House of Commons photo

Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was fishing.

Last in Parliament October 2015, as Conservative MP for Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge—Mission (B.C.)

Won his last election, in 2011, with 54% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Members not seeking re-election to the 42nd Parliament June 9th, 2015

Mr. Chair, I appreciate the opportunity to make a few remarks this evening.

My political story actually began in 1997. I was in transition, what some might call unemployed, and was invited by what is now Service Canada to participate in a course for downsized executives and managers. They told us we should view our situation as being in a canoe, having left the safety of an island where we had lived for many years and we were paddling, sometimes furiously, but we needed to know which of those islands we wanted to head toward. That is where I was in 1997, paddling furiously, but not really knowing where I was going.

To be honest, I do not think it crossed my mind that I should start paddling to that island called politics. However, coincidentally, one day during our lunch break there was a commotion at the hotel next door and it was a rally for Preston Manning, leader of the Reform Party.

In the riding where I lived, called Dewdney—Alouette then, Grant McNally, the young, first-time Reform candidate, won the June 2nd election. A mutual friend told me Grant was looking for someone to run his constituency office, so I applied and within a week or so, I was scheduled for an interview. I cannot say that I remember too much about the interview, I think it went well, except that when I walked out of the office, the other short-listed candidate was there waiting for his interview. He was young, tall, had hair, but I got the job. That young man is now the member of Parliament for Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam and the Minister of Industry. It is interesting to wonder or muse about how life might have changed for both of us if he had gotten the job instead of me.

Seven years later, when the parties merged to form the Conservative Party of Canada, Grant shared the disappointing news that he was not going to seek the nomination for the new party. Few believe me when I say this, but while working as his executive assistant, I had never thought seriously of succeeding him some day. However, with Grant's announced retirement and others declaring their intentions, I thought I should think about it.

My first inclination was not to run. Being an introvert and more reserved than most politicians, I was not sure it was a good fit for me. I wrestled with the decision for several days and nights, but eventually Ruth lost patience with me, which almost never happens, and said, “Don't be such a coward”, so I jumped in.

Some listening will know that I was not expected to win the nomination. I was criticized by some for not being ambitious enough, or as one friend put it, “I want to vote for someone with fire in his belly”. I admit that my nomination campaign slogan, “I'm willing to win”, was not too inspiring, but Ruth is a formidable woman and ran a strong campaign, and I won.

On June 28, 2004, I won my first election, and for that I want to thank the constituents of Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge—Mission who have been increasingly supportive for 11 years.

I have to admit that even for someone as low key as I am, those were heady days.

Just after that first election, Ruth and I were on our regular Friday date night, dining at a food court in a local mall, when a young man approached me. Although he appeared to have a developmental disability, I thought maybe he recognized me from my signs or billboard, the new Member of Parliament. He said, “Mister, your fly is down”. I have managed to keep my feet on the ground and my fly up ever since.

I am well aware that I was not elected that first time, or the second, third or fourth time because of my brilliance or good looks. Politics is a team game and I have always had an outstanding team behind me, from the campaign managers and volunteers, to the EDA presidents and boards that have been unfailingly loyal and helpful.

Special thanks needs to go to my close friend and official agent, Mark Bogdanovich, who has supported me since 1997 when I first found myself in the political arena. In many ways we are kindred spirits and his friendship and encouragement have kept me going during those especially challenging times that come to every MP from time to time.

Let me also express my heartfelt thanks to those who have served me in my constituency and Hill offices. My first team of Rebecca Bartle here in Ottawa, and David Russell-Coutts and Dan Cody in Maple Ridge, led by the current member for Chilliwack—Fraser Canyon, became remarkably good at their jobs and, as much as it is possible for me, made the job fun.

It was with that group that I developed our office value statement that is still on our whiteboard today: “We represent our constituents most effectively when we serve them most helpfully”.

They all went on to bigger and better things, and that is as it should be, but other capable individuals came on board, including some very good interns and volunteers, and none more capable than my current team that has served with me for several years. Cutis Schoblocher here in Ottawa and in my constituency office, Janis Butcher, Davis Friesen and my executive assistant, Mike Murray. I thank them. It is a rare blessing when we get to work with friends.

Let me also thank the Prime Minister for allowing me to serve as the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans for more than nine years. Although I might have mumbled from time to time that no good deed goes unpunished, I have always considered it a privilege to serve under three humble, down-to-earth ministers: first Loyola Hearn, the member for Fredericton and the member for Egmont twice. All three had the knack of asking me to work on things that interested me and stimulated me, and for that I thank them.

In my parliamentary secretary role, I have worked with intelligent, competent PSAs who, as much as is possible, made me look good, so thanks to Jeff Kennedy, Connor Robinson, Brad Nazar, Blair Kestevan and my current assistant, Paul Beckmann. I look forward to cheering on their future accomplishments that I know will come.

Let me also thank my colleagues from all parties who have treated me with respect, especially in these last few years when I struggled with severe hearing loss. I thank them for their understanding.

I have left until the last those who are first in my life: my family. My parents, in addition to being perhaps a little surprised by my success, have always been very supportive and proud. My mother died about two and a half years ago and I miss her encouragement, but my father at almost 89 is still one of my biggest fans, as I am of him.

I want to thank my children, Mark, Melanie and Adam and their spouses for their love and support throughout this journey. As all my colleagues will know, being in public life affects our families too. When, for example, in a radio interview with CKNW, the host, not realizing her mike was still on, called me a moron. It might have bothered them more than me, but perhaps not, because I think they came to that conclusion on their own during their teen years.

When I was first elected, I had one grandchild, a two-year-old. Now I have 12. Three of them walked with me in a parade on Saturday, so my only regret is leaving this job when they could have become really useful on my campaigns. I have got some grandfathering to catch up on, so that will be one of my highest priorities after October 19.

Then course there's Ruth, my wife of more than 41 years. I first met her in 1971 when we were still in our teens. She was everything I was not: vivacious, energetic, enthusiastic, good-looking and verbal. I was smitten, and still am. She has been, in every sense of the word, my partner during my career in politics. Although it was my name on the ballots and campaign signs and on the office door, those who know us best are well aware of the indispensable role that Ruth has played. I wouldn't be here without her. I look forward to the next 41 years together.

Finally, I want to thank God who has blessed me beyond what I could have imagined, as I have had the privilege of serving the people of Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge—Mission and, in that role, in some small way, serving Him too.

Canadian Coast Guard May 28th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, with respect to marine communications and traffic service centres, this member seems to think that the highly qualified Coast Guard employees are looking out a window. However, it does not work that way and has never worked that way. They use technology and, in fact, we are investing in state-of-the-art modern technology and using strategically located centres to connect that with a network of telephone towers. None of that is changing, and we are confident that we are going to be able to provide even better service to mariners with this new program.

Port State Measures Agreement Implementation Act May 7th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I suppose it is difficult to argue with that point. It is difficult to stop illegal, unregulated and unauthorized fishing. The only hope of stopping it is to have a global approach to it, and that is the approach that Canada is taking.

It is a relatively small problem within the Canadian jurisdiction, but it is a large problem around the world. If nations around the world can make it difficult or impossible for illegal operators to land their fish and sell it, then I think everyone will see that we are going to make some very serious progress on this.

Port State Measures Agreement Implementation Act May 7th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I know they have some aversion to the Senate over there, but it is part of the Parliament of Canada and bills are introduced in both places and have to be considered in both places, wherever they are introduced.

In fact, Bill S-3 was originally introduced as Bill S-13 and made it most of the way through the process before having to be reintroduced as Bill S-3. We are pleased by it, and we are pleased for the support of the NDP on the bill as well.

Port State Measures Agreement Implementation Act May 7th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, technically, what the bill does is provide authorization for the minister to allow these ships into port, even if they have not voluntarily applied. If the flag state hears from whatever sources, international organizations for example, or perhaps an RFMO, that a particular vessel that flies its flag is engaged in illegal activity and that state wants the vessel into port, with the proposed legislation, even without application from the vessel owner, the ship could be directed into port.

We hope, of course, that there is no illegal activity. As it becomes less profitable over the years, as there is more of collaborative approach to solving the problem, as the port state measures agreement is intended to do, we hope there is no illegal activity. However, in the, I hope, rare cases where a vessel is identified this would allow that vessel to come into port and be involved in enforcement activities here in Canada.

Port State Measures Agreement Implementation Act May 7th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I assume he is referring to activities on the east coast. In fact, we are still a very important partner in NAFO and we make a very large commitment to the enforcement activities off the east coast. Although there was streamlining there because we needed one less vessel, we are still engaged in still very effective enforcement activities.

If he looks at the results he will see that over the years the number of serious infractions has been considerably reduced as we have been involved in those activities. We have no concerns about the ability to enforce the changes that are proposed in the bill.

Port State Measures Agreement Implementation Act May 7th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, it will not surprise the member to know that I disagree with the premise of all of those questions.

With respect to the Fisheries Act, we put in place common-sense provisions to focus on the fish and the habitat that supports them. In fact, as we have introduced these new changes and have developed the policies and structure around those changes, I think it is going very well. I encourage him to speak to some people who are working on the ground.

In fact, in our committee, even at this very moment, we are hearing from people who are engaged with the Fisheries Act in real life situations. They are involved in stewardship and in using their voluntary activities in co-operation with the federal government to improve fisheries habitat. We asked them this question. Although they admit that it is a work in progress, I think it is going in the right direction.

With respect to the Cohen commission, of course, it was back at the beginning of my career here, when I first moved a motion to put in place a judicial inquiry. In fact, I think if the hon. member looks carefully, he will see that the minister and our department have already begun to implement the changes that were recommended by Cohen in our day-to-day activities.

Port State Measures Agreement Implementation Act May 7th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to stand in this House in support of Bill S-3, an act to amend the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act.

Bill S-3 complements our unwavering commitment to sustainable fisheries by ensuring economic opportunities for our fishermen. Throughout our country's rich history, fisheries have always been a cornerstone. In fact, some Canadian communities have been sustained by commercial fisheries for close to 500 years. Our commitment to sustainable responsible fishing both at home and in support of global efforts will ensure that this tradition continues for centuries to come.

The fishing industry is a critical economic driver in Canada's coastal and inland communities, providing jobs and other opportunities for generations of Canadians. More than 80,000 Canadians earn their living directly from the sea, on inland waters, in processing plants, or in aquaculture operations.

The health of this industry is dependent on effective and responsible management of our fisheries. By ensuring sustainable fisheries, our government is investing in the economic prosperity of current and future generations.

To support the fisheries, our government conducts extensive research to make informed fisheries management decisions and activities. For example, our fisheries science and the application of the precautionary approach assist in the setting of catch limits for Canada's fisheries.

We also ensure that Canadians can have their say. We work as closely as possible with industry and other stakeholders to make sure our strategies and plans are practical and effective to ensure both sustainable fisheries and the maximum economic opportunities for harvesters.

We announced as part of economic action plan 2015, funding that will support fisheries, foster trade, protect Canada's environment and create jobs in small communities. As an example of an investment that will support fisheries research, our government has committed $2 million to the Pacific Salmon Foundation to support the Salish Sea marine survival project. As a British Columbian, I was very pleased to see that. Also, our government has increased the lifetime capital gains exemption to $1 million for owners of fishing businesses, which will keep more money in fishermen's pockets and support the creation of jobs in rural and coastal communities across Canada.

In addition to working with industry and conducting scientific research to ensure sustainable fisheries, we also have a strong enforcement system in place to protect our fisheries from those who do not want to abide by the rules, and unfortunately, there are some. That being said, we know that fish do not stop swimming at the 200 nautical mile limit of the exclusive economic zone, which is why Canada must remain engaged with the international community to ensure global fisheries are managed sustainably.

We work with our international partners through regional fisheries management organizations, often called RFMOs, to ensure a consistent, effective approach to the management of straddling and highly migratory fish stocks that traverse Canadian waters and upon which our harvesters rely. However, illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, often called IUU fishing, remains a worldwide problem which affects the prosperity of our fishing communities.

This brings me to the amendments before us in Bill S-3 and why it is important that Canada amend the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act. The amendments support two objectives: first, strengthening an already robust regime for Canada's ports in order to further close the net on illegal fishing operators; and second, by doing that, enabling Canada to ratify and implement the international port state measures agreement.

Fish are a major commodity and a source of economic opportunity and trade throughout the world. According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, of the approximately 158 million tonnes of fish and other aquatic animals that are wild caught and grown in aquaculture operations each year, 37% are traded in international markets. This is a large share of the total fish production that is going into international trade, especially when compared with 21% of wheat being traded internationally, or only 10% of meat products. The value of the international trade in fish products is almost $130 billion U.S. annually.

As a major exporter of fisheries products, Canada is inevitably affected by international trends, policies, and the enforcement activities of other nations. Canadians are not immune from the economic impact of illegal fishing on international trade.

Around 85% of Canadian fish and seafood products are exported, to the tune of over $4 billion annually in export value. Global illegal fishing activities undermine the livelihoods of legitimate fish harvesters, both in Canada and abroad, by distorting prices and the profits that legitimate harvesters receive. Our industry has to compete in a global market, where illegal fishing activities manipulate international pricing, so we must stand up for our hard-working fish harvesters by supporting the international effort to end illegal fishing.

Canada also imports fish and seafood from around the world, and as a responsible fishing nation, we want to ensure that the fish on our plates comes from legal and sustainable sources, those that respect the environment from which the fish are harvested and that also respect the rights of the crew on board these vessels.

Preventing illegally taken fish and seafood products from entering the market has been a priority for Canadians and is also a priority for Canada's key trading partners, such as the European Union and the United States. Making these changes would ensure that Canada is on the same page as our key partners in this endeavour.

If enforcement on the high seas is lacking in some areas, then strong port state measures ensure that nations can take action in their ports to ensure that illegally harvested fish are not traded. If there is no trade then there is no profit for the illegal fishing operators.

The port state measures agreement creates a global standard for what actions should be taken in ports to combat illegal fishing. This new international treaty aims to prevent, deter, and eliminate illegal fishing through the implementation of effective and globally consistent measures. That is a very important point.

In 2009, Canada and other countries approved the port state measures agreement that had been negotiated at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. The goal of this treaty is to make it extremely difficult, and ideally impossible, for a fishing vessel to land and profit from any illegal catch. Canada signed this agreement in November 2010 to signal our commitment to the importance of taking strong action in ports to prevent illegal fishing. Passing Bill S-3 is the next step toward ratifying the port state measures agreement.

Eleven countries have already ratified or otherwise become party to the treaty, and another 16, including Canada, have indicated that they intend to become parties as well. For example, the United States is in the process of passing ratification legislation, and it is expected that other countries will soon follow suit. The agreement needs 25 parties for it to come into force.

I am pleased to say that the world has seen the results of strong international enforcement efforts. Recently, a fishing vessel called Thunder was not able to enter nearby ports to offload its catch. It had been identified as possibly fishing illegally in the Southern Ocean off Antarctica, and countries in West Africa, a long way away, agreed to take action once it tried to enter their ports. Facing few alternatives, the vessel was seemingly abandoned by the crew.

It is important to note that Canada already has a robust system in place to manage foreign fishing vessels. The Coastal Fisheries Protection Act and its regulations contain a range of prohibitions and controls in relation to foreign fishing vessels entering Canadian fishing waters and ports. However, in order to ratify the port state measures agreement, Bill S-3 proposes some amendments to the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act to further strengthen these important controls.

There are three major groups of amendments to the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act proposed in Bill S-3. First, the amendments would ensure that Canada has clear authorities in relation to inspecting, searching and seizing, and other enforcement activities when a foreign vessel is directed to enter a Canadian port by its flag state for enforcement purposes.

The port state measures agreement normally requires that fishing vessels engaged in or supporting illegal fishing be prevented from entering a port, as in the case of the Thunder, for example. However, there are occasions when a flag state might need help with enforcement. As a strong and responsible fishing nation, we do not want to encourage moving the problem to other jurisdictions. However, our current rules under the current Coastal Fisheries Protection Act require a ship to voluntarily apply for a licence to enter Canadian waters. In the case of a ship being directed to port by a flag state for enforcement purposes, it is highly unlikely that it would wish to apply voluntarily for a licence. The bill before us today would resolve this issue by allowing a vessel into port for enforcement purposes at the request of the flag state.

Second, fisheries enforcement relies on sharing information with other appropriate legal authorities. Bill S-3 proposes amendments to the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act that would clarify the powers of the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans to share enforcement information regarding illegal fishing vessels with other federal agencies, with other countries, and with international organizations. This information-sharing would allow countries to recognize offenders and take action to protect their fisheries and marketplaces.

Third, the amendments propose common-sense prohibitions against imports of illegal, unregulated, and unreported fish and expanded powers for enforcement officers. As enforcement for fishing vessels increases, illegal operators might want to transport their harvests by means other than ships, for example. In this regard, the amendments would broaden enforcement powers for fisheries officers beyond fishing vessels to areas where illegally harvested fish could be stored, such as in container ships or vehicles.

Finally, there are several amendments to the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act to align domestic legislation with the international agreement, namely in relation to definitions. Furthermore, during the study of the bill in committee, additional technical amendments to Bill S-3 were proposed to further strengthen it.

The first new amendment that was introduced would enable Canada to make regulations that could specify documentation requirements for imports of fish and seafood products from fisheries management organizations to which Canada is a not a party. These amendments would protect the Canadian marketplace from illegally harvested seafood in parts of the world where Canada does not fish but from which it imports. If a regional fisheries management organization in another corner of the world implemented new certification measures for fishery imports, Canada would also be able to require this documentation. This change would further strengthen Canada's import controls and would support its international partners.

The second committee amendment is a technical clarification of the amendments to ensure that seafood that has been seized would not be required to be returned to the offender upon conviction.

It is clear that countries have to co-operate to manage fisheries and oceans resources. Regional fisheries management organizations have been established to meet this challenge. These organizations present a realistic means of governing fish stocks that occur either as straddling or shared stocks between zones of national jurisdiction or between these zones and the high seas.

Regional fisheries management organizations apply global standards to the conservation and management of fish stocks. Canada is active in several regional fisheries management organizations and constantly promotes science-based decision-making and the precautionary approach.

As I have stated, the port state measures agreement has introduced new global standards for the fight against illegal fishing. Regional fisheries management organizations are aligning their port state measures with the agreement as part of their overall fisheries management. In addition, some of these organizations are now developing trade tracking systems, such as mandatory catch documents for key species like tuna.

Canada can continue to play a leadership role in these organizations by ensuring that our domestic port state measures set an example for other responsible fishing nations worldwide.

Canadian communities have a large stake in our fisheries and in the health of our fish and seafood exports. Strong port state measures are one tool in the fight against illegal fishing, but we must and will remain vigilant on all fronts.

Canada is recognized as a global expert in the areas of intelligence-led enforcement and the use of advanced techniques, including forensic analysis, and Canada is committed to working with other countries to share our technical expertise to build global capacity to fight illegal fishing. When we work to combat illegal fishing that takes place elsewhere in the world, it has far-reaching, positive effects here in Canada in the long term.

Our government is committed to protecting Canadians' interests at home and on the world stage. We need to ensure that the responsible harvesters who play by the rules and compete in the global marketplace are on a level playing field.

The bill, along with the additional amendments presented in the committee report on the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act that are before us, will strengthen our ability to protect fishermen's interests. The bill ensures that we have a consistent framework in place to work in collaboration with other responsible fishing nations to fight illegal fishing.

I am proud to be part of a government that is taking action against this global problem and that stands up for fishermen here at home.

Marine Safety May 6th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, while I appreciate the member's question, he seems not to understand the changes that are being made.

Through investments made by our government, we are replacing decades-old equipment with modern state-of-the-art technology in strategically located centres. This new technology will improve workload so that our highly trained Coast Guard employees will have an even greater ability to focus on the services that they provide.

The member will find detailed information on the Coast Guard website and I encourage him to review it.

Putting on the Glitz April 30th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, high school graduation marks an important milestone in the life of a student, yet there are some who find it difficult to participate fully in the celebration, often due to the cost.

“Putting on the Glitz” is a grassroots initiative in my riding that provides underprivileged students with formal attire so that they can take part in their graduation with pride. Most of these students would not be able to join in without this assistance.

A committee of volunteers from local community service agencies, School District 42 and other generous partners put together an evening where students can choose their formal wear and accessories for their upcoming graduation, have their hair styled and makeup done by local professionals, and have their pictures taken by a graduation photographer.

Please join me in thanking the “Putting on the Glitz” volunteers for their great work for the third year in a row and congratulating the students of Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge—Mission who will be graduating in the coming weeks.