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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

Taxation May 8th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, our government is cutting taxes for hard-working middle-class Canadians with our family tax cut and the universal child care benefit. Our low-tax plan for families is working and we are ensuring 100% of families with kids will benefit with almost $2,000 back in their pockets.

The Liberal leader confirmed that he will take this all away and introduce a high-tax plan for middle-class families. We know this because there is a $2 billion hole in his plan and the only way he can find that money is to raise taxes on Canadians.

Canadians know that, unlike the Liberals, we keep our promises and are the only party Canadians can trust to lower their taxes.

Anti-Terrorism Act, 2015 May 4th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, my colleague is absolutely correct. One cannot have freedom without security. One has to go along with the other.

We have heard that terrorists want to create havoc and they want to kill people here. In fact, in Alberta, they actually suggested that people go to the West Edmonton Mall in Alberta. I am a resident of Alberta and I go there on occasion, as do a lot of my family members. Terrorists wanted to attack people there, attack that mall, and certainly to injure and kill individuals.

We need to make sure that we have the right rules and the ability for all of our national security agencies, the RCMP, CBSA and CSIS, to protect Canadian citizens.

Anti-Terrorism Act, 2015 May 4th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, as I am sure the hon. member for Saanich—Gulf Islands knows, in fact there was an amendment to the bill that specifically changed that particular avenue in terms of providing information to anyone.

It is well known, and certainly it has been said time and time again and it is in the bill, that in fact there is nothing that will stop people from having peaceful demonstrations. These will continue as long as they are not creating terrorist activities on our government and our country.

Anti-Terrorism Act, 2015 May 4th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, obviously, legislation is important to combat terrorism, and our security agencies need these tools.

I sit on the public safety committee and we have already heard from the commissioner that the RCMP is working with other organizations throughout the country to ensure that they stop the radicalization of individuals which creates terrorists throughout the world.

Anti-Terrorism Act, 2015 May 4th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in support of the anti-terrorism act, 2015.

First, I am proud to note that our government's economic action plan 2015 included vital funding for national security measures, such as those found in the legislation. In particular, we have committed to doubling the budget of the Security Intelligence Review Committee, SIRC, which plays a critical role in reviewing the operations of CSIS. Beginning with this fiscal financial year, we will invest $12.5 million over five years and $2.5 million thereafter in ongoing funding.

Further, we have announced nearly $300 million in investments to combat terrorism. This is above and beyond the fact that we have increased national security budgets by one-third since coming to office.

We have done this because the international jihadi movement has declared war on Canada and her allies. Jihadi terrorists hate the fact that Canada is the best place in the world to work, live and raise a family. They would rather return to the seventh century. Contrary to what the Liberals and the NDP would have us do, we will not sit on the sidelines while we fight this terrorist scourge.

Turning to my remarks on the bill itself, I will focus on the provisions relating to the element that would create the security of Canada information sharing act.

Effective and responsible sharing of information between institutions is increasingly essential to the Government of Canada's ability to protect Canada's national security. This includes detecting, preventing and responding to phenomena such as terrorism, espionage, foreign-influenced activity, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and threats to Canada's cybersecurity and critical infrastructure.

In today's interconnected world, national security threats emerge, evolve rapidly and unpredictably, and often go beyond the mandate and capability of any single institution. In addition, information on threats can and often is found in different forms and locations across government. Therefore, in order to take the appropriate action to protect Canada and Canadians, this information must be gathered, analyzed and pieced together in order to form a coherent picture of the scope and nature of the threat. This means government institutions must work together and share information in a seamless and timely manner.

The ineffective sharing of information can lead to significant risks, such as failing to detect and prevent attacks. Of particular concern is the phenomenon of individuals travelling abroad to engage in terrorism-related activities. The threats posed by these individuals has reinforced the need to enhance the government's tools to identify them. While government departments and agencies already share a significant amount of information with each other every day, and more so during urgent circumstances, there are a number of legal requirements and limits that can delay or inhibit optimal information sharing for security of Canada purposes.

For example, some institutions lack clear lawful authority to share. Certain statutes contain explicit limits on how information can be shared and experience has shown that in some cases these limits are too restrictive. The complexity of the legal landscape can make it challenging for operators to determine the circumstances under which information can be shared, and rules are frequently misunderstood and interpreted on a case-by-case basis.

Allow me to provide a couple of real-life examples of how this works.

The Canada Border Services Agency and Citizenship and Immigration Canada rely on a “consistent use” provision under the Privacy Act to share information that is collected pursuant to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act with other institutions. However, this exception allows sharing only for a narrow purpose. In this case, it only allows information sharing for the administration and enforcement of immigration legislation and does not allow sharing for broader national security purposes.

Another example relates to the Canadian passport order, which does not currently contain an explicit information-sharing authority. As a result, CSIS relies on the investigative body exemption of the Privacy Act to access passport-related information to fulfill its own mandate. Not only can this create delays in accessing relevant information, but this exemption also does not allow for Citizenship and Immigration Canada to proactively disclose information to CSIS that could be useful in investigating and advising on threats to the security of Canada, for example, Canadians travelling abroad to engage in terrorism.

Information sharing can also be impeded by the ad hoc and complex nature of the legal regimes that govern it. In addition to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Privacy Act, institutions are also subject to their own specific legal regimes which govern their information-sharing practices. There may be, for example, explicit limits in departmental legislation on how information can be shared.

The overall result is a legislative patchwork that creates a difficult operating environment wherein the rules are difficult to interpret. Over time, this can make information sharing less effective and efficient than is required to prevent and address threats to Canada's national security.

This brings me to how the anti-terrorism act, 2015 will address the issues. First and foremost, it will provide clear authority to all Government of Canada institutions to disclose information in a responsible manner to designated recipient institutions. Only institutions with jurisdiction or responsibilities related to the security of Canada will be designated to receive information relevant to their responsibilities.

It is important to note that this authority will be carefully circumscribed to ensure that the sharing is both effective and responsible and that the new act respects the privacy of individuals.

We are introducing amendments to certain acts to resolve existing barriers. For example, we will amend the Customs Act to allow CBSA to share customs information. We will amend the Chemical Weapons Convention Implementation Act to allow the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development to share information collected under the act using the new authority. We will amend the Income Tax Act and the Excise Act to allow for the disclosure of taxpayer information when it would be relevant to threats to national security, to a terrorism offence, or to a money-laundering offence related to a terrorism offence.

I want to stress, however, that if other acts that are not amended by the bill prohibit the sharing of information, those prohibitions will be respected. In other words, the new security of Canada information sharing act will not override prohibitions in law.

The proposed legislation will go a long way in helping to keep Canada more secure. It will allow information to be shared more easily in some circumstances where there is a gap in the lawful authority to do so. It will help resolve the confusion and risk aversion resulting from current and ad hoc complex policy and legal framework, and it will provide a solid foundation for future information-sharing practices.

I want to be clear here, however, that these changes are being done with the full consideration of Canada's privacy laws. Indeed, this is not about collecting new information; this is simply about improving how information already being collected by organizations is shared.

There will be a number of checks and balances in place. For example, each organization will share information at its own discretion, not as a requirement. Institutions can also be excluded from the application of the act through the Governor in Council process. This is important as we recognize there are instances where sharing between some institutions is not appropriate. Institutions that receive information must continue to respect any caveats attached to the information or originator controls. Independent review bodies as well as the Privacy Commissioner and Auditor General will continue to scrutinize information-sharing activities.

Those are some of the robust controls that are in place to ensure Canadians that we are safeguarding their right to privacy. For greater certainty and clarity, our government moved amendments at committee related to these measures. Among these, we are ensured that the security of Canada information sharing act will explicitly exclude information sharing related to all forms of advocacy, protest and dissent. It will only authorize sharing of information that is relevant to national security.

In this day and age of complex and sophisticated security threats, federal departments and agencies must have the ability to seamlessly share information with each other. This is paramount to keeping Canada safe. With that in mind, we must move forward with this legislation without further delay.

Natural Resources May 1st, 2015

Mr. Speaker, our government believes in responsible resource development.

Sadly, it was not long ago that NDP members went to Washington to campaign against resource jobs. They have a proven record of opposing natural resource projects, and referred to the oil sands as a disease.

Our government, on the other hand, has always stood up for the energy sector. Can the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Works and Government Services tell this House what our government is doing to support the resource sector?

VIA Rail Canada Act April 24th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I am please to have the opportunity to speak to private member's bill C-640, an act respecting VIA Rail Canada and making consequential amendments to the Canada Transportation Act.

An intercity passenger rail service with VIA Rail as the predominant service provider is an important component of our transportation system. VIA benefits our economy and society by connecting Canadians from coast to coast. Recognizing this, our government has and continues to support VIA Rail.

Our government provides VIA Rail with substantial financial support to operate and maintain its network. VIA was given a subsidy amounting to $305 million in 2013-14, a significant amount of funding. In addition, our government is making unprecedented capital investments in VIA Rail to allow it to make important improvements to modernize its operations.

Our government has made available more than $1 billion in capital funding over the past seven years to upgrade and modernize portions of VIA Rail's network and many of its rail cars and locomotives.

However, despite our government's demonstrated support for VIA, we cannot support the bill. The bill would introduce legislation that would not only increase these costs, but would fundamentally alter, for the worst, how the corporation would be operated and managed.

VIA Rail is a federal crown corporation. Like all corporations, both private and public, VIA is governed by a board of directors that is responsible for all decisions the corporation takes. Our government has made efforts to strengthen governance practices in crown corporations and agencies by setting guidelines and best practices for board membership and operation. These best practices include seeking candidates with a range of experience drawn from both public and private sectors. To this end, VIA's board of directors is made up of qualified citizens who represent the diversity of Canada. There are currently members from many regions of the country, with each member bringing their unique skills, experience and perspective to the board.

The bill proposes to limit the pool of potential candidates for selection as VIA board members to only those candidates who are already members of the Canadian Tourism Commission and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities. This is curious logic, as by unduly limiting potential candidates for the VIA board, the bill works against these best governance practices.

Furthermore, as VIA board members have the responsibility to act in the best interests of the corporation and exercise due care and diligence, the proposal in the bill would put VIA directors in a real or perceived conflict of interest with their obligation as directors of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities and the Canadian Tourism Commission.

The bill also promotes the addition of significant financial risk to the government by moving VIA Rail from its current non-agent structure to that of an agent of the Crown. Our government cannot support this proposal as being an agent of the Crown would increase the government's financial risk by exposing the government directly to all VIA's debts, losses and liabilities.

Bill C-640 would further add to the financial risk to the government by providing VIA with borrowing power. The proposed bill allows the corporation to borrow, issue or pledge debt on the credit of the corporation. It also allows the Ministers of Transport and Finance, in co-operation with the Governor-in-Council, to authorize VIA to borrow up to an aggregated total of $500 million from the consolidated revenue fund. Ultimately, however, the government would have to backstop these financial commitments.

Furthermore, the bill proposes to change the share structure to provide employees with a 10% ownership in VIA. This makes no economic sense, given VIA's reliance on federal subsidies to operate. Typical of most scheduled, intercity passenger rail carriers around the world, VIA has no market value as its debts and liabilities far outweigh its assets. With little prospect for share value appreciation, the granting of non-market traded shares as performance incentives to employees would likely be an ineffective and inappropriate use of taxpayers money.

The bill also attempts to define a new mandate and objectives for VIA. In fact, it makes many of VIA's objectives inflexible and removes VIA's ability to seek an optimal balance between its objectives. On the one hand, the proposed legislation mandates the current root structure, while on the other hand, it requires VIA to maximize its financial performance. In other words, the bill ties VIA's hands and sets it up for failure.

Our government believes that VIA operates most efficiently as an independent crown corporation. This means the government does not operate the railway. This means the government does not get involved in VIA's day-to-day operations. This means the government does not try to tell VIA how many times per day it should operate its services.

It does not mean our government provides VIA with the necessary resources and funding needed to achieve its plans. This process has been clearly evident in recent years, with our government providing significant capital infusions and increased operating funding to allow VIA to build extra capacity, replace equipment and align the delivery of its services with planned resources.

Our government believes the current method of approving VIA's direction through annual corporate plans is the best approach. Currently, VIA's object is:

To offer a national passenger rail transportation service that is safe, secure, efficient, reliable, and environmentally sustainable, and that meets the needs of travellers in Canada.

Overall, this approach provides the necessary flexibility in service delivery to Canada's passenger rail service.

Although passenger rail remains an important service, particularly in remote areas and to support tourism across Canada and along the Quebec-Windsor corridor, it is no longer a predominant mode of transportation in Canada. Travel by private car remains the overwhelming choice for most intercity travellers.

VIA Rail is ultimately responsible for making business decision on its operations, including how best to lower its cost to reduce its reliance on federal taxpayer dollars, while meeting its objective to operate a national railway system that is safe and efficient. This is why VIA rail has to continuously assess its markets and operations to decide how best to provide the most economically efficient service to passengers.

The bill would make the process for determining the optimal mix of routes and fleet resources more difficult to achieve and delay VIA from proactively reacting to changes in its marketplace. It would take away this essential flexibility for VIA, resulting in poorer financial performance and governance processes that would not align with best practices for crown corporation governance. It bill would result in higher borrowing, insurance and risk management, costs for VIA. The bill would also result in higher costs and risk exposure for the Government of Canada.

Our government will not support Bill C-640.

The Budget April 24th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, earlier this week the Minister of Finance tabled our government's balanced budget and low-tax plan for jobs and growth. On this side of the House, we believe in helping families and giving them back more of their hard-earned money.

Can the Minister of Employment and Social Development please tell this House what budget 2015 does for Canadian families?

The Budget April 23rd, 2015

Mr. Speaker, the short answer is that I understand that people are unemployed and that they need to find work. My understanding is that if in fact they can prove that they were out of the community looking for work elsewhere, they should be able to continue their claims.

The Budget April 23rd, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I am amazed by the question. From my experience, and I am only one individual, I took every opportunity to find work and move across the country. Certainly that was something I saw I needed to do for myself and my family.

The member talks about EI. As I understand it, the Liberal Party took somewhere between $50 billion and $60 billion out of the EI program and used it for its own pet projects. I do not know how that member can actually stand up and have any credibility.