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Crucial Fact

  • 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

Trans Mountain Expansion Project April 16th, 2018

Madam Speaker, I listened with interest to my hon. colleague's speech. As with almost all of the Liberal speakers today, he seemed to mix up consultation with action. They seem to use those phrases interchangeably. The reality is that there is no action whatsoever.

Perhaps he misspoke, but based on the government's record, I do not think so. He said they will stand by as a government. That is exactly what the Liberals are doing. They are standing by as a government.

The Liberals inherited a situation in which northern gateway had been approved before they came to power and energy east was well on its way. What did they do? They cancelled northern gateway and they changed the rules to make it impossible for energy east to move forward.

My question for the hon. member is this: Why should anyone believe they will actually take action this time?

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns April 16th, 2018

With regard to fitness facilities, including gymnasiums, swimming pools, boxing rings, weight rooms, etc. installed or renovated in government buildings since November 4, 2015, what are the details of each, including (i) address, (ii) building name, (iii) description of facility, (iv) total cost of development or renovation of facility, (v) number of employees who have access to facility?

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns April 16th, 2018

With regard to the Conference Secretariat, in 2017: (a) how many conferences have been organized; (b) what is the cost breakdown of each conference that has been organized; and (c) for each conference, (i) how many external contractors have been commissioned, (ii) who are the contractors?

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns April 16th, 2018

With regard to the Senate selection committee in 2017: (a) how many Senate openings were advertised, by province, and (i) what were the dates of these, (ii) how many applications were received for each posting, (iii) how many interviews of applicants were conducted for each posting; (b) how many full-time equivalents (FTEs) work on the committee; (c) of the FTEs in (b), what are their corresponding pay scales; (d) how much has been spent by the selection committee, broken down by (i) accommodation, (ii) travel, (iii) per diems, (iv) incidentals, (v) office renovation, (vi) office set-up; (e) how much has been budgeted for 2018; and (f) how much was spent on travel for candidate interviews?

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns April 16th, 2018

With regard to federal student loans, in 2016-17: (a) how many loans have been forgiven; (b) how much debt has been forgiven; (c) how much student debt is sent to collection agencies; (d) of the debt in (c), how much has been recovered; (e) what is the base cost of contracting the collection agencies in (c); (f) what is the overall labour cost of the recoveries; and (g) how much has been collected in student debt interest?

Autism March 28th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, April 2, World Autism Awareness Day, will mark 20 years since my son Jaden's diagnosis.

Helen Keller once said, “Life is a succession of lessons which must be lived to be understood.” These words are very powerful for me. For example, two years ago, Jaden and I had a great day speaking to 15,000 kids at WE Day in Saskatoon. Our flight home was delayed, and suddenly Jaden got really sad. Tears streamed down his cheeks. We found a quiet place at an empty gate, and I just held him, my 20-year-old son, for half an hour, until he felt better.

I reflect a lot on what I have learned from Jaden. Though he struggles to articulate why he feels what he feels, he expresses how he feels very openly and clearly without words. For Jaden, much more important than the words I speak is the simple fact that I am there.

The life we live is never exactly the life we expected, but the unexpected life is where the real learning takes place.

Business of Supply March 22nd, 2018

Mr. Speaker, I have listened with wonder, as I often do, to the hon. member, and not the good kind of wonder, by the way. All morning he has characterized our very rational motion of calling on a professional public servant to be allowed to do his job, which allows us as parliamentarians to do our job. It is interesting that the member's main concern regarding Stephen Harper's trip was regarding a security decision made entirely by our professional public service.

What is the criteria the member uses to decide when to stand up, and valiantly defend public servants, and when to throw them under the bus?

Business of Supply March 22nd, 2018

Mr. Speaker, it is rare for me to stand up and agree with a member of the Liberal Party, but I wholeheartedly agree that a visit of the Prime Minister to any foreign country is important. I wholeheartedly agree that this particular visit made all sorts of media coverage all around the world, for all the wrong reasons. That is exactly why we need to vote for the motion and shed some light on why that happened.

Business of Supply March 22nd, 2018

Madam Speaker, first, in 2015 the budget was balanced. We constantly hear Liberal members of Parliament talk about how fantastic the economy is today. My question simply is this. How in the world could we be running an $18 billion deficit with no plans to get back to budget balance for decades if the Liberal government has done such a fantastic job? I think that answers the question.

I also want to highlight the ridiculousness of the Liberal position. We are having a debate about whether to invite a public servant to a committee on the Atwal affair and the member of Parliament does not ask a question about that at all. The Liberals have absolutely no rationale for that, and this just simply highlights that.

Business of Supply March 22nd, 2018

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to speak to this today. One of the things that we have noticed over the course of the last two and a half years is that the hallmarks of the Liberal government seem to be arrogance and attacks, constant arrogance and constant attacks.

We heard it today from the parliamentary secretary to the government House leader. He used a common approach earlier today. The Liberals use this approach oftentimes whenever anybody criticizes the government. They refer to the election of 2015 as though, somehow, because 40% of the people that voted in Canada voted for them, there should be no opposition in this country.

When we take a look at what Canadians voted for in 2015, it is kind of interesting. They voted for a promise of democratic reform, for example, a promise that was completely broken by the Liberal party. We had opposition members from all parties come together on a proposal for electoral reform. A committee put together by the government recommended to the government an avenue, but because it was not the Liberal avenue, the avenue the Liberals wanted, they rejected it wholeheartedly. Then what did they do? Of course, they blamed the opposition.

The Liberals promised modest budget deficits in their platform and a balanced budget by the next year. Of course, we are nowhere near a balanced budget. We are going to be running deficits for decades to come. However, every time the opposition raises a question, a legitimate question about a promise that was made in the platform and completely ignored, all we get is attacks from the government.

The Liberals promised a new era of accountability and transparency. How did that go for them? We saw over the course of the last year, as we discussed in this place, the Prime Minister's visit to the Aga Khan's private island. There were legitimate questions that were ultimately borne out by the Ethics Commissioner in her report, a scathing report. All through that year, every single question, every legitimate question was met with accusations of mudslinging by the opposition.

We were promised sunny ways in this place, a new era of sunny ways. Then, this morning when we were raising a very legitimate question about our relationship with the world's largest democracy, the hon. parliamentary secretary referred to it as character assassination. Somehow by raising these legitimate questions it is character assassination because we have the gall to suggest as parliamentarians that a senior public servant would appear before a parliamentary committee. Somehow that is character assassination.

How did we get here? Let us take a look at that.

The parliamentary secretary talked about the contrast between former prime minister Stephen Harper and the current Liberal Prime Minister. I found a little research on that contrast. I found a Canadian Press article from 2012 after Prime Minister Harper visited India. Here was some of the coverage. This is symbolic of the coverage that came out at that point:

Harper has made encouraging the flow of trade between Canada and India the focus of his six-day visit to the rapidly growing South Asian nation.

He has said repeatedly that Canada needs to branch out past its usual trading partners if it wants to weather the international economic storm....

He went through all the elements of his government's strategy for bringing stability to the economy—the “five t's” he called it: more trade, lower taxes, more training, the transformation of government process to get rid of red tape, and support for technology and research.

Those were the good old days. Because the parliamentary secretary wants to contrast things today, we contrast this with a CNN article following the current Liberal Prime Minister's trip to India. Here is what CNN had to say. This is how Canada's Prime Minister is viewed on the world stage:

[The] Canadian Prime Minister...'s scandal-ridden trip to India may be over, but the controversy surrounding it refuses to go away.

[The Prime Minister] has become embroiled in a fresh spat, following his apparent endorsement of allegations that factions within the Indian government had actively sought to undermine his visit to the country last week.

The comments, made during [the Prime Minister]'s first parliamentary session since returning to Canada, provoked a swift rebuke from the Indian government, with a spokesman for India's foreign ministry labeling the suggestion “baseless and unacceptable.”

The CNN story goes on to talk a bit about the background and describes some of the bewilderment that Canadians must feel when they are looking at the situation. The article states:

It remains unclear how Atwal, a known militant who in 1987 was sentenced to 20 years in a Canadian court for his part in the attempted murder of a visiting Indian state minister, managed to obtain a visa to enter into India.

Atwal was one of four men who ambushed and shot Malkiat Singh Sidhu, a then-member of Punjab's cabinet, who was visiting Canada for a relative's wedding, badly wounding him.

In the sentencing, the judge called the crime “an act of terrorism in order to advance a cause.”

This is CNN's story, which I will read one more quote from, because it is unbelievable that this is the face of Canada on the world stage today because of this trip. It quoted India's Ministry of External Affairs as stating:

The Government of India, including the security agencies, had nothing to do with the presence of Jaspal Atwal at the event hosted by the Canadian High Commissioner in Mumbai or the invitation issued to him for the Canadian High Commissioner's reception in New Delhi. Any suggestion to the contrary is baseless and unacceptable....

That is the way the world is viewing the situation, and that is what is leading to some of the confusion that we are dealing with today.

Then we come to the debate in Parliament and an opportunity for the opposition to question the government on these conflicting stories. We come to some interviews that have been conducted, and members who are involved in the story commenting on some of these things.

On February 27, our leader asked this question of the Prime Minister:

Mr. Speaker, will the Prime Minister tell the House whether anyone in his office arranged, organized or participated in the media briefing provided to reporters that included the allegation that the Government of India was somehow involved in his embarrassing blunder in India?

Of course the Prime Minister replied, “When one of our top diplomats and security officials says something to Canadians, it is because they know it to be true.”

We have the Indian government saying it is not true and we have Canada's Prime Minister saying it is known to be true. Clearly, we have a problem here.

Further on, the member of the NDP caucus for Timmins—James Bay asked the Prime Minister another question. The Prime Minister, in his response, said, “The member responsible for the invitation has taken full responsibility, and I will be following up with that member later this afternoon.”

Now it is even more confusing. We have the Prime Minister, the same day in question period, saying that the story told by the senior diplomat is true but also that the member for Surrey Centre is fully responsible, which are two conflicting things.

Then we move on and we have the foreign affairs minister weighing in with an answer in an interview recently. She said, “So Evan, what I'd like to say about that is that obviously it was a mistake that Mr. Atwal was initially invited to that reception in Delhi, and it was the right thing to do to appreciate that this was a mistake and to withdraw the invitation; and, you know, it's very good that we did that. I was in Delhi on that day, and I had a meeting with my Indian counterpart...the Indian foreign minister”, and this is really interesting, she said, “I started off the meeting by saying to her that it had been an honest mistake and that the invitation had been withdrawn”.

The Indian government is saying that none of what was said by the senior Canadian official was true and we have our Minister of Foreign Affairs meeting with her Indian counterpart and starting off the meeting by saying to her that it had been an honest mistake and that the invitation had been withdrawn. We can understand that Canadians would be rightfully confused by the situation we are facing right now.

I have been a member of Parliament for 12 years. I have sat on many committees and had the opportunity to hear from dozens of public servants on issues that matter to Canadians. I want to know from the Liberal Party why this case is any different.