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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was children.

Last in Parliament March 2011, as Conservative MP for Lethbridge (Alberta)

Won his last election, in 2008, with 67% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Committees of the House October 31st, 2006

Mr. Speaker, I and many members of Parliament have been getting 50 to 100 letters from farmers every night on our fax machines The balance is kind of interesting. I have had three or four from my riding who are strong Wheat Board supporters and support its monopoly.

The rest of the farmers are looking for some help. They appreciate what the government is doing to help them, but they want to help themselves. They want to maximize their own returns and to do that we have to give them the tools they need.

People all across the country were clamouring for a plebiscite and our government is delivering. There will be one. In a very short period of time we are going to see a change to the agricultural community in our country, particularly to our grain and oilseed producers.

Committees of the House October 31st, 2006

Mr. Speaker, the issue is it will be an open process. The first step was announced today. There will be a plebiscite. The consultations will continue. We are hoping there will be input from all parties on the wording of the question and the process that plebiscite will take.

Right now we are at the start of an election process for the elected members of the board. Does the hon. member want us to become involved in that? I do not think so. Let us wait until that transpires.

The member has mentioned the fact that this is a minority government and not a majority government. The government has moved forward on many issues as a minority government, working with all parties, moving ahead. Our budget went through. We have bills that have gone through the House. The federal accountability act, the most sweeping legislation to come through government in the history of the country, is languishing in the Senate. We have done an awful lot.

On the issue of majority, I invite the member to look at the rural ridings in western Canada on the electoral map to see who is representing them. It is members of this government. We campaigned on the issue of dual marketing and marketing choice. The people in the rural areas responded. They want to see some change. They have seen declining returns for years and they want the tools put into their hands so they can turn that around. Today's announcement on the plebiscite on barley was the first step to get that done.

Committees of the House October 31st, 2006

On barley, of course, but we are taking one step at a time. When we take the monopoly off barley, it will become very clear in a very short period of time that this is the right thing to do. We will see a value added industry. We will also see a higher return to the producer.

If we put that in with the other initiatives the government has come up with in the short period we have been in government, the biofuel initiative will absolutely be a critical part as we move forward from this point. All the other things that we have done to help the producers maximize their returns and to keep them on the land is absolutely critical, and this is a big part of the puzzle as we move forward.

Committees of the House October 31st, 2006

Mr. Speaker, the member opposite should be brought up to speed. A few hours ago the Minister of Agriculture announced that there would be a plebiscite on barley. We are going to go to the farmers and asking them what they want to do.

Furthermore, it is interesting that this is called the Canadian Wheat Board, but it applies only to three provinces and the Peace River district of B.C. It is the western Canadian Wheat Board. It restricts western Canadian farmers.

Over the last number of years of dealing with the Canadian Wheat Board issue, one of the things that has stopped innovation and value added industry from starting, is the Wheat Board's buyback. To start a pasta plant that takes durum and turns it into a product, the durum has to be sold to the board and bought back, adding a cost to that product.

We are not saying that the Wheat Board does not have a place in all of this, but we could take away that monopoly. It is a move that we will put to the producers in a plebiscite, as has been asked for day after day in the House. One would think the members opposite would be rejoicing that the government is doing this because they have been asking for it. If we are truly going to move into the next century and if we are going to allow our producers the freedom and the ability to maximize their returns, then we have to move in this direction.

I do not consider myself a farmer. I have some farmland. This year I grew malt barley and it managed to make the grade. If I want to sell that barley for malt, I have to move it through the Canadian Wheat Board. I have no option.

There are options out there for producers. The bottom line is trying to maximize returns on investments. Land prices and input costs are going up. Producers need to have the freedom to maximize what they get back in their pockets. Giving them the tools to do that is what this is all about.

The member opposite says to go to a plebiscite. We are doing that.

Committees of the House October 31st, 2006

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to address the government's vision for the future of the Canadian Wheat Board because the future of the Canadian Wheat Board will be bright.

To speak to the motion before, we fully realize that farmers want input on this issue before any changes to the Canadian Wheat Board are made. We are committed to moving forward in an orderly and transparent manner.

There should be no surprises and no hidden agenda. We will be clear and up front with Canadians about our commitment to marketing choice for western Canadian wheat and barley growers.

We were clear and up front with the sector about our commitment to consult and to listen. On July 27 we held a round table discussion in Saskatchewan with a cross section of western Canadian farmers and stakeholder organizations that support marketing choice. Some good ideas came out of that exercise, including the recommendation to launch a task force to explore transitional and structural issues.

We went ahead on that and yesterday the minister was pleased to release the findings of that task force report. The report recommends a four stage transition from a Canadian Wheat Board with monopoly powers to a marketing choice environment, preparing for change, forming a new Canadian Wheat Board and launching the new Canadian Wheat Board with transition measures and post-transition.

We are very appreciative of the work of the task force. It did a lot of hard work on a short time line. We will be examining the report in detail and we would like to consult on the ideas the task force has put forward.

As part of that consultation, an hour ago the minister announced that a plebiscite on barley will be held in the new year. The government considers that this plebiscite will form part of the ongoing consultation with producers on the issue. The plebiscite will be on barley only.

We think farmers are ready to make a decision on the barley side. It will have a wide voter base and be founded on a clear question. This is in line with provisions in the Canadian Wheat Board Act which requires that the voting process be determined by the minister.

The minister will wait until the beginning of the plebiscite period before he will announce the voter's list and the exact question or questions which will be put on the ballot. Until then, he welcomes and we all welcome the input of farmers and farm groups on what these questions should be. The minister also wants to engage in a more general consultation about the ideas from the task force or others on how a voluntary Canadian Wheat Board can be a viable player in a marketing choice environment.

When we cut through the rhetoric and the noise that we hear constantly around the wheat board issue, what we are really talking about is opportunity. Opportunity is what brought people to Canada and it is what continues to draw them today. Opportunity is what settled the west and made it the agricultural powerhouse it is today. Opportunity is what will carry the Canadian agriculture and agrifood sector into the future.

On January 23 of this year, Canadians voted for change and Canadian farmers voted for change. We campaigned on the promise to create new opportunities for Canadian farmers. What is our rationale for that change?

First, the government intends to do the things we promised to do. People voted for change and that is what will be delivered.

Second, producers tells us that the current system is suffocating innovation and stifling entrepreneurship. Farmers are independent-minded, which is why they have chosen the path they are on. They are entrepreneurial business people. They want to call their own shots on when to plant, when to harvest and how to market.

Canadian agricultural producers want and need opportunity. Like their forebears who first broke the prairie ground, they want the opportunity to succeed and the freedom to make their own choices on how they produce and market their crops. They do not think they should be criminalized for that, as they have been in the past.

In the face of a long term decline in bulk commodity prices, farmers want the opportunity to add value to their crops and capture more profits beyond the farm gate. They take all the risk and they make all the investment. They deserve to have the opportunity to seek out the best possible return for their product, just as they would with canola, pulse crops, apples or hogs or a number of any other farm products raised in Canada. For most of the past seven decades, western Canadian wheat and barley growers have not had that choice.

The Canadian Wheat Board monopoly on wheat and barely was imposed by the Parliament due to a variety of different dynamics. The system was essentially designed to collect the grain produced by thousands of small farmers at small country elevators, market it around the world as a uniform commodity on the basis of grade standards and divide the returns from this process among all the producers who contributed the grain.

Today, those dynamics have changed and our approaches and structures need to change with them.

The idea of selling a uniform commodity made much more sense in the days when a few countries dominated the grain export market and large quasi-government buyers negotiated long term supply contracts on a national level.

Today, there are numerous new or growing exporters in South America, the former Soviet Union and Australia.

The buy side of the market, too, has moved away from the commodity procurement model of the past toward a situation in which a large number of mainly private buyers select a range of quality attributes for particular market segments. Due to low cost competition, the commodity end of the market is under relentless pricing pressure.

We must make no mistake. Farmers do see a future in grain. However, they are looking for new, value added revenue streams and greater marketing flexibility. No longer are Canadian producers the proverbial hewers of wood and drawers of water. Over the last 15 years, there has been a paradigm shift. We are seeing the advent of the value added side of agriculture, the agrifood side, and it is doing very well. It has seen huge increases. It is controlling the vast majority of the exports and domestic use in this country now.

Currently, by law, western Canadian wheat and barley growers are fenced off from that business. They are prevented from having the same rights as every other producer in the country about where to sell their product, starting a pasta plant, for instance, or a value-added organic grain business, or supplying high yield low protein wheat to ethanol plants in the U.S.

Those are only examples. Every producer and every situation is unique. The best person to decide the best production and marketing options for their farms is the person who makes the decisions, takes the risk and lives with the consequences. We want to level the playing field and give western Canadian grain producers the same rights and opportunities that other farmers in Canada have.

To those who want to continue to restrict western grain producers from having the same rights as others, I ask them to show me solid proof that such a ban is actually paying benefits for them. I have yet to see any.

Our vision for the Canadian Wheat Board is a strong, voluntary and profitable wheat board, one that can offer farmers a viable but not an exclusive marketing choice.

There are some out there who would say that we should get rid of the Wheat Board but I am not one of them and neither is our government. We want to have a wheat board but we want it to be in a marketing choice world.

We see a bright future for a strong, viable and voluntary wheat board for those who choose to pool together and use its services. Western Canadian wheat and barley farmers have a world-class product. They will now be given the opportunity to use their savvy, market intelligence and initiative to maximize their returns. If they choose, they will still be able to sell to the Canadian Wheat Board.

Even farmers who strongly criticize the current federal government imposed monopoly have said that the Canadian Wheat Board needs the opportunity to succeed in a commercial environment and to be a viable, ongoing marketing option for producers. I see no reason why the board cannot continue to function and be a strong force in the international grain market.

To conclude, change is never easy, especially change of this magnitude. There will be adjustment and transition but I am convinced that at the end of the day the sector will be stronger and more viable with marketing choice than without.

I started out talking about opportunity. Despite the negativity that is out there, we see a bright future for the Canadian Wheat Board if things are structured properly and in a way to meet producers' needs.

What must drive everything we do is meeting producers' needs. This is why we, as government, are moving forward on better business risk management programming, on biofuels, on restoring beef trade, on science and innovation and on a number of other critical issues where action has been long overdue. It is why we allocated $1.5 billion to this sector in this year's budget, three times our original commitment. It is also why we are moving forward on marketing choice for our producers.

The grain industry is of vital importance to Canada's economy and it is a proud part of our natural history. The government intends to serve it well and it intends to act in a way that provides the best chance to earn a living for these proud men and women who toil in the fields so all Canadians can enjoy the fruits of their labours.

Phthalate Control Act October 31st, 2006

Mr. Speaker, I believe if you seek it you would find unanimous consent to see the clock as 6:30.

Petitions October 31st, 2006

Mr. Speaker, I would like to table a petition today from my constituents and others from all over southern Alberta. They petition Parliament to reopen the issue of marriage and to amend the Marriage for Civil Purposes Act in order to promote and defend marriage as the lawful union of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others.

Private Brent Ginther October 30th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, it is not every day that we have the opportunity to meet a real Canadian hero, but over the Thanksgiving weekend I did just that when I met Private Brent Ginther from the town of Coaldale in my riding.

This quiet reserved young man had finally arrived home after being seriously injured in Afghanistan on June 12 while serving with the Canadian armed forces. These past months he spent recovering in an Edmonton hospital and has many more months of rehabilitation ahead of him.

Members of the community turned out in force to show their respect and support for Brent. An honour guard greeted him at the airport. A police escort led the limousine procession through the streets lined with yellow ribbons, while hundreds of flag-waving school children and citizens welcomed Brent home. An evening reception put on by the townspeople was organized to support Brent and to thank him for continuing the Canadian tradition of fighting for freedom and protecting those less fortunate.

When I went to his home to pass on the good wishes of the citizens of southern Alberta, he was surrounded by family and friends and was obviously very happy to finally be enjoying the comforts of home.

We all wish Private Ginther a full recovery and thank him for his sacrifice. As Remembrance Day approaches, we will not forget.

Divorce Act October 17th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the members who spoke in the first two hours of debate: the member for Burnaby—Douglas, the member for Windsor—Tecumseh, the member for Vancouver Quadra, the member for Scarborough—Rouge River, and the member for Charlottetown, as well as the member for Mississauga South, who spoke today. From the Bloc, I thank the member for Châteauguay—Saint-Constant and tonight the member for Hochelaga, and from my own party, I thank the member for Fundy Royal, the member for Blackstrap and tonight the member for Chatham-Kent—Essex.

I would also like to thank the table clerks, Mr. Speaker, and you. I had asked for an amendment and some procedural things that happened. I appreciate the support that is here for members when the need arises.

I would like to thank those back in my riding who brought this issue to my attention. As someone mentioned earlier, it was an issue that was brought to my attention. I looked not just at the particular instance, but at the whole issue of access to critically ill or terminally ill parents. I thought it was something worth bringing forward.

I would like to thank the Minister of Justice and his people. They helped a lot. They helped guide me through this. I appreciate their support. Of course, I thank the staff in both my Ottawa and my Lethbridge offices for their hard work. Hopefully that hard work will continue, and I hope they are listening tonight. I must express my thanks to the Library of Parliament for its work in the legal research and writing.

The spirit of this amendment is to deal with the children and the right of a child to be able to have one last visit. It is for the children. All other things aside, that was the scope of what I was trying to get at here. It is consistent with a couple of other private members' bills. It is interesting that the member for Mississauga South said that the best way to get a bill forward is to get the government to pick it up and put it into law. I agree with that.

That actually happened with one of the first private members' bills I brought through. It dealt with the Criminal Code. I brought forward an amendment so that courts could seize materials used to produce child pornography upon a conviction. It was not in the code. The bill did not actually pass the House, but it is law now. It was picked up by the government of the time and put into law, so I feel pretty good about that.

Then, of course, there is the issue of raising the age of sexual consent from 14 to 16. That was another bill I worked on, with the member for Calgary Northeast, the member for Wild Rose and others, and that too now is in a bill that has been presented in the House.

Hopefully with this intervention tonight it looks like this is going to be supported and we can move it on to committee, but before I do that, earlier today we amended the bill, so I would like to make one more request of the House today.

In light of the fact that Bill C-252 was amended earlier today by unanimous consent of the House, it would be useful for the record if the bill could be reprinted with the new text. Therefore, I would ask the consent of the House to order a reprint of Bill C-252 as amended today.

Divorce Act October 17th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, there have been discussions regarding amendments to my private member's bill and I believe if you seek it you shall find unanimous consent in the House for the following amendment. I move:

That Bill C-252 be amended by replacing clause 1 with the following:

1. Section 17 of the Divorce Act is amended by adding the following after subsection (5):

(5.1) For the purposes of subsection (5), a former spouse's terminal illness or critical condition shall be considered a change of circumstances of the child of the marriage, and the court shall then ensure that the former spouse is granted access to the child as long as it is consistent with the best interests of that child.