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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was alberta.

Last in Parliament October 2019, as Liberal MP for Edmonton Centre (Alberta)

Lost his last election, in 2019, with 33% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Income Tax Act February 1st, 2016

Madam Speaker, what we are most proud of as a government when it comes to Bill C-2 is the fact that we are giving a break to the middle class across the country and we are going to allow nine million Canadians to have more money in their pockets at the end of the day.

If I may be more precise, we are taking the tax rate for Canadians making between $45,282 and $90,563 from 22% to 20.5%, and we are simply asking Canadians who make more than $200,000 to pay slightly more in tax. That is a progressive way to make sure all Canadians can make ends meet.

Income Tax Act February 1st, 2016

Madam Speaker, I have the honour of speaking about the tax cut for the middle class, which will help millions of Canadians. We are determined to strengthen the middle class and help it grow because a strong middle class is key to a healthy economy and gives all Canadians a real and fair chance to succeed.

That is exactly what the bill before the House today will do. This bill reduces the tax rate from 22% to 20.5% for Canadians who earn between $45,282 and $90,563 in 2016. What is more, it introduces a new 33% income tax rate on income over $200,000, in other words, the higher income brackets in Canada.

Effective January 1, the government is making it possible for approximately nine million Canadians to keep more of their income each year. This is the smart thing to do and the measure is fair. Members will have the opportunity to hear more about this from other stakeholders in committee.

We already know that the response to the measures announced in December was favourable. We also know that the tax cut for the second personal income tax bracket will not solve all of the problems Canadians are facing today. That is why the government's commitment to be transparent and consult with Canadians will take on increasing importance. The government is taking this approach because it recognizes that it does not have a monopoly on good ideas.

The minister and the parliamentary secretary recently travelled across the country to talk to Canadians directly about what measures the government could take to help the middle class. They met with indigenous, business and cultural leaders to hear what Canadians had to say and initiate discussions to find practical solutions to the problems they are facing.

In my riding, Edmonton Centre, nine consultations were held on various round table topics in order to gain a clear understanding of what the people of Edmonton are concerned about. National consultations continued online and are still taking place today. The response rate and comments received show that Canadians strongly support the government's efforts. Since the online consultation began, the website has received more than 20,000 visits, and more than 2,500 separate observations have been submitted by individuals and focus groups.

The government also reached out to young Canadians by holding three separate live chat sessions with university students. Those sessions gave the government invaluable insight into the concerns of young Canadians all across the country. A total of 8,000 people participated in the live event on Facebook organized by Dalhousie University, and over 1,000 people have replayed it online.

I am encouraged that young Canadians have found new reasons to become engaged with their government. More than 80,000 people have engaged with us through various live events. That is almost the entire population of Prince George. Throughout the consultation process, Canadians confirmed that they want a government that will strengthen the middle class and help those working hard to join it.

I would love to focus only on the positive things we heard, but that would not reflect all the opinions and comments that were provided. For example, the Canadian Taxpayers Federation shared its concerns over what impact returning the tax-free savings account annual contribution limit to $5,500 might have on individuals' future savings. It does not like the new income tax bracket.

The government respects the opinion of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, but does not agree that roughly 18% of the almost 11 million Canadians with a TFSA had made the maximum contribution to their accounts by the end of 2013. What is more, the government is reinstating indexation of the TFSA annual contribution limit so that the annual limit maintains its real value over time.

The measures in this bill will contribute to strengthening the middle class. That is the Government of Canada's priority. It has become increasingly clear through the pre-budget consultations that Canada's economic outlook has changed since the election.

This has only bolstered the government's resolve to accomplish what we were elected to do.

What is even more important is that discussions with fellow Canadians have given us new insights and allowed us to fine-tune measures that will be included in the next federal budget. The government's plan will be realistic, sustainable, prudent and transparent. The plan will also include other information on measures that will steer Canada towards a more prosperous, inclusive and sustainable economic future.

The government's plan includes introducing proposals to create a new Canada child benefit. Our objective is to start benefit payments in July 2016. This proposed benefit will simplify and consolidate current child benefits. It will replace the universal child care benefit, which is not income tested. The new child benefit will better target those who need it the most.

The government's approach to consultation recognizes that co-operation is essential in order to have real change. The government undertook to listen to MPs from all parties, have discussions and collaborate with them, and identify solutions in order to prevent the needless escalation of conflict. It has already shown its willingness to do so.

We have already heard from Canadians and many members of other parties, and therefore I look forward to discussing and debating the best way to serve Canadians.

Before my time runs out, I would like to take a minute to speak to the MPs present and Canadians at home today. This bill's proposed tax cut will help millions of Canadians. This tax cut will give middle class Canadians more income to spend and invest, which will result in economic growth. I am eager to hold discussions with my colleagues from all parties in order to find solutions to the problems Canadians are facing. I very much hope that they will support this initiative.

Official Languages January 29th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, we are taking charge of Canada's official bilingualism. We respect the jurisdictions of each level of government in this country. The mayor and councillors of a city are the ones who decide on its bilingual status. We are going to work to encourage any city across the country that wants to become officially bilingual.

Official Languages January 29th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for his question.

Our government is extremely proud of Canada's international reputation when it comes to official bilingualism. A Liberal government put that policy in place, and a Liberal government is going to clean up the mess caused by 10 years of ignorance on the part of the former Conservative government. We are going to improve conditions for francophones in minority communities and the anglophone minority in Quebec. That is our duty, and we take it seriously.

Official Languages January 29th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for the question.

Our government takes our country's official languages very seriously. We will certainly develop a new roadmap, which is set to begin in 2018. This summer we will enter into consultations on this process.

Business of Supply January 28th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my hon. colleague for his comments, and I would like to recognize his long-standing service to the people of Alberta in the provincial legislature. I will refrain from tagging the hon. member for any responsibility in the previous government. He was not yet a member when that government systematically put this country in a position to earn five fossil awards in a row from the United Nations climate change, and the country's first lifetime un-achievement award on climate change science.

I would like to ask the hon. member across the way how many budget round tables he and his colleagues hosted while we were getting ready to make the 2016 budget. My colleagues and I have held hundreds of budget round tables to talk to business people across this country.

My question for the hon. member is this. How would he expect this government to get pipelines to market with such a terrible environmental reputation?

Business of Supply January 28th, 2016

Madam Speaker, to be personal for a moment, my father worked for 10 years in the oil sands of Alberta, running the largest gravel pit in North America for Albian Sands. My brother worked with him. My father passed away in that part of the country. I know the dedication that men and women are putting into the natural resources sector from coast to coast to coast.

The impact on our country is substantial. This is our number one exporting sector, with $130 billion in exports, the next largest sector being the auto sector at $62 billion. We must get this right. We will only get this right in conjunction with the environment. That is our approach, and that is what we will do.

Business of Supply January 28th, 2016

Madam Speaker, our government has been clear and methodical in its approach to making sure that we balance the environment with the development of natural resources. Our government has been clear that there will be a transparent process for refreshing and renewing the National Energy Board program.

The Minister of Environment is meeting today with her provincial counterparts to make sure that any process we move forward with will respect our government's commitment at COP21 and will balance the economic needs of the country. Our government has a balanced approach and that is what we will deliver.

Business of Supply January 28th, 2016

Madam Speaker, I appreciate the comments of the member opposite and I honour the work that Laurie Hawn did in this great chamber. I also would also note that the former deputy prime minister and former minister of natural resources, Anne McLellan, is also from Edmonton Centre. Therefore, I indeed hope to fulfill great expectations in the chamber on behalf of Edmonton, Alberta and the whole country.

As the member opposite will know from my remarks, it is very clear that my colleagues and I see building pipelines and getting natural resources to tidewater as a nation-building exercise, but only when the process has the confidence of Canadians and when we employ the new triple E, which is the economy, the environment, and energy.

Business of Supply January 28th, 2016

Madam Speaker, I will be splitting my time with my hon. colleague from London West.

On October 19, Canadians elected a new government. Canadians voted for real change. They voted for a government that does politics differently. They made it clear that they wanted a throne speech that clearly articulated a future in which “a clean environment and a strong economy go hand in hand”.

That is what we are doing. We have a new approach that balances economic prosperity and environmental protection, because Canadians were disappointed in the processes over the last 10 years.

The price of oil has dropped to its lowest in more than a decade, investments in the oil sector have been cancelled or delayed, and good jobs are disappearing in a sector that is extremely important to Canada's future. That is the legacy of the Conservatives' failure in the energy sector.

The Government of Canada's announcement of our approach makes our principles clear. The Minister of Environment and Climate Change was clear, as was the Minister of Natural Resources, that the economy, the environment, and the voices of Canadians will finally be heard when the government makes decisions on major natural resource projects.

If an investor has already submitted an application to a responsible authority such as the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency, the National Energy Board, or the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, we will not require that investor to return to the starting line.

Under the Conservative government, companies expended too much time and too many resources on preparing to invest in Canada.

The government announced that deadlines would not take precedence over results. We will introduce effective environmental assessments. We will make the right changes to the assessments to improve consultation with the aboriginal peoples and the communities that are along the proposed routes of these projects.

That is a fair solution. Natural resources and the environment are a key part of our wealth as a nation. The development of these resources should not have a negative impact on the environment.

I will be frank: the Liberal government is committed to keeping the energy sector as the driving force behind jobs, national prosperity, and opportunities for all Canadians, because it is 2016.

This balanced approach to economic power and environmental management will make Canada a proud and prosperous country. It is the essence of our vision for the country's future. The energy sector creates jobs and economic growth across the country.

In 10 budget round tables that I held in Edmonton recently, the message was clear that our government must create a process that earns the confidence of Canadians so that we can grow the Canadian economy. Yesterday's announcement creates those favourable winning conditions for all Canadians.

What will truly benefit the prospects for the energy east pipeline is a robust environmental assessment process that tackles the issues of climate change and fully engages Canadians. This will work to restore public confidence and support from coast to coast to coast.

We need to approach resource development in the same way that we approached the building of railroads more than a century ago, a nation-building project at a critical moment in Canada's history. Our government's interim approach does just that. It is about fulfilling our promise to indigenous peoples and our commitment to engage industry in our approach. This is a historic moment for our country. This is a historic opportunity.

We are ushering in a new attitude with respect to the development of Canada's resources, one that protects our environmental heritage, respects the rights of aboriginal peoples, and supports the resilience and sustainability of the energy sector.

We have promised to work in partnership with the provinces, territories, and municipalities to set firm greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets. That is what we are doing.

We have promised to bridge the gap between the regions and the sectors to create a pan-Canadian framework to fight climate change. That is what we are doing.

We must not fool ourselves: the energy sector changes with the circumstances. A low carbon economy, as desirable and inevitable as that may be, will always need Canada's abundant energy.

The means of extracting, processing, and transporting energy to markets will change so that sustainability becomes the inescapable context of our economic activity. The Minister of Natural Resources is making necessary changes to the regulatory and policy regimes to ensure that our natural resources are developed in a responsible, sustainable manner.

We need to trust that our environmental assessment regime is transparent and science-based in order to properly build the infrastructure needed to transport our resources to global markets. The future development of our resources depends on sound environmental management today.

The world changed when 195 countries came together last year in Paris to sign a historic, ambitious, and balanced approach to combat climate change. We have to be realistic about how we do business. We can no longer talk about economic growth in Canada without talking about environmental sustainability. We will not have the market access we seek, nor the social licence we need, without getting it right on the environment. It is that simple.

After 10 years of inaction we will re-establish our credibility on the world stage on climate change. We will lead on clean technology and we will deliver on our promise to all Canadians to protect our environment.