House of Commons photo


Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was countries.

Last in Parliament October 2015, as Conservative MP for Edmonton East (Alberta)

Won his last election, in 2011, with 53% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Democracy in Ukraine October 18th, 2011

Mr. Chair, it has been asked several times tonight in the debate whether this will do any good and what will make a difference.

When I was in Ukraine, through the 10 days of the Orange Revolution, 500,000 people were in Independence Square day and night. Standing there at midnight, listening to the national anthem wafting up through the snowstorm and up the hills where I was by the Ukrainian hotel, the enthusiasm was there, the regularity was there for the 10 days. The people of Ukraine were there because it was for their democracy. It was for their vote.

When I spoke on the stage at Independence Square to 500,000 people, I told them that Canada was with them. The applause from my comments through the interpreter was absolutely incredible.

I believe then and through the follow-up elections we experienced the pride that the Ukrainians showed that they did know how to do democracy and that they did want to have democratic elections.

Now we come to whether this will have any effect. This will be shown in Ukraine and I believe that in Ukraine they will speak up knowing that Canada is there giving them support.

Does the member think this will help?

Democracy in Ukraine October 18th, 2011

Mr. Chair, Ukraine is a sovereign country, but what we can do, and what we are are doing at this very moment, is what I would call strong suggestions of action. This is one method of doing it.

The reporting from this Parliament is already taking place in Ukraine. The reporting for our committee meeting coming up on a study on Ukraine has been in the Kyiv Post today, so these different actions are having an effect and they are being heard there. In fact, we are having our voices and our disappointment heard in Kiev.

Democracy in Ukraine October 18th, 2011

Mr. Chair, it is troubling for all parliamentarians. My understanding of the issue is that she was in office, and whether she has an implied immunity or an actual immunity, for someone who is in a law-making, decision-making process while they are in politics to be subject to criminal charges when they leave politics runs counter to the understanding of parliamentary democracy as we know it.

Who would want to come into a political decision-making role if they were to be subject forever and for all time to someone's reading of a rule from the law books when the laws themselves may be confused? In this case she not only was tried by that law, but convicted by that law and imprisoned by that law. What person would want to follow in those shoes and take up those reins of power under those circumstances?

Democracy in Ukraine October 18th, 2011

Mr. Chair, there are many scenarios that we could engage in. Perhaps the trade agreements could have wording, but it would be difficult to have those words have full and defined meanings. I don't know; I have not been involved before in trade agreement writing.

However, there are other things we can do. One is to have a meeting of the friendship committee that the member is a part of. The member has been with me on election monitoring in Ukraine. This also, on side visits, engages some of the parliamentarians as well. There are many things that we can do. We are calling this issue forward in the foreign affairs committee as well.

Some of the other suggestions that have come forward are interesting and should be considered as well. I agree totally, as has been said on all sides of the House, that this is a commitment we all have a part of and one on which we come together politically as one in our effort to have this issue heard. If we make this issue roundly, firmly and vocally, I believe there are people there listening. I believe the president is listening.

Democracy in Ukraine October 18th, 2011

Mr. Chair, I am pleased to rise this evening to add my voice to those who have expressed their deep concern about recent developments in Ukraine, in particular the apparent political motivation behind the trial and conviction of former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko.

My deep concern for the unfolding of recent events in Ukraine led me, as a member of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development, to recently call for a committee study on the geopolitical realities of Canada-Ukraine relations today. As former chair and executive member and now vice-chair of the Canada-Ukraine Parliamentary Friendship Group, I have expressed concerns at many levels. It is important to raise our deep concerns when we officially can.

For Canadians who have followed Ukraine's development so closely since 1991, these latest developments are deeply troubling. How have things gone so wrong since the heady days of the Orange Revolution, and what can Canadians do to help Ukraine get back on a democratic track?

What happens in Ukraine is of particular interest to Canadians, for our ties with that country are strong: there are 1.2 million Ukrainian Canadians who have helped make Canada the successful, secure and democratic country that it is today.

My wife's family, the Taschuks, came to northern Alberta from Ukraine in the early 1900s. My wife Lorraine, my two daughters, Corinna and Kristina, and my three granddaughters, Katelin, Alexandra and Eleanor, are all of Ukrainian heritage.

Canada was the first western country to recognize Ukrainian independence in 1991. The transition to an open and democratic society after 70 years of Soviet rule, to say nothing of the years of the Tsarist regime before that, has been difficult. Almost from scratch, not just institutions but whole cultures of dialogue and trust have had to be developed, and that development is not yet complete. Ukraine suffers from the weaknesses of civil society, and governance structures remain fragile.

I was in Ukraine as a monitor for the failed election of November 2004 and personally witnessed and photographed massive electoral ballot box stuffing. I stayed on, on my own funding, as the only Canadian politician to report on the Orange Revolution and was constantly followed and intimidated. I was there to see the end of the discord of the revolution in a burst of fireworks over Independence Square, signalling an agreement, success and hopefulness for the future.

I have returned to Ukraine six times since then, five times as an election monitor and once to take part in the annual parliamentary assembly of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, the OSCE, and I witnessed the growing political frustration and discord. While many positive changes did take place, such as increased media and political freedom, many of the population's hopes were not met. Corruption, for example, was not tackled and continued to permeate all levels of government and society.

In the 2010 presidential elections observed by myself for the OSCE and judged to be free and fair, Yanukovych became president, and while democratic development had failed to move forward under the previous president, under Yanukovych's administration it is being forced back.

As we all know, elections in and of themselves are not enough to allow a democracy to grow. A vibrant civil society and active and independent media are essential components of democracy. The current Ukraine administration has been hampering democratic development on all fronts. It has been arresting former members of the opposition, ostensibly on charges of corruption, but those charges consistently change as the judicial process progresses.

An open and democratic society invites thought, innovation, enterprise and investment. A closed society can only feed on itself, and eventually there is nothing left but a hollow shell that can only implode. After 70 years of Soviet rule, Ukrainians know this better than most. We must engage with Ukrainians to support their desires to build a democratic and free society. This cannot mean, however, that we sacrifice our principles for the sake of engagement.

Canada will repeat its criticisms of shortcomings that threaten the building of a peaceful, democratic and prosperous Ukraine. It is through this type of critical engagement that Canada can most effectively support the Ukrainian urge for freedom and democracy.

Democracy in Ukraine October 18th, 2011

Stick with the program.

Democracy in Ukraine October 18th, 2011

Madam Chair, just as a little background for those who may not be aware, Yulia Tymoshenko was the lightening rod in the Orange Revolution. She really was one of the premier people who caused the Orange Revolution, kept it going, and brought it to a successful, wonderful conclusion. What a message to the world to have hundreds of thousands of people out on the street in protest for their vote and to have no one injured in it. It was a peaceful protest that was successfully brought through.

She was a thorn in the side of the president back then, and in the last presidential election as well. It is rather understandable, in a way, why she would be perceived to be problematic for the president moving forward, as my colleague said.

Does my colleague have other ideas for things we might do to put this issue forward on an international platter? Would it be appropriate to call in the ambassador of Ukraine when he does arrive here, or for our friendship committee to have a friendly meeting with the ambassador of Ukraine when he does arrive? What other things could my colleague possibly offer for consideration?

Democracy in Ukraine October 18th, 2011

Madam Chair, I congratulate my colleague on her dissertation on the matter at present. I just have one suggestion to possibly throw into the mix.

The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe has delegates from Canada, the United States and 54 other countries, including the Ukraine. It is an excellent forum to have these discussions with parliamentarians from 56 countries. Perhaps it is in a forum, not necessarily to single out but maybe to be inclusive, that we should have a discussion on parliamentary democracy. It might inch into this type of discussion on how to deal with matters, how to make the point and have a decision-making process with 56 countries of parliamentarians on a better way for parliaments to proceed with their own internal democracy.

Earl McRae October 18th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, we have lost a great Canadian writer and journalist, Earl McRae, a man I came first to know personally when I took on the task of raising funds to allow war veterans of the Loyal Eddies, Seaforth, Three Rivers, Provost Corps and Royal 22nd, the Van Doos, to return to Ortona, Italy for Christmas 1998.

Earl immediately saw the vision of former foes, Canadian and German, joining together for a re-creation of the 1943 Canadian battlefield Christmas dinner, to reflect and celebrate in the season of goodwill to mankind the years of peace that followed.

His prodigious newspaper columns along with Lowell Green's prolific airwaves plea for help made Christmas in Ortona happen. Earl then travelled with the veterans to Ortona to report on the pilgrimage.

Earl McRae, a friend to veterans, an extraordinary journalist, a champion of what is right. May his deserving soul now rest in peace.

The Economy September 26th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, with the global economy still fragile and too many Canadians still out of work, our government's top priority remains completing the economic recovery.

Our low tax plan to create jobs and economic growth is working, yet the NDP continues to promote its job-killing policies. The NDP wants to shut down Canadian industries and put people out of work.

Canada's oil sands are a proven strategic resource that creates jobs and economic opportunity in all provinces and regions in the country. The Keystone pipeline project will contribute to job creation and energy security in both Canada and the United States.

Our government will continue to promote Canada and the oil sands as a stable, secure and ethical source of energy for the world. The NDP is all too willing to abandon Canada's interests and sacrifice Canadian jobs. These job-killing policies are yet another worrying example that the NDP is not—