- His favourite word was talked.
Last in Parliament October 2015, as Conservative MP for Medicine Hat (Alberta)
Won his last election, in 2011, with 72% of the vote.
Statements in the House
Petitions June 18th, 2015
Mr. Speaker, I have three petitions to present this morning.
Two of them are asking Citizenship and Immigration Canada to expedite the recognition of Seyamak Naderi as a convention refugee.
In the third petition, petitioners are asking the Government of Canada to assist the current humanitarian crisis by accepting a group of Rohingya people as government-assisted refugees.
Prairie Gleaners Society June 16th, 2015
Mr. Speaker, it is a great privilege for me to stand in the House to speak about an organization that I support, the Prairie Gleaners Society.
The Prairie Gleaners is a volunteer-run, not-for-profit organization that receives donations of vegetables that are from greenhouses and farmers to prepare for the needy of the world. They are then sealed in packages and sent mostly overseas in areas where chronic hunger is widespread.
The Prairie Gleaners recently hosted an open house session to give locals a chance to see exactly what its work entailed and to explain how its projects worked. The veggies are chopped into smaller pieces by volunteers then dehydrated and shipped. It is also working locally with food banks to deliver relief to families in our communities.
As a volunteer organization, it ships roughly three million meals every year. Having tasted the delicious soups from the packages that I made myself as a volunteer, I am pleased that such an efficient and helpful volunteer operation is run out of Medicine Hat.
I wish all of the volunteers, the caring folks who give so much of their time to make the Prairie Gleaners run on a daily basis, all the best in the future.
Corrections and Conditional Release Act June 16th, 2015
moved for leave to introduce Bill C-693, An Act to amend the Corrections and Conditional Release Act (authorized absences and work releases).
Mr. Speaker, it is an honour for me to introduce my first private member's bill in this 41st Parliament. The bill is an important piece of the puzzle to ensure we have fairness with respect to temporary escorted absences for those in the care of Correctional Service Canada. It is past time that we had a discussion on what precisely is good reason to grant those serving prison sentences temporary escorted absences.
My bill would amend the Corrections and Conditional Release Act in a way that would modify the list of reasons why temporary escorted absences from prison are justified and granted.
Several years ago, our community was victimized by a convicted criminal who escaped from custody. The heartbreak that resulted should never happen again.
The bill applies specifically to high-risk offenders, as they are obviously most at risk of causing problems while away from prison. It would focus specifically on offenders classified in section 17 of the act.
I trust this will gain the support of members of the House.
I would like to thank my colleague, my brother, the member for Calgary Northeast.
(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)
Free Votes June 15th, 2015
Mr. Speaker, it is a great honour for me to rise today in support of my colleague, the hon. member for Souris—Moose Mountain, and his motion that we are debating today.
I think as Canadians we are really very lucky. We have freedom of expression enshrined in our Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and nobody can take that away from each individual Canadian. It grants us the right to speak our mind, the right to discuss issues that we believe are important not only to our constituents, but to Canadians right across this vast, beautiful land we call home.
I believe it is our duty as federal legislators, as federal representatives here in the House of Commons of the Parliament of Canada, to speak out and to speak according to our conscience. This is especially pressing on abortion and end-of-life issues. I find it concerning and highly irritating when I hear somebody suggest that we cannot as federal legislators discuss an issue that is in the federal jurisdiction as it is not politically correct, or that it will offend some segments of society.
Well, it will be no surprise to anybody that I have been a defender of the rights of the unborn and I believe that we must be able to debate this issue freely. I supported previous motions to that effect, and will support any future motions that come before this House. I constantly receive correspondence and phone calls from constituents who are firmly in favour of defending the right to life, and as it is my duty as their federal representative here to represent their interests in Parliament, I am reinforced in my belief that this is the right thing to do.
Another issue that has dominated the national spotlight is that of end-of-life matters. The Supreme Court recently struck down parts of legislation which made assisted suicide illegal in Canada. I know that our government is carefully crafting a legislative response to this decision, and I pray that the drafters will take into consideration the value of human life when they are making the decisions on what this legislation will look like. Because the end-of-life issue is so pertinent right now, my words will focus mostly on this.
To start, I want to say that I receive many comments from constituents, whether they be spoken, by email or regular mail, by phone or by fax. Most of them urge us to choose a strong, well thought out palliative end-of-life care strategy over the legalization of assisted suicide matters. I support this view, and I believe that every life must be protected.
I think we in this country have one of the best medical care systems in the world. It has its problems, but overall we are very blessed to have the best doctors and some of the best medical science out there available for our use. I believe that we can develop a palliative care regime that cares for our citizens until the end of their natural lives.
I believe that when it comes to matters of conscience such as these, it is critical that the democratically elected members of this House be allowed to vote according to their beliefs and to vote on how the majority of their constituents would have them vote. I realize that support for some issues can be different from community to community, province to province, and in our case, electoral district to electoral district.
It is very unfortunate that certain political parties represented in this House today have basically eliminated the ability of their members to decide how they wish to vote based on conscience issues. When it comes to matters of conscience, in an open, transparent, and democratic society such as ours, it is unthinkable that somebody would tell another that on deeply personal moral issues, one has to vote the way the party leadership tells members to vote, or else. Or else could be suspending said person from the caucus, or simply putting them in the penalty box so to speak.
How can we as legislators in a modern democracy believe that this is somehow all right, that this is the way of doing business? How can we, in our quest to cater to what we think is prevailing public opinion, seek to silence democratically elected members of this place on the very important moral issues of conscience? I find this to be absurd.
An opposition member recently said that they consider all votes to be matters of conscience. As I understand it, that is what the member said. Well, I wish that would be reflected when it came time to vote. These votes would not be whipped and these people would not be basically ordered how to vote by their party leadership. We need to all take a collective breath and consider exactly what we will no doubt have to consider sometime in the near future.
End-of-life issues are a very emotional subject matter and tend to evoke strong emotions. I understand this and I am willing to bet there are members from every party here today who have reservations about legalizing physician-assisted suicide.
This motion would encourage that the parties represented here today allow their members to vote freely according to their personal beliefs, according to what their conscience is telling them.
It is like the old Pinocchio jingle, “always let your conscience be your guide”. That is kind of a gentle way of urging my colleagues here today to carefully consider the motion that is in front of them.
I know that we will have some emotional debates here regarding other major issues of conscience.
Motion No. 312 by the member for Kitchener Centre supported the establishment of a parliamentary committee to study when life begins. I was incredibly proud to stand up and support that motion.
However, I am left asking myself how my constituents would want me to vote. Some upcoming questions that we will have to deal with in this place will be questions of conscience. They will also be relevant to what my constituents would have me do as their chosen voice in this place. I think I have always done my best to vote with their best intentions at heart.
Motion No. 312 and others that may have come before the House in the last several Parliaments seek to deal with a very delicate issue. Many people may not realize that there are no laws regulating the right to an abortion in Canada either. Through his motion, the member for Kitchener Centre was essentially trying to get us to start discussing some sort of direction that we as federal legislators should take on this important issue.
It is matters such as the one that Motion No. 312 was trying to deal with that the motion we are discussing today would cover.
Let us face reality here. Simply having no law is something I find unfortunate in a modern democracy. This is something of an issue that I and many of my colleagues here today probably have a problem with. Regardless of where one stands on end-of-life issues, I am sure everyone in the House would agree that we absolutely must have a written law on the books that would regulate it one way or another. Are we to expect that we should simply have no laws covering end-of-life issues? By going down that path we would be opening up a major can of worms, so to speak.
I do not believe that pretending there is no issue here is the right course of action. We cannot allow ourselves to get into the same situation, and that is why the government is working on the next steps. Doing nothing is not an option. It is our responsibility as federal legislators to craft laws that will protect vulnerable people in our society. We lose a certain amount of institutional credibility by simply turning a blind eye to these very important issues of conscience.
On the Carter case which recently struck down this country's law on assisted suicide, we must tread very lightly as federal legislators. My personal view I have already mentioned, but I believe that this is one of the great moral issues of conscience that our generation is dealing with. The value of human life must not be put in jeopardy by emotional quick decisions. It is important that we take a thoughtful and careful look at how we as a society are going to deal with these important matters. That is why it is so critical to look at the facts and ensure that we are not rushing into any decisions.
Doing nothing is simply not acceptable. Again, our responsibility as federal legislators is to legislate when it comes to the issues affecting the lives of human beings. We are truly blessed with a very important mandate. It is our responsibility to keep Canadians safe from harm. We must also do our utmost to protect the unborn as well as those who are coming to the end of their natural lives. Let us choose to support and comfort those who are nearing the end with everything in our power. Let us look at making changes and improving on our palliative care models so that they are always the absolute best and the most compassionate possible.
We can work together to deliver this with other levels of government and with stakeholder groups. Let us work together to recognize that the value of life is greater than any of our emotional choices as we humans are often compelled to make. This is a critical issue for our attention. I wholeheartedly support this motion, which speaks to the freedom we elected members should have when voting on issues of conscience. I urge all members of the House to vote in favour of the motion.
Justice for Animals in Service Act (Quanto's Law) June 11th, 2015
Mr. Speaker, I listened intently to my colleague, the member for London North Centre. She originally talked about some of the crime legislation that has been brought forward for the protection of Canadian citizens, as well as victims.
My question for my colleague is, why is our government introducing the justice for animals service act, known as Quanto's law?
Members not seeking re-election to the 42nd Parliament June 9th, 2015
Mr. Chair, for the last seven years it has been a great honour for me and, indeed, a privilege to serve as a member of Parliament for the Medicine Hat constituency. All good things come to an end, and these are the last few weeks of Parliament. I want to take a short time to share with members some of the memories of this place, memories that I will always cherish.
Allow me first to thank my constituents, those who voted for me and those who did not. For all the electors of the Medicine Hat constituency, I offer my profound gratitude and praise for each and every one of them. Being a member of Parliament in Canada is a big job as it requires representing tens of thousands of citizens in the House of Commons.
Over the years, I have done my best and I have always thought about what their wishes would be when it comes time to speak here or to vote on important legislation. I hope they understand that I always acted in the way I thought would be most beneficial for the citizens of the Medicine Hat constituency. After all, if it had not been for them, I would not be here today. I extend my eternal thanks.
I would also like to thank all the members of my EDA board, all the volunteers who helped me get elected on two occasions. I will always remember with great gratitude the employees of the House of Commons, who are among the most professional in the world.
First, with regard to the security service staff here, I have never seen a more professional organization in my several years in the private sector before going into public life. They are the best of the best and always do their utmost to keep us safe. They were tested on October 22. We know they did their very best, preventing any further bloodshed from happening that day and saving an untold number of lives. I thank them from the bottom of my heart and ask that they please keep doing what they are doing.
For the pages who keep this place running every day, I do not know where we would be without their assistance. I have seen many pages come and go and hope my colleagues have made their time in the House an enjoyable one.
For the translators, who do a critical job and have a very high-stress career, I have a lot of respect for them and thank them for all their hard work.
For the technical and support staff who keep the chamber running like a well-oiled machine, keep up the hard work and I thank them.
I would also like to thank the Speaker, who works hard every day to ensure we are able to have our free and open deliberations in this place and that our rights as duly elected members are always held in the highest regard. He will always have my gratitude.
I know I have been a bit of a heckler at times, but it has been an outstanding privilege. Over the years, I have been fortunate to have excellent staff who have kept me on the straight and narrow. They were always there when I needed them. I want to thank them for all their hard work over the years. It has been a wild ride. Specifically, I would like to thank Trudi, Karen, Sue, Holly, Andrew, Blair and Jeff and the many interns who I have the joy of hosting in my office over the years.
I thank my children, Scott and Carmen, Darcy and Jennifer, Nicole and Jerry and Todd and Brandy for standing by me. I also thank my grandchildren for their support, Conner, Abby, Carter, Mason, Jessica, Chelsea, Megan and Tristan, along with my sister and her husband, Rena and Clayton.
I would be remiss if I did not say that I could never have accomplished so much as I have without the ongoing support of my partner, my dear wife Micheline. She has always believed in me and her encouragement means that the people of Medicine Hat have been served. I thank her.
I want to take a few seconds to highlight a few of the issues that have meant a lot to me and my constituents over the years.
First, there was the Medicine Hat Family Leisure Centre upgrades, which I was proud to deliver on behalf of the Government of Canada through our economic action plan. This was a $10-million project dedicated to the improvement of an important place in city of Medicine Hat. I am happy I could play a part in that, as well as in all the millions of dollars of funding right across our constituency.
There has been the port of Wild Horse, which is an ongoing concern for the people of the Medicine Hat constituency. There has been some progress on this with pilot projects for extended hours at the port. I have worked hard with my colleagues and interested parties, both here and in the State of Montana, to see that we continue making progress on this file. I am glad we were able to make some progress there. It is incumbent on our officials to continue to advocate for this important crossing in the coming years.
There was the issue of the greater sage grouse.
A number of my constituents worked with my office and with me over the last year and a half or so to bring many of the concerns and issues to the table. We must never forget that these folks are hard-working, everyday Canadians who make an important contribution to our local, regional and national economies. I was honoured to stand up for them and speak out when it was necessary to do so.
CFB Suffield has been an important part of my constituency as the Canadian Forces base that also serves as home to the British Army Training Unit, BATUS. CFB Suffield is an important asset to our military capabilities, and it has been my pleasure to support it over the years as the member of Parliament for Medicine Hat, along with the Defence Research and Development Canada, Suffield Research Centre. I look forward to continuing to have a relationship with the good people there after my term ends.
There have been countless pieces of legislation that have gone through this House. It was my first election in 2008, and taking part in the democratic process, being able to contribute to our democratic system is one of the most humbling experiences I have ever had.
This is such a special place. How lucky we are as Canadians that we can have a free and open democracy, a system where everybody can play a part, without fear of violence or oppression. I think we often take things for granted, and I hope that we continue to be one of the best parliamentary democratic countries in the world. If we allow the system to erode, we will allow the independent voice of democratically elected members to lose its value, and we will cause this place to lose its value and meaning.
To those members I have interacted with over the years, I thank them for their advice, wise counsel and assistance. We are sort of like a family here. I know that it can become hyper-partisan on the worst days, and I might have been part of that, but I have also seen numerous occasions where we have been united for the good of Canada.
I will never forget how we came together in the wake of the loss of our beloved friend, Jim Flaherty, offering our heartfelt and sincere tributes. We need to see more of this, and I hope in the future, as I watch the proceedings on CPAC, that I will see more of this spirit of collegiality here. We would be better off because of it.
I want to give a word of thanks to my colleagues in the Conservative Party of Canada caucus, both here and in the other place, and to tell them to keep up the hard work, and to keep delivering jobs, growth and prosperity for our nation. I appreciate each and every one of them, and will remember them with great fondness.
Finally, I offer a word of thanks to the Right Hon. Prime Minister. He is a great man who cares deeply about Canada and about its people, and about Canada's status as a world-class nation. I thank him for his advice, wisdom and guidance over the years and for believing in me. It has made me a better, more effective representative for my constituents. Canada needs him. We need him. I wish him all the best in the upcoming federal election.
I thank my colleagues for listening. To those who, like me, are retiring in a short while, I bid them an enjoyable retirement and a relaxing summer. I will miss this place along with my colleagues.
God bless all of them, and may God bless Canada.
Petitions May 25th, 2015
Mr. Speaker, my final petition is on emergency protection order for the sage grouse.
The petitioners are asking the government to rescind the emergency protection order and replace it with an order that encourages voluntary implementation.
Petitions May 25th, 2015
Mr. Speaker, the second petition is similar. It is on the sage grouse.
The petitioners ask the House of Commons to rescind the strategy that has been in place and create something that is more palatable to the constituents of southeast Alberta and southwestern Saskatchewan.
Petitions May 25th, 2015
Mr. Speaker, I have three petitions to present. This is another one of the dozens that I have already presented in terms of the Species at Risk Act.
Constituents across southern Alberta as well as Saskatchewan ask that the House of Commons rescind the Species at Risk Act and replace it with an act that encourages voluntary implementation.