- His favourite word was forces.
Last in Parliament October 2015, as Conservative MP for Edmonton Centre (Alberta)
Won his last election, in 2011, with 48% of the vote.
Statements in the House
Members not seeking re-election to the 42nd Parliament June 10th, 2015
Mr. Chair, I appreciate the opportunity to reflect on my time as a parliamentarian.
This is not something that I ever aspired to, going through my air force career or during most of my financial services career. I did enjoy writing to cabinet ministers and occasionally poking them in the eye with a sharp stick, primarily over issues like, in my opinion, flawed defence and foreign affairs policy and decisions.
One of my more colourful letters actually earned me a CRA audit, which I am sure was random, when I wrote to the then foreign affairs minister and explained why I thought he was the buns of a jennet. I think what annoyed him most was that he had to go to the dictionary to figure out what a jennet was. A jennet is a small Spanish horse.
I was happy to volunteer for and sit on the board of my then and still MP, the hon. member for Edmonton—Leduc. As I became more frustrated with what I viewed as Canada losing its way in the world, the idea of throwing my hat in the ring was being urged upon me by others, specifically to take on the then deputy prime minister.
My wife was dead set against the idea for all the right reasons, so I had some convincing to do. My clever and very transparent plan was to host a single malt and stinky cheese party, where I would supply the goodies, while friends like the hon. members for Edmonton—Leduc, Edmonton—Spruce Grove, then Edmonton—Strathcona, and others worked on Judy to convince her that the team needed me. She saw through my clever little plan of course, and we had a conversation a couple of days later about how badly did I want to do this.
My response was that if I did not do it soon, it would not happen, but most important, I did not want to look back in 20 years and regret not giving it a shot. She succumbed to my whining and allowed as how we could take one shot at this, but that we were not going to tilt at a windmill forever.
It was game on and through two nominations, one for the Canadian Alliance and one for the Conservative Party of Canada, we fought the campaign in June 2004. We had a terrific team and a great campaign with lots of fun and excitement, and lost very narrowly to the lady who had become affectionately known as "Landslide Annie".
I was prepared for that to be my one shot, but all our volunteers, actually led by my wife, said that we had to do that again. As always, I obeyed my wife and we simply carried on campaigning, knowing that, with a Liberal minority, another election opportunity would present itself. Sure enough, round two happened and on January 23, 2006, after another great campaign effort by a fabulous team, we convinced 25,805 of my closest friends that I deserved their trust.
I am very grateful to every one of those people and to the 46,186 people who sent me back here in 2008 and 2011. I have done my best to serve them, and all those who voted for someone else or, shamefully, did not vote at all.
At this point, I want to thank the many people who helped put me here, and who have helped keep me here.
First and foremost, I have to thank my wife of almost 47 years, the beautiful, brilliant and extremely tolerant Judy. Without her and Jennifer and Robb in my corner, nothing that I may have received credit for could have happened, and I love them all very much.
There are too many to mention by name and I apologize to those I will miss, but I do need to single out a few key people: Richard and Marion Lotnick for my first nomination win; my campaign managers, Vitor Marciano and Peter Watson; and key team leaders like Nancy Strand, William McBeath, William Lo and Marnie Simpson, and a recently deceased very dear friend, Mary Delaney, who was the door knocker at the age of 96. We had complaints from the others door knocking with her who, only in their seventies and eighties, did not want to go out there any more because they could not keep up.
Teams need leaders and foot soldiers, and I want to sincerely thank the hundreds of volunteers who did the myriad things that made for a successful campaign, and three out of four is not bad.
EDA boards are also critical to electing a member of Parliament and keeping him or her there, and I have been blessed with very active and very dedicated boards.
My first experience on Parliament Hill set a very positive tone for my time here. In February 2006, when I walked in under the Peace Tower for the first time, the very first security guard that I met said, and please forgive this small indiscretion, Mr. Chair, "Good morning, Mr. Hawn, welcome to Ottawa". I was very impressed and that impression about the people who work here has not changed. Their dedication and professionalism in everything that they do make it possible for us to do our jobs is incredibly well appreciated.
Regardless of who we are or where we have come from, we all come to this place for the right reason, and that is to make a positive difference for our constituents and for our country. I believe we all want basically the same things, like financial and personal security, good education and health care, a sustainable and healthy environment, a respected place in the world community, and pride in ourselves and pride in our country. What we argue about is the road that we are on to get there. As difficult as it is around here, if we could spend just a bit more time on each other's road, we might all get a little closer to our common destinations. When I have had the opportunity to do that, it has been a very satisfying experience, and I want to cite one example.
I have great respect for Bob Rae as a brilliant parliamentarian, and despite our ideological differences, we could work together behind the scenes on things like the mission extension in Afghanistan. I do not say this with malice at all, but Bob made it clear that if there were political advantage, he would stab me in the heart, and I would stab him in the right circumstances too. However, we would stab each other in the chest, eye to eye, and not in the back. I can certainly respect that.
I want to go back to Landslide Annie for a minute. We had two very hard-fought campaigns, but we never trashed each other personally, and each of us visited the other's successful campaign on election night to offer sincere congratulations. To this day, we still say kind things about each other in public.
We can be political adversaries, but we certainly do not have to be enemies. We should, and we do, take our jobs very seriously, but we should not take ourselves too seriously.
I have been very fortunate in my nine-plus years here and I want to sincerely thank all of my colleagues on all sides of the House for the honour and privilege and, mostly, pleasure of working with them.
I want to especially thank the Prime Minister for his strong and principled leadership at home and abroad, many times taking some unpopular decisions if that was what needed to be done.
I want to thank him for the confidence he showed in me and the assignments that he gave me. My favourite position was as parliamentary secretary for three and a half years, under someone whom I consider to be the hands down best minister of national defence of the 27 ministers of national defence that I have known since I enrolled in the air force 51 years ago, and whose helicopter flight, by the way, did not actually cost the taxpayer a single penny.
I am grateful for the honour of being called “Honourable” as a Privy Councillor for the rest of my life and for the roles on cabinet committees such as Treasury Board and the deficit reduction action plan subcommittee.
I do joke about the Prime Minister being a very practical man for giving me cabinet-level duties without cabinet-level pay, but it has been a great honour and I would not have missed it. However, I did spend several months being secluded with the hon. member for Saint-Laurent—Cartierville, poring over 20,000 pages of Taliban detainee documents looking for a smoking gun that did not exist.
There have been some memorable moments in this place, and I want to highlight only two.
I believe that the most critical challenge that we need to solve nationally and rationally is the future of Canada's aboriginal peoples as full participants in the great opportunity that is Canada. That will take work on all sides, and one of the great moments here was the Prime Minister's apology for the tragedy that was residential schools.
The other great moment for me was last October 23, when this House sat the day after the terrorist attack on this place. We cannot and will not allow our democracy and its institutions to be threatened in any way.
I have certainly enjoyed working in this place on many issues, such as military and veterans affairs and as Canadian co-chair of the Canada-U.S. Permanent Joint Board on Defence, but some of my favourite moments as an MP have been spent away from this place.
Probably at the top of that list would be the opportunity to spend time in Afghanistan on seven occasions. There was something very special about serving Christmas dinner to troops in the field, and especially about waking up five Christmas mornings in a row at a forward operating base in the Panjwai with the exceptional Canadians who were there serving and sacrificing.
Colleagues, we are part of a very exclusive club. According to the Library of Parliament, there have been 4,216 members of Parliament in Canada's history. According to Don Cherry, there have been over 7,000 players in the history of the NHL.
We all work hard to get here and we all work hard to stay here. Public service is honourable and we all play an important role, so if someone sneers that any of us are mere backbenchers, ask them which bench they have sat on and how many years of their life have they devoted to the welfare of others.
It has been a slice, and I am grateful to my staff for their tremendous work in trying their best to make me look good. I could do nothing without such people as Oula Sanduga, Lindo Lo, Jen Gray, Jordan Fraser, Rachel Petrenko, Averil Grant, and all my earlier staff and interns.
So why am I leaving now? There are several reasons.
When we got into this, my wife and I said we wanted to serve for eight to ten years. It will have been nine years and nine months, and that is in the window. Not to ever compare myself to the Great One, but 99 is always a good Edmonton number.
Together my wife and I have worked for more than a century, and 100 years is certainly a big enough round number.
People often stop me and say that they are sorry I am leaving. My reply is that that is why I am leaving, because people will not say that forever, and I do not want to be there when that happens.
My final reason for leaving is that I want a life back. To use a football analogy, I know that I am in the fourth quarter and that I cannot count on overtime, and I want to get some stuff done before the two-minute warning. We all have something ticking inside us, and we do not know when the two-minute warning or the final whistle will sound.
Jim Flaherty's situation did not drive my decision, because it was already made, but it certainly reinforced my decision. Whatever may be any of our reasons, my sincere wish and advice to colleagues is to not leave it too late.
I plan to stay busy in retirement and continue to serve my community in a variety of ways, or I may just wear my pants up around my nipples and complain about the government full time.
I think it was either our colleague Chuck Strahl or Stockwell Day who said that if you can leave this place with your reputation and integrity intact and with the same family that you arrived with, you have been successful.
It is time to bid adieu to this place and get my life back in 130 days, but who is counting? Judy will get a husband back. Jennifer and Robb will get a dad back. Jeff and Kiran will get a father-in-law back, and most importantly, for Tyler and Raiya Lily, Grampa will be all theirs.
Police Services June 10th, 2015
Mr. Speaker, the following comments or thoughts could have been made by thousands of people we know.
While people sleep, we are out there. While people are sitting down at Thanksgiving or Christmas, we are out there. When it is raining and cold and people are glad to be home with their families, we are out there. When it is people's children's birthday, we are out there. When it is our children's birthday, we are still out there. When people are scared, they call us; when we are scared, we carry on. While people are asleep with their spouse, ours sleep alone. When people tell their families “see you tonight” as they leave for work, they mean it. When we tell our families that, we pray that we will.
Therefore, the next time we are out with our families or friends and we see a patrol car go by, let us remember the incredible sacrifice made by those officers every day. Inside that car is a person who sacrifices his or her life, both professionally and personally, every day.
God bless the soul of Constable Daniel Woodall; God bless his family in their time of tragedy; God bless the recovery of Sergeant Jason Harley; and God bless all members of the Edmonton Police Service and all police forces.
MAIN ESTIMATES 2015-16 June 8th, 2015
Mr. Speaker, I listened with considerable interest to my hon. colleague. I have a question about regional and provincial representation. As a point, Prince Edward Island has about the same population as resides in my riding of Edmonton Centre, and it has four senators and four members of Parliament. That is the way it has been since Confederation.
Therefore, I would be interested in the thoughts of my colleague about how in his estimation they would re-order the representation of the Senate, if they could, to make it more regional and population based so it is not so out of balance. Having said that, if any proposal were to do that, does he think Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and P.E.I., particularly, who are very overrepresented in the Senate proportionately, would go along with that?
MAIN ESTIMATES 2015-16 June 8th, 2015
Mr. Speaker, I know my hon. colleague is known for his colourful rhetoric and extreme language, but he is going too far with references to lubricants and not very thinly disguised references to foul language. I request that he keep it a little more dignified in this place, despite his tendencies.
Business of Supply June 8th, 2015
Well I did say socialist.
Could the member comment on the attempt by socialist governments to socially engineer equal outcomes versus a pragmatic and rational policy that gives people equal opportunity and then promotes training, promotes trade, promotes job creation, promotes the things that will actually empower people to take advantage of that opportunity?
Business of Supply June 8th, 2015
Mr. Speaker, I appreciate my colleague's comments and his responses to some interesting questions.
What we have here, in my view, is a basic difference in philosophy and ideology, and so on. Would the member comment on the difference between the vain attempt by socialist governments around the world for the last many years—
Business of Supply June 8th, 2015
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise to participate in this debate, and I will be sharing my time with the Minister of Employment and Social Development.
These are important questions we are dealing with, and obviously, there are a couple different philosophies at play here. While the Liberals and the NDP would increase taxes for the middle class, our job is to continue to cut taxes, which we have done 180 times or so since 2006, and we will continue to do that.
The reason the NDP is opposed to our plan is that EI rates will fall. The NDP wants to hike those kinds of job-killing EI premium taxes. Whether we call them fees or taxes, the impact is the same. It is money coming from workers, and it is money coming from employers, which would have a negative impact on job creation. The best social program in the world, of course, is an actual job.
I applaud my colleague, the member for Acadie—Bathurst, for his passion. I know he is sincere and believes passionately what he says. I applaud that. However, there are a couple of different ways of looking at it.
Premier Kathleen Wynne has talked about increasing mandatory CPP contributions, which is not the same as EI, obviously, but is in the same ballpark. They are going to force people to contribute, employers and workers, which will hurt the very people we are trying to help. These kind of payroll taxes would cost Canadian workers upwards of $1,000 or more, depending on how much they are making.
The NDP's real plan for employment insurance is a 45-day work year, which makes no practical sense at all. It would increase EI premiums for Canadian workers by billions of dollars, and that does not help create jobs.
Last fall, we introduced the small business tax credit, which reduced EI premiums for 780,000 small businesses. Of course, the high-tax parties opposed that cut. In budget 2015, our government reaffirmed our commitment to reduce EI premiums by 21% in 2017. That will promote job creation.
Some 99.8% of all businesses in Canada are SMEs, small and medium enterprises. Those are the folks who drive the Canadian economy. Those are the folks who provide the jobs that are so necessary to ordinary Canadians, who are, as we have heard today, all in the same boat, to varying degrees, putting food on the table, gas in the tank, and so on. Those are the kinds of people we need to spend the most time looking out for, and those are the people we are concentrating on in keeping taxes low, in keeping things like job-killing EI premiums and mandatory CPP contributions low, and we do not actually go to CPP, so that industry can continue to create jobs for the very kinds of people who everyone on all sides of this floor wants to help.
Business of Supply June 8th, 2015
Mr. Speaker, I would like to make a brief comment about the philosophical difference of striving for equal results through social engineering versus striving for equal opportunity through rational and pragmatic policies. More specifically, I mean the incentives to people—the vast majority of people who actually do want to work in Canada—through retraining, job search help, and so on, and the balance for the disincentives to the small number of Canadians out there who actually do not want to work.
How do we balance incentives for those who do want to work and the disincentives for those who do not?
Business of Supply June 1st, 2015
Mr. Speaker, I will cut my hon. colleague some slack, because it is all related.
It is about the knowledge of how to deal with those issues. One of the issues, as Canadians, is how to deal with retirement. CPP is there. It is in relatively good shape. It is well managed. We need to give Canadians options that they need to understand. That is where this comes in, whether it is bank fees or whatever. Canadians need to understand the options.
The only option should not be to give the government money and it will look after that money. The options should be that there are TFSAs, CPP that we all contribute to, income-splitting and a variety of things that Canadians can use to manage their retirement. That is what it is all about. It is giving Canadians the option and the education, and then letting them make their own decisions.
Business of Supply June 1st, 2015
Mr. Speaker, my colleague's question clearly has a political purpose, which is fine. We are here for politics.
I do not have a specific number. I do not have a copy of the estimates with me. The number I was referring to was $3 million in budget 2013 specifically for initiatives to develop Canadians' financial literacy. That went, at least partially, to appointing, in April 2014, Ms. Jane Rooney, Canada's financial literacy leader.
I cannot give the specifics about what she does day to day, or anything like that, but I know she has been active in that area. A lot of came back to my colleague for Edmonton—Leduc. We are all committed. We are all at various stages of life. Some of us are seniors, some are in other stages, but we all need a little support.
If the member is looking for a specific dollar amount, I clearly do not have it. I can say that the government is committed to protecting consumers. This is part of it. The support of this motion is part of it. There is no one silver bullet. However, taken together, we are making progress and we will continue to do that.