House of Commons photo

Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was thanks.

Last in Parliament October 2015, as Conservative MP for Palliser (Saskatchewan)

Won his last election, in 2011, with 47% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 1 June 11th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, just let me offer my service to my colleagues across the way. They are having trouble again reading this document, which reads like a good book. There are not too many big words. There are pretty small words. I used to help young people with their reading, so I could run some remedial reading classes if we could work that in.

Anyway, let me talk a little about one thing that is in the book, and it is all here. This book is divided up into chapters. It is an easy read. This is a supplemental one. I do not know how many folks may have seen this book.

Let us look at affordable housing. On page 207 and 208, we have: $1.7 billion annually through Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation; $1 billion in 2012, the first $1 billion in 2011; $1.9 billion for affordable housing for homeless, helping out with 147 households; $303 million annually in support of first nation housing.

On page 208, we have: $2 billion to create new and renovate existing social housing; $2 billion for the municipal infrastructure program, which has provided 272 low cost loans for municipalities with a housing program in place.

I respectfully submit that this is a housing philosophy and a housing policy. It is in the budget book, and many questions I have heard the hon. folks across the way ask this evening are found in this book.

It is a good read. If the members get stuck, they should give me a call.

Veterans Affairs May 8th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, just a few months ago I was honoured to receive unanimous support for my private member's motion calling on our government to recognize our Afghanistan War veterans in a permanent way that would forever mark its place in history.

Will the Minister of Veterans Affairs please update this House on any new developments about how our government plans to remember and honour our veterans of the Afghanistan War?

Family First Radiothon May 6th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, this past weekend, the generous folks of Moose Jaw and area rallied together. I am proud to announce that they raised more than $688,000 for the eighth annual 800 CHAB Family First Radiothon. The major donors included Golden West, via the Orange Benevolent Society and 800 CHAB Kids Fund, the Mosaic Company, the Fox family, and the Moose Jaw Union Hospital Auxiliary.

All funds raised will be used to purchase life-saving medical equipment for the future universal care unit at the Moose Jaw Regional Hospital.

Thanks to all organizers with a special mention to Ken Hawkes, the volunteer coordinator. Beyond the Radiothon, Ken has been an integral part of the volunteer community in Moose Jaw for decades. I am proud to be part of this community that recognizes the importance of giving back, and did just that.

First Nations Control of First Nations Education Act May 1st, 2014

Mr. Speaker, across Canada instruction occurs in either English or French. There are options for immersion programs in French. Hutterite colonies teach German in an immersion setting after the regular school year. Right now, most schools on reserve teach their own language in kind of an intermittent fashion without prescribed times of attendance, as a rule. It is something that has grown with the reserve.

Is there a better way to do it? There probably is if we all sit down with the chief and the council and design a program that could start in September and finish in June that would mesh with English and/or French. There are ways to combat that, but we simply have not addressed that. I really cannot believe that we get stopped and cannot move forward. I think we can. We just have to listen to each other and make sure that when we go back to the table, we are prepared to implement what we heard being asked for implementation.

First Nations Control of First Nations Education Act May 1st, 2014

Mr. Speaker, the truth of the matter is that we said we were going to educate young people on reserve and then they would take their place in society. What we forgot to deal with was the fact that the curriculum that is offered in schools across Canada is not necessarily the curriculum that is offered on reserves.

We have to make sure we meld the two curricula together, so that both are captured and nothing is lost in the educational process for those students. That means bringing provincial curricula together with curricula for reserve schools.

First Nations Control of First Nations Education Act May 1st, 2014

Mr. Speaker, my understanding is that consultation was done and there was an opportunity for people across the country to give feedback. I am not quite sure what we are talking about here. As far as I know, the consultation covered off questions that arose.

First Nations Control of First Nations Education Act May 1st, 2014

I am sorry, Mr. Speaker, I dropped my earphone. I am not sure why we did not do—what? I did not catch what it was we did not do. Perhaps the hon. member might repeat that, please.

First Nations Control of First Nations Education Act May 1st, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I feel very privileged to stand today and talk about something near and dear to my heart, which is education. I had the opportunity, as a younger person, of spending 35 years in education, all the way from being a chemistry and algebra teacher to working in the department of education for the Province of Saskatchewan as director of provincial exams and student records. Also, I had the opportunity to serve a number of school divisions as their director of education. Therefore, I look upon this bill as a very worthwhile piece of literature, a document that says it is time to put some sort of structure around a program of education for aboriginal youth on and off reserves.

Let me just make a couple of general statements to start with. Aboriginal students have two choices really: going to school on a reserve or going to school in a town, a village, or a city. Most students who are not of aboriginal descent do not attend aboriginal schools. In the school structure there is a designed course of studies known as a curriculum. If one is going to be a student in a school in a town—for example, Whitewood—then one would follow the prescribed curriculum of K-12 there. Whitewood is a community in Saskatchewan, and Saskatchewan has a provincial K-12 curriculum. That is not a rare or isolated thing. That is the norm. When we look at schools in Saskatchewan and coast to coast to coast, we will find a provincial curriculum in place.

The bill we are looking at this afternoon says that aboriginal students, their parents, and their boards of education would have a right to choose a school in their community and follow a provincial curriculum, or follow a curriculum as designed and implemented by the first nations folks. That is quite different from a student going to school in a provincial elementary or high school. Parents do not design that curriculum. Curriculum writers design the curriculum. It is approved by the department of education, and that is the one that is followed. This difference alone would certainly assist aboriginal students in their learning programs, because it would be something near and dear to their hearts and they would be able to feel part of the design and presentation of that curriculum as they study things like mathematics, science, English, social studies, history, et cetera.

Those two big items are very worthwhile noting. The bill lays out the principles that say there are two ways to follow. It is very important for us to understand that, because if we are sincere about presenting a curriculum that would be acceptable to aboriginals and first nation folks, then we have to give them an avenue to implement that curriculum. With Bill C-33 we have put forward an opportunity for them to do just that.

This introduction of legislation comes after years of dialogue and consulting with first nations across the country and with the Assembly of First Nations who identified the need for a better education system for first nations. There was ample consultation across Canada, with various groups meeting to talk about what works for them in their educational programming at the K-12 level. It is interesting to note that British Columbia has a well-developed program. Other provinces are catching up to that. They lead the charge with developing their own curriculum, as well as implementing some curriculum from B.C.

In December 2013, the national chief of the Assembly of First Nations set out the following five conditions for a successful first nations educational system.

The first is first nation control of education, so nation by nation control of their own education, which is a quantum leap of faith compared to one universal control of education called the curriculum. The second is guaranteed federal funding, which may not be as generous as it could be. In the regulations, as the parliamentary secretary said earlier today, we would find some dictation around the idea of funding.

The third is protection of language and culture. Many schools and educational opportunities extend the school day for specific instruction. For example, the folks in the Hutterite colonies speak German, and the German is taught outside of the regular school time, which in Saskatchewan is from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. or 3:30 p.m. That is an option that aboriginal schools may look at, an extension of the school day, again, with their approval. The fourth is joint oversight of the new education system. Point five is meaningful consultation with first nations.

These are the things that happened that preceded the actual design and writing of the bill.

Carrying on with that, greater first nations oversight over education systems on reserve--this is the objective of the curriculum design; providing stable, predictable and sustainable funding; reinforcing first nations' ability to incorporate language and culture programming in the educational curriculum; and creating a joint council of educational professionals who would have a robust oversight and would serve as the mechanism for engaging with first nations on the development of regulations.

Here is a further example of the desire of the curriculum writers to bring in the first nations folk to address these issues, such as what should be the language and culture programming for the curriculum. This is consultation. This is what would happen throughout the implementation of the bill.

Let me speak for a minute or two on what we see happening with the bill. The bill would recognize first nations control of first nations education and create a joint council of education professionals to provide advice and support to Canada and to first nations on the implementation of the act.

Bill C-33 would put control of education on reserve squarely in the hands of first nations, specifically: first nations choose their governance options, which is their first choice, that they choose which way they want the governance; first nations develop their own curricula, which could include the incorporation of language and culture, if they choose, which is far from dictatorial when we see words like choose and choice and the assembly to design the curricula; first nations choose their own inspectors, control the hiring and firing of teachers, and determine how their students will be assessed, in other words, what kind of evaluation would be used; and first nations determine how the school calendar would be structured to meet a set number of days. There again, it is a committee meeting to decide how many days the school would run throughout the course of the calendar year.

The act would recognize the importance of language and culture as an essential element of first nation education and enable first nations to incorporate language and culture programming into the education curriculum, including the option of immersion in a first nation language. This is hardly dictatorial. This is very consultative.

It would establish a legislative framework that would set out minimum standards. For example, the proposed legislation would require that first nations schools teach a core curriculum that meets or exceeds provincial standards, that students meet minimum attendance requirements, that teachers are properly certified, and that first nations schools award recognized diplomas or certificates. That could be said for any school division across Canada from coast to coast to coast. There is nothing outlandish about that at all.

To conclude, Bill C-33 offers a transformative reform so that first nation youth can reach their full potential and become full participants in the Canadian economy. I strongly urge my hon. colleagues to support this important legislation for the economic and mental growth of young people on and off reserves.

First Nations Control of First Nations Education Act April 30th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I listened with some foreboding to the speaker's discussion on education, because I think she has lost sight of the act as it is today. With some reservation, and when all is said and done, it is a pretty good act.

Let us take a minute to look at education in the provinces compared to education for the first nations. Both educational systems have a minister. The minister has a lot of power in those educational systems. If members doubt that, just check through all of the educational systems of Canada from coast to coast to coast, and they will find that the ministerial position is exceedingly strong.

The minister then has power to work with and suggest what the curriculum should be for students in K-12 programs. The amount of money that goes to those programs is decided by a pupil allowance. Is the money sufficient? For the most part. Can more money be used in education? Always.

When we look at the first nations and say that it is underfunded, the first thing we have to do is say what the reasonable length of funding is, in terms of commitments for two years, three years, or five years. We then have to justify what it is that we are going to do with those monies.

The hon. member has kind of jumped into the middle of the act and not thought about what goes before the act, because all of the time spent—

Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 1 April 7th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I think the question was, is there some cutting of taxes that we are suggesting and how do we view that?

If we look carefully, the reduction is very minimal. In fact, the 6% that has been allocated for health care and education has been well accepted by the provinces. The bill talks about the fact that those responsibilities will be continued to try to find favour with budgets, not only this budget, but budgets in the future.