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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was actually.

Last in Parliament October 2015, as Conservative MP for Elmwood—Transcona (Manitoba)

Lost his last election, in 2019, with 38% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Business of Supply September 23rd, 2014

Mr. Speaker, the thing is that the math does not work in the Liberal plan, for starters. The Liberals claim that it would be at the same cost, yet anybody who has done the math realizes that it is much higher than the costs they are bringing forward and trying to claim they will bring forward.

The other question that rises from their proposal is with regard to their cynical outlook. I do not share their cynical outlook on entrepreneurs and employers: that they would let people go in order to stay under a certain threshold. In their plan, they would actually open it up to everybody, but to be as cynical as they are, why would employers not let people go and then rehire them in a month in order to get this credit? That is what they believe employers would do, so why would they bring forward a plan that would open it up to everybody across the board to do this?

It seems really strange. They think they have this great plan. They have a cynical outlook on employers and entrepreneurs, yet their plan would open it up to much more abuse than anything we have put forward at this point in time. I find their whole idea and strategy and their questioning today very strange.

Business of Supply September 23rd, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to outline how our Conservative government is putting more money in the hands of our job creators, the small business entrepreneurs who drive our economy.

Sadly, this motion we are debating today clearly illustrates the Liberals complete misunderstanding of how economies grow and prosper in the real world.

The motion would suggest somehow that lower payroll costs and taxes for small businesses would result in job losses. The reality is entirely the opposite. Small business owners are focused on growing their business and look further down the line than the narrow-sighted approach of which the Liberals accuse them. They will not damage their long-term growth for the sake of a few hundred dollars in the short term.

The reality is that lower payroll taxes actually create jobs. They empower Canadian entrepreneurs, leaving more of their own hard-earned money for them to invest and grow their businesses, supporting the families and communities that depend on them.

Our government's recent small business job credit is just the latest in a range of measures that would cut costs and support small businesses in creating jobs and growth.

The small business job credit would effectively cut EI payroll taxes by 15% and save small businesses over $550 million. Also, in keeping with our efforts to minimize the paper burden and cut red tape for small businesses, this credit would require no new paperwork. The Canada Revenue Agency would automatically determine eligibility and calculate the amount of the credit. Indeed, the small business job credit is good news for small business and good news for jobs and growth.

However, the Liberals need not take my word for it. They can hear this, should they choose to listen, from the people who would know best: small businesses themselves.

Dan Kelly, President of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, has concluded that:

...the credit will make it...easier for small employers to hire that...extra worker, increase employee wages or...pay for workplace training....

He concludes that:

Across Canada, we estimate the $550-million left in the hands of small businesses will lead to 25,000 person years of employment....

He adds that:

...it couldn't come at a better time. ...CFIB's most recent Business Barometer found that the economy is trending up, and more small businesses are looking to expand than shrink. Measures like this give reassurance to job creators, which can make the difference when deciding whether to hire....

Perhaps most important, Mr. Kelly also had words for those espousing the sort of ridiculous claim at the core of today's opposition motion. He has stated, and I quote:

Some suggested companies will lay off staff or hold off hiring to stay under the threshold to receive the credit. I've got news for them: small business owners don't have time to research the eligibility requirements, then carefully manage their payroll to receive a few hundred dollars over two years.

Unlike the Liberals, we understand small business owners are focused and busy with creating jobs and the growth of their businesses. They discredit these entrepreneurs by making allegations that they will spend time trying to game the tax system for the short term at the expense of their own future ability to grow.

We have more confidence in their long-term planning. We believe they want to grow their businesses the Canadian way, through hard word and innovation; and moreover, we appreciate the contribution they make to the Canadian economy. Small businesses employ half of the working men and women in Canada's private sector. They account for a third of our country's GDP. Small businesses drive our prosperity and give back to the community, which is why the small business job credit is just the latest of our government's effective actions to support their efforts.

We have cut their red tape. We implemented the one-for-one rule: for every new regulation imposed by government, a regulation must be removed. By the end of 2013, that rule had reduced the administrative burden by $20 million.

Then we cut their taxes. We cut the small business tax rate to 11%, and increased the amount of income eligible for this lower rate. Together, these changes are providing small businesses with an estimated $2.2 billion in tax relief in 2014 alone.

Last year, we froze EI premiums for three years, providing total savings of $660 million in 2014 alone, and we instituted the seven-year break-even rate, starting in 2017 to ensure that any surplus in the EI account will be used for EI expenses.

With these and other measures introduced by our Conservative government, Canada is a more attractive place to invest and do business. In fact, Canada leapt from sixth to second place in Bloomberg's ranking of the most attractive destinations for business. According to KPMG, Canada's total business tax costs are the lowest in the G7, and 47% lower than those in the United States.

However, we will not be satisfied with this success. We live in difficult economic times and cannot be complacent.

This job credit represents yet more action by our government to lower taxes for all Canadians. An average family of four now pays $3,400 less in taxes as a result of actions taken since our government took office.

Under our government, the amount of income tax paid by small businesses with $500,000 of taxable income has declined by over 34%. That is a tax saving of over $28,000 that can be reinvested in the business to create jobs. Let us not kid ourselves. Small businesses will reinvest in their growth and in their employees as they are able to. These measures will support them in being able to do this.

Once we return to balanced budgets next year, our top priority will be to lower taxes for Canadians even more. We will do so on the understanding that lower taxes and payroll costs support jobs and growth. I will, therefore, in conclusion, encourage the hon. members to support us in our efforts and to reject today's motion.

Business of Supply September 23rd, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I have been in this House all morning and this afternoon listening to this debate, and I am disturbed by one common theme that I keep hearing from the Liberal side. It came up in a question and also in the member's speech before question period. It is the challenging of the integrity of small business owners and entrepreneurs across Canada.

The Liberals have continually stood up to say that small businesses, for the sake of a few hundred dollars, are going to shut down one employee in their business, cut people, and stop growth in their businesses. I find that shameful.

I was with the hon. member for Winnipeg North at a small business opening right next to his constituency office this summer. Does the hon. member sincerely believe that the small business owner of whom he spoke of so highly at that opening would lay off an employee and put his business in jeopardy for the sake of a few hundred dollars over the course of a few years? I find that appalling.

CN Rail National Training Centre September 23rd, 2014

Mr. Speaker, recently I had the pleasure of attending the grand opening of the new CN Rail National Training Centre, located in my riding of Elmwood—Transcona.

Winnipeg is the hub of CN Rail's transcontinental network, and this major investment is great news for jobs and our local economy in Winnipeg. This state-of-the-art training centre features a revamped company-wide training program for both its current and future employees. The 100,000-square-foot training centre is located at the well-known Transcona Shops and will be able to accommodate more than 350 CN students from across Canada every week.

Significant investments such as these create opportunity for greater innovation, skills, productivity, and global competitiveness, all of which are vital to our long-term economic growth here in Canada.

CN has been at the heart of Transcona for over 100 years, and this investment celebrates that long-standing and proud connection. I wish to thank CN Rail for its remarkable investments in our community and I look forward to many more years of CN innovation and achievement in Elmwood—Transcona.

Foreign Affairs September 16th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, in the lead-up to Ukraine's parliamentary election in October, the Minister of Foreign Affairs today announced that Canada would be deploying up to 300 election observers.

Our government is proud of its long-standing support of the Ukrainian people's aspiration for freedom and democracy. We continue to stand with Ukraine during these troubling times.

Could the Minister of Foreign Affairs please update the House on the ongoing situation in Ukraine?

Taxation June 17th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, lower taxes make Canada's economy stronger and create good, long-term jobs for Canadians. That is why our government has cut taxes on job-creating businesses. By leaving more money in the hands of entrepreneurs and businesses, entrepreneurs and businesses can hire more Canadians and expand their operations.

In a study released today, KPMG assessed the tax competitiveness of several countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom, and Germany.

Would the Minister of Finance please tell us how Canada ranked in this report?

Canadian Environment Week June 2nd, 2014

Mr. Speaker, this week is Canadian Environment Week.

While the international media seem focused on President Obama's global warming address, Canadians should take stock and be proud of our environmental record. Canada represents just 2% of global emissions, while the U.S. produces almost 20%.

We introduced strict regulations on the electricity sector two years ago that are expected to reduce emissions in this sector by close to 46% by 2030. The U.S. proposed rules are expected to achieve a 30% reduction. Canada's per capita greenhouse emissions are now at their lowest level since tracking began in 1990. Our country is known as a clean energy superpower, and we have one of the cleanest electricity systems in the world.

We are pleased that the U.S. is following Canada's footsteps, and we will continue to build on our record and work with the U.S. to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions internationally.

Ukraine May 29th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, this past Sunday Ukraine held presidential elections to determine a democratic future in which the rule of law and respect for human rights prevail.

I am honoured to have travelled to Ukraine as an election observer.

My riding of Elmwood—Transcona is home to thousands of people of Ukrainian descent, and I am proud that our government has taken a principled stand in the international community to support efforts to help restore stability and prosperity in Ukraine.

We who care deeply about Ukraine remain engaged. We stand with the people of Ukraine because they deserve a government that represents their interests and is accountable to the people.

Throughout this mission I witnessed a renewed energy and optimism. People from all walks of life and from all parts of the country are taking ownership of their future. They came out to vote to determine a better future for themselves and their families.

I congratulate President Poroshenko on his election and I look forward to him engaging at home and with international partners to ensure the political and economic stability of Ukraine.

Business of Supply May 7th, 2014

Mr. Chair, I would ask if the minister could also expand on the regulatory changes she announced last month in response to the TSB's interim findings on the Lac-Mégantic tragedy.

Business of Supply May 7th, 2014

Mr. Chair, I too would be remiss if I did not acknowledge the minister's birthday today and wish her the best. Hopefully she will have a much better celebration in one of the nights to come, because this is not a great way to celebrate one's birthday.

That being said, Canada's rail system has been central to the development of this country. There are some 48,000 kilometres of track, enough to go around the world. We have one of the largest rail networks on the globe.

Rail has connected Canadians to each other and, by transporting Canadian goods to markets, is crucial to our economic prosperity. Some 70% of our surface freight moves by rail, including bulk commodities such as agricultural and forestry products, minerals, and energy products, including oil.

In recent years, more than 40% of our gross domestic product has been generated by bulk commodities. We use rail to move what are called dangerous goods. Dangerous goods play a vital role in the North American economy, but they are substances that could pose a threat to people or the environment. These shipments include oil and gas.

Every day such shipments move routinely and safely across Canada by rail without incident. Canadians depend on many of these goods to go about their daily lives. In fact, more than 30 million shipments of dangerous goods are transported annually in this country. Let me note again that almost all their destinations are reached without incident.

However, this past summer a tragic incident did occur. On July 6, an unmanned Montreal, Maine and Atlantic train containing crude oil derailed in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec. The explosion and fire that followed killed 47 people, caused significant damage to the town, and released more than five million litres of crude oil. The events in Lac-Mégantic underline the ongoing need for rail safety.

An on-site investigation was immediately launched by the Transportation Safety Board of Canada. The TSB provides an extremely valuable service to the government and Canadians. It operates independently of the government and makes recommendations following investigations into transportation incidents.

Earlier this year, the TSB made interim recommendations based on its ongoing investigation into the tragic Lac-Mégantic incident. Our government took decisive action to address the TSB recommendations.

Just recently, the Minister of Transport directed her department to further strengthen rail safety in Canada by removing the least crash-resistant DOT-111 tank cars from service; requiring DOT-111 tank cars that do not meet the standard published in January 2014 in Canada Gazette part 1 or any other future standard to be phased out within three years; requiring emergency response assistance plans for even a single tank car containing crude oil, gasoline, diesel, aviation fuel, or ethanol; creating a task force that brings municipalities, first responders, railways, and shippers together to strengthen emergency response capacity across the country; and requiring railway companies to reduce the speed of trains carrying dangerous goods and to implement other key operating practices.

However, I should note, given the integration of Canada and U.S. rail networks, that rail cars cross the border both ways every day, so we also require a North American solution. When it comes to developing a new standard for rail cars, we do not exist in isolation and must consider our training partners in the United States.

As such, the Minister of Transport continues to work with her American counterpart to accelerate the development of even more stringent standards in keeping with the TSB recommendations.

In addition, here in Parliament the minister has asked the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities to review safety management systems for railways and the transport of dangerous goods. I mention this because I want to point out that Canada has in fact paid attention to safety in rail transportation. Those who say otherwise need to examine the facts.

In addition to the actions I have mentioned, our government is also taking other steps to address this important issue. On sharing TDG information with municipalities, the minister has stated that our government remains committed to a two-way dialogue and information exchange with key transportation stakeholders in communities across Canada. A protective direction was issued to make sure this happened.

On classification of dangerous goods, the minister announced a directive to ensure that all crude oil being transported is properly tested and classified and that results are sent to Transport Canada.

This provides Transport Canada with an additional means to monitor industry compliance and focus our efforts for the greatest safety benefit of Canadians.

When we look at all these actions together, we can see that our government is taking an approach that is similar to the world-class tanker safety initiative that we developed for marine transportation. It focuses on prevention, response, and liability.

Our government is committed to rail safety and, prior to this tragedy, took numerous other actions to strengthen it. It is worth noting some of them.

In 2009, we increased funding to ensure a permanent rail inspectorate of over 100 positions nationally. By last spring, Transport Canada had 101 railway safety inspectors and 35 dangerous goods inspectors. It has implemented a new, aggressive staffing plan to increase oversight capacity. For example, between April 1, 2012 and March 31, 2013, rail safety inspectors conducted more than 30,000 inspections. Our government has also invested more than $100 million in the rail safety system.

We have also taken legislative steps. Last year, final amendments to the Railway Safety Act went into effect, providing the authority to introduce new regulations to strengthen safety and oversight programs. These new regulations include increased fines for companies that break rules, a requirement that rail carriers submit environmental management plans, the creation of whistle-blower protection for employees with safety concerns, and a call for rail companies to have an executive legally responsible for safety.

I want to also note other measures we took immediately following the events in Lac Mégantic. The Minister of Transport directed her department to issue an emergency directive to rail companies, with five requirements: two operators are required at all times for trains carrying dangerous goods; all cabins must be locked; all reverses must be removed from locomotives; all brakes must be properly applied on all locomotives; and no trains can be left unattended without new strict conditions. Our government made these rules permanent.

These actions would build on steps that Transport Canada is also taking to bolster the safety of our rails and the transportation of dangerous goods. To this end, we have said we will work to enhance the collection of safety data and the tools to analyze safety risks and improve and expand the fleet of vehicles used to assess rail tracks. We will improve how information about dangerous goods shipments is shared with municipalities, conduct research to support safety technologies, promote a culture of safety in the rail industry, and continue to work with communities across Canada and groups such as the Federation of Canadian Municipalities to further support the work of municipal emergency preparedness officials and first responders.

We also continue to strengthen rail safety through other actions. That is why, even before the investigations into this tragedy were completed, the minister directed officials in her department to speed up development and implementation of regulations that reflect recent amendments to the Railway Safety Act. In doing so, there are several questions we need to consider. For example, do our current regimes and options adequately reflect risks of transporting crude oil and other dangerous goods? As we did in developing the world-class tanker safety regime, should we reassess the liability and compensation regime for rail transport to better protect victims, the environment, and taxpayers?

Given the integration of the Canada-U.S. rail network, and in order to improve rail efficiency together, we should work to develop a new continental co-operation on rail safety.

As I noted earlier, we are already doing some of these.

As a first step, the Canadian Transportation Agency is reviewing its insurance assessment criteria and will take actions permitted under existing legislation. As well, Transport Canada will review how much insurance may be required in order to adequately compensate people and pay for cleanups after accidents. From that, we expect to bring forward options to improve this regime and ensure it adequately reflects the risks of transporting crude and other dangerous goods.

Beyond what government can do with its own powers, we must also encourage transportation businesses to encourage a culture of safety in their everyday operations, and the sense among employees that they can all contribute to safe operations. By accomplishing this, these businesses can maintain government's trust and have confidence that we will support their enterprise.

In conclusion, let me make a couple of key points. First, railway safety regulations exist to ensure the safety and protection of the public. If these regulations are not followed, we will not hesitate to act, and if companies do not properly classify the goods they transport, they may be prosecuted under the Transportation of Dangerous Goods Act.

Second, Canada has a robust and safe transportation system, one in which we can have confidence. The facts demonstrate that Canada is pursuing rail safety and that our record has improved in recent years. However, events in Lac-Mégantic remind us that we must remain committed to strengthening rail safety. To do so, we will learn from recent events and work with all stakeholders in rail transportation to ensure the safety of our rail system for Canadians.

We recognize that there is still some work to do, and we remain committed to working with the rail industry, governments, and partners such as the Federation of Canadian Municipalities to improve the safety of our rail and transportation of dangerous goods systems.

With that, I have a question for the minister. I was wondering if the minister could comment on whether, in light of what I have said in my speech, she is confident in the direction we are taking and whether it will maintain the safety of our transportation and trade system.