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Crucial Fact

  • 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

The Budget February 13th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, as a federal government, we are finally doing what we need to do to make sure we have a balanced budget. A balanced budget means that we will end up with more surpluses, and with that we will be able to pay down debt and maybe spend some more money to help the provinces. However, my colleague must remember that the provinces are responsible for their own debts. They need to make sure that their spending is under control.

In terms of the health transfer, we have increased health transfers to the provinces by 6% per year. It is a huge amount of money that we have committed, and we will continue to commit that money to the provinces.

The Budget February 13th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration.

It is a great privilege for me to stand in this House today and speak to economic action plan 2014, which is appropriately titled “The Road to Balance: Creating Jobs and Opportunities”.

Our Conservative government has one of the best track records for economic growth and management of national debt in the developed world. We are the envy of many nations around the world who wonder how it is that Canada has done so well.

I think there are a variety of reasons for this, but first and foremost, the leadership and sound fiscal management that our Prime Minister has shown throughout his time in office has had a major impact. I continue to be very proud of the Prime Minister and his efforts. I know of no other leader who has shown such tenacity in making sure that our beloved Canada stays on the right track and eliminates the deficit as promised. In a related subject, I would like to thank our extremely hard-working Minister of Finance. With his economic action plan 2014, he has delivered his tenth budget. The minister continues to do excellent work for Canadians, and we are looking forward to his continuing guidance and leadership as well.

With these things said, this is yet another good plan for Canadians. This is a budget that Canadians can be proud of. This plan will get us back on track and in the black, as promised. Canada will be deficit-free at the federal level by next year, which is the icing on the cake.

This budget is great for the people of my home province of Alberta, as well as the people in my riding of Medicine Hat, which I am so very proud to represent in Ottawa. This budget is indeed good news for my constituents. There are a number of initiatives that will be beneficial to them, and I appreciate the opportunity to enumerate some of those in the time I have today.

I think one of the bigger pieces that applies is with respect to first nations education. I was pleased to attend the announcement last week, near Lethbridge, of the first nations control of first nations education bill, with the Prime Minister and my colleagues. This positive step forward is being highly praised. It is one of those cases where the consultation process worked very well to reach an agreement that was acceptable to all sides.

This bill will mean that first nations students from kindergarten to grade 12 on reserve will have access to accountable and higher education. I am pleased that our government has decided to move forward with these important reforms.

With the economic action plan, we are pledging to reduce the regulatory burden. We will do this through the red tape reduction plan so that small and medium-sized businesses can save time and money. I know that a number of initiatives to reduce red tape have been implemented and have been a boon to small business owners in the Medicine Hat riding. These are things like the one-for-one rule, which means that for every new regulatory burden that is placed on small business, one must be removed.

Another important piece of the budget that will increase economic activity in my riding is a plan to reduce barriers within Canada. This will help local businesses that may be considering markets. One of the best markets is right here at home, and we need to do everything we can in our power as federal legislators to ensure we are not obstructing trade within our own country.

We have already made some progress on this file, with multi-party support. I make reference to the highly praised legislation that was introduced and worked on tirelessly by my colleague from Okanagan—Coquihalla. Thanks to his efforts, the federal restrictions on having wine delivered from other provinces have been removed, and now the ball is in the province's court to act. Our government will continue with these initiatives to foster internal trade between provinces.

With respect to support for farmers, we will continue to hold the best interests of farmers at heart as we craft public policy. I know that many of my farmers are more than satisfied with our government's record on delivering results for people in the agriculture sector. I know that many wheat producers are very pleased that our government got rid of the single-desk at the Canadian Wheat Board. They now have the same rights as wheat and barley farmers in all provinces east of Manitoba.

We will continue to support them with programs, such as the new pilot price insurance program for cattle and hog producers in western Canada. I know that many of my hog producers remember the crisis of the late nineties and early 2000 in their industry. Indeed, that was a dark hour. However, they are resilient folk and they stuck through the lean times. This pilot project will offer insurance against unexpected price declines within a production cycle.

We will also support farmers by extending the tax deferral for livestock to include bees, and all horses over 12 months, that are kept for breeding when sold due to drought or excess moisture.

With respect to the review process for pipeline projects, we will provide $28 million to the National Energy Board to ensure that project applications are reviewed in a comprehensive and timely manner. This is going to be important to my constituents, and indeed all Albertans. As we are aware, Alberta is the energy heartland of Canada. We need to ensure there is a fair process that is implemented within an appropriate amount of time.

We will be taking steps with economic action plan 2014 to strengthen our justice system. In Alberta, we would create two new positions on the Alberta Court of Queen's Bench in order to ensure justice in our communities.

Economic action plan 2014 also supports the implementation of a long-awaited victims' bill of rights. Our government has always stood up for the rights of victims of crime when other parties have failed to do so. I am so very proud of our commitment to supporting victims with economic action plan 2014. We have also pledged $8.1 million over five years, starting in 2016-17, to create a DNA-based missing persons index. Once created, it would help bring closure to the families of missing persons through DNA matching.

We are committed to investing over $150 million over the next five years to enhance the Canadian Food Inspection Agency's food safety programs to ensure that Canada's food supply is safe. I know that will speak to many of the meat packers that rely on that industry in my riding. It also reaffirms our government's commitment to ensure that Canada continues to have one of the highest-rated food safety systems in the world.

With this new funding, the CFIA expects to hire 200 new inspectors and other staff, develop programs that would minimize food safety risks, and enhance Canada's capacity to prevent unsafe food from entering Canada, which would offer better protection for consumers.

One program that has been popular in the Medicine Hat riding is the new horizons for seniors program, which allows more seniors to be active in their community. We would be allocating another $5 million through this economic action plan.

One of the major initiatives announced in this plan is new tax relief for search and rescue workers. We introducing the search and rescue volunteers tax credit in recognition of the important role played by those who put themselves at risk for the security and safety of our communities. I know there are some folks back in my riding who are very active in search and rescue efforts when needed. I think they would definitely take advantage of this tax credit. I hope they will.

We experienced some very heavy flooding last year in Alberta, as is well documented. With this economic action plan, our government would provide up to $200 million to establish a national disaster mitigation program to better protect Canadians and their communities from natural disasters.

For Alberta, total major transfers would be $5.2 billion in 2014-15, including $3.7 billion through the Canada health transfer, which would be an increase of 129% since 2005-06, under the previous Liberal administration. It would also include $1.5 billion through the Canada social transfer, which would be an increase of almost 148% since 2005-06.

Our budget has a major component that focuses on training. We would create the Canada apprenticeship loan, which would provide apprentices in red seal trades with access to over $100 million in interest-free loans.

We would also be investing $75 million targeted for older workers.

A topic of interest, especially as of late, has been our continued commitment to our Canadian veterans. I know there has been a certain amount of misinformation out there and I want to ensure that the record is set straight. Our government has invested billions of dollars on programs for our veterans since we came into office in 2006. In the 2012-13 year alone, we spent approximately $3.1 billion in direct support for our veterans and their families.

In economic action plan 2014, we would be implementing our priority hiring of veterans strategy. Essentially, in recognition of their service to Canada, our Conservative government is proposing to enhance employment opportunities in the federal public service for medically released Canadian Armed Forces personnel by creating a statutory hiring priority in the Public Service Employment Act. This would mean there would be a statutory hiring priority for armed forces personnel who are medically released for service-related reasons.

There is a large Canadian Forces base in my riding, CFB Suffield. I am proud that our government is continuing to stand up for our veterans and for the members of the Canadian Armed Forces.

Our government has put Canada on a sound financial footing and continues to ensure that we stay on top as we work to pull our great country out of the great recession. Our record thus far speaks for itself: over one million net new jobs created, many of those in the private sector; low debt-to-GDP ratio; and relatively low unemployment. We have lowered taxes by putting money back into the pockets of hard-working Canadian families.

With this in mind, I look forward to questions from my hon. colleagues.

The Budget February 13th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I was listening intently to my colleague across the way and the Conservatives will not follow any financial or budgetary advice from that party.

I would also like to put something on the record. He talked about veterans, but failed to mention that since 2006 we have put more than $5 billion toward veterans. He talked about the closing of the VAC offices, but he did not bother to mention that we have added another 600 points of entry. In five out of the eight offices, the VAC employee will still be in the same building, in HRSDC. We also know that in fact his group of PSAC members were the ones who created this terrible misunderstanding.

I would ask him to correct the facts.

Grain Transport February 5th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to stand tonight, even if only for a minute and a half, to support our government's long-standing and strong record of support for Canadian grain farmers and the entire agricultural sector.

Our government's top priority remains the economy, and we recognize that the grain sector plays a big part in that whole aspect. We understand farmers' frustration, because we hear it day and day out, with the railway system and the grain not moving fast enough.

When I previously spoke, I said that industry has applauded our assistance in trying to move this forward. Dennis Thiessen, director of the Grain Growers of Canada, said this week:

We want to thank [the Minister of Agriculture] for continuing to recognize the rail capacity needs of grain farmers and the urgency of the current situation.... [The government's] recommendations make sense and they are needed at this time. Improving the frequency of reporting and better communications with industry, railways, government and farmers at the table is what is needed to get the grain moving.

We have been working extremely hard in terms of the Wheat Board, trying to get new breeding clusters in place. There are so many things that we are doing that I do not have enough time to touch on them all.

Thank you for the opportunity, Mr. Speaker.

Grain Transport February 5th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, that was a 10-minute speech, and nine minutes of it was not about farmers and moving grain. Amazing.

In that regard, I am wondering if my colleague on the opposite side would like to know that this is a debate on grain transportation. As a government, we have really moved forward the opportunity for farmers to have a marketing system they can manage themselves.

Wheat sales contribute $9 billion to the economy and $5 billion to export sales. We are moving to make sure that we open markets for western wheat and barley. The minister is currently working with the grain companies, the railways, and farm producers to try to find a solution to this problem. It is a major problem for the farmers in my area as well.

In that regard, I am wondering if the member opposite would make sure that she talks to her colleagues in the union at CN to make sure that they actually sign an agreement so that grain will, in fact, be shipped by CN without disruption to our farmers, who desperately need to get this grain to market.

Grain Transport February 5th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to ask my colleague a question.

He is absolutely right. Many of our colleagues on this side of the House do represent farmers. In fact, I am privileged to represent a large agricultural area in the MD of Taber, the County of Newell, the County of Cypress, and the County of Forty Mile. There are farmers all throughout this area, and they know that we do in fact stand up for them.

Dennis Thiessen, director of Grain Growers of Canada, said this week:

We want to thank [the Minister of Agriculture] for continuing to recognize the rail capacity needs of grain farmers and the urgency of the current situation.... [The government's] recommendations make sense and they are needed at this time. Improving the frequency of reporting and better communication with industry, railways, government and farmers at the table is what is needed to get the grain moving.

My question for my colleague has to do with the Wheat Board. Liberal and NDP members are saying that the Wheat Board was so fantastic, yet farmers throughout my riding complained about the Wheat Board. They would take their grain and it might take them a couple of years to get their money. I wonder if my colleague could comment on that.

Grain Transport February 5th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I have been waiting a long time to get up and ask a question on this very important topic.

I had seven farmers in my office who were big wheat board supporters. They were really excited and wanted to make sure that we kept the wheat board. At the end of the discussions, I said that the wheat board would still be there and they would still be able to sell their grain. I asked them if they were going to sell their grain through the wheat board, and the farmers said no, they could get better prices from grain companies.

My contention is, and we have heard over and over, that we in fact have record crops. I would like to ask my colleague from Saskatchewan what the advantage was of getting rid of the Canadian Wheat Board in its former form, and how is it responding in today's market business?

Business of Supply February 4th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, the member ought to know that we would not talk about cases that are before the courts.

However, I can say that the commissioner has outlined specifically that no laws have been broken. We are following all the Canadian laws, particularly on privacy. We understand that Canadians want to make sure their private matters are not interfered with by the government.

Business of Supply February 4th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, that being said, CSEC is prohibited from targeting the communications of persons in Canada, or Canadians anywhere, under this foreign intelligence and cyber protection act.

The Privacy Act ensures that we do not get into individuals' information. That requires a court order. I believe the commissioner has already outlined that we are following the law, and that is important.

Business of Supply February 4th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Northumberland—Quinte West.

I am pleased to speak against the Liberal motion today.

I would like to take a few moments to describe the many ways in which our Conservative government is working to protect Canada and Canadians against the very real threat of terrorism.

In 2012, our government released Canada's first counterterrorism strategy called “Building Resilience Against Terrorism”. This single comprehensive strategy guides the actions of more than 20 federal departments and agencies to better align them to prevent, detect, deny, and respond to terrorist threats. It speaks frankly about the terrorist threats that we face at home and abroad.

In a resilient society, everyone, including governments, first responders, critical infrastructure operators, communities, and individuals, know what they need to do when faced with a terrorist attack, mitigating the impact and helping to facilitate a rapid return to ordinary life.

First and foremost to the strategy's success is the element of prevention. Preventing terrorist ideologies from taking hold of vulnerable individuals is the best scenario.

The strategy also lays out how government organizations, including CSIS and CSEC, work every day to detect individuals and organizations who may pose a terrorist threat to deny terrorists the means and opportunities to carry out their attacks, and to respond to acts of terrorism in a manner that mitigates their efforts. I am convinced that our strategy, successfully implemented by the exceptional men and women working in our national security departments and agencies, effectively addresses the threat of terrorism to Canada, its citizens, and its interests around the world.

Without a doubt, Canada's success in remaining resilient in the face of terrorist threats depends on having an approach that is flexible, forward-looking, and adaptable to an evolving threat environment.

However, one thing is clear: Canada is not immune to the threat of terrorism. That is why our government fulfilled its commitment to report annually on the evolving terrorist threat to Canadians and Canadian interests. The “2013 Public Report on the Terrorist Threat to Canada” examined the most critical developments in terrorism since the release of the counterterrorism strategy. It also identified some of the measures our government has taken to address these threats.

The terrorist threats that Canadians face at home are most often connected with and inspired by developments that happen abroad. As most Canadians already know, global violent extremist groups, such as al Qaeda, have been leading the terrorist threat to Canada for many years. This has not changed. Al Qaeda is weaker today than it once was, but it still poses a threat. It provides guidance to other terrorist groups, particularly its regional affiliates. These affiliates, including al Qaeda in Iraq, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, and Al Shabaab, all pose a threat to Canada. Al Qaeda and its affiliates remain interested in conducting international terrorist attacks.

Evolving conflicts abroad also continue to shape the nature of the terrorist threat to Canada. We continue to watch for developments abroad that may drive international and domestic terrorism. In Africa, for example, we have seen ongoing terrorist activities. Terrorists have attacked the Westgate Mall, in Nairobi.

Growing terrorist violence threatens to spill across borders and undermine regional stability, prompting international efforts to counter local terrorist activities. We have seen recent terrorist bombings in Volgograd, Russia. Syria has become both a major centre for terrorist activity and an emerging cause for global terrorist activity. Terrorist violence in Syria could spill across borders and lead to further regional instability. It is clear that Syria, as well as Iran, continue to provide state support for terrorist groups, such as Hezbollah, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and Hamas.

While these developments take place far from Canadian shores, international events are often connected with terrorist threats here at home. The successful Canadian arrest of individuals accused of terrorism offences demonstrates the effectiveness of the integrated national security enforcement teams, known as INSETs, working in major cities across the country. INSETs, led by the RCMP, are staffed by employees from CSIS, CBSA, and local law enforcement. Its ability to respond appropriately to threats to the security of Canada is informed, in part, by the work of CSIS and other members of the intelligence community.

This approach has greatly improved the ability of agencies to work together and has led to many successes. This includes the disruption of the plot to attack a VIA Rail passenger train in April, and the plot to attack the Victoria legislature on Canada Day.

We must also deal with the reality that Canadians have travelled or attempted to travel abroad to become involved in conflicts in Africa, the Middle East, Asia, and elsewhere. In fact, the CSIS director spoke in the other place, just last evening, to discuss this issue. He pointed out that the number of Canadians fighting overseas is not insignificant. This poses a risk to us at home because these radicalized individuals will eventually come back. This is why it is key to develop entry/exit information-sharing with allies, and why it was key to pass the Combating Terrorism Act. Both of these common-sense measures are, shockingly, opposed by the NDP.

Let me be clear. The problems with citizens travelling overseas to fight is not unique to Canada. Other international allies each face similar challenges. It is clear that the global terrorist threat continues to shift and evolve and that international events can have a direct impact here at home.

While no government can prevent all terrorist activity from happening, we can take measures to counter the terrorist threat, whether it is a threat within Canada, support for violence abroad, or activities that undermine Canada's efforts to secure international peace and security. Canada is actively working to identify threats as early as possible, ensuring that robust and effective alerting systems are in place and sharing information appropriately and proactively within Canada with key allies and non-traditional partners. While terrorist threats remain, we continue to see positive developments in our efforts to strengthen and build resilience to terrorist threats.

Through successful domestic and international partnerships, strong legislative action, and with important work being conducted by the men and women in our national security departments and agencies, our government is taking the appropriate actions to protect Canadians and Canadian interests at home and abroad. Our counterterrorism strategy is working. We will continue to take action to keep the safety of Canadians as our top priority.

We will not undertake efforts to create duplicative processes to tie up front-line operators in red tape when they could be taking action to keep Canadians safe.