- His favourite word was farmers.
Last in Parliament October 2015, as Conservative MP for Vegreville—Wainwright (Alberta)
Won his last election, in 2011, with 80% of the vote.
Statements in the House
Committees of the House June 18th, 2015
Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 13th report of the Standing Committee on Natural Resources entitled “The Transformation of Canada's Forest Sector”.
Pursuant to Standing Order 109, the committee requests that the government table a comprehensive response to the report.
I want to thank all current members of the committee and past members for the great co-operation and hard work on this committee. Over the eight years I have chaired the committee, it has been a very well functioning committee, and I am certainly very appreciative of that. I also want to thank all of the staff, because they have done great work over the years.
I want to wish all of my colleagues in the House all the best in the years ahead.
Members not seeking re-election to the 42nd Parliament June 10th, 2015
Mr. Chair, it was an accident. That will be my defence at the pearly gates when I, a 22-year politician, am making my pitch for entry, but I will not be lying, because it was an accident. I never intended to get into politics. It just kind of happened.
I was not from a political family. My mom and dad always took the responsibility to vote seriously, but other than that, there was no political background, no heavy political involvement. What they did is instill in all of their 17 children, of which I was one, an idea that voting was important. They gave us that.
I first realized the importance of politics when I worked as a farm economist for Alberta Agriculture. One of my duties was to interpret policy changes, and those policy changes included budgets, both provincial and federal. I interpreted what these changes actually meant to farmers and what they meant to their farm operations. I came to realize very quickly that whether one likes politics or not, it is important.
In 1988, when Preston Manning held a meeting in Lloydminster, I attended that meeting. There were about 40 or 50 people there. After listening to Preston, a few of us decided we should build this political party, so about 10 of us came together and started the first constituency association for the Reform Party in the Vegreville constituency. This was a constituency that was represented by the deputy prime minister at the time, Don Mazankowski.
In 1992, when the constituency association was holding its first nomination process, I helped to organize it. Later, when encouraged by quite a number of people, I got involved, and I won the nomination, although it obviously was not for my speaking prowess.
By the way, when I told my wife that I was considering a run in politics, her response was, “You? You're going to be an MP? Who is going to vote for you?” Well it was not quite like that, but I read between the lines. We know how it is with our wives; we can kind of tell. I really appreciate her support. I did then, and I still do.
Then in 1993, I was part of that first wave of Reformers to sweep into Ottawa. Getting elected, we all in this place know, does not just happen. It took a lot of work by a lot of people over a long period of time. Many of those people started by helping to build this new political party from the ground up. From the very start, there was nothing there, and they built it into an organization that actually successfully elected a member of Parliament in its first real try at it.
Many of that first board of directors who started this political party back in 1988 went on to be key players in my first campaign. They were people like Connie Kempton, Dave Clement, Morgan Day, Dave Dibben, Andy Cameron, Les Mitchell, Gordon Kyle, Allan Murray, and Ralph Sorenson, who actually is the father of our current Minister of State for Finance.
This group was led by a great Canadian, Sam Herman. Starting with nothing and starting from nowhere, with a brand new party and no organization at any level, Sam took it on, and he led this group. He was an organizer, he was a leader, and he was a fundraiser, and he taught us all a lot about how to do these things.
Let me tell everyone a little about Sam. Sam led our group from nothing, as I said, a non-existent organization, to being as strong a constituency association as I have ever seen. He organized us and he led by example. He encouraged us, and he reminded us why we were doing all of this work. It cost each of us a lot of time, a lot of effort, and a lot of our own money.
When I won the nomination in June of 1992, Sam went on the road with me for over a year. It was practically a full-time job. He had just sold his farm equipment business and was starting a new personal financial planning business with two other partners. In spite of that, he went on the road with me for over a year.
As I said, campaigning was almost like a full-time job, going to town to town, business to business, having coffee parties and building this organization from the ground up. It was like a full-time job, except there was no pay, and this at a time when Sam could ill afford the time. This incredible commitment and sacrifice is truly something I marvel at to this day. He then became my campaign manager in 1993 when the election was called.
As members know, in 1993 I was one of the first group of 52 Reform MPs who stormed Ottawa. We brought about a lot of positive change. I would argue that we continue to do that through this new Conservative Party of Canada, a brand new party started in 2003. I believe this new party is carrying on down the path that was started by that Reform Party of Canada, and of course down the path of the other parent party, the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada.
I am so proud of my colleagues and friends in this place. We are a great team. I also believe that our Prime Minister will go down in history as one of the greatest prime ministers this country has ever known. With his long-term planning, he has led our team to reduce taxes and make an average Canadian family of four more than $6,000 better off than they were when we took office 10 years ago, and this is nothing to sneeze at.
Think of the difference that $6,000 a year can make for an average of family four. They can use it to invest and build for retirement, to spend on something they need or something special or in some cases just to get by, or to pay for education and so on for their children. This does make a real difference, and it is something I am very proud of.
I am proud of the work that this team, my colleagues, have done in the areas of justice, in ending the Wheat Board monopoly, in ending the long gun registry, and in making our streets safer.
I want to recognize that the opposition has played a role in this as well. I am not one—at least not now, after 22 years—to believe that any one party has all the answers, and I respect my colleagues across the floor. I want to thank all of them for their contribution to making this government a better government.
Finally, I want to say how proud I am of my wife and our children and our grandchildren. I cannot express how much I appreciate what Linda has done for me and our family over these very difficult years. I am so much in love with her, and I look forward in the years ahead to spending more time with her. I am hoping we can find a way to make that work, because as all members of parliament know, we really do not get as much time with our spouses and families and we would like, and she has done a great job.
I am so proud of all of my family. I have five children, married, who have produced eight grandchildren. It is just so wonderful to go home and enjoy the grandchildren and see the fruits of the labour that Linda has put in.
I want to end by thanking all of my constituents for allowing me these seven opportunities to represent them. There was stronger support every time. It was over 80% the last time. I want to say what an honour and what a privilege it has been to represent them. Thirty years ago, I could not have imagined that I would be given that incredible honour and privilege. I thank each one of them from the bottom of my heart.
Committees of the House June 3rd, 2015
Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 12th report of the Standing Committee on Natural Resources regarding the supplementary estimates (A) for 2015-16.
Business of Supply June 1st, 2015
Let them holler, Mr. Speaker, but the truth is the truth. They cannot deny it. That is the truth. They were found guilty of that.
Business of Supply June 1st, 2015
Mr. Speaker, to the last part of the member's question, perhaps I have a lot more faith in my constituents and in Canadians generally than he does. I think most Canadians recognize that banks do have special no-fee programs and other types of programs for people approaching retirement age. That is well known and well understood.
With respect to the member's comments on advertising, the government does spend money on advertising. The difference between what our government does and what his government did when his party was in office a few short years ago is that our money actually goes to a wide range of advertising companies in a fair and open way so that we can let consumers, voters, and Canadians know what programs we have to offer them. His government sent over $40 million into the pockets of political friends.
We do not do that. That is why we brought in the Accountability Act as one of our first pieces of legislation when we took office in 2006.
Business of Supply June 1st, 2015
Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the question asked and the comments made by the member opposite. I do not agree with them, but he certainly has a right to make comments like that.
In terms of what our government will continue to do from now until the time the House rises and what we can accomplish during that time, quite frankly that largely depends on the official opposition. The opposition must be willing to co-operate for a change, instead of opposing every single thing this government brings in.
That is what the opposition members do. They oppose everything. If we look at a list of legislation that they have actually supported, we see they have done it because they have been embarrassed by the statistics, which show that they oppose virtually everything. The list is an extremely short list, and there is only a list of legislation that they support because of the embarrassment of opposing everything.
It is up to the member to determine what we as government will look at and accomplish before the end of the session. He has to look at himself and his colleagues beside him to determine how much legislation our government will pass in the rest of this session.
Business of Supply June 1st, 2015
Mr. Speaker, I am delighted today to support my colleague's opposition day motion and to continue our government's strong support for middle-class consumers and small business owners and operators. I would like to say that I will share my time with the hon. member for Willowdale.
It is no secret that small business is the lifeblood and the engine of our economy. Small businesses account for 99% of all businesses in this country and employ half of the working men and women in the Canadian private sector. Our government believes that small business owners should spend their time growing their businesses and creating jobs, not battling high taxes and red tape. We have already cut taxes significantly for small businesses and their owners. We cut the small business tax rate to 11% in 2008, and increased the amount of annual income eligible for this lower rate from $300,000 to $400,000 in 2007 and then to $500,000 in 2009. This makes a huge difference to small businesses.
We cut the general corporate income tax rate to 15% in 2012 from approximately 22% in 2007. That is a 30% reduction in tax for corporations generally. This reduction benefits successful small businesses on their way to becoming big businesses when their income exceeds this $500,000 income level.
We increased the lifetime capital gains exemption on qualified small business shares from $500,000 to $750,000 in 2007. The government further increased the exemption to $800,000 in 2014, indexed the new limit to inflation, and further increased this exemption to $1 million for farmers and fishermen in 2015. The lifetime capital gains exemption is estimated to be delivering over $1 billion in federal tax relief annually for small business owners, including farm owners and fishermen.
We also reduced small business EI premiums by introducing the small business job credit. This credit is expected to save small businesses more than $550 million in the next year or so.
To further encourage small business growth, last month's budget proposed to further reduce the small business tax rate by nearly 20% by 2019, taking it down to just 9%. For a small business with taxable income of $500,000, this tax cut and other tax relief the government has provided since 2006 would result in an overall federal tax reduction of 50%. It is cut in half.
However, small business owners and operators in my riding of Vegreville—Wainwright would be alarmed to know that the Liberal leader said he would reverse our tax cuts to small business. I also note that both the NDP and the Liberal Party would dramatically hike payroll taxes for small businesses and their workers.
The Liberal leader has said, “We're looking at an expansion and a mandatory expansion of the CPP of the type that Kathleen Wynne put forward in Ontario.” That is what he said. He wants a mandatory expansion to the CPP. For someone earning $60,000 per year, the Liberal leader's policy would be a cut of $1,000. That would be in addition to the $1,000 payroll tax increase that would have to be paid by the small business owner. To be clear, not only would this mandatory increase in payroll tax reduce employees' take-home pay, but it would also force small businesses to cut jobs, hours, and wages for their employees. That is simply what would happen.
When it comes to promoting job creation and economic growth, which ultimately benefit all Canadians, including consumers, our government continues to make responsive and responsible decisions. Our government is implementing policies focused on raising Canada's economic potential and creating stable, well-paying jobs.
However, we cannot be complacent. These are tough economic times here at home and right around the world. Small businesses are stretching dollars as far as they can go, and they need support so that our economy can continue to grow. That is why our government took action to address credit card fees. Every time a merchant accepts a credit card payment, he or she pays fees, and, as is the case with any other cost, fees can affect prices for consumers and usually do.
Last fall we accepted voluntary commitments by Visa Canada and MasterCard Canada to cut credit card fees by close to 10%. This is meaningful. Specifically, the proposals from Visa and MasterCard include voluntarily reducing their respective credit card fees for consumer cards to an average effective rate of 1.5% for a period of five years and ensuring that all merchants receive a reduction in credit card fees. More importantly, Visa and MasterCard started to implement the reductions this past April, so they have already kicked in.
The purpose of these voluntary commitments is simple. It is to reduce the cost of credit card acceptance for merchants in order to keep prices lower for consumers. Let me reassure the House that, as the finance minister has said:
If Visa or MasterCard do not comply with their public commitments the Government will take all necessary measures to keep prices low for all consumers.
Let me turn members' attention to the enhanced code of conduct for the debit and credit card industry that was announced in last year's budget. It aims to promote fairness in the credit card market and addresses the issues that businesses told us about.
We worked hard to fix the problems. Merchants will now have a new, more user-friendly complaints process for code-related complaints. We are improving disclosure requirements within contracts. Businesses will have more flexibility to exit their contracts without penalty. In addition, the code will now apply to mobile payments.
This stronger code also offers new protection for consumers. Credit card issuers will have to inform consumers that using premium cards may mean higher fees, so there will be new branding requirements for premium cards to make them more easily identifiable. We are also introducing new protections with mobile devices so that consumers have choice.
We want to go even further than this. Every year Canadians make roughly $24 billion in payments. More and more of these transactions are being made electronically. However, while debit, credit, and prepaid cards are subject to federal regulations, digital and electronic wallets largely are not. That is why our government launched public consultations on the national retail payments system. We want to hear what Canadians think about the way that they pay so that our consumer protection will continue to be cutting edge.
In conclusion, taking together all that has been done since our Conservative government was elected, I can say with confidence that protecting consumers and supporting small business remains a central focus of our government.
We are working with the provinces and territories to make consumer protection regimes more robust and to defend Canadians using high interest rates and payday lending products. We have worked with the financial sector to ensure that Canadians benefit from greater transparency and pricing disclosure. At the same time, we are defending consumers from having to pay the costs associated with the high-tax agenda of the Liberals and the NDP. That is something that consumers should think about more. Canadians generally should think about that more. What would the consequences be of electing a Liberal or NDP government in the next election? It is something that I do not like to think about, because I do not like higher taxes, but that is what the result would be.
The NDP has pledged to implement a carbon tax that would raise the price for consumers on groceries, gas, and everything else. This is something I will not support, and my constituents simply will not support it either.
Leader of the Liberal Party of Canada May 27th, 2015
Mr. Speaker, our Prime Minister and this government have put forward a plan to help middle-class families by continuing to put more money back in their pockets. We are enhancing the universal child care benefit and are creating the child tax cut to help all families with children.
I think it is also important to point out that we have gone even further to help all Canadians make ends meet. In fact, federal taxes are at their lowest level in 50 years
It is disappointing to hear the Liberal leader take the opposite approach. His plan is to reverse these savings and to instead bring in a family tax hike. That is what he said. He made his point of view perfectly clear when he said that benefiting all families “is not what is fair”. That is what he said.
Our government believes it is fair to help all families, and indeed, all Canadians, and we will continue to do just that.
Abortion May 25th, 2015
Mr. Speaker, the most important issues I have dealt with in my 22 years as a member of Parliament are pro-life issues.
These are the issues dealing with abortion and end of life, such as physician-assisted suicide. They have been the most important but also the most difficult, and sometimes frustrating, to deal with. Often it seems that progress is too slow, but on the other hand, we do need to recognize that progress is being made.
On May 14, the annual pro-life rally was held on Parliament Hill. The turnout was very encouraging, with a huge crowd of about 25,000 people, the largest on record.
As usual, the approach was extremely positive with a focus on helping young women and men who were struggling with the decision to possibly abort their unborn child, to find the support they needed to decide to have the child. Barring serious health concerns, this is always the right decision. Information and help are offered to parents to decide what to do after that.
Progress is being made and pro-lifers here and across Canada should be proud and thankful for this.
Economic Action Plan 2015 Act, No. 1 May 14th, 2015
Mr. Speaker, that is a good question.
This is the party that removed the long gun registry. We have always thought it was a waste of money, that it was ineffective, and that it inappropriately interfered with hunters, farmers, and anyone, really, who wanted to own a long gun.
This is just part of the process to ensure that the registry actually is destroyed, so that farmers, duck hunters, and others can feel very comfortable with the fact that the registry has been destroyed as we promised.