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  • His favourite word is jaden.

Conservative MP for Edmonton—Wetaskiwin (Alberta)

Won his last election, in 2015, with 66% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Persons with Disabilities June 19th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, those watching will note again that there is absolutely zero reason given yet by the current Liberal government for its refusal to fund the Canadian autism partnership. I am going to read a quote, one of my favourite quotes from Jerry Rice, of NFL Hall of Fame: “Today I will do what others won't, so tomorrow I can accomplish what others can't.”

I am determined to see the Canadian autism partnership come to reality. I know that Canadian families living with autism and Canadians living with autism are equally determined.

We live in a democracy. I encourage those Canadians to continue to reach out to the Liberal MPs through Twitter, through Facebook, through email, and through phone calls. I would ask this in closing: when people do that, is this Liberal member open to changing her mind and supporting Canadians living with autism?

Persons with Disabilities June 19th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, as we have done the previous four times with these late shows on the Canadian autism partnership, we are broadcasting this one via Facebook Live again, which is an interesting opportunity for Canadians to hear yet the same answers over and over again. We have had five opportunities now to do this, this being our fifth.

Interestingly, this is our fifth different parliamentary secretary. We have had the parliamentary secretary for health and the parliamentary secretary for persons with disabilities and sport. Interestingly, we have had the parliamentary secretary for revenue. We have had the parliamentary secretary for defence, who did not do a very good job defending the Liberal position on this.

Interestingly, we now have the parliamentary secretary for transport answering a question about a Canadian autism partnership. Maybe that is fitting, given the number of Canadians who travel from jurisdiction to jurisdiction to get evidence-based treatment in this country.

I will provide a bit of history of the Canadian autism partnership for those who have not been following along.

In 2015, our government established an expert working group of 12 prominent Canadian experts on autism to put together a plan for a Canadian autism partnership. This working group worked with a team of seven incredible self-advocates who worked alongside it. They worked with families. They listened to almost 5,000 submissions. They met with provincial and territorial governments across the country, every single province and territory in Canada, to get input into the business plan that they brought forward in the fall of 2016. They brought that business plan forward with an ask for $19 million over five years, just $3.8 million a year. That is a dime per Canadian per year.

The Canadian autism partnership would bring these experts together to work with families, with stakeholders, with self-advocates, and with some of the top researchers in the world right here in Canada. It would advise governments in their jurisdictions on the real challenges facing families and individuals living with autism in Canada in the areas of, for example, education, early intervention, housing, vocation, a lot of the difficult transitions that people with autism have across their lifespan, and maybe mental health issues in some places, and provide absolute, solid, evidence-based advice, the best advice gathered from jurisdictions around the world to serve Canadians living with autism.

Unbelievably, although half of the Liberal caucus signed support letters in support of the Canadian autism partnership, it did not find its way into the budget, into a budget that ran a deficit of $25 billion a year. The government could not find $3.8 million to fund the Canadian autism partnership, which was years in the making, with thousands of people weighing in.

What we will probably hear from the parliamentary secretary is what we have heard 15 times in question period and four times during the late show. She will probably list off measures that the previous Conservative government funded, measures like ready, willing, and able, community works, the autism surveillance program, or $39 million in research. We have talked time and again about what those researchers want. Four of them were on the Canadian autism partnership working group. What they want more than anything else is for their research to actually be used to benefit Canadians in areas like early intervention, education, housing, vocation, and other things.

Though I will not hold my breath, what I am hoping we will hear from the parliamentary secretary is a reason why, while every Conservative, New Democrat, and Green member of Parliament voted yes to the Canadian autism partnership, every single Liberal voted no except for one.

Persons with Disabilities June 15th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, like parliamentary secretaries before her on several days and like the Prime Minister, the hon. member talks a lot about initiatives that the former Conservative government put in place and an endless series of consultations and meetings in the future by the Liberal government, which will have zero impact on Canadians families that desperately need it right now.

I know the hon. member to be a compassionate person, and I know she was whipped to vote the way she did on May 30. Her colleagues were as well. Several of them assured me they would support the Canadian autism partnership and then voted against it down the road. “Things do not happen. Things are made to happen.” That is a quote from John F. Kennedy.

For Canadians watching, we live in a democracy and it is very important that Canadians make their voices heard right now. They should let their Liberal members know that this is critically important to them. For Liberal members and that Liberal member in particular, these are the moments that matter. Will she have the courage to go into the Liberal caucus meeting next Wednesday, tell her Liberal leadership to tell her colleagues they most clearly are on the wrong side of this issue and that she is not prepared to read the notes she is given any longer to defend this indefensible Liberal position on autism?

Persons with Disabilities June 15th, 2017

As I have been doing the last few nights, we are going to do this on Facebook Live again just so Canadians have a chance to see the discussion going on about the Canadian autism partnership. We would ask people who are watching this and seeing it on Facebook to please share it so that more people can see the conversation.

It is interesting. This is the fourth time we have done this in the last week, and we have had four different parliamentary secretaries answer questions here. We had the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health. We had the Parliamentary Secretary for Sport and Persons with Disabilities. Interestingly, the other night we had the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence, and tonight we have the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Revenue, which is interesting. I am not sure if it is strategic, but the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Revenue is a very good friend of mine, so it makes it a bit more interesting in terms of the approach. I am not sure if that is a strategic thing, but it will be interesting to hear her answer today.

First, a bit of background on the Canadian autism partnership. In budget 2015, our government put together an expert working group. It did work, along with a self-advocates advisory group and the Canadian Autism Spectrum Disorders Alliance of organizations from across the country. They heard from almost 5,000 stakeholders during their consultations. They had 19 meetings, specifically with the provinces and territories, every single province and territory, to talk about this. They worked for two years on this, then they came to the Liberal government with a budget ask of $19 million over five years, which is $3.8 million per year or, as I said, a dime per Canadian per year.

The budget put forward by the Liberals is over $25 billion in deficit this year alone. I did a bit of math. They rejected the Canadian autism partnership in that budget, a budget with a deficit more than 6,500 times what was asked for by the Canadian autism partnership. The deficit alone is more than 6,500 times the amount they rejected for the Canadian autism partnership, and there was not a single mention of autism in that budget.

The Canadian autism partnership's purpose is to help Canadians living with autism and their families. Many of the challenges are provincial in nature, but what the partnership would do is bring together a true partnership of experts from across the country: people with autism, families, organizations that do work, researchers, and scientists. It would bring together this partnership of experts to advise governments in their jurisdictions on what the best way forward policy-wise is on issues directly affecting families, such as early intervention, education, housing, employment, and transition to those years when the parents have passed on. One of the biggest concerns for families is what is going to happen to their loved ones once they are gone. They would advise governments to make the very best evidence-based decisions.

We moved a motion on this on May 30, and every single Liberal, except one, voted against it.

I have called on Canadians to take some action steps, because we live in a democracy. It is important to note that members from all parties, I think, get involved because they want to make a difference. Certainly, the most important thing Canadians can do right now who are concerned about this is reach out to their Liberal MPs through Twitter, through Facebook, and through emails and phone calls to let them know, respectfully, why the Canadian autism partnership is important to their families.

Of the member opposite, I am going to ask the same question I have asked many times during question period, the same question I have asked four times during these late shows.

On May 30, every Conservative member of Parliament, every New Democratic Party member of Parliament, the Green Party member of Parliament, the leader, stood in this House in favour of the Canadian autism partnership. My hope is, today, that my good friend, the parliamentary secretary, will put the script aside and explain why she and her Liberal colleagues chose to put the political interest of their party ahead of Canadians living with autism.

Persons with Disabilities June 14th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister keeps pointing to research funding as cover for not supporting the Canadian autism partnership. Does he understand how ridiculous this is?

Four members of the partnership working group are among the world's top autism researchers: Lonnie Zwaigenbaum from the University of Alberta, Stelios Georgiades from McMaster University, Jonathan Weiss from York University, and Stephen Scherer from SickKids. These researchers want their research to actually be used to benefit Canadian families who desperately need it.

When will the Prime Minister stop hiding behind our world-class researchers and support them in helping Canadians with autism?

Persons with Disabilities June 13th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, oftentimes accompanying the talking points are messages of thanks to me for the work I do on autism, and promises to work with me in moving the issue forward. I will gladly work with anyone who wants to improve the lives of people living with autism. However, I do not work alone. There are hundreds of autism organizations in the country. There are almost 5,000 people who were consulted on this. The work here has already been done. With over two years of work and $2 million of taxpayer dollars put toward the establishment of the business plan for the Canadian autism partnership, that work has already been done.

What I am asking directly of the member, and every other Liberal member I talk to on this, is how he could possibly have voted to reject the Canadian autism partnership and all of the work from the incredible people who put their time and energy into it.

Persons with Disabilities June 13th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, today I am going to be talking about the Canadian autism partnership. Again, as I did the last two times I talked about it, I am asking my question on Facebook Live.

For those watching on Facebook right now, it is interesting to note that just a few minutes ago something happened that really highlighted the ridiculousness of the Liberal position on this question. The parliamentary secretary who is supposed to answer my question in a few minutes actually rose before I asked my question, mistakenly, and started to read his answer to a question that I had not even yet asked.

I want people who are watching this on Facebook to understand that this is exactly what has been happening time and time again. Liberal parliamentary secretaries and ministers are reading talking points given to them by their leadership on the Canadian autism partnership in order to justify something that is completely unjustifiable.

To give a little bit of background on the Canadian autism partnership, in budget 2015 our former Conservative government put $2 million toward the establishment of a working group to work on the Canadian autism partnership and to bring a proposal to the government. This was a working group of 12 experts from across the country, experts from the research field, experts who are stakeholders, and experts who are family members. They worked with a self-advocates advisory group of seven incredible self-advocates. They went across the country and listened and talked to every single provincial and territorial government. They talked to almost 5,000 stakeholders who weighed in on the establishment of the Canadian autism partnership proposal.

That partnership proposal was brought before the Liberal government in the form of a budget request for $19 million over five years. It was just $3.8 million a year, a dime per Canadian per year for the establishment of a Canadian autism partnership, which would bring an evidence base, bring experts together to advise governments in their jurisdiction on the many challenges facing Canadian families living with autism and Canadians living with autism. They would provide advice on matters ranging from early intervention to education to housing to transition to the workforce, to answer that question, “What happens when, as parents, we pass away and our kids are left alone without the only parents they have known?”, and to answer these big questions using an evidence base from around the world on best practices.

It was turned down in the budget. Then we had a vote on the motion to establish the Canadian autism partnership in this House just a couple of weeks ago. Every Liberal member voted against that motion.

The Liberals brought up interesting points in their talking points. They brought up the fact that the government is consulting and continuing to have meetings on accessibility legislation, and I am sure we will hear more on that. I am going to quote the NDP member for Esquimalt—Saanich—Sooke who said, very wisely—and this is the third time I have read it:

...we have heard yet another one of those speeches that talks about consulting people, thinking about it, working on it later, and finally coming to a conclusion sometime over the distant horizon.

I suspect we are going to hear the parliamentary secretary talk about the fact that the government is investing in “Ready, Willing and Able”, autism surveillance, and $39 million in research. Then he will probably list a bunch of organizations, most of whom are on the Canadian autism partnership working group, that are strongly in favour of the Canadian autism partnership.

I am wondering if maybe the parliamentary secretary could set aside his talking points this time and maybe explain how every single Liberal member of Parliament but one could possibly have voted against the Canadian autism partnership while every Conservative member, every New Democratic Party member, and every Green Party member in this House voted unanimously in favour of it.

Health June 9th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, that highlights why Canadians have so little faith in the political system.

I like the parliamentary secretary. We get along. We have had conversations before. However, it is clear that he is reading a speech that was given to him by his leadership to explain, somehow, how the Liberals did not fund the Canadian autism partnership. Most of the names of the organizations and people that were named in that speech are part of the Canadian autism partnership working group, which has put forward this advice to government.

What is even more astonishing to me is that on World Autism Awareness Day this year, more than a dozen Liberal members of Parliament showed up on the steps of Parliament Hill for a photo op with families and individuals living with autism. Some even shared some words of support. However, on May 30, when it came time to actually stand and vote in favour of the Canadian autism partnership, all but one opposed it. I hope the parliamentary secretary, with his remaining minute, will try to at least attempt to offer Canadians some explanation of that vote.

Health June 9th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to be here. I might welcome the folks who are watching this question on Facebook Live. We are on Facebook Live, because it is an opportunity for Canadians who follow my Facebook feed, many of whom live with autism themselves or in their families, to hear the answers we have been getting in question period. So far, we have asked 13 questions.

To give a bit of background on the Canadian autism partnership, in budget 2015, the Conservative government of the day funded $2 million for a working group to establish a Canadian autism partnership. That working group worked alongside self-advocates, an incredible advisory group of seven self-advocates. They worked with the autism community through CASDA, the Canadian ASD Alliance, and met with thousands of Canadians in every province and territory plus with provincial and territorial governments.

We had a vote on this. First, we had a budget ask of $19 million over five years, which was rejected in budget 2017. We subsequently had a vote in the House of Commons just last week on this issue. Every single Conservative member, every NDP member, and the Green Party voted yes to this, but every single Liberal member but one opposed the Canadian autism partnership.

The Liberals seem to have three talking points. I will address each of them in order.

One is the fact that the government is consulting and having a series of meetings on accessibility legislation. Accessibility legislation is a good thing, and we look forward to seeing what that is going to look like, but I think the NDP member for Esquimalt—Saanich—Sooke said it best when, during debate, he said,

...we have heard yet another one of those speeches that talks about consulting people, thinking about it, working on it later, and finally coming to a conclusion sometime over the distant horizon.

The second thing the Liberals seem to bring up over and over again in their talking points is the fact that the government is investing in Ready Willing & Able, autism surveillance, and an autism research chair. It is important to note that all of those initiatives were put in place by the Conservative government. They really are a legacy of Jim Flaherty, the former finance minister, who was a champion for developmental disabilities throughout his entire term in office.

Third, the talking points seem to refer to the fact that the government has invested $39 million in autism research over the past five years. Again, that is something our Conservative government was very proud of. In fact, the Canadian autism partnership working group includes four of the world's top researchers in autism: Lonnie Zwaigenbaum, from the University of Alberta; Jonathan Weiss, from York University; Stelios Georgiadis, from McMaster; and Stephen Scherer from SickKids.

What those researchers want in terms of autism policy in this country is for their research to actually be used to benefit Canadians living with autism throughout their lifespan. This is something we have heard time and again. This is the demand from the autism community in Canada. They want to see something that is going to have a real impact on autism policy and early intervention, education, housing, and vocation, all the things that affect people with autism throughout their lifespan.

I hope the parliamentary secretary will not simply repeat the same talking points we have heard time and again and instead will explain to Canadians living with autism and their families why every single Liberal MP but one voted against the Canadian autism partnership.

Health June 8th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, that speech highlights exactly what I said. I predicted exactly what he was going to say, because he read the same talking points the Minister of Health and the Prime Minister have been reading day after day in the House.

In fact, the hon. member actually credits organizations, like the Sinneave Family Foundation, and Dr. Jonathan Weiss, the very people and scientists working in genomics who are part of the Canadian Autism Partnership working group. Of the 12 experts in the working group, the hon. member just named six of them in his speech. These are the ones who are identifying the challenges and coming to the government in a partnership asking for a mechanism that will provide evidence-based advice to the provinces to help them deliver the services families so desperately need in this country.

If the hon. member is serious about this issue, why did he and every member of his party, except one, vote against the Canadian Autism Partnership?