget is a balanced budget. We have taken steps to control expenditures without reducing transfers to individuals or the provinces. We cannot say as much for the opposition parties. The Liberals, for example, are offering nothing of substance in terms of the economy or job creation. Their leader has no plan for balancing the budget.
In fact, what is even more disturbing is that the Liberal leader said that the budget would balance itself. Even with the tax increases he proposes, his plan leaves a $2 billion gap that can only be closed by increasing the debt and creating new taxes.
The NDP does not offer any more hope. It continues to defend risky economic schemes and unwise spending. It is proposing a total of over $56 billion in new, imprudent spending, which would increase the tax burden and plunge Canada into permanent deficit.
Providing real support to Canadian families is an important responsibility for our Conservative government. Our economic prosperity plan is a plan for lower taxes, which puts money back into the pockets of hard-working Canadians.
We are proud of our solid record of tax relief, a record that reduces the federal tax burden to its lowest level in a generation. We have implemented unprecedented tax-saving initiatives, such as cutting the GST to 5% and introducing the tax-free savings account, thereby reducing the tax burden of all Canadians.
Furthermore, the latest tax relief measures for families taken by our government will help make life more affordable for all Canadian families with children. Our Conservative government has improved and expanded the universal child care benefit. This reduces the cost of child care still further, while enabling parents to choose the type of child care that best suits their family.
We have increased the benefits to $1,920 per year for each child under the age of six and we are introducing a new benefit of $720 per year for children between the ages of six and 17. This is in addition to the $1,000 more each year that families can claim under the child care expense deduction.
In addition, we are helping more families enrol their children in sporting activities by doubling the children’s fitness tax credit and making it refundable.
Moreover, the government has established the historic family tax cut, which allows couples to transfer up to $50,000 of taxable income to the spouse who is in a lower income tax bracket.
This reduces the income tax they would have to pay by up to $2,000. The family tax cut helps make our income tax system fairer by ensuring that families with the same earning power do not pay completely different amounts of income tax.
We hear a lot about the injustice of income splitting, that it is only going to help a very small portion of the population, and that it is only going to help the rich. Nothing could be further from the truth. I grew up in a family of 14 kids. My dad was a school teacher, my mom was a stay-at-home mom, and income splitting would have helped my family.
That is not just a rare exception to the rule. Every single family on my block would have benefited from this. Almost every single family in my community would have benefited from this. None of us were rich. The only few families who would not have benefited from this were the families who were not paying taxes anyway because they were in a low income tax bracket or a non-existent tax bracket, which is a sad place to be, but their taxes could not be reduced if they were not paying any taxes.
We also do not claim that this one measure would solve all the world's problems. I am going to give a bit of a metaphor as a critique of our measures. Suppose that every day 10 men go out for a root beer and the bill for all 10 comes to $100. If they paid their bill according to the way we pay taxes, it would go something like this: the first four are the poorest and they would pay nothing; the fifth would pay $1; the sixth would pay $3; the seventh would pay $7; the eighth would pay $12; the ninth would pay $18; and the tenth man, who is the richest, would pay $59. He has the easiest ability to do so, so that is what they decide to do.
The 10 men drink their root beer every day and seem quite happy with the arrangement, until one day the owner of the bar threw them a curve ball. He said that they were such good customers and that he did not want them to leave, so he was going to reduce the cost of their daily root beer by $20. Drinks for the 10 men would now cost just $80.
The group still wanted to pay their bill the way we pay our taxes, because that is fair. So the first four men were unaffected. They would still drink root beer for free. What about the other six men? How could they divide the $20 windfall? If they divide the $20 by six, it is $3.33, but if they subtract $3.33 from everybody's bill, the fifth man and the sixth man would each end up being paid to drink his root beer. That did not seem fair either.
So, the bartender suggested reducing each man's bill by a higher percentage the poorer that man was, following the principle of our fair tax system. They worked it out so that the fifth man, like the first four, now paid nothing; the sixth would now paid $2 instead of $3, a 33% savings; the seventh would pay $5 instead of $7, a 28% savings; the eighth would pay $9 instead of $12, a 25% saving; the ninth would pay $14 instead of $18, which is a 22% saving; and the tenth now paid $49 instead of $59.
Now, each of the six who had been paying was better off than before and the first four continued to drink for free. However, once outside the bar, the men began to compare their savings. Then along came a guy who had grown up with a silver mug. He pointed out that the sixth man only got a dollar out of the $20 saving; he then pointed to the tenth man and said that he got $10 in savings. The fifth man exclaimed that he only saved a $1 too, and that it was unfair because the tenth man got 10 times more benefit than he did. The seventh man shouted that it was true and asked why the tenth should get $10 back, when he himself had only gotten $2, and that the wealthy get all the breaks.
The man with the silver mug hollered that they should not forget that the first four guys did not get anything at all—and remember, they had been getting free root beer all along—that the new tax system exploits the poor, and that the guys should reject the $20 discount because it was nothing but a giveaway for the richest guys in the group.
They ganged up on the tenth guy and shamed him for being so selfish and for taking their money, so he quit going to the root beer get-together every night. When they went back the next day, there were only nine there. They found out when paying the amount they had to pay that they only had half the amount of money that they owed for the root beer.
The man with the silver mug said that they would have to pay back their discount, and their price would be raised by 7%. They were still $37 short, so he would cut the root beer in half and find another way.
That is the injustice we are talking about. Our budget is good, it is fair, and it helps all Canadian families.
Taxation April 29th, 2015
Mr. Speaker, last week we fulfilled our commitment to balance the budget and to introduce income splitting for families with kids.
I have polled my constituents and the vast majority support income splitting because it is fair and pro family, and it acknowledges the real value stay-at-home parents provide their families and society in general.
Do not be fooled by opponents who say it will only help the rich. They just want to keep taking the money of families.
I grew up in a family of 14 kids. My dad was a school teacher and my mom was a stay-at-home mom. Income splitting would have definitely helped my parents. In fact, it would have helped most families in my small town, and none of us were rich.
It will not solve every problem in the universe, and nobody said it would, but income splitting will help most two-parent homes. Unless people are in the same tax brackets as their spouses, or their family does not pay taxes at all, they will benefit from income splitting. Single parents will benefit from the other measures in our family tax program.
I am proud to keep this election promise as an important measure to bring justice and fairness to all families.
Mental Health January 29th, 2015
Mr. Speaker, many people who are living with a mental illness report that the negative stereotypes about mental illness cause them more suffering than the illness itself. As a result, two-thirds of those suffering from mental illness are too afraid to seek the help they need.
Mental illness affects people of all ages and from all walks of life. It can take many forms, including depression, anxiety and suicidal tendencies. The stigma is a key barrier that stops people from seeking help.
Stigma has surrounded many diseases in the past. Imagine somebody feeling ashamed for having cancer or scorning people with cancer. However, concerted efforts to confront these attitudes resulted in a change for the better around these physical diseases, including better treatment, more funding for research and greater understanding from family, friends and colleagues.
The goal is to achieve the same level of acceptance and understanding regarding mental illness. Something as simple as being nice can save a life. Let us talk about mental illness.