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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

Petitions February 8th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, I rise today, on behalf of 95 constituents of Battle River—Crowfoot, to present a petition that calls upon the House of Commons to permit Christians to exercise their religious belief and conscience rights, both in their private and public acts, without coercion, constraint, or discrimination.

Michael Ferguson February 8th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, I rise today with an extremely heavy heart to pay tribute to the late Michael Ferguson, the 14th Auditor General of Canada. It has been an honour as chair of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts to have had the opportunity to work closely with this remarkable and highly respected gentleman.

Our committee truly treasured and appreciated the calibre of his reports, his candour, his passion and his dedication to holding government departments and agencies accountable for their spending and for meeting the objectives of their programs and policies.

This past week, many accolades have been bestowed on Michael in the House and all across the country. As my colleague from Hamilton Centre pointed out, our Auditor General was recognized internationally and held in high esteem. Knowing Michael Ferguson professionally, this admirable recognition for such an exemplary life of public service was expected.

What really touched me was having the opportunity yesterday, at his celebration of life, to have but a small glimpse into the personal life of Michael Ferguson. He was truly loved by his wife Georgina, sons Malcolm and Geoffrey, his brothers and other family members, and many, many friends. To them, I send my deepest sympathies. To my dear friend, I say, “Until we meet again”.

Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act February 8th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, I want to commend my colleague and friend for his long-time passion and work on the Canada-Israel file. He has been there many times and has worked very hard, so I commend him for that.

We know this agreement began in 1997. In 2014, negotiations to update the agreement began under then prime minister Harper and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu. In fact, former prime minister Harper is in Israel now and continues to work on Israel issues.

The Conservative Party has a record of strong trade agreements and has brought over 50 countries into free trade agreements.

This agreement was successfully concluded in 2015, but here we are in 2019. Four years after an agreement and renegotiation are concluded seems like a very long time, and it is probably not a very high priority by the Liberal government to see this thing completely through.

Could the member comment on the long period of time that will have gone by before this is concluded?

Committees of the House February 6th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, I would like to wish the member a very good retirement. As a member who has served here for 19 years, we appreciate his service.

I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 57th report of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts, entitled “Public Accounts of Canada 2018”. Pursuant to Standing Order 109, the committee requests that the government table a comprehensive response to this report.

I also have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 58th report of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts, entitled “Report 2, Disposing of Government Surplus Goods and Equipment, of the 2018 Spring Reports of the Auditor General of Canada”. Pursuant to Standing Order 109, the committee requests that the government table a comprehensive response to this report.

It is obvious which committee is doing the most work in this Parliament.

I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 59th report of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts, entitled “Report 7, Compliance Activities—Canada Revenue Agency, of the 2018 Fall Reports of the Auditor General of Canada”. Pursuant to Standing Order 109, the committee requests that the government table a comprehensive response to this report.

While I am here, I would like to say that as a committee, we were very saddened by the loss of our Auditor General of Canada, Mr. Ferguson. I am sure that we will be giving a statement in the House at another time. However, this was an auditor general who worked with his public accounts committee and cared deeply about transparency and accountability. He was a public servant who was a servant in every aspect of the word. Certainly he helped make our public accounts committee one of the strongest public accounts committees. He will be very sadly missed.

Foreign Lobbyist Transparency Act January 31st, 2019

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour today to rise in this place and contribute to the debate on Bill C-278, an act to amend the Lobbying Act, regarding reporting obligations, proposed by my colleague from Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke. The goal of Bill C-278 is to expand the lobbying registry, to make public the sources of funding for all lobbying conducted here in Canada.

Within the United States there is a large body of academic studies examining the strategies and practices used by private foundations to influence public policy, and that is important to understand. Many of these foundations have enormous financial resources, including billions of dollars in assets and hundreds of millions of dollars in annual revenues, and they are influencing federal governments. Maybe that is fine, but the legislation would help us make sure there is transparency and that the public understands it.

Increasingly, U.S. studies have addressed the strategies used by private foundations and the many other groups they fund, most of which have charity status in influencing public policy. The strategies include broad communications and education programs to influence public perceptions of policy issues and to garner public support for specific actions, the lobbying of governments at all levels, the infiltration of the media, and concerted, coordinated action to achieve specific objectives.

While there is less information and academic analysis available here in Canada, some private researchers have made efforts to “follow the money” in terms of how foundation and charity funding is spent. These efforts are impeded by superficial reporting requirements and the lack of publicly available information from organizations like the Canada Revenue Agency, which administers the provisions of the Income Tax Act related to charities, and the lobbying registry, compiled by the Office of the Commissioner of Lobbying of Canada.

Researchers such as Vivian Krause, who has endeavoured to find out more about the use of domestic and foreign foundation funding for the anti-oil and anti-pipeline campaigns, have found that they must often rely on United States Internal Revenue Service records, as the information they seek here in Canada is not available from Canadian sources. That is a shame.

ln my riding, we have seen the first-hand influence these new strategies and practices can have on Canadian industries and jobs.

Vivian Krause has been interviewed throughout Canada, certainly by Global. I saw an interview done by her where she showed how monies went to charities and then went directly to campaigns against Alberta's goal of seeing more pipelines to tidewater and of seeing more of our energy go to new markets around the world. We see people from the United States, as Vivian Krause has pointed out, doing all they can to prevent that goal of Albertans seeing their energy sold around the world, while the world needs new access to our energy. This is very much an issue for my province of Alberta but it certainly is an issue for all of Canada.

ln recent years, we have witnessed a real change in how Canadians participate in our democracy. The rise of social media and the ubiquity of mobile devices has dramatically empowered individual Canadians. Many children in junior high have iPads or mobile phones. Each one of us has the ability to access any type of information we want but we also have access to influence a certain issue.

While many, if not most Canadians, might not appreciate the extent of their personal political powers, members of Parliament never forget it, and they better not forget it or they will become former members of Parliament. However, if most Canadians are unaware of the influence they can have over their elected officials, foreign actors have been quick to realize it.

Twenty years ago launching a grassroots movement to affect some policy change required considerable manpower and massive amounts of resources. Today, these campaigns can be launched for the cost of a domain name. In the past, one would have to spend millions of dollars on advertising and direct mail just to reach out and persuade a few thousand people on whatever issue or whatever topic they wanted.

Now, for a few hundred or a few thousand dollars, one can launch a Facebook ad campaign with the potential to reach literally millions of people. It can be targeted to certain areas specifically, but broadly, it can go around the world. This is more and more becoming an issue Canadians are attuned to. They know that a foreign actor can launch a million emails with just the push of one button.

Social media and mobile technology are enabling Canadians to participate more meaningfully in our political and policy debates. If that is true for Canadians, it is also true for non-Canadians. It is true for non-Canadians that most people, when they see their ad, might actually believe that they are Canadians. Foreign actors have access to the same tools and can have the same impact.

Just when Canadians are awakening to the opportunities to influence their own laws, they could find those efforts swamped by foreign interests without even realizing where this attack or this campaign was coming from. The role played by foreign governments as well as foreign foundations in campaigns to influence public policy in Canada should be of interest to all concerned about the independence and integrity of the Canadian political and government processes.

The increased globalization of corporate, institutional and geopolitical interests would seem to require that Canadian democratic institutions be more vigilant about these possible intrusions. This, in turn, demands that reports on the activities of foundations and charities seeking to influence policy be made more transparent to the public and more useful to the parliamentarians who wish to exercise oversight.

While the foreign lobbyist transparency act would not block foreign actors from launching fake grassroots campaigns, requiring disclosure of their funding of Canadian organizations to do so would give additional tools to public officeholders in understanding where the latest round of form emails may really be coming from or where they originated. A transparent registry of foreign lobbyists and their campaigns would provide journalists and researchers with a new way to follow the dollar.

I would also add here that when we give to charities in this country, we expect a certain return. We expect that they abide by certain rules. However, many charities in other countries may well not apply those same restrictions and rules, and they may indeed be the ones that start some of these campaigns. Rather than taking an approach that attempts to restrict or regulate the speech of foreign actors, restrictions that would inevitably hamper Canadians' own rights and freedoms, Bill C-278 would simply require disclosure. Foreign entities would need to report when they were funding campaigns to influence federal officeholders and officials.

Truth and transparency are always our best defences in preserving an open and democratic Canada. It is my genuine hope that these are changes that all members of Parliament can support.

One can say that there are Conservative organizations that may be doing it, there are Liberal organizations, there are socialist organizations, and there are Green-backed organizations that may well be doing this. Some of that may be all right, but let Canadians know who they are. Too often, questions about foreign funding of different sides of a policy debate are dismissed as being partisan by one side or the other. We can all play that game. The foreign lobbyist transparency act would cut through the partisan divide by applying equally to all foreign actors, whether they were supporting a cause we hold dear or opposing a policy we would prefer.

This bill would not limit Canadians' ability to solicit foreign financial support for an issue they were pursuing. It would simply require them to disclose to their fellow citizens the ultimate source of those funds. Individual Canadians could then assess for themselves whether the source of funding was material to the issue.

The digital transformation of our democracy is still in its infancy. Who knows what the next year or the next five years will hold for the digital world? It presents an opportunity to meaningfully increase Canadians' participation in our laws, but only if we have faith in it. By ensuring greater transparency for foreign funding of lobbying and public relations campaigns, we can restore a measure of trust in our democracy. I know we all want to do that.

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns January 28th, 2019

With regard to the $19,682,232.17 spent by Environment and Climate Change Canada on payments to other international organizations (object code 2319) during the 2017-2018 fiscal year: what are the details of each expenditure, including (i) recipient, (ii) location of the recipient, (iii) purpose, (iv) date of the expenditure, (v) amount?

Questions on the Order Paper January 28th, 2019

With regard to the $177,718.18 spent by Environment and Climate Change Canada on Non-public servant travel – Key Stakeholders (object code 0262) during the 2017-18 fiscal year: (a) what are the names of the “key stakeholders” who received funds under this expenditure; (b) how much did each “key stakeholder” receive; and (c) what was the destination and purpose of each trip related to each expenditure?

National Defence December 13th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, last week, the Department of National Defence accidentally revealed to the public accounts committee the transfer of the aerospace engineering test establishment from Cold Lake to Ottawa. Despite claims to the contrary, neither the member of Parliament, nor the MLA nor the mayor of Cold Lake was briefed or consulted on the impact of this move, which will see the loss of many high-paying jobs. This is just the latest in the Liberal government's agenda to hurt Alberta every way it can.

To the Minister of National Defence: why this attack on Alberta jobs?

Elections Modernization Act December 13th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, we thank the Speaker for his indulgence, because over this last few days we have enjoyed, from all sides of the House, this being the last day perhaps that we will be in here. Therefore, my colleague took us through a bit of a walk of different things that have meant a lot to him in this place.

We know next year is an election year. Would the member comment on why the Liberal government now is pushing forward Bill C-76 so quickly, shutting down debate on it now, amendments that have come out? It was asked earlier if anyone could give examples of corruption within the electoral system. The answer is, yes, we can..

In Edmonton Centre, 10 to 15 years ago, people were taken off the list who had signed their residence as being a law office that the minister worked out of at the time. Thirty-some people had a factory listed as their residence. In fact, Joe Volpe, in his leadership race, had people on the voters list who were dead and buried. This was the kind of thing we were able to clear up in the last election.

The member talked about pipelines. In the last election, there were anti-pipeline groups, environmental groups, foreign groups from the United States and from Europe that put money not directly to fund certain target ridings for the Liberals, but that went through a Canadian affiliate. For example, there was a group that was listed as Canadian and the money went directly to that Canadian affiliate. As the member noted, in some of these the Liberals were bragging about showing success.

One of the main responsibilities of a democracy is to have integrity that is above reproach when it comes to elections. Maybe the member could comment on why this election is not that, but rather stacks up to the benefit of the Liberals.

Customs Act December 11th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, with all due respect, I want to touch on the member's point about flying the UN flag. This country is governed by Canadians and it is governed for Canadians. We have a remarkable opportunity to pick who will lead us. In the last election, Canadians picked. I take great solace in the fact that we get what we deserve or we get what we voted for. Right now many Canadians are very concerned about what they elected. In my province of Alberta, this applies both federally and provincially.

However, our sovereignty needs to be protected. Protecting our sovereignty means we never give up flying our Canadian flag and making our laws right here in this beautiful chamber in the House of Commons, not some other place in the world.