House of Commons photo

Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was liberal.

Last in Parliament October 2019, as Conservative MP for Battle River—Crowfoot (Alberta)

Won his last election, in 2015, with 81% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Young Offenders Act February 28th, 2001

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-289, an act to amend the Young Offenders Act (public safety).

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to introduce my first private member's bill. The bill seeks to make the protection of society the first and guiding principle of the Young Offenders Act.

In the name of public safety, the bill allows for the publishing of all names of young violent offenders. It also seeks to change the minimum age of criminality from 12 to 10 years of age. It provides young people, who at this tender age get mixed up in crime, with the opportunity for guidance and rehabilitation that is necessary for them to get back on track.

In June 1997 the justice minister promised to make amending the Young Offenders Act a top priority. That was almost four years ago and nothing has been done. There have been a number of futile attempts but we are still saddled with what the minister, in her own words, calls “easily the most unpopular federal bill”.

I ask for all members to help with the bill for the sake of our children and grandchildren.

Agriculture February 13th, 2001

Mr. Speaker, it is indeed a privilege to be in the House tonight to speak on behalf of farmers in the west and to speak on behalf a sector that is hurting, a sector that is diminishing and disappearing. We are here tonight because we believe that we can make changes. We have not totally given up hope. We believe that there is still a place for the family farm in western Canada and throughout Canada.

I realize, Mr. Speaker, that you are a sporting enthusiast. We may be all having a little difficulty this evening staying awake. It is 12.45 p.m. here and 9.45 p.m. in Alberta.

As a new member of parliament, I have already given my response to the throne speech. Tomorrow I will give a speech with regard to the young offenders legislation. I was not aware that I was going to give a speech on agriculture tonight, but I was told that if I waited until midnight I might find a opening. I am glad I did.

This little illustration I am about to tell the House is about a football game in 1929. California was leading Georgia Tech by a score of seven to two. The quarterback went up to the line and shouted for the ball. When the centre passed the ball to the quarterback he turned and handed the ball to a running back by the name of Roy Regals. Roy Regals took the ball, ran into the line and bumped up against his tackles and his guards and got turned around. He started running one way. Then he started running another way. Pretty soon he found himself running in the wrong direction. As he ran the wrong way the crowd hollered “no, no, no” but Roy thought they were hollering “go, go, go”. He continued to run in the wrong direction.

California had a player by the name of Benny Lam. Benny Lam took after the running back and he tried to run him down. He caught him at the five yard line. He explained to his running back that he was running in the wrong direction. Georgia Tech tried to kick the ball from its end zone and get out of trouble. When they kicked it, it was blocked. The opposing team fell on it and won the football game.

I believe we have a government very similar to the player who was running in the wrong direction, putting out all the effort to get a job done and working hard to see that agriculture and many other sectors that are in dire straits get help. However the government is running in the wrong direction.

We have stood for years and decades in the House to tell the government that there were troubles coming in the agricultural sector which needed to be addressed. They put it on hold. Everything was continually put on hold.

This past fall we travelled throughout the constituency of Crowfoot, a constituency that is dependent on agriculture and whose lifeblood is agriculture. We saw communities that are dependent on farming, grain and cattle. We were told that they would not make it.

I have travelled through many small towns in this past election campaign and found many more doors locked on main street than opened. When we talk to businessmen, whether in Drumheller, Stetler, Hannah, Camrose or Killum, they say that if we want to help their businesses we should help the farmers. If we want to keep the businesses alive, it will not come in any other way than by helping the agricultural sector.

We have looked at ways of helping agriculture. Government members looked at ways of helping agriculture. They were heading in the wrong direction. They came up with the AIDA program. They promised billions of dollars to farmers. They promised that there would be money coming and then gave us a paperwork nightmare. The other ones having nightmares are the accountants because they are the only ones who can fill out the forms. More farmers end up paying a higher accounting bill than they get in return from the government. We need to change the direction in which we are headed.

We have talked about the concerns of transportation. I am a farmer. I have farmed for 25 years. Farming is the only business which pays the end price for every purchase made. Farmers pay a retail price on everything they buy. Everything they sell is sold at a wholesale price. They also pay the freight both ways when they sell it. Before they sell any grain they pay for the freight when it leaves the farm gate. When they buy sprays and cover their input costs, they pay the final cost, which includes all those things.

We have talked about tax reform. Many of our members won the election on our stand on tax reform. One of our directors, a gentleman from Czar, Alberta, went to the United States and toured a John Deere factory. He spoke one evening with the president of John Deere. He told the president the problem with a lot of the equipment and machinery manufacturers was that they did not make equipment for the smaller farmer, the farmer who is looking for a $40,000 tractor.

He was told that when the iron comes out of the smelter and rolls out it is taxed. It goes to the next level and is taxed again. If all levels of accumulative taxes were removed from a $100,000 tractor, we would end up with a $40,000 tractor. The level of taxation on all input costs is too high.

The family farm is disappearing. I want to mention a true story about what happened during the election. I knocked on the door of farmhouse, walked in and went to the kitchen table. The farmer sat down with me and told me that he would not make it. He was 72 years old and he had no hope. In past years he had a glimmer of hope. He thought there would be hope, but he saw no hope coming from the government or anyone.

As he sat there he told me that he spent two hours on the Sunday previous looking for a .22 shell. He said that there was no hope for him. When I left that farmhouse, he was sitting, weeping at the table.

The only time I have ever stolen anything in my life is when I left the farmhouse that day. I went to his gun rack on the porch, took the rifle and put it in my pickup. It is a true story. It simply illustrates the degree of hopelessness people are feeling out there.

I have received phone calls and letters from people in my riding. I have had individuals sitting in my office, breaking down and weeping. A 58 year old farmer from Edgerton told me that on the night previous his 26 year old son who has one young child had come in to his home and had told him “Dad, I am leaving. Why would I stay?” This individual had most of his land finally paid for. He was looking forward to his son taking over the farm. We are losing a generation from the farm and they will not come back.

What do we want farms to look like in 10 years? What do we want western Canada to look like in 10 years? My communities are dependent on the family farm. We are begging the government to listen. The Prime Minister stood in the House the other day and said that he would go to the United States and encourage President Bush to drop the subsidy.

We need help and we need it now in the agricultural sector in western Canada. We need help from a government that will say that we will not simply ask Mr. Bush but will lobby governments in Europe, in the United States and throughout the world, our competitors. We want our farmers on a level playing field with farmers around the world.

There are too many stories out there about people who have lost hope. Twenty-two thousand farmers over the last year have packed their bags and said that they were going somewhere to find a job. They were going to learn about computers so that they could work in the city somewhere, which our government is encouraging them to do.

The family farm is disappearing. What will it look like in 10 years? I have no idea. I do realize that just as in the 1930s in Alberta and throughout western Canada populist movements came along and people found hope. People are looking to the government today for hope. They are looking to each side for hope. Let us hope and pray that we come up with some long term solutions soon and a quick influx of cash before spring work.

Agriculture February 13th, 2001

It is just you with all the answers.

Correctional Service Canada February 9th, 2001

Mr. Speaker, we should take them away from our police officers as well then.

Drumheller guards were bitten, head-butted and kicked while attempting to restrain two intoxicated prisoners in the prison corridors because another guard had to go to the main control office, locate a key, open a restraining locker and retrieve the handcuffs they needed.

Quite obviously the policy of Correction Service Canada is putting our federal prison guards at serious risk of injury. Why will the solicitor general not immediately revoke the directive that forbids correctional officers from carrying handcuffs before more guards are seriously harmed?

Correctional Service Canada February 9th, 2001

Mr. Speaker, the Drumheller institution in my riding is home to rapists, murderers and various other criminals convicted of serious violent offences.

Correctional officers in this prison are not permitted to carry handcuffs. I ask the solicitor general to provide the rationale on why federal prison guards are not allowed to carry handcuffs.

Speech From The Throne February 1st, 2001

Mr. Speaker, as we have just begun a new term and as a rookie member of parliament, I have been a little overwhelmed by the number of phone calls I, and I am sure every member of the House, have received with regard to a number of issues, including agriculture and heating costs. I spoke about the issue of heating costs in my maiden speech because it was one of the issues that my constituents were very concerned about.

Canada has a number of things that we deem to be essential services and, with our climate, I think heating costs also need to be deemed an essential service. I applaud the government for its initiative in giving a rebate to consumers. It needs to continue to look at ways to put money back into the hands of those who especially need it.

Speech From The Throne February 1st, 2001

Mr. Speaker, I would begin to answer that question by saying that I am a farmer. I understand the concerns and the frustrations.

As we campaigned throughout my constituency last year, people in the communities I mentioned such as Oyen, Drumheller and Stettler told us that if we were to help rural Alberta then we should help the agricultural sector. As we go into the spring it is very clear many farms are just not viable and are asking for help from the government. There is a crisis that will eventually go away if we leave it, but so will all the farmers who are in crisis.

We need a government that is willing to act now, to tell us that it is committed to helping the farmers now, and to tell western Canadian and Canadian agriculture that it believes in that sector of society and will help now. A cash influx before the spring crop is put out is needed now.

I challenge the government today to say that western Canada and agriculture are important and that it will do what is needed. That is the short term plan.

We also need a long term plan. We have to look at ways of helping in the Income Tax Act. Farming is the only industry that pays retail for everything it gets and sells wholesale. For everything we purchase we pay taxes and freight charges when it comes in. For everything we sell we pay the freight before it leaves. Transportation is another issue we have to deal with in the long term, and of course the Canadian Wheat Board. We need changes to make the Canadian Wheat Board more accountable and changes that will help Alberta, the west and Canadian agriculture before it is too late.

Speech From The Throne February 1st, 2001

Mr. Speaker, I rise today with honour and a great sense of pride in representing in this magnificent House the people of Crowfoot. It is a privilege to stand here today and address the members of parliament in my maiden speech.

Mr. Speaker, before I proceed, I commend you on your service in the Chair. A number of members have told the House about your service over the years. We appreciate it.

May I also make mention of and congratulate our Speaker on his victory? When he was chosen, he spoke about fulfilling a dream to serve as Speaker in the House. It is rare that we can fully achieve our dreams. I have come to realize that I will never fulfil all my dreams. I will never score the winning goal in a Stanley Cup playoff game or play in the PGA. Indeed, I will probably never throw a pitch in the World Series. Standing here today, however, I recognize that I have fulfilled one dream.

I therefore begin by sincerely thanking the numerous volunteers who selflessly and diligently assisted with my campaign. It was undoubtedly the collective effort of all those involved that resulted in my victory and the victory for the Canadian Alliance in a very difficult and, in some respects, very emotional campaign in Crowfoot.

I would like to thank God for allowing me the privilege of serving the people of Crowfoot and Him in parliament. I would also like to pay special tribute today to my family, to my parents and my in-laws, and to my wife Darlene and our two children, Kristen and Ryan, who are here with me today, in the gallery, as they are every day. If it were not for my family and their love and support, I would not be in this House.

Finally, I thank all the people of Crowfoot for bestowing their faith in me. I promise to respectfully and truthfully represent their views and concerns here. I pledge to work hard, with the same diligence that the majority of the people of Crowfoot demonstrate daily as they go about their occupations and their careers in our predominately rural riding.

As mentioned earlier, I would not be here if it were not for my family. I think it is safe to say that the majority of my colleagues share this with me. The family truly is the foundation of our society. Therefore, in order to have a socially and economically vibrant nation, it is imperative that we have strong families.

Yesterday's throne speech clearly indicates that this Liberal government does not share this view. I am thankful that this view is a view that is prevalent within the Canadian Alliance and among our many supporters.

Although there was mention in the throne speech of children and families and children and poverty, there was no talk of proposals for addressing the economic realities facing many Canadian families today, particularly those who are threatened with losing their jobs or with having less disposable income as we enter into these uncharted waters or uncertain economic times.

The government's pre-election mini-budget is, as the Leader of the Opposition pointed out yesterday, sadly outdated. It has been found sadly wanting. Clearly we need a 2001 budget that includes, among other things, more aggressive and immediate tax cuts. Since the Liberals took power in 1993, Canadians' disposable income has dropped by close to $2,200 for every taxpayer, and taxes have risen over 37 times. This is not the legacy to leave Canadians.

We now pay personal income taxes that are 56% higher than those of the average G7 country. As if cripplingly high taxes were not eroding Canadians' disposable income enough, this country's citizens are now being unfairly burdened with excessively high fuel prices, so prohibitively high that some cannot afford to pay their heating bills.

While the Prime Minister may, as he stated yesterday, just be getting warmed up to the position of Prime Minister, the fact is that many Canadians literally are finding themselves out in the cold. I, as a federal official, can provide little comfort and hope to the many distraught constituents who are writing letters, making phone calls and dropping in on our Crowfoot office.

I understand from recent newspaper articles that the federal government has initiated a program called “Relief for Heating Expenses”. Reports indicate that cheques of $125 to $250 will be sent out automatically to every Canadian who received a GST tax credit for the 1999 tax year.

Although I commend the government for recognizing the horrific burden placed on many individuals due to high heating costs, I do question giving the rebate only to those eligible for the GST tax credit in 1999. This is not 1999. This is not 2000. This is 2001. Quite obviously incomes have changed in the last two years, some for the better but many for the worse. This rebate does not guarantee that the people in need of financial assistance today will receive it.

I must also question why the federal government has failed to address soaring energy costs and other input costs that are negatively impacting Canadian farmers. A forecast of farm incomes by Agriculture Canada suggests that Alberta farmers will be among the hardest hit in the country as the cost of farming continues to rise. Operating farm machinery has become more expensive as natural gas and fuel costs rise. So has the cost of fertilizing our crops. The price of nitrogen fertilizer, with its key ingredient and process being natural gas, has risen from approximately $390 per tonne as recently as last spring to a projected $700 plus this year. Farmers are losing hope. The next generation is leaving and there is no one to take over the family farms.

Overall in Canada, net cash incomes for farmers are expected to drop another 6% this year. Despite this grim reality and the fact that more than two years ago the federal government promised to help producers struggling with slumping commodity prices, the federal government has failed to deal aggressively with its trade partners to lower international agricultural subsidies.

Although our Prime Minister mentioned yesterday in the House that he was going to the United States and would be speaking to President Bush, he still does not see the need to place our farmers on a level playing field with our competitors.

The federal government took decisive action to counteract the illegal export subsidies provided by the government of Brazil to its aircraft manufacturers. Pointing out the importance of the aerospace industry to the Canadian economy and the need to save 24,000 jobs, the federal government moved quickly to provide subsidies to Bombardier to enable them to better compete with major competitors.

Over the last year within the agricultural industry we have lost almost the equivalent of Bombardier's entire workforce. Approximately 22,000 farmers or persons in related farm occupations are out of business.

The western grain and oilseeds industry provides tremendous value to the Canadian economy. In 1999 it was valued at over $70 billion. That value is steadily and very quickly diminishing.

Due to the effects of subsidization around the world, market receipts for grain and oilseeds have been dropping for many years and are expected to continue to decline. In Saskatchewan, where grain and oilseeds are the dominant industry, total net income is predicted to be negative in 2001, 2002 and 2003.

We need to immediately develop and implement assistance packages for our producers to stem the exodus of farm workers and the destruction of the Canadian family farm.

I look forward to working with my colleagues on all sides of the House to find meaningful and long term solutions for reducing input costs and providing a stable and deliverable assistance to our farmers. Every business in rural Alberta, in Oyen, Drumheller, Stettler, Camrose, Wainwright, Provost and Hanna, all farming communities within our constituency, is dependent on a strong agricultural sector and therefore dependent on us to provide viable solutions.

As one of the Canadian Alliance deputy justice critics, I also welcome the opportunity to help find the means to truly make our streets and communities safer for the sake of my children and for all Canadian children.

Agriculture February 1st, 2001

Mr. Speaker, Canadian farmers are among the hardest working citizens in the country. Rarely do they get a holiday from the daily chores associated with providing the people of the nation with some of the safest and finest quality food in the world.

For them to take time away from the hectic pace of farm life, for them to leave their farms to trek to Ottawa not once but twice in just over a year, means that they have an important message: the Canadian family farm cannot survive, given the current conditions, without long term financial assistance.

Unfortunately that message was lost on the Liberal government the first time the farmers delivered it. Hopefully this time the government will finally get the message and deliver the much needed support that our farmers have been promised.