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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

Canadian Museum of History Act June 14th, 2013

Mr. Speaker, there have been criticisms that this is reducing the scope of the museum because it is changing the name to the Canadian Museum of History. That is actually unfounded. Anyone who reads the act would see that it does not in fact reduce the scope. Anyone who talks with current museum management, who are pleased with this change, would see that management is excited because they get to expand the scope of the museum.

As I said in my speech, it would not just expand and update the museum itself; it would expand the audience, the number of people who could benefit from this.

We are making a shift in focus because Canadians want to be more aware of our history. The more aware of it that they are, the more proud we will be of it.

Canadian Museum of History Act June 14th, 2013

Mr. Speaker, in addition to helping the museum share its collection with large and small museums all across the country, we are helping provincial governments and networks of museums share within their own provinces as well.

Yes, we do live in the real world where things cost money. If we do not plant potatoes, it does not matter how hungry we are, we do not get to harvest the potatoes.

Decisions have to be made. We have made a commitment to balance the budget. However, at the same time, we can balance budgets and share this great treasure with all Canadians, not just the ones who have the privilege to come to Ottawa.

Canadian Museum of History Act June 14th, 2013

Mr. Speaker, today in Canada an entire generation of Canadians are largely unaware of our history. In fact, only 40% of Canadians could pass a citizenship exam that tests the general knowledge of Canadian history. But Canadians want to know more about our shared history. They recognize that a better understanding of our history gives us a better understanding of who we are. It gives us a common purpose and inspires us to rise to our full potential as a people.

That is why last fall we introduced Bill C-49, which would create the new Canadian museum of history. It would be a national institution that tells the story and stories of Canada. This museum would build on the Canadian Museum of Civilization's reputation and popularity to create a new museum that would showcase our achievements as a nation.

The vast majority of Canadians, including museum and historical associations, historians and professors, are thrilled with the change. A few people though, mostly partisan elitists, are concerned. They think that it is too Canada-centric. It is okay to be humble, but the days of government-sponsored self-loathing are gone. Canadians are proud to be humble, so to speak, but we are getting sick and tired of being told by some academic or government official that being Canadian is something that must be apologized for. Our history and our heritage is not something that needs to be swept under the rug.

Of course, our country has only been around under Confederation for almost 150 years and that is nothing in the scheme of things when compared to all of civilization. For that reason there are some people who are worried that changing the Canadian Museum of Civilization to the Canadian museum of history would be one giant leap backward, a massive reduction of scope of the subject matter of our national museum. Of course, they missed the fact that it would be the Canadian museum of history and not the museum of Canadian history.

Most people who are worried about it belong to a handful of partisan radicals who actually give credence to the fact that the Prime Minister and his Conservatives are hell-bent on intentionally destroying the country. It makes me feel like this oversight is caused by a slight case of dyslexia. We understand that our history does not begin in 1867, that Canadian history is a shared history and that our present is also shared with the rest of world, the rest of civilization. Canada is made up of peoples and cultures from all around the world.

The name change and mandate change to the museum would not be done at the expense of civilization or all that the current museum has to offer. Let me read the mandate of the new museum according to the legislation:

The purpose of the Canadian Museum of History is to enhance Canadians’ knowledge, understanding and appreciation of events, experiences, people and objects that reflect and have shaped Canada’s history and identity, and also to enhance their awareness of world history and cultures.

There is nothing wrong with understanding all of world history and civilization. In fact, the only way to fully understand Canadian history and its current culture is to better understand world history and civilization, but we think it is high time that we do so from a Canadian perspective. Indeed, I would argue that we cannot fully understand world history and civilization without some sort of perspective by which to examine it. What better perspective than the Canadian perspective?

Before someone gets all upset and calls me ethnocentric, I am not saying that the Canadian perspective is the best perspective. Well maybe I am, but even if we, for the sake of argument, say that all perspectives and all aspects are equal, and even if the Canadian perspective is not the best perspective, it is after all, our perspective.

Now let me address the main criticism to changing and updating the museum. Ironically, this main criticism is a politically motivated criticism. It is ironic because the criticism is that the driving force behind this change is politically motivated, that in some way it is designed to promote the Conservative Party of Canada. It is the same criticism that came with our government's decision to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812, as if the Conservative Party fought and won that war all by ourselves.

It is the same criticism that came with restoring “royal” to the air force and navy. The same criticism that came with not just restoring the funds and updating the equipment for the armed forces, but also restoring the respect it deserves; that somehow this is all politically motivated.

Perhaps this argument could hold some water if the Conservative Party really was responsible for all our military victories, our royal heritage and all of Canadian history. That would be quite a coup if we could lay claim to all of Canadian history, but we cannot. Canadian history and all its achievements belong to the Canadian people. The notion that the long overdue acceptance and even embracing of our history, including our nation-building military history, is a Conservative political stunt is not only insulting to this government and the millions of people across the country who elected us but to all Canadians, regardless of political stripe, and to those generations of Canadians who made the great, even epic sacrifices to build this great nation.

These are the stories that need to be told over and over, not just to young and old, new or fifth-generation Canadians. Ours is a story made up of stories worth telling the world and, without a doubt, the world wants to hear it.

Not only is this current museum outdated, it is also out of reach for most Canadians. My mother immigrated to Canada when she was two years old in 1954. Please do not do the math; I assure members she is only 30 years old. In the almost 60 years that she has been in the country she has never been to Ottawa. She has never been to that magnificent museum across the river. This will be even more tragic once that museum goes through its transformation. Thanks to the partnership program included in its mandate, the museum could now come to her. The new museum would sign partnership agreements with museums large and small all across the country. As partners, these local museums would have access to the new museum's collection, allowing them to provide greater opportunities for Canadians to learn more about our history.

In committee we were told by some experts that this move to bring the museum to the country would be a mistake because some artifacts are just too important for the general public. We were told that a focus on updating exhibits is not important, even though the current Canada Hall exhibit ends in the 1970s and only starts with the European contact with North America. However, they said that as long as a handful of academics could do their research in some back hall, all would be well.

We are told that this updating of the exhibits and sharing them with the rest of the country was “popularizing” history. Of course history is not caused by a few famous individuals but is the interplay of every human being who has ever lived.

Wolfe and Montcalm were not the only people on the Plains of Abraham. That is exactly why this partnership program would flow in both directions. Not only would local museums like the Galt Museum in Lethbridge would be able to display exhibits from the national museum, but the Galt Museum, the Raymond Museum and the Gem of the West in Coaldale would be able to share their records, stories and artifacts with the rest of the country and even the world by sharing their materials with the Canadian museum of history here in the capital. It is a wonderful idea. It is a unifying, nation-building idea. In that sense, one may be able to say the move is political. However, one cannot say it is partisan.

To be clear, the vast majority of Canadians are happy with this move. The vast majority of museum curators and historical associations are happy with the change. The president of the current Canadian Museum of Civilization is delighted with the decision.

Our government understands that the key to building a better future is found in a better understanding of our past. With the creation of the new Canadian museum of history, we would be building a modern, national infrastructure to help Canadians discover, understand and share our nation's proud history. That is why today I ask all members of this House to support Bill C-49, which would establish the Canadian museum of history.

I would ask my francophone colleagues to speak slowly and clearly if they ask questions in French because I do not have access to the interpretation right now. However, I can understand them if they speak clearly and slowly.

Cancer Survivor Day June 12th, 2013

Mr. Speaker, June 2 was Cancer Survivor Day. I am a cancer survivor, but rest assured that I am not here to pay tribute to myself. I am here to honour those unsung heroes in the lives of most who endure this terrible disease. I am talking about the loved ones, the mothers, fathers, siblings, and friends, who must pray and wait as they support us through our trial.

For many of us, there is that certain someone, our significant other, our husbands or wives, who suffer as we suffer but never leave our side. Though their love helps us more than they will ever know, sometimes they feel helpless but never hopeless. They never complain or think of themselves.

When we honour a victim or congratulate a survivor, please remember the loved ones who suffered with them.

On behalf of cancer survivors, we thank our loved ones, especially our spouses, in my case my darling wife, who in my darkest hour gave me every reason to live.

First Nations Elections Act June 11th, 2013

Mr. Speaker, I would definitely like a holistic approach where every first nation in Canada would come together with Canada and with each other to find one big, holistic solution. Maybe someday that will come. It might be at the second coming. However, in the meantime, we have to get something done to allow each first nation to determine its own path while we are waiting for this great day.

First Nations Elections Act June 11th, 2013

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the question, because that is at the base of a fundamental misunderstanding of the difference between a right and a guarantee. As much as we would like to provide guarantees for everyone to have a Mercedes and a three-storey house, we cannot always do that. Rights are the pre-condition to acquiring whatever people want guaranteed.

As with the bill on matrimonial housing rights, a lot of the concerns were that the women involved did not have the money necessary to buy the house or go to court or whatever. That was a shortcoming of the bill. However, it provided the necessary framework so that they could start with those things.

We have to start by giving first nations the right to determine a legitimate self-government. Those are the pre-conditions for accomplishing the other things, the things some of our opponents find lacking in this bill. That is because that is not what this bill is about. The bill would set the framework and allow first nations to start solving those problems, as is necessary for anyone who wants to self-govern.

First Nations Elections Act June 11th, 2013

Mr. Speaker, as I said, under the Indian Act, any appeals on elections go directly to the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs. This bill would change that so that appeals would go to the courts

I do not know what the member thinks, but I consider the court system in Canada an independent process of appeal.

First Nations Elections Act June 11th, 2013

Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time this night with the member for Peace River.

I am very happy to have the privilege of speaking in favour of Bill S-6 tonight. As with most of our legislation, some of the main criticisms of this bill have to do with myriad problems this bill neither solves nor addresses. The irony, of course, is that those bills that avoid this criticism are criticized for addressing too much and receive the despised label of omnibus bill. I will save the opposition a bit of time and point out what the bill would not do.

This bill would not ensure good government in the first nations that adopt it. It would not guarantee that tribal councils and chiefs elected under this system will be wise. It would not, on its own, solve poverty or racism or ensure that every person under the act would receive a good education. It would not guarantee the independence and prosperity of those first nations that adopt it. No single bill can do all of these things on its own.

This bill would, however, provide a necessary framework to allow for good government, the selection of wise leaders, the enactment of just laws and the increase in independence and prosperity for those first nations whose electoral systems are still governed by the Indian Act.

Today there are 617 first nations in Canada. Thirty-six are self-governing and hold elections according to their own self-government agreements. There are 343 first nations that select their leaders under their own community-based systems, most of which have a specific election code developed within and by the first nation itself. Unfortunately, the 238 first nations that still hold elections under the Indian Act have been held back from achieving their full potential because of the limitations of the Indian Act's election system.

This system was created at a time when the federal government had no intention of allowing first nations to have any real sense of self-governance and therefore did not need to provide conditions that ensured fairness, stability or legitimacy. Some of the weaknesses in this old election system have led to leadership with low credibility and high instability and such problems as having only two-year terms of office, a loose nomination system, a mail-in ballot system that is open to abuse and no defined offences or penalties relating to election fraud.

Virtually no first nations are satisfied with the current system, but this bill gives first nations three options to choose from.

The communities that hold their elections under the Indian Act have the following choices.

The first option is self-government, the ideal scenario, but that goes far beyond simply determining their own election system. The second choice is to develop a community election code. Unfortunately, due to varying capacity, not all first nations are in a position to take advantage of either of the first two options. That leaves them with the third option, which is to simply carry on operating under the Indian Act system, complete with its long list of problems. The third option is not really an option at all, and many first nations are frustrated.

That is why we need this bill, which gives these communities a third viable option if they cannot choose one of the first two options.

The first nations elections act would allow first nations currently operating under the Indian Act to hold elections under a legislated system that would be strong, modern and comparable to municipal, federal and provincial government election systems.

First nations have been calling for this solution for many years. They even made recommendations advocating such legislation. Those recommendations form the foundation of this bill.

Bill S-6 would provide a reliable, consistent, modern approach to elections in first nation communities that would increase the transparency, legitimacy and stability of their governments, which is a necessary precondition of independence and prosperity.

The first important aspect of this legislation is that first nations could opt in. They could choose to use the system.

It is not mandatory.

For those first nations that did opt in, the band council would now have four-year mandates instead of two. This would go a long way toward improving political stability in their communities and would foster a better climate for economic development and long-term investment.

The bill would also tighten up the nomination process. Right now, many tribal elections have literally hundreds of people running for a 12-member council, making the election results, in many cases, statistically arbitrary. This comes from the fact that one person can sign dozens of nominations. He or she does not have to be choosy when nominating candidates.

Furthermore, a single person can run for chief, tribal council and any other position available at the same time. This legislation would restrict the number of candidates any one person could nominate and would allow a given candidate to run in only one position in any given election.

Bill S-6 would also remove the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs from the elections appeals process. Just as in provincial and federal elections, the power to set aside elections and to appeal those decisions would rest with the courts, where it belongs. This is a judicial matter and should not be in the hands of a legislator or the executive branch.

Finally, believe it or not, under the current system, things such as electoral fraud, ballot-box stuffing, buying and selling of mail-in ballots, bribes, et cetera, are not expressly forbidden. The bill would finally prohibit specific offences and would attach definite penalties for corrupt activities that interfered with the electoral process.

Anyone who engages in those kinds of activities will no longer be able to get away with it. They will be forced to face the consequences of their actions.

The first nations elections act would enable first nations communities, if they chose, to put in place a more reliable, consistent and legitimate system of elections. This would make it possible for members of these first nations communities to add transparent, accountable and effective chiefs and councillors as part of a more stable, respectable and reliable government. This would lead to confidence in government and in the community itself. It would inspire community members and outside investors to invest in these communities and to even bring their businesses and their business operations to these communities, which would bring about real, measurable benefits to first nations people, such as jobs, high-paying jobs, overall prosperity and higher tax revenue. That, in turn, would help pay for infrastructure, which would increase jobs, high-paying jobs, overall prosperity and higher tax revenue, which in turn would help pay for infrastructure. The cycle would go on. It would also pay for education, the arts and our cherished social programs.

The key to realizing these benefits is political stability and predictability, but most important, political legitimacy. Bill S-6, by providing the necessary framework, would make it possible.

In addition to our federal and provincial electoral systems, most of us in the House live in communities in which the political conditions for economic prosperity are taken for granted. So imbedded are these characteristics in our local governments and the electoral systems of those jurisdictions that we do not even notice them. We do not appreciate the extent to which they are transparent, accountable and legitimate and therefore make us ready to seize economic opportunities.

Unfortunately, not all first nation communities enjoy similar political conditions and therefore cannot seize their economic opportunities and seize control of their own lives.

It is time that changes. It is time for first nation elections to be reformed, and it is time to provide the legislative framework that would allow their governments to truly foster the conditions necessary to chase away corruption and attract prosperity.

I urge all of my hon. colleagues to vote in favour of Bill S-6 and in favour of an open, transparent, and accountable government for all Canadians.

Family Homes on Reserves and Matrimonial Interests or Rights Act June 4th, 2013

Mr. Speaker, we talk about the consultations and our system of Parliament. Every time an election is called or Parliament is prorogued, we reset the clock on all legislation. However, it does not erase the consultations conducted in the past nor our ability to refer to, think about and make wise decisions based on those.

As I said in my speech, as important as this process is, ultimately something must be done. We cannot wait until every problem is resolved, while women and children wait in the cold. This bill does not stop problems that have not been addressed from being solved in the future, but it does address a problem that is long overdue from being resolved.

Family Homes on Reserves and Matrimonial Interests or Rights Act June 4th, 2013

Mr. Speaker, my colleague answered some of the question in posing it and I answered some of it in my speech, although I did skip over a lot of the consultation process because I wanted to focus on the results. However, the process of consultation has been included. Over 103 consultation sessions were held in 76 sites across Canada with many different associations.

Furthermore, the legislation does not put an end to the ability of any of the first nations to include their own matrimonial laws, as long as they are consistent with the Constitution and the Charter of Rights of Canada.