House of Commons photo

Crucial Fact

  • 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

Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 1 June 5th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for her question, but her question really is based on a false premise. She said that there have been cuts for veterans, but there have not been cuts in any way. In fact, we have put billions of dollars more for veterans. That is the reality.

Are there some veterans who fall through the cracks? Yes there are, and that is really sad. We acknowledge that and are trying to stop it. One cannot get it right every time, but I will tell the member that the veterans affairs committee that has been working on that has reached an agreement on a way they can fill some of the gaps that were there.

I will tell the member that her government put in place a decade of darkness when it came to the military and when it came to veterans. We fixed that, and we are fixing things for veterans. They are much better off than they ever have been, and they are much better off than veterans in any other country around the world.

We have made good progress. Is there more to be done? Yes, of course. Is it right when a veteran falls through the cracks? Of course not. Nobody wants that, and we are going to do the best we can to stop it.

Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 1 June 5th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, one thing I cannot help but notice is how opposition members try to find negative aspects to anything we are talking about. They just look for the darkness in everything, instead of being upbeat and looking at the reality.

The reality is that Canada is doing better than most countries in the world. We are doing pretty well. Our airline system is one of the best in the world. Temporary foreign workers are brought in as pilots from time to time, because the reality is that during the heavy holiday season airlines need more pilots.

We simply do not have the Canadian pilots trained, and so we do bring in some temporary foreign workers. These pilots are credentialed. They are completely competent. Nobody would suggest that they are not some of the best in the world. The reality is that we have a great aviation system.

The problem is that, when these members make comments like that, they are looking at one little aspect of the budget and they are not tying it in with the rest of the budget. They are not tying it in with the improvements we have made to these systems.

They have to start doing that and try to be a little more upbeat and a little more positive, because we have so much to be positive about.

Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 1 June 5th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I truly am delighted to be speaking to Bill C-31, which is the first of what will be two budget implementation bills to implement economic action plan 2014.

The bill would implement some very important parts of the economic action plan. I am going to talk about just a few. What I would like to do is talk about what I have seen at the natural resources committee over the past seven years since I started chairing that committee.

We have heard some common themes come from companies involved in developing our natural resources and creating tens of thousands of jobs. These are good, high-paying jobs right across the country. There are four different themes that I hear, and it is the fourth that relates directly to this budget implementation bill.

First, they made it very clear that they need a regulatory system that they can count on and that will work in a timely fashion.

Second, they said Canada's business taxes were too high, that they were higher than many other countries, including our neighbour to the south, the United States. That is what they said six and seven years ago.

The third thing they said was there is a lot of work to be done yet on working co-operatively with first nations. Almost any natural resource project is in an area that affects first nations; and therefore working very co-operatively with first nations includes hiring from reserves in the area, trying to help first nations form companies, allowing the companies to develop, and then hiring them back on contract. This co-operation with neighbouring first nations is something they said is absolutely essential to develop any kind of a major natural resource project.

Fourth, they said there is a desperate shortage of skilled workers in this country.

Let us see what has happened in the past four and five years since I was hearing these problems and this direction given day after day at the natural resources committee.

First, a recession hit us. There was a worldwide recession. Canada really was drawn along. It resulted not at all from what was happening in our country, but of course we were affected, like other countries right around the world. In spite of that, since the end of that recession Canadian businesses have created over a million jobs, and they are good, well-paying jobs, the kind of jobs we would like our children and our grandchildren to have. We have seen that happen.

I am going to talk about what I have seen in terms of development in those four areas that I have talked about.

First is the regulatory process. Eight years ago when we got into government, we had a regulatory process that was completely unreliable and that could stretch on for seven or eight years, and longer for some major natural resources projects. We have seen mines for which it has taken seven or eight years to get through the process. In many cases, companies have just given up and gone off to somewhere else where they had a better system.

That has changed completely. Now Canada has one of the best, most reliable and shortest regulatory processes in the world. We refer to this as our responsible resource development process. What that means for major projects is that we have one process for each major natural resource project—one review for one project. It has made a huge difference. Whether the process is guided by the province or by the federal government, it means that the process is going to be done in a reliable time. For some projects the government portion can take six months, for others a year, for others a year and a half, but it is a set timeline and government has to meet those guidelines. It has really shortened up the time the process takes. It has made a huge difference.

Within that process is the environmental review portion, and that has been improved monumentally.

Instead of having environmental evaluations done by the federal government, provincial governments, local governments, and other groups separately, now all of these groups get together in the one process and we have a much better environmental review, which would include information from all parties that have an interest in the process.

The responsible resource development process really has worked. Even when the answer is no in a project—and our regulators have said no to several projects—companies are not nearly as upset as before because they get that answer after six months, a year, or a relatively very short period of time, so they can get on to the next thing they want to work on. That means an awful lot, as well.

The second major change we have made is that we have reduced business tax by 35% since we have come into office. That is phenomenal. We have the lowest tax since 1960. That is a tremendous turnaround. Our tax regime for business is lower now than in the United States, and we have reaped the benefits. We have had head offices of companies come from the United States and other countries around the world and set up in Canada. The top jobs in any company are the head office jobs.

Of course, the example we love to point to is Tim Hortons. That great Canadian icon moved its head office from the United States to Canada because of our tax regime, our regulatory process, our reduction in red tape—all of that package.

We have made the changes needed when it comes to the tax system. We are working hard on reducing red tape. As I said already, we have put in place a reliable regulatory system.

The third component of what would allow companies to successfully develop natural resources in this country is to create a working relationship with first nations that is co-operative and that is effective. There has been, I think, great progress in that regard.

It is really sad when we see what happened with the first nations education act. Grand Chief Atleo signed onto our government's proposal for a long-term, well-funded program for first nations, and then others came in and just destroyed all of the work that had been done on this major development.

We see that kind of negative aspect of working with first nations. However, I want to tell members that I have seen a lot of really positive things happen in the relationship between first nations across this country and businesses that are developing resource projects or developing natural resources across the country. To me, that is hope, when there was very little hope 10 years ago.

I encourage companies to continue this good work of hiring people and training people from first nations. Often, companies will start training people from first nations three or five years before the project actually goes ahead; so they are training the people they know they are going to need. That is good for companies. That is good for people living on reserves across this country. It is good for first nations.

The fourth area that has been a problem—and it still is to some extent, but there has been great progress made—is the area of providing the workers needed for companies to develop natural resources across this country. We have done an awful lot of things already.

We are putting in place a program to match workers with jobs across the country. That is very important. We have put in place the Canada job grants program to train workers actually within companies that are working. We are putting in place the internships for apprentices, again, providing important on-the-job training. We are creating the Canada apprenticeship loan program—$100 million in interest-free loans for apprentices enrolled in the Red Seal; and that is after we had already put in place programs to give Red Seal students $4,000 to encourage them to continue.

A lot of good work has been done. There is a lot of progress. There is still work to be done. However, I look forward to our government continuing that good work.

Petitions June 5th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, my second petition is from petitioners who recognize that farmers have the right to save, reuse, select, exchange, and sell seed. The petitioners are encouraging Parliament to do nothing to restrict that practice.

Petitions June 5th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I have two petitions to present today. The first petition is on gender selection abortion. It was determined that ultrasounds are being used in Canada to determine the gender of an unborn child, and if the child is a girl, the girl is often aborted. The petitioners are calling on Parliament to condemn this practice of discrimination against girls through gender selection abortion.

Foreign Affairs June 3rd, 2014

Mr. Speaker, our government has a long-standing relationship with Spain in our support for freedom, democracy, and the rule of law.

Can the Minister for Multiculturalism update this House on the government's position on the important role that recently abdicated King Juan Carlos of Spain played in these matters?

Energy Safety and Security Act May 29th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I listened to the member opposite. He talked about how the absolute liability level of $1 billion is not enough. He talked about the industry in France, where the absolute liability limit is about $120 million. He thinks it should be raised there. Well, we are talking about Canada.

Clearly, what the member wants to do is close down the nuclear industry in Canada. It is a green industry. The NDP talked about how it supports green industries, so I would like to ask the member if he agrees with his leader, who said:

I want to be clear. The NDP is opposed to any new nuclear infrastructure in Canada.

The member for Winnipeg Centre said:

Somewhere out there Homer Simpson is running a nuclear power plant... We do not want to see the Darlington nuclear power plant doubled in size. We want to see it shut down.

These members are clearly against the nuclear industry, yet they claim to be in favour of green energy. I would just like to ask the member if what his party wants to do is shut down nuclear energy entirely and the tens of thousands of jobs that go with it.

Energy Efficiency Program May 29th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I really am happy to be rising today to speak to the NDP member's motion on improving energy efficiency in homes.

I want to say that I do not really know yet whether I am going to support his motion, but at least it is a more substantial type of motion for improving energy efficiency as a way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions than some of the other ideas that have been put forward by his own party. For example, the carbon tax proposal would cost Canadians $22 billion and would probably do nothing, or very little, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This would be a much more concrete and beneficial type of program. It is certainly better than what the former Liberal government did, which was sign on to Kyoto, which was supposed to save the world, save the environment, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but instead of reducing greenhouse gas emissions over the next decade, they proceeded to increase greenhouse gas emissions by 30%.

That kind of an idea really does not cut it. At least this idea is something worth debating and worth talking about. I am looking forward to the debate over the next few hours in the days to come.

I am delighted to have the opportunity to talk about what our government has done to make Canada a global leader when it comes to responsible energy use. Our government has a strong track record in improving our country's energy use and in putting money back in the pockets of Canadians.

It is not just me saying that. In 2013, the International Energy Agency recognized Canada as a world leader in improving energy use. Canada tied for second, with the United Kingdom, right behind Germany, as leading the world in energy efficiency improvements between 1990 and 2010.

Through the eco-energy efficiency initiative, the Government of Canada is investing $195 million to help Canadians use energy more efficiently at home, at work, and on the road to continuously reduce energy consumption across the country. That is something we are doing already.

The goals of the initiative are simple: more energy-efficient homes, cleaner transportation, improved energy standards for products and appliances, and better building codes. In addition, the initiative creates jobs, stimulates the economy, helps protect the environment, and delivers enormous cost savings for business and consumers. For example, vehicle consumption labels are helping Canadians by providing more information about the fuel consumption of vehicles when they buy cars. This is a much needed improvement.

Our government has announced that we are introducing new fuel consumption ratings for cars and light trucks for model years starting in 2015, which is the next model year. These new ratings will better simulate everyday driving conditions and cold weather operation, which significantly affect fuel consumption. In addition, an updated label will be posted on the model year 2016 to provide more accurate fuel consumption information. The new label will provide the estimated fuel consumption and the expected annual fuel consumption for a vehicle. This will put in very simple terms what a particular vehicle a consumer may be planning to purchase can be expected to cost in terms of fuel consumption costs from operating that vehicle.

Canadians will be able to use the label to compare vehicle fuel consumption information and to identify the most fuel-efficient new vehicles. The 2016 label will also be tailored to address new emergent technologies, such as battery-electric and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, extending it beyond the internal combustion engine.

We know that the transportation sector currently generates nearly one-quarter of Canada's total greenhouse gas emissions. That is why our government is already taking action by introducing world-class emissions standards for cars and light trucks. These new regulations will greatly improve fuel efficiency.

By 2025, new cars will consume 50% less fuel and emit 50% less greenhouse gas emissions than similar 2008 models, so it is a reduction of 50% from 2008 to 2025. That is a real reduction, and it is very meaningful indeed.

Our strategy is working. Canada's 2020 greenhouse gas emissions are projected to be 128 megatonnes lower than if no action were taken.

We are also providing Canadian drivers and truckers with fuel-saving tips through the autosmart driver training program. Another program involves taking steps to help consumers make more informed choices about energy when they purchase home appliances by referring to the Energy Star labels. Energy Star labels now identify more than 65 product categories, including appliances, electronics, heating and cooling equipment, lights, and so on. These labels are for the top 15% to 30% in energy performance. We continue to introduce higher energy performance standards and better labelling to help consumers make smart energy choices.

Another way the Government of Canada promotes responsible energy use is by encouraging Canadians to make energy-conscious renovations to their homes. We are already doing this. Since 2007, our government has provided more than $934 million in grants under the eco-energy homes program. This is something our government has already done. One in 20 Canadian households, or 640,000 homeowners, received an incentive to make their homes more energy efficient. Collectively, these Canadians are saving $400 per year on their energy bills.

When we look at the package this Conservative government has put together, we see it is similar in many ways to the packages former Conservative governments have put together. These packages are different from what was put out and implemented by the former Liberal government, and of course we have not had any former New Democratic governments federally in this country, but they would have the same type of programs, which say nice things but really accomplish very little.

The proof of this is that the Sierra Club chose as the greenest prime minister in Canadian history former Progressive Conservative Prime Minister Brian Mulroney. That is because the type of program he put in place to deal with environmental issues and not just say nice things really did make a difference. That is why the Sierra Club, which was an organization that pretty much beat up on Conservative governments when they were in power, had to admit after the fact that in fact it was these Conservative governments that had actually done the most when it came to improving the environment.

I am willing to make a friendly bet that 20 or 30 years down the road, when a group like the Sierra Club chooses the next greenest prime minister in Canadian history, it will choose the current Prime Minister of Canada. That is who they will choose, because the reality is that Conservatives put in place programs that really work. We do not necessarily say words that sound pretty, but we get the job done and we protect the environment, and that is what we are going to continue to do.

In closing, I want to say that I certainly will consider this motion by this member, because it is far above what has been presented by former Liberal governments and so far above other ideas, like the carbon tax, that have been put forward by the NDP and by the member's party. At least this is something we can truly look at, debate, and make a decision on.

Energy Safety and Security Act May 29th, 2014


Divorce Act May 27th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak this evening on Bill C-560, although I must admit it is not a fun topic to deal with. Certainly, there have been all too many, usually young fathers, come to me in states of depression and desperation because they had been denied access or given very limited access to their child because of a divorce and a bad decision made by the courts and our justice system.

Bill C-560 would amend the Divorce Act to direct the courts to make equal shared parenting the presumptive arrangement for children following the divorce of their parents, except in proven cases of abuse or neglect. The key point of this legislation is that when parents divorce each other, they do not divorce their children. These amendments would keep both parents in the lives of more children in those cases where marriages break down. Bill C-560 would require parents to co-operate in establishing equal shared parenting unless they can make a credible compelling case that this would not be in the best interest of the child.

I have heard tonight many, mostly lawyers but not all, who have said that they favour a system where decisions are made based in the best interest of a child. Well, the simple truth is that a child having both parents is what is in the best interest of a child in most cases.

Far too often, cases are being decided by our courts that do not make decisions that are in the best interest of the child. I believe that the law is an ass, so to speak, in far too many cases.

I have seen the fallout of that, and it is not fun. There is nothing that wrenches at one's gut and strikes at the heart in a negative way more so than a parent, again, usually a young father, who is being denied access to his child for no good reason. It is not because they are any threat to the child, but it is because of a bad court decision. I believe that this legislation would make the outcome positive in far more cases.

Just over half of the number of divorcing couples today make their own arrangements for seeing their children without needing court intervention. For those who do need to use family courts, an equal shared parenting presumption would eliminate a key incentive for acrimonious conflict.

It is this conflict that breaks the heart, and breaks the will in many cases, and also makes lawyers rich. Of course, I would not be surprised if many lawyers did not support this legislation. I am not suggesting that all lawyers would oppose this just because they would be denied legal fees, I am not that crass, but certainly I believe that kind of thinking does come into things far too often.

Bill C-560 would foster settlements and reduce litigation due to the requirement that a parent seeking primary parent status must establish the best interest of the children, which means the focus under Bill C-560 is substantially enhanced by the disproportionate parenting time.

Studies have consistently shown that it is the very existence of custody litigation itself that causes the most harm to children. Bill C-560 focuses on the right of the child to know and to love two primary parents in accordance with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

A marked drop in the use of litigation has been seen in Australia following recent equal parenting reforms in that country. This outcome was expected by advocates of equal parenting and runs counter to the scaremongering from opponents who falsely claim that equal shared parenting would produce great conflict among divorced parents and their children. That is simply not what has happened.

Another myth surrounding this bill is that it would impose a cookie-cutter, once-size-fits-all outcome on all divorcing families.

It would not do that. In fact, the opposite is true. The status quo is the cookie-cutter approach, with more than 75% of family court custody decisions being in favour of sole custody for the mother. That is a cookie-cutter approach. It is not a healthy one and it is not one that should be continued in this country.

We clearly see the de facto presumption in operation in today's family courts. Amending the Divorce Act to include a presumption of equal shared parenting, therefore, would not be a radical change to the current law. More importantly, it would be a change that replaces a parental rights framework for one that prioritizes the best interest of the child or children.

The current adversarial litigation system of settling child-related disputes is focused on parental rights. Parents are the ones represented by counsel and are the parties in the dispute. Each parent asserts that they are the better parent and are better able to meet the child's needs, and each parent defends against unfair or mistaken attacks on their parenting from the other parent. As a result, the courts are clogged with bitter, divisive, and financially devastating custody litigation between parents fighting over children like they are property.

I would also like to clarify that Bill C-560 would not impose the one-size-fits-all requirement of an exact 50-50 residential arrangement for the children of divorced parents at both parents' new homes. It would establish equal shared parenting as a starting point for parents and courts to use as they work toward a solution, typically in the range of 35% to 50% in residential access of the child to each parent, according to the unique circumstances of each family.

The international organization Leading Women for Shared Parenting reports that:

Research also proves that, although children want a relationship with both their parents regardless of marital status, healthy bonding with a...parent is impossible without a substantial amount of time spent in that parent’s physical presence.

That means very close to equal, again, in a 35% to 50% range for each parent.

Bill C-560 aims to implement selected best practices from other jurisdictions to encourage parents to make consensual decisions, to reduce conflict and costly legal battles, and to ensure that both parents have the option of equal time with their children, unless they are proven unfit. Equal time as a starting point in the divorce process means that both parents need not fear the arbitrary loss of their children.

I have got so much more that I want to say, but I see that my time is almost up. I will close by saying that we know, from the best social science research, a body of research that is growing every day, that ordinary children thrive most and produce the best outcomes when raised by both of their biological parents. This is what this bill is about. It could play a very important role indeed in helping to ensure that this is what happens, that the best rights of the child are considered and that it means, in most cases, near equal access to each of their parents. It is a result that is clearly, as I have said before, in the best interest of the child.