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Crucial Fact

  • 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

Petitions February 10th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I am presenting a petition signed by Albertans who call upon the Government of Canada to increase drinking and driving offences sentences to vehicular manslaughter and other increases and to consider drunk driving a more serious offence.

Navigation Restrictions February 5th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I want the record to show that we wish Don Cherry a happy 80th birthday.

Business of Supply December 9th, 2013

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the historical context, which demonstrates the trend that occurs if we do not carefully look at how the government increases its take from people. It has been shown through experience that when that is done, it hurts the economy. By doing even more than has already been done, it would jump from 3.6% of earnings. Theoretically, that should stay the same throughout the years, because it is compared with the average income. The fact is that we have had to triple it over the years, and now are talking about doing it again.

We can look around the world and see the countries that have tried to tax, borrow, and spend their way out of all their financial problems. We can see those that leave some money in people's own pockets to resolve their problems. Historically and today, the second model has proven to be far more effective. That is why we are opposed to the motion today.

Business of Supply December 9th, 2013

Mr. Speaker, whatever the percentage of people who do and do not participate in RRSPs, the PRPPs are for another demographic. I was self-employed for most of my career. A lot of my friends and family and people I have worked with have been self-employed and have not had the opportunity to invest with tax deductions, as people with RRSPs do. This would give them that opportunity.

The voluntary nature of any investment program is not just wise; it is a matter of principle that people should be able to decide how to manage their own affairs and how to prepare for their own futures.

Business of Supply December 9th, 2013

Mr. Speaker, throughout my speech, I talked about the fact that now is not the time. I never said that there is going to be a time when we want to radically increase Canada pension plan contributions.

It is not just a matter of GDP. It is a matter of the economic climate of the country and of the world. If at some future point future governments and future populations feel that it is time to start reducing people's take-home pay, because they feel that it would be a good investment, and they want it done through the government instead of through their own private plans, that will be up to them. However, right now, we are focused on today's economy, and we will continue to be.

Business of Supply December 9th, 2013

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have this opportunity to address the motion before us today.

The hon. members of the House may differ on solutions, but I am sure we agree that we need to look, continuously, for ways to improve Canada's retirement income system. That does not just mean only looking at the government income system, but for ways, in general, that Canadians can have a comfortable and dignified retirement.

Canada's seniors deserve our gratitude and support. Our government recognizes they have worked hard to build a better country for future generations. Let me assure the hon. members that Canada's retirement system is one that has served Canadians well. Indeed, we have one of the strongest in the world.

Canada's retirement income system has been recognized by expert groups, like the OECD, as a model that succeeds in reducing poverty among Canadian seniors and provided high levels of income replacement to retired Canadians.

Taken together, our system is based on a balanced mix of public and private responsibility, as well as compulsory and voluntary vehicles that provide a basic minimum benefit for Canadians, ensure a basic level of earnings replacement for working Canadians and offer additional opportunities for voluntary retirement saving.

Our system both supports and draws upon the strength of our sound financial sector.

In fact, Canada's financial sector remains strong. The World Economic Forum has ranked our banking system as the soundest in the world for the sixth year in a row. In addition, Canada is rightfully recognized for the responsible management of our economic and financial sectors. It is therefore not surprising that Canada continues to have the highest credit ratings, with continued upside forecasts, according to all the main rating agencies. Canada is the only G7 country with that status. We are coming to grips with the debt and we are on track to balance the budget in 2015.

While the NDP and the Liberals continue to put forward dangerous spending plans, our government is reducing expenses and making the tough economic decisions that will contribute to Canada's long-term prosperity and economic growth. Even more importantly, our pension scheme is also one of our economic objectives for jobs and growth.

The success of this model rests on three solid pillars. The first comprises of old age security and guaranteed income supplement program which provide a basic minimum income for seniors. The second pillar is the Canada pension plan and the Quebec pension plan. The third pillar provides tax-assisted private savings opportunities to help and encourage Canadians to accumulate additional savings for retirement.

A couple of weeks ago I received a letter from a constituent who had just turned 65. She was unhappy about the state of retirement. Her request was not that we increase pension fees and government pension plans. She knew she could not turn back the clock, but said that if she could, she would have governments encourage people to take care of more of their retirement through private opportunities and would encourage us to encourage young people today to do that.

In the rest of my time today, I would like to concentrate on the strengths of the CPP and illustrate why the NDP plan to expand the CPP is just not in the best interests of Canadian workers or employers.

Let me begin with a look at our current situation. The CPP is a mandatory public defined benefit pension plan and provides a basic level of earnings replacement for all Canadian workers. It provides a defined benefit in retirement based on an individual's career earnings as well as ancillary benefits like survivor benefits. They are financed by employer and employee contributions, the contribution rate being 9.9% of earnings shared equally between employees and employers.

Operating at arm's-length from government, the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board is responsible for prudently investing CPP contributions to serve the best interests of CPP contributors and beneficiaries.

The CPPIB is one of world's largest pension funds. On December 31, 2012, its net assets were $172.6 billion. With prudent management of the fund for the benefit of current and future members, the CPPIB invests around the world. Indeed, its mandate is to invest in the best interests of contributors and beneficiaries.

That is why it is important for the CPPIB to be diversified in its exposure to risk. This includes greater diversification worldwide, ensuring that the revenue from overseas investments comes back to Canada.

Our government is committed to the healthy management and sustainability of the Canada pension plan and to strengthen it as much as possible. For example, at the moment, only Canadians can sit on the CPPIB's 12-member board of directors. At this stage in its development, the board of directors would benefit from the contribution of foreign talent.

That is why economic action plan 2013 announced that our government would consult with provinces on permitting a limited number of qualified persons who are not resident in Canada to serve on the board of directors of the CPPIB. Permitting a limited number of qualified non-residents to sit on the board of directors would enable the board to provide the most effective oversight of the CPPIB's activities in the context of a rapidly changing global economy.

This makes sense when considering how important it is that the CPP be diversified in terms of risk exposure and not be exclusively localized to the Canadian economy. This is especially prudent in our current expansion into trade throughout the world.

Let me now turn to the ongoing issue of expanding the CPP to ensure its future sustainability.

To begin, any expansion would require the support of two-thirds of the provinces representing two-thirds of the Canadian population, as well as the federal government. Two-thirds of the provinces plus two-thirds of the Canadian population and the federal government all have to agree on the expansion.

At the meetings of the federal, provincial, and territorial finance ministers in December 2010, 2011, and again in 2012, there was no such agreement on a potential expansion. We could talk about it and we could pass a motion on it, but we would not be able to do it anyway if we do not get that support.

Indeed, a number of provinces expressed concerns about the prospective economic impact of higher payroll taxes on workers and their employers at a time when the global economy remains uncertain. Our government shares the concerns of small businesses, employees, and certain provinces over increasing costs during a fragile global recovery.

The decision as to whether to expand the CPP must be made with Canada's economic situation and the best interests of Canadian workers and employers kept in mind. The motion that is being proposed by the hon. member for Victoria does not meet this threshold. Indeed, despite the fact that Canada's economic recovery remains fragile, the NDP continues to call for a radical plan to increase payroll tax, which would stunt our economic growth and kill up to 70,000 jobs. Clearly, now is not the time for such an expansion to the CPP. To be frank, this plan would be too risky.

However, if members do not believe me, we can listen to advice from those who would be directly affected by the CPP expansion.

Dan Kelly, president of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, puts forth the following, which the NDP might find interesting:

CFIB's research found that earlier proposals to increase CPP/QPP premiums would kill between 700,000 and 1.2 million person years of employment. ... Small firms believe that the economy cannot manage a significant increase in payroll taxes.

It does not make sense to want to add to the tax burden of employers and employees. It seems clear that we need to do more to properly study the impact of a CPP expansion and determine if that would be appropriate, considering the repercussions this would have on families, businesses and communities.

I would remind the hon. member that the idea of a CPP expansion is not a new one. However, not everyone agrees on this idea.

Let me make it clear again that consensus is critical before moving forward with CPP expansion. While analysis is important, expansion at this time does not have agreement from the majority of provinces. Allow me to provide hon. members with what provinces from across the country are saying on the issue of increasing CPP contribution rates at this time.

Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil has said:

We have some issues about what that will mean to small business owners in this province, and what is the impact on low-income Nova Scotians and Canadians.

Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall noted that the CPP expansion would not be something they would support at this time, saying, “We're 'No for now'. ... Now's not the time for contribution changes or increases”.

There is more. The British Columbia finance department spokesperson, Jamie Edwardson, said: “B.C. believes pension reforms should not be undertaken before the economy has recovered from the impacts of the recent recession”.

Our government shares these concerns. We believe that before new spending initiatives are contemplated, the provincial, territorial, and federal governments should get their respective fiscal situations in order. Rather than supporting an initiative that does not have the necessary support to proceed, the NDP should support the PRPPs, something all provinces have committed to implement.

While the NDP has been focusing on expanding the CPP, it may not have noticed that an estimated 60% of Canadians do not have access to a workplace pension plan. This is precisely why Canada's finance ministers decided to prioritize the PRPP framework over other options, such as expanding the CPP. It was because it was considered the most effective and targeted way to address the lack of retirement savings among modest- and middle-income individuals, who make up the vast majority of the population of the country.

PRPPs will significantly help small and medium-sized businesses and their employees, who until now have not had access to a large-scale, low-cost private pension option. By pooling pension savings, these new plans will be low cost, as the administration costs will be spread over a large group of people.

Despite the consensus among provincial finance ministers, the NDP did not support these private retirement pension plans. Despite what it wants Canadians to believe, it clearly does not support actual measures that will strengthen Canada's retirement income system. Indeed, when given the chance to support PRPPs, New Democrats voted against our government's legislation, the very legislation that established the federal framework for PRPPs. Rather than support actual reform, they are content to advance proposals that pose risks to Canadians and to Canada's economic recovery.

As Laura Jones of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business points out:

A mandatory CPP increase...is a bad idea. An increase in the CPP tax takes more money out of employees' and employers' pockets. Where will the money come from? Employees may be tempted to lower contributions to their RRSPs, or reduce their mortgage payments. ... Worse still, small businesses report that a mandatory CPP increase would force many to lower wages and even reduce their workforce.

That is the ultimate problem, not just with this suggestion but with a lot of the economic suggestions from the NDP. It fails to take into account that all money has to come from somewhere. We would like to promise everyone a loaf of bread, but if the bakers are standing in line for their free loaf, we might have some empty shelves.

At the end of the day, we have to find a way to pay for all these things, and right now we believe that the more money in Canadians' pockets, the better. More money in employees' pockets and more money in employers' pockets ultimately will not just help the economy today, but will help the economy in the future, including our future retirement.

Clearly, Canadian families cannot afford a drastic expansion of CPP, which would cost them even more. They cannot afford that, nor can small business owners, who could be faced with increased payroll taxes.

As a prudent and responsible government, we share the concerns of small business owners and employees who simply cannot afford such a proposal.

Our government has gone to great lengths to ensure that Canada is in an enviable fiscal position. However, as we have said repeatedly, we are not out of the woods yet. Global demand has softened, and the prices of many Canadian exports, particularly resources, are down. Furthermore, the sovereign debt crisis in the euro area continues to weigh on consumer and business confidence, and south of the border, a slow recovery poses a significant threat to the Canadian economy.

While gains in jobs are being made, they are modest, and there are still too many Canadians who are unemployed. That is why our government will remain squarely focused on job creation and economic growth. That will remain our priority.

We all want a stronger retirement system. However, we must not make changes that could have detrimental effects on our fragile economy today and thereby a devastating impact on today's retirement system and the retirement system of the future. There is no retirement plan if there is no job.

Our economic action plan is working. The unemployment level is at the lowest level since December 2008, and just last week it was announced that 21,600 net new jobs were created in the month of November. That is well over a million new jobs since the lowest level of the recession in December 2008. How are we doing this? It is by keeping taxes low and implementing positive job creating measures.

An expansion of the CPP would increase payroll taxes, reduce wages, and kill jobs. In a recent survey by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, 65% of businesses said that they would freeze or cut salaries if CPP were increased, 48% said they would reduce investments in their businesses, and 42% said they would decrease the number of employees. These are important and concerning numbers.

Even for places in my own riding, a modest increase in CPP would result in more money being taken out of the pockets of employees and would force employers to cut jobs, hours, and wages.

Instead, our government has a prudent and responsible plan. We will not proceed without thinking about the possible serious economic impact of such an expansion.

We will continue to try to identify all the factors that could help us better understand the possibilities and risks associated with the CPP expansion. The Minister of Finance will discuss this with his provincial and territorial counterparts at next weeks' meeting.

This is a complex issue that will have real consequences for Canadians. We need to fully understand the economic framework in which such an expansion would take place.

The Canada pension plan is sustainable as it is at its current contribution rate, and while the NDP continues proposing its radical economic schemes, our focus must and will continue to be sustainability and long-term manageability of Canadians' retirement system, including jobs today.

Simply put, with the economic recovery still fragile, we do not believe that now is the time to increase costs on workers and employers. To do so would benefit no one.

Lac-Mégantic December 9th, 2013

Mr. Speaker, months after the Lac-Mégantic tragedy, our government continues to take practical measures to help those affected. For residents, this tragedy is much more than a newspaper headline. It still affects their daily lives.

Can my colleague from Mégantic—L'Érable, the hon. Minister of International Development and Minister for La Francophonie, give us an update on the efforts that our government is making to help Lac-Mégantic?

Public Service of Canada November 28th, 2013

Mr. Speaker, next week is the first week of December. Christmas is coming. The spirit of Christmas carries an almost tangible feeling of hope and goodwill. Many Canadians mark this spirit with festivities and decorations, something that the President of the Treasury Board has recently encouraged public service employees to do. Could the President of the Treasury Board please tell us more about this and share the government's position on the spirit of the holidays?

Indian Act Amendment and Replacement Act November 18th, 2013

Mr. Speaker, I am honoured and happy to rise today to support the hon. member for Desnethé—Missinippi—Churchill River in his laudable efforts to engage the House in this very timely and historical debate on the Indian Act of 1876. This debate is long overdue.

We proudly and rightly declare that Canada stands for truth, justice, freedom, equality, democracy, independence, and prosperity, but the continued plight of the institutionalized inequality of the first nations people is our great hypocrisy. We cannot bask in our understanding of constitutions and the principles of justice and freedom and celebrate our heritage of liberty and prosperity, and be justified to ignore the continuing plight of those who live in cramped third-world conditions, those who live on our doorsteps, our neighbours.

This plight is not simply the result of past prejudices and abuses. It is not simply a result of insufficient education. There continues to be institutionalized, legally mandated inequality and artificial limitations that shackle first nations.

Whatever the various solutions may be for the various first nations to achieve full sovereignty as nations, we cannot begin to hope for self-determination if the individuals living on reserves are not allowed the same freedoms, which are necessary for self-reliance, that are taken for granted by all other law-abiding Canadians. That is why we must support Bill C-428, an act to amend the Indian Act, which includes the repeal of many of the act's most archaic and oppressive provisions.

The Indian Act of 1876 was derived from the 1857 civilization of Indian tribes act and the culmination of other acts and proclamations before that date. The 1857 legislation was enacted by the British colonial government and declared that Indians who were “sufficiently advanced” education-wise, or “capable of managing his own affairs”, would be enfranchised. That is, they would be given the vote. In essence, the law said that if an Indian man learned to read and was willing to sign a pledge to live as a white, he was allowed to vote, own property and serve on juries, but if he did so, he would lose all his aboriginal rights. Understandably, very few first nations peoples chose to surrender their heritage and ancestry.

The 1867 British North America Act transferred responsibility of Canada's first nations from the British to the new Canadian federal government in Ottawa. At that time Canada had sole authority to negotiate treaties with the Indians and to purchase their land. At the same time, the Canadian government was supposed to shepherding the first nations' best interests. It was and is an inherently flawed principle, open to huge conflicts of interest, and has led to many abuses.

The Indian Act of 1876 incorporated the earlier colonial legislation and essentially made status Indians wards of the Crown, and the Crown was able to completely regulate their lives. Restrictions ranged from rules about how they would elect leaders, how their children would be educated, how their estates would be dealt with after death and how they would engage in commerce. Essentially, it did not allow them to engage in commerce. First nations were allowed virtually no self-governing powers, and it was not just the first nations, individuals had no self-governing powers.

We would hope that we as a nation would have advanced sufficiently to realize the fallacy and futility of those earlier paternalistic documents. I suspect that we do recognize the injustices of the Indian Act, but we have failed to put aside our pride and our politics. We are too worried about who is right and who will get the credit, when we should be committed to what is right and ensuring our fellow countrymen get the quality of life and dignity enjoyed by most Canadians.

Thanks to the hon. member for Desnethé—Missinippi—Churchill River, who has introduced Bill C-428, we are now confronting the more archaic and even absurd aspects of the original legislation, which are still in the Indian Act.

A striking example of those absurdities is the matter of sale of produce from the land farmed by first nations. First nations people are people of the land. They farm, grow grain and produce, have dairy farms, cattle herds, and apple, pear and peach orchards, among many other crops and produce. They have a respect for the earth and the bounty that derives from it. It is the very essence of their ancient and revered culture, yet the Indian Act makes a mockery of that respect and well-earned bounty.

Any other Canadian takes it for granted that we have the right to the fruits of our labour and to sell, barter, or exchange as we see fit. However, to this day, the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs must approve all land transfers. Additionally, if a first nation person sells, barters, exchanges, gives, or otherwise disposes of cattle or other animals; grain or hay, whether wild or cultivated; root crops; or other products from any reserve in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, or Alberta to anyone other than a member of their own band, the superintendent must approve that transaction in writing. This order can be revoked or reinstated to any band at any time by the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs. Furthermore, if a first nation person violates this order, he or she is deemed guilty of an offence. It is shameful to believe that we have allowed an effective embargo on the fruits of honest labour.

As proposed by the member for Desnethé—Missinippi—Churchill River, Bill C-428 would remove this provision, which prohibits first nations from selling their own goods and agricultural products produced on reserve to non-band members. We must repeal this section of the legislation. Doing so would enable first nation communities to become more productive and self-sustaining contributors to their own long-term wealth and that of their neighbouring non-aboriginal communities.

I live next door to the Blood reserve. A lot of people in southern Alberta see the poverty on the reserve and the poverty of many first nation people who have tried to leave the reserve. Some of them wonder why they do not just work their own land. In fact, I hear that all the time. They ask why they do not work their own land, because they have great agricultural land and great oil reserves. They do not realize that these people do not have the legal right to run a business as we have the right to run a business. They do not have the legal right to sell their produce as they see fit, as every other Canadian does.

Self-respect and self-worth derive in large measure from the ability to self-actualize as individuals and as a people. It is the potential to grow and to reach our goals that makes Canada a wondrous land to call home. It is the right time to right the wrongs that are inherent in the Indian Act. We must repeal the provision that forbids the sale of apples and pears by first nations to any and all Canadians. I know that in this right-minded House, it cannot be seen in any other way.

This is just one of the legally entrenched injustices that Bill C-428 would overturn. Besides amending the provision against selling produce, it includes the removal of any mention of and requirement for residential schools. We have apologized for residential schools, but that apology is a little hollow if it continues to be the law of the land in actual form, even though it is not practised. A lot of talk against the bill has been that it does not do enough or that it does not have unanimous support. It has been suggested that we should not even attempt to revise the Indian Act nation by nation, rather we have to wait until every first nation across the country is on board. However, to wait for unanimous support is similar to saying that all of our international affairs, treaties and free trade agreements have to cease until we can get one overarching international trade agreement and treaty that applies to every country in the world.

I would say that this is the time when we must move forward. We cannot wait and sacrifice those who suffer on the altar of perfection and unanimity. We must move forward, and this is a great first step.

Prostitution November 6th, 2013

Mr. Speaker, last weekend Conservative delegates overwhelmingly supported a resolution that rejects the normalization of prostitution and declares that human beings are not objects to be enslaved, bought and sold.

Prostitution is a form of violence and sexual subordination. It is demeaning and dehumanizing. No amount of money can justify reducing a woman to a mere object of sexual pleasure. Any society that accepts this exploitation of women as legitimate can never hope to eradicate gender inequality and violence against women.

Our sons need to know that it is not manly to objectify women in any way, and our daughters need to know that they are treasured far above rubies and can never be for sale. Buying sex is not okay. It should be criminal and we should go after the johns and pimps who drive this human market.