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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. 2 October 30th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I am delighted to have an opportunity to speak to this budget implementation bill. Before I start, I will be sharing my time with the remarkable, hard-working, thoughtful member for Don Valley West.

I am here today to talk about the budget, but before I start I want to talk a bit about the amount of time the opposition members spend on complaining about not having enough time to talk about various pieces of legislation. If they added that up, it would be hundreds if not thousands of hours of House of Commons time, precious time that we need in the House to talk about important legislation. It is thousands of hours they spend complaining about not having enough time. Does that make sense?

It maybe does to the New Democrats and maybe to some Liberals, but it certainly does not to me. They could just talk about the issues at hand, about which they have several opportunities to speak in the House and when it goes to committee where they have all kinds of opportunity to propose amendments and to talk about the issues. Instead of that, they complain about not having enough time. I think the public has seen through that and people really will not buy into it anymore.

I will mention a few things about what past budgets leading up to this budget have really done for Canadians. Then I want to talk a bit about a couple of specific changes that apply to farmers and fishermen. These are not changes that may be important to hundreds of thousands of people, but they can be very important for family farms and for families involved in the fishery. However, I will talk about that at the end of my presentation.

As Canadians know, since taking office eight years ago, the Conservative government has been focused on jobs and the economy. We have focused on lowering taxes to families and to businesses, which are the job creators in our country. We have focused on making things better, allowing families to move ahead and to do better, have a little more money in their pockets and have more opportunity for them, their children and their grandchildren.

We have looked at protecting the incomes and opportunities for seniors as well, making the point that just because they are seniors does not mean they can no longer contribute to society. We have made several changes that make it a little easier for seniors to continue to contribute to society over the long term. That is important too.

We have focused on these things, and we have done it in a very organized fashion, one budget building on the next.

I take a lot of pride in what we have accomplished. However, it is not just me saying that. I can refer to several different think tanks and world-renowned agencies like the International Monetary Fund, for example, and the OECD, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, which expect Canada to be among the strongest growing economies in the G7 over the next couple of years. In fact, I do not remember the details and the year, but I remember a study predicting that Canada would be the number one economy in the world well in the future. The OECD is saying that what we are doing now is setting a foundation, not only to create jobs now, because our government has put in place the environment that has allowed business to create 1.2 million jobs since this recession was at its worst, and we should take a lot of pride in that. It is good for us and good for Canada.

The OECD and the International Monetary Fund think tanks recognize that we have set this foundation that makes things better for Canada than for most countries that went through the recent recession, In the decades ahead, Canada will stand in good stead.

The leader of the third party had focused for the longest time on the middle class in Canada, saying that it was not doing as well as it should be. If we want to have a look at that, here is what an analysis in The New York Times has said, “After-tax middle-class incomes in Canada”, substantially different from the way it was in 2000 when the Liberals were in government, “now appear to be higher than in the United States”.

The leader of the third party talks about middle-class incomes and wants things to be better, but he should realize that they are much better relative to our competitor nations than they were just a few years ago, when the Liberals were in office.

Those are some things for not only the opposition parties to think about, but for Canadians to think about as well.

I know I have taken a little long getting to the particular details that I want to talk about, but I want to mention a couple of issues to do with farming and fishing. These are issues that are not, as I say, important to a large number of Canadians, but they are certainly important to certain Canadian farm families.

Before I got into politics, I farmed, and I still have farms, but I also worked as a farm economist. I worked with farm families on how they could grow their farms and in some cases, unfortunately, how they could exit the farming business in the best possible way. In the eighties, in particular, it was a very difficult time for grain farming and for the livestock sector. Certain things were in place that clearly were there only because of technical reasons.

I want to mention a couple of those things.

The first has to do with the tax deferral or the rollover provision for capital gains. This was put in place a long time ago. It gave farmers and fishermen the ability to pass the capital property over to the next generation without being taxed on it at that time. In effect, the tax liability was passed to the next generation so the current generation, let us say the parents, could exit the industry and be paid off in some fashion, but in a way that would allow the farm to continue. That was extremely important.

However, there were certain quirks about that which did not make any sense. We have fixed those in this budget. For example, if people were both farming and fishing, which is the case certainly in Atlantic Canada, in a lot of cases in the west and even on the Prairies, where there are some various commercial fishing operations, the rules were set for either farming or fishing. They had to have a substantial part of their income, 90% or more, from either farming or fishing. However, if they were farming and fishing and they had income under that percentage, then they simply did not qualify.

We have changed that so they can put the two together and if they qualify with both the farming and the fishing components of their business, then they qualify for these rollover provisions. It is an extremely important change that would allow many farming and fishing families to pass this on to the next generation.

One final thing is that in many years, parts of our country are hit by drought, floods or by excessive moisture. There has been a provision in place that can be enacted by governments to allow farmers to, in severe cases, where they simply cannot keep their livestock anymore, to sell off their breeding stock and not have to pay tax on it that year. That tax would be paid the year after. If they sell off their cow herd, for example, they are not taxed on it that year and that allows them to buy back breeding stock the year after, if there is grass again because it has rained or the fields have dried. In effect, the purchase price of the replacement breeding stock is balanced off against the income from the breeding stock they sold a year earlier.

In 2014, our government has extended this tax deferral to bees and to all types of horses, which may not sound very important. We have a lot of horses in Alberta. It is very much a commercial business. Horse owners have been asking for this for some time.

Again, these things are very important to those particular farm families that are directly affected by this. Our government takes care of this kind of detail.

I appreciate the opportunity to speak on the budget bill. I very much look forward to questions from the members opposite.

Petitions October 29th, 2014

In the second petition, Mr. Speaker, the petitioners call for stronger action against those who would drive impaired causing death. They call for a mandatory minimum sentence for those persons convicted of impaired driving causing death. They also want the Criminal Code of Canada to be changed to redefine the offence of impaired driving causing death as vehicular manslaughter.

Petitions October 29th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I have two petitions to present today.

In the first, the petitioners call upon Parliament to condemn discrimination against females brought about through gender-selection pregnancy termination.

Petitions October 28th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, the second petition deals with sex selective pregnancy termination. Petitioners call on Parliament to condemn discrimination against girls occurring through gender selection pregnancy termination.

Petitions October 28th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I have two petitions I would like to present on behalf of constituents today. The first deals with impaired driving. Petitioners call for new mandatory minimum sentencing for those persons convicted of impaired driving causing death. They also want the Criminal Code of Canada to be changed to redefine the offence of impaired driving causing death as vehicular manslaughter.

Business of Supply October 21st, 2014

Mr. Speaker, if the member had listened to my speech and to the speeches before mine, she would know that Canada, in fact, was on top of this from the start. We provided protective equipment to those who need this protective equipment in Africa. We provided laboratory results and laboratory expertise. We provided vaccines to try to help prevent new cases from developing. We have done a lot of things.

We have committed $65 million. We are a world leader in that regard. That money will be spent, but not just quickly so that we can say we spent the money. It is really important that it is spent to actually do the job of helping to deal with the terrible situation in West Africa and of preventing the spread of the disease to Canada and elsewhere around the world as much as possible.

We believe in spending money wisely.

Business of Supply October 21st, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I see two fundamental differences between this member and members of the Conservative Party. First, although the member has said that she would not make this issue a partisan issue, all day, from members of the opposition in both parties, I have heard partisan comments. That is shocking in a situation like this.

The second fundamental difference is that the government will not spend money until it knows that the money is going to be spent effectively. That is different from what past governments did.

All of the money has not been spent, because, simply put, all the different conditions that have to be put in place to make sure it is actually going to do some good are not there yet. As time moves on, as the situation changes, as international agencies do their job better, our government will provide what is needed to make sure that we deal with this situation and spend the rest of the money in an effective way.

Business of Supply October 21st, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to have this opportunity today to address the Ebola crisis in West Africa and to talk a bit about our government's response to it to date.

I will note at the start that I will be splitting my time with the hon. member for Mississauga East—Cooksville.

I will start today by expressing heartfelt sympathy to all of those affected by the Ebola situation in West Africa. Although the outbreak is taking place beyond our borders, Canada is committed to playing an important and valuable role in the global response and to engaging in extensive preparedness measures at home to protect Canadians.

There are no confirmed cases of Ebola in Canada. It is important to stress that, but it is also important to stress that we must be prepared in case we have an Ebola situation in Canada. Provincial and local health officials are the lead on any Ebola case in Canada, but the Public Health Agency of Canada continues to assist them to ensure that they remain prepared.

On August 8, 2014, the World Health Organization declared the recent outbreak of Ebola in West Africa a public health emergency of international concern. The World Health Organization also determined that a coordinated response by the international community is required to prevent further spread of the disease. An effective response and management of this emergency requires rapid diagnosis, good infection control practices, and tight coordination among partners, and Canada is a very important one.

From the outset, our government has been at the forefront of the international response to this Ebola outbreak. Canada is working with other countries and international organizations, including the World Health Organization, to assist in the overall response to this public health emergency. Canada should be proud of its support in addressing the spread of Ebola in West Africa. Canada has contributed more than $65 million in support of humanitarian, security, and public health interventions to address the disease in West Africa. This funding is being used to improve prevention efforts across the affected regions, including social mobilization and health education to prevent the disease from spreading further. This is very important work indeed.

Canada has been on the front line of the response effort since June. It has been providing world-leading laboratory expertise to help in West Africa. The Public Health Agency of Canada recently deployed a second mobile lab team to West Africa to assist in the Ebola outbreak. The lab and the three additional scientists from the agency are joining the agency's existing team in the field in Kailahun. One mobile lab team will continue to provide rapid diagnostic support to help local health care workers quickly diagnose Ebola. The second mobile lab team will work with Doctors Without Borders to take samples in the health care environment to help determine how Ebola continues to spread. There is a lot to learn about this disease still. This information will be invaluable to helping end the outbreak.

Both teams have the capacity to quickly deploy to other areas, in and out of the country, to provide support if required. On-site laboratory support produces results in only a few hours, which in turn allows for faster isolation of Ebola cases and patient care. It is pivotal to an effective response.

We know that some health care workers have become infected. This is a key reason for the work of the second mobile laboratory sent from Canada. Scientists are looking for explanations relating to the working environments of all those trying desperately to help in difficult conditions. We are very proud of the efforts of the agency's employees, and of course, we want to ensure their safety as much as possible. Employees on the ground have been well trained in preventive and protective measures. Nevertheless, if there is any doubt as to their safety, we will take every measure to evacuate them, on medical grounds, in a timely manner.

Protective equipment is absolutely vital for helping to prevent the spread of Ebola. In response to the World Health Organization's appeal to member states for the donation of personal protective equipment to support the ongoing outbreak response in West Africa, the government recently made available for donation more than $2.5 million in personal protective equipment. This included gowns, respirator masks, face shields, and gloves. They are greatly needed in the affected areas.

These efforts offer much-needed assistance to workers on the front lines and ensure the health and safety of workers. We are proud to support our international partners to help stop the spread of this disease.

On the testing front, the agency's National Microbiology Laboratory has also been very active. Laboratory diagnostic materials to support testing have been provided to African countries such as Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Senegal, Liberia, Cameroon, the Central African Republic, the Côte d'Ivoire, Gabon, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Madagascar, Algeria, and Uganda. The NML has also shared its expertise and materials with the Caribbean Public Health Agency in Trinidad. Chile is also part of the worldwide effort.

Here at home, the health and safety of Canadians has always been, and continues to be, a top priority. While there has never been a case of Ebola in Canada, the government remains vigilant and is taking concerted action at home to ensure that Canadians are protected against the Ebola virus in the event that a case appears here in Canada.

The Public Health Agency of Canada was created in response to SARS to enhance Canada's preparedness to respond to situations just like the one before us today. As a result, Canada is more prepared to address infectious disease risks today than ever before, in spite of what many opposition members have been incorrectly saying. The agency works in close collaboration with the provinces and territories, which are the lead in any response, and with all interested parties to address infectious disease risks.

Canada's health care system and front-line medical staff are well prepared to deal with the identification and treatment of diseases. In Canada, hospitals have sophisticated infection control systems in place that are designed to limit the spread of infection, protect health care workers, and provide state-of-the-art care for Canadians right across the country.

The agency's National Microbiology Laboratory has been working with provincial and territorial labs to increase its capacity to test for infectious diseases, particularly, recently, the Ebola virus. This will further improve Canada's ability to identify Ebola quickly so that the right steps can be taken to protect patients and the community.

Canada has the capacity to respond to and manage ill travellers. The Quarantine Act, which was introduced to prevent the introduction of infectious or contagious diseases to Canada, is administered 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. Canada requires travellers to report to a Canada Border Services Agency agent if they are ill upon arrival in Canada. Front-line staff at the Canada Border Services Agency and Transport Canada are also trained to screen arriving international travellers for signs and symptoms of infectious diseases. Any traveller showing symptoms is referred to quarantine officers from the Public Health Agency of Canada for follow-up. Canada is well prepared.

In conclusion, our Conservative government has taken steps to assist the people of West Africa and will continue to monitor the situation closely. It has also taken action to prepare for and to protect Canadians from infectious disease threats. The government has been on top of this from the start, and Canadians should take pride in the way this has been handled. Again, I remind Canadians that there has not been a single Ebola case in Canada to date.

Petitions October 21st, 2014

Mr. Speaker, in the second petition, the petitioners feel that impaired driving laws are too lenient and they call for two things. They want new mandatory sentences for persons convicted of impaired driving causing death, and they want the Criminal Code of Canada to be changed to redefine impaired driving causing death as vehicular manslaughter.

Petitions October 21st, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I would like to present two petitions.

In the first, the petitioners call upon members of Parliament to condemn discrimination against girls occurring through gender-selective pregnancy termination. They note that 92% of Canadians support this condemnation.