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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

Petitions May 21st, 2013

Mr. Speaker, my final petition is from residents of Moose Jaw.

The petitioners state that the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada oppose sex selection. Millions of girls have been lost through sex-selective pregnancy termination.

The petitioners ask Parliament to condemn this form of discrimination against females.

Petitions May 21st, 2013

Mr. Speaker, my next petition is from the residents of Regina. It pertains to the introduction of genetically modified alfalfa before variety registration.

The petitioners are concerned about this issue for a number of reasons, including contamination, new clusters, testing and cleanup and possible loss of farm safe seed.

The petitioners are asking for a moratorium on the release of genetically modified alfalfa to allow for a review of how it affects Canadian farmers.

Petitions May 21st, 2013

Mr. Speaker, the next petition is also from Regina residents.

The petitioners draw the attention of the House to the Experimental Lakes Area. They are asking the government to recognize the importance of the Experimental Lakes Area and to reverse its decision on the Experimental Lakes Area, as well as to continue to staff and provide financial resources.

Petitions May 21st, 2013

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present four petitions from my riding.

The first petition comes from residents of Regina who express concern about violent assault against public bus drivers. The petitioners feel the bus drivers face increasing risk of being assaulted and deserve stronger protection under the law.

The petitioners call upon Parliament to amend the Criminal Code to recognize the incidents of violence against bus workers in the same way as peace officers are recognized in the code.

Business of Supply May 9th, 2013

Mr. Chair, our commitment to creating jobs and growth does not stop at the doors of the aboriginal communities. First nations across Canada had expressed frustration, saying that the process of leasing land was too lengthy and had too much red tape. We have responded to their calls.

How do the changes to the land designation provisions in the Indian Act found in budget 2012 strengthen first nation decision-making power and authority over their lands?

Business of Supply May 9th, 2013

Mr. Chair, lands and natural resources are among the most valuable assets held by first nations. Their sustainable use is critical for economic development, for building partnerships with other governments and the private sector and for maintaining strong relationships with neighbouring communities.

We have heard time and time again at committee how the First Nations Land Management Act opens communications and communities up to a host of new economic opportunities for first nation businesses.

The question for the parliamentary secretary is this. How has the First Nations Land Management Act been a successful vehicle for economic development?

Business of Supply May 9th, 2013

Mr. Chair, before I begin, I would just like to indicate that I will use the first 10 minutes of my time to speak, and the last 5 minutes to pose questions for our minister.

I appreciate the opportunity to speak in today's discussion of the main estimates for 2013-14 of the Department of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development. The funds provided by these estimates will allow the department to continue fulfilling its mandate of improving the lives of aboriginal people and northerners. Our government's top priority is jobs and economic growth for all Canadians. This priority is particularly crucial when it comes to achieving our goal of healthier, more prosperous and self-sufficient aboriginal communities. Our government's strategy has been to focus on finding real solutions to specific economic obstacles, and we remain focused on creating jobs, economic growth and long-term prosperity.

Business owners and operators, entrepreneurs and investors have vital roles to play in spurring Canada's economy by starting new businesses and expanding existing ones, thereby encouraging job creation and economic development. The role of the government is to help foster predictable, consistent and reliable conditions that give Canadian businesses, entrepreneurs and investors the certainty and the incentives they need to take calculated risks to invest, expand and create jobs.

Our government continues to concentrate action to ensure that the necessary conditions for aboriginal communities to create and take advantage of economic opportunities do indeed exist. Our government is committed to supporting aboriginal businesses through the aboriginal business development program. This program, as we know, had its inception in 1986. The program has provided $730 million in direct non-repayable contributions to support over 11,600 aboriginal businesses. In addition to direct non-repayable contribution support to aboriginal entrepreneurs, the aboriginal business development program also provides operational support and loan capital to a network of aboriginal owners and operators in the financial institutions, also known as AFI.

Since 1986, $232 million of loan capital has been invested into the network, from which over 35,700 business loans totalling $1.49 billion have been made available to aboriginal entrepreneurs. The AFI is one of the most cost-effective Canadian job creation mechanisms available to government. A 2010 analysis revealed a cost to government of $12,479 per job created and maintained. Furthermore, each new AFI loan advance produces and maintains more than three full-time equivalent jobs.

It is also important to note that aboriginal self-employment is on the rise. According to the 2006 census, there are more than 37,000 first nations, Metis and Inuit persons in Canada who have their own businesses and are doing quite well, a significant increase of 85% since 1996.

Our government continues to expand the first nations land management regime, which is a shining example of the concrete steps we are taking to enable first nations to assume greater control over their day-to-day affairs and economic development. The first nations land management regime provides the opportunity for first nations to opt out of the 34 land-related sections of the Indian Act, and assume greater control over their resources. Communities assume greater control over their reserve lands and their natural resources, which is an important stepping stone to economic development.

There has been significant progress made under the first nations land management regime over the past few years. I am very proud of what our government has accomplished, and extremely impressed with what some first nations have achieved. Many first nations have shown great interest in opting in to the first nations land management regime.

To date, the regime includes a total of 69 first nations that are either developing land codes or have ratified and are operating under their own first nation land management land code.

We have invested in the first nations land management regime so that more first nations can take advantage of the economic opportunities it creates. In economic action plan 2011, our government reallocated $20 million over two years to respond to the growing interest from first nation leaders who recognized the benefit to their communities by participating in the first nations land management regime.

Through economic action plan 2013, we will invest a further $9 million over two years into the first nations land management regime. Last spring, we welcomed 18 new entrants into the first nations land management regime, and just this past March, we welcomed another 8 new entrants. These 26 first nations are now positioned to assume greater control over their reserve lands and natural resources. This leads to new investments and jobs and opens the path to greater prosperity and self-sufficiency for their communities.

With these recent entrants, there are now 32 first nations developing their own land codes and 35 first nations now fully operational under this regime, and 2 first nations have since moved into further self-government positioning. While there are many first nations across the country that have achieved success under the first nations land management regime, I will raise two success stories as examples.

First, Westbank First Nation in British Columbia has attracted investment to its lands since its self-government agreement of 2005. In 2010, investments generated annual tax revenues of $80 million, $50 million of which goes to the federal government. Over the past decade, the Westbank First Nation's GDP has grown from some $100 million to $458 million. A sizable success.

Since 2005, Westbank First Nation created 3,300 working opportunities, raised over $300 million in building permits and attracted $245 million in construction investment. This first nation has become a recognized entity in the Okanagan Valley and works with governments and partners to sustain profitable, sustainable and culturally appropriate development within and beyond its borders.

Second, also in British Columbia, the T'Sou-ke First Nation on Vancouver Island has become the largest solar energy-producing community in B.C. Its participation in the first nations land management regime opened the door to this opportunity, which has become a thriving business venture. FNLM is a powerful tool for first nations seeking greater control over not just their land and resources but economic futures as well.

We have also taken some steps to help unlock the economic potential of lands for those first nations that remain under the Indian Act.

In December of last year, the Jobs and Economic Growth Act received royal assent. The act included amendments to the land designation sections of the Indian Act. First nation designated lands are reserve lands that a first nation has agreed to release for commercial, agricultural, recreational or other purposes. Similar to how municipalities would zone land for a specific purpose off a reserve, first nations that operate under the Indian Act identify lands on their reserve for specific purposes, following a land designation process. The land remains reserve land.

I see I am running out of time. Let me just conclude this by saying, for first nations operating under the Indian Act, land designation is a prerequisite for economic development on reserve and is a legal instrument that permits leasing of first nations land.

It is also critical to Canada's future economic prosperity. Our vision is one of a future in which first nations are self-sufficient and prosperous, managing their own affairs and being full participants in Canada's strong economy. All Canadians benefit from strong, healthy, self-sufficient aboriginal peoples and communities.

Thank you, Mr. Chair, and I have a couple of questions for the minister. Since the minister is absent, I will ask the parliamentary secretary.

Mr. Chair, budget 2013 will expand the first nation land management regime by investing $9 million over two years to create further opportunities for economic development on reserve. This would add 33 first nations to the regime, including the 8 announced earlier this year.

What does budget 2013 announce for additional investments into first nation land management regimes for first nations?

Leader of the Liberal Party of Canada May 8th, 2013

Mr. Speaker, the Liberal leader has demonstrated time and time again that he is out of touch with Canadians from across the country. In a CTV interview, the Liberal leader said that Quebeckers are better than other Canadians, simply because they are Quebeckers. At another time, he said he thinks Canada is worse off because we have a Prime Minister from western Canada. Last week, when the Liberal leader went to Alberta, he tried to claim that our government was not doing enough to support the Keystone XL pipeline.

While he believes he is better than westerners, it did not stop him from trying to pander for their support while he was there. Unfortunately for him, he could not be more wrong. Our government has strongly supported Keystone and Canadian jobs.

While the Liberal leader has adopted the traditional Liberal arrogance by saying that “This country...belongs to us”, he should realize that western Canada and western Canadians are not going to fall for cheap politicking from a politician who is just in over his head.

Briercrest College and Seminary March 8th, 2013

Mr. Speaker, first of all, I am pleased to congratulate Dr. Michael Pawelke on being named the next president of Briercrest College and Seminary. His 19 years as a senior pastor in Ontario foretells that he will continue an excellent tradition of leadership.

Second, I would like to offer thanks to the outgoing president, Dr. Dwayne Uglem, for his nine years of guidance to students in Caronport. Under Dr. Uglem's leadership, students ranked the college as one of the best in Canada in which to study in a national survey recently published by Maclean's magazine. This national ranking recognizes that the college offers an outstanding undergraduate education within a supportive and caring learning environment.

Congratulations to the faculty and staff at the college on receiving this superb national student ranking.

Canadian Citizenship Challenge March 5th, 2013

Mr. Speaker, new Canadians must learn about Canada to become citizens, and it follows that all Canadians should be able to answer the same questions about their home and native land.

The Historica-Dominion Institute challenged youth from grade 7 to 12 to put their national knowledge to the test by studying for and writing a mock citizenship exam. Yesterday, I had the honour of meeting two winners of the 2012 edition of the Canadian Citizenship Challenge. Carly Firth, from my riding of Palliser, and Jason Losier, from my colleague's riding of Acadie—Bathurst, have shown their pride in Canada by working through and learning about our history and the people who made Canada what it is today.

I congratulate Carly, Jason and all the 44,000 students who discovered Canada through this challenge.