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

Budget Implementation Act, 2018 No. 2 November 1st, 2018

Madam Speaker, I am not sure where the member is citing his statistics from.

Statistics that I have seen show that 11 out of 12 jobs that have been created over the last year or two years have been in the public sector. As I stated in my speech, that is no way to grow an economy. An economy is not grown that way.

The member also spoke about the extra money that is being invested back into our economy. Certainly, when we go into a recession, it is vital to kick-start growth in some regard and show that the government is willing to do that. We did that.

Now that we have come out of the recession, basically on the back of a strong United States economy and, indeed, global economy, Canada shows less growth than other countries. Again, if we are spending this much money when we are in an economy that is expanding, what happens when interest rates go up, and what happens should we fall into another downturn or recession? Can the government continue to drive up debt then at the same levels it is doing now in times when there is growth?

This becomes a massive problem for countries when they then experience a downturn.

Budget Implementation Act, 2018 No. 2 November 1st, 2018

Madam Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, a colleague who, like me, was elected in 2000.

I am very pleased to speak to Bill C-86, the Liberal government's budget implementation act, 2018.

When we stand in the House to speak to bills such as this one, we do a synopsis of the bill and ask how it is going to help future generations and how it is going to help right now. Regrettably, the more we look at it, the more we realize there is nothing in this bill that can secure the future of our country for generations to come.

What we have here is a simple continuation of the Liberals' failed policies, especially their failed fiscal policies. There has been deficit after deficit with no end in sight, despite the Prime Minister's promise in the 2015 election that he would only run small deficits. I sincerely hope that in 2019 Canadians will not forget how promise after promise has been broken by the government.

The Liberals promised a very small deficit of $10 billion a year, but what we have now, as revealed by the public accounts for 2018, is a deficit of $19 billion, which as the Auditor General points out is essentially the same amount in percentage as the previous year. Our country's net debt is $759 billion. The net debt is the amount by which the government's liabilities exceed the value of its financial assets and revenue.

The Auditor General also reported that revenues were $313.6 billion, an increase of $20.1 billion over the previous year. What is truly shocking is that the government did not use the increase of revenues to eliminate the deficit, but rather, in true Liberal fashion, continued to increase its program spending.

Why has such grave concern been expressed about the many families across the country who are unable to balance their household budgets and are accumulating debt at an alarming rate, while the Liberal government is unfazed by the national debt that it is mounting?

When we were in government, household debt was one of the biggest concerns to a growing economy. Household debt in Canada increased to 171.3% of gross income in 2018, up from 170.20% in 2017. Household debt continues to increase in our country.

Household debt to income averaged 127.31% from 1990 to 2018, reaching an all-time high of 173.34%. There have to be warnings as to what could happen in the future with household debt increasing in this way, especially as we see our Governor of the Bank of Canada raising interest rates.

We should be very concerned about these statistics, and equally concerned about the national debt, but we also need to be concerned that the government does nothing to address that. The Liberal government must stop borrowing money that other people will have to pay back, including Canadians who are not even born yet.

However, we have a Liberal government that has no plan to get out of debt and no plan to stop overspending. It has no plan to balance the books. It has no plan to start paying down the accumulated national debt. All the Liberal government can manage to do is pay interest on the massive amounts of money it has borrowed.

While it is failing in this regard, and in so many other ways too, this government continues to raise taxes on the middle class. Since 2015, the Liberals have cancelled tax credits and raised CPP and EI premiums. The price of everything continues to rise: transportation, fuel, groceries and rent, and very soon Canadians will be suffering under a carbon tax on everything. That carbon tax will not be used to reduce carbon emissions. Rather, it will be spent by Liberals on their millionaire friends and their pet projects.

The Liberals' so-called new tax bracket to tax the top one per cent of income earners has not worked. After the Liberals hike taxes on the wealthy, we find out the wealthy top one per cent of income earners are actually paying a billion dollars less in taxes per year than they did before the Liberals tried to increase their tax level.

The middle class did not receive any of the revenues from the top one per cent of income earners because there was not enough revenue raised by hiking taxes on the wealthy to pay for the programs and services the Prime Minister implemented. Those programs and services did not lead to real and sustainable job creation within the private sector.

The Liberals bragged about the income and the employment rate, but 11 out of 12 jobs that have been created under the current government are in the public sector; they are government jobs. Let us think on this for a moment. The economy has not given the confidence to the private sector to see massive growth. One new job in 12 is in the private sector, and 11 in 12 are in the public sector.

This is not sustainable. Revenues from the private sector pay for jobs in the public sector. Revenues from public sector jobs do not create more jobs in the private sector, or even in the public sector. Still, the Liberals say there has been a reduction in the unemployment rates this year, and they continue to hire public servants.

The Liberals do not talk about the fact that fewer people are looking for work. Statistics show that two-thirds of the unemployed in Canada are not looking for work anymore but remain unemployed.

On the issue of the public sector, or rather the public service, I would be remiss if I did not talk about the recent observations by the Auditor General of Canada in the 2018 public accounts. The Auditor General, along with the deputy minister for the Department of Finance and officials from the Treasury Board Secretariat, appeared before the public accounts committee, which is a committee I am honoured to chair. As most here today would know, the public accounts committee examines in a non-partisan manner the performance of the public service and the federal departments and agencies in implementing what the government has been ordered to do by the Parliament of Canada.

For the past three years, the Auditor General has been tabling separate documents entitled, for example, “Commentary on the 2017-2018 Financial Audits”. This year, the document includes a section entitled, “The Auditor General's observations on the government's 2017-2018 financial statements”, which was previously provided in the public accounts.

The first observation is on the transformation of pay administration, better known as the Phoenix pay system. The Auditor General noted that as of March 31, 2018, there were 615 million dollars' worth of pay errors. I think back to my meetings in Wainwright, Drumheller, Stettler and Camrose, where massive numbers of federal public employees were expressing their frustrations toward this Phoenix system.

Furthermore, for the last pay period, the percentage of employees with pay errors was 58%, an increase of 7% from the previous pay period. Despite the minister saying that things are getting better and that by October 2018 things will be solved or we will have a real goal that can be accomplished, she is failing. It was 51% last year and 58% this year.

While the government says it is working to solve this horrific problem for public servants, the situation has become worse. As the Auditor General reports, the government underpaid some employees by $369 million and overpaid others by $246 million, and now we are trying to figure out how to claw back that money. This significant number of individual pay errors did not result in a financially significant error in the government's total reported pay expenses, because overpayments and underpayments basically offset each other.

The Auditor General further explained to our committee yesterday that while the government recorded year-end accounting adjustments to improve the accuracy of its pay expenses, it did not correct the underlying problems, nor did it correct the pay errors that continue to affect thousands of employees.

Through budget 2018, the government plans to spend $16 million over two years, beginning in 2018-19, to work with various experts and public servants toward implementing a new pay system. Furthermore, it has committed $431 million over six years beginning in 2017-18 to fix Phoenix.

I have grave concerns, as do some people within the public service, that we do not have the necessary IT expertise to manage complex IT problems like these. These are not being addressed in this budget. People are not being paid. It is unacceptable.

Budget Implementation Act, 2018 No. 2 November 1st, 2018

Madam Speaker, I want to thank my colleague for his defence of the former Conservative government's record during the global recession. He went through the facts of what happened during that global recession very succinctly and properly. When the Conservatives presented budgets, it was very obvious by every one of those budgets that we were making life more affordable for families and seniors. We were making life more affordable for businesses, as we lowered taxes and created a level playing field, corporate tax against corporate tax in the United States. We wanted an advantage for Canada so jobs would stay here.

My question is specific to seniors. Seniors have called me saying that they are very disappointed there is nothing in this budget for seniors. They rightfully said that when Conservatives were in power, we brought forward pension income splitting, the tax-free savings account and a number of other measures, such as with the guaranteed income supplement to make life more affordable for seniors.

Why is the member disappointed with the lack of measures for Canadian seniors in this budget?

Elections Modernization Act October 30th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, I think the hon. member just contradicted himself. He said Canadians should put all their trust in the Liberal government, the Government of Canada. Then he said that Canadians just have to accept that the Liberals know what Canadians want, that the Liberals have consulted to some degree and they know what Canadians want. Then he turned around and asked a colleague in the NDP did he not believe that the government has these tools to advance the government's agenda. That is exactly what he is doing here.

All the consultation can be thrown out the window. The Liberals have not listened to Canadians. Some Canadians may think parts of this legislation are all right, and I imagine we could find certain parts of it that Canadians would agree with, but when we consulted with Canadians, we found out how bad this bill is, and Canadians want no part of it.

The member said that his government uses closure because it is a tool that it has to advance the government's agenda, and I would probably agree with him.

Elections Modernization Act October 30th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, I would agree with the member. It is hypocritical to be on both sides of the issue, depending on which side of this place one is sitting. It really undermines the value of Parliament and what we do here. We bring forward facts that we hope will convince the government to make changes or to study at committee, but we debate these issues, we question the government and we expect the government to allow every member of Parliament to speak on these things.

I will say this. When we knock on doors or rub shoulders with our constituents, yes, they understand the issue of the legalization of cannabis, the legalization of euthanasia and the immigration issue right now, but they get this, too. Any time we change the way we conduct elections, Canadians are moved by it. There were a few constituencies where we know foreign money was spent and made a difference in an election. Do members not think those constituents were frustrated? Now we have a government that is shutting down debate on it, trying to bring this cone of silence over almost the whole issue of what it is trying to accomplish. It is a sad, sad thing.

Elections Modernization Act October 30th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, it is a real honour to rise today in the House to speak to Bill C-76, an act to amend the Canada Elections Act.

Today has been one of those days on Parliament Hill. We just had a committee looking at parents who have lost newborn children or during pregnancy. As we sat listening to the stories of those individuals, it brought, I think, most of the committee to tears.

However, this afternoon we are looking at a bill to amend the Elections Act. It shows the broad range of things that happen in Parliament. This morning we saw people who were genuinely affected and now we are seeing a bill brought in place that really, for all intents and purposes, will just give an advantage to the Liberal Party.

I should say, though, that I sincerely regret the fact that many of my colleagues are denied a similar opportunity to speak, given the Liberal government's decision to move time allocation on this bill. Having an opportunity with an appropriate amount of allotted time for MPs to express the views of their constituents is a fundamental principle of democracy upon which the House of Commons is founded. This opportunity is being denied.

It is for this reason that we on this side of the House adamantly oppose the Liberals' blatant, disrespectful manoeuvre. Shutting down this debate is disrespectful to MPs and, more importantly, disrespectful to those Canadians who want to be heard on this issue.

I am confident that Canadians will justifiably punish the Liberal government for silencing them on this very important issue of electoral reform. At the very crux of our democracy are elections and how we facilitate those elections is key, and yet Canadians have had their voices silenced on this.

I am equally confident that Canadians will take great exception to the bill before us today, which leaves our elections wide open to foreign interference. It does so to the benefit to the Liberal Party. It is widely suspected that in the 2015 federal election, Liberal candidates defeated their opponents in several key ridings due to foreign interference.

The speed the Liberals are trying to ram this legislation through Parliament a year before the 2019 election clearly shows their eagerness to once again win with just a little extra help. I firmly believe that every vote cast by a Canadian citizen matters. I will therefore continue to work with my Conservative colleagues to keep foreign entities from undermining our democratic institutions, especially through the very fundamental exercise of elections.

As my honourable colleague from Thornhill pointed out last Friday, Bill C-76 would double the total maximum third party spending amount allowed during the writ period and would allow unlimited contributions by individual donors and others, unlimited spending by third parties and unlimited foreign donations outside the pre-writ and the writ periods. Effectively, this loophole would allow foreign charities to give millions of foreign dollars to Canadian charities, and those millions, as my colleagues stated, can be disbursed as Canadian dollars to third party groups to support and oppose parties and candidates.

Canadians deserve to know where the money for elections is coming from and it is up to the Liberal government to ensure that third-party entities are being fully transparent and there is no undue and outside interference. Bill C-76 fails miserably in this regard.

It is also up to the government to ensure that non-resident electors are not treated the same as full-time residents, residents who are impacted in their daily lives by the regulations, decisions and economic realities and red tape of government. The individuals who are living here deal with all of these regulations. Allowing non-resident electors the vote, regardless of how long they have lived outside of Canada or whether they intend to ever return, is simply wrong.

Most non-residents were unable to vote in Canadian elections until 1993, when expats living outside Canada for fewer than five years and who intended to return were granted the right to vote by mail-in ballot. I wholeheartedly agree with the less-than-five-year rule, but obviously the Liberal government does not. Again, I believe that they do not agree because, for all intents and purposes, they are looking for ways to gain an advantage.

As a result, the legislation before us today goes further than simply restoring voting rights to short-term expats, because the Liberals feel it is to their advantage. Under Bill C-76, anyone who has ever lived in Canada would be able to vote. Following the introduction of Bill C-33, Bill C-76's predecessor, as noted in a November 2016 South China Morning Post article, “They would theoretically include most of the 300,000 Canadians who live in Hong Kong, most of whom are returnee emigrants and their children. Huge numbers of Hong Kongers emigrated to Canada ahead of the 1997 handover, but many have now returned as dual citizens.”

The article gives the example that when Hong Kong was returned to mainland China, many people came to Canada and other countries. Now, many of them have returned. The same article goes on to express the divergent views of two Hong Kong residents. One, a civil servant close to retirement who spent 11 years in Canada before leaving in 1995, said:

Having the right to vote is an honour, this will motivate me to pay more attention to their political news because I still have family members living in Canada and I will spend more time over there after I retire.

In that article, he said he would vote in Canada at the time of an election if he were allowed to.

The same article made a comparison with a 39-year-old high school teacher in Hong Kong, who was born in Canada, but who said he would not vote, because he said:

I only lived there for 10 years when I was young. I do not know that much about Canadian politics and have not been following closely of their news, so I believe it would be irresponsible for me to vote.

I would agree with that. It would be irresponsible, as it is irresponsible for the current Liberal government, to lift the less-than-five-year voting restriction and thereby open up the system to abuse. It is irresponsible for individuals who have no idea of the issues, no idea of the candidates and no idea of what is really happening, to put an X when their country and their passion is where they are residing, as was the case with this 39-year-old, for some 29 years.

Another measure in Bill C-76 that would leave the Canadian democratic process open to abuse is the use of the voter identification card as acceptable voter ID. In the last election in 2015, nearly one million erroneous voter identification cards were given out, creating huge potential for voter fraud. I cannot support a bill that has the potential to undermine our highly respected electoral system as a result of voter ID cards being taken as a valid form of identification when we know that out of the 16 million or 17 million people who were eligible to vote in the last election, more than a million of them were given erroneous cards.

What the government is trying to enshrine in this bill works against fair elections. It works against the very principles of democracy. When anyone is willing to take away the rights of someone else to advance his or her own, I would warn Canadians, because if Liberals are willing to take that from someone else, what will they be willing to take from Canadians in the future?

Committees of the House October 24th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 52nd report of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts entitled “Report on the Message of the Auditor General in the 2018 Spring Reports”.

Pursuant to Standing Order 109, the committee requests that the government table a comprehensive response to this report.

Committees of the House October 4th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 51st report of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts. The members heard correctly: I said 51. Our committee is doing some work here. The 51st report of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts is entitled “Report 4, Replacing Montréal’s Champlain Bridge—Infrastructure Canada, 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.

Charles Fielding October 3rd, 2018

Mr. Speaker, I proudly rise today to pay tribute to WWII veteran Charlie Fielding. On September 5, Hanna, Alberta's favourite resident died, just 16 days shy of his 100th birthday. He truly was a remarkable man, and I am honoured to have known him for a very long time. It was my privilege to speak at his memorial service to a packed hall. Over the years, I witnessed the tremendous impact he had on all, but especially the children of Battle River—Crowfoot.

In his later years, Charlie dedicated his time and energy to ensure that our youth knew the importance of Remembrance Day and of honouring veterans. Charlie was instrumental in getting veterans to schools throughout our riding, and he did it for the veterans as much as for the students.

In closing, I would like to express the sentiments of many residents of Hanna, which I wholeheartedly share. This November 11, Charlie's spirit will certainly be felt by those in the community. We will remember him forever as a brave soldier, the ultimate gentleman, a fantastic conversationalist and an example of kindness and decency and more.

May Charlie rest in peace.

Business of Supply October 2nd, 2018

Madam Speaker, I just warn the Canadian public that when they hear a member stand in this place and say that they will conduct a thorough review, to get ready because the wheels of justice will turn very slowly. That is exactly what the Liberals are telling us. They are saying that yes, there is an outcry, yes, the Conservatives are bringing this and yes, Queen's Park has unanimously said to take her back, but that they will do a review.

To be quite frank, the other thing the Liberals are saying is they are going to go back to the time when the Right Hon. Stephen Harper was the prime minister and see why he transferred her from a maximum to another medium-maximum facility. All the Liberals do is play the blame game. They need to stand up and be counted for their decisions, or lack thereof.