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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 June 2nd, 2008

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the third report of the Standing Committee on National Defence in relation to its study on health services provided to Canadian Forces personnel, with an emphasis post-traumatic stress disorder.

Canadian Forces April 16th, 2008

Mr. Speaker, yesterday General Rick Hillier announced he will step down as chief of defence staff as of July 1 of this year.

In his 30-plus years of service, General Hillier demonstrated his dedication to the men and women of the Canadian Forces and made a great contribution to the rebuilding of the pride of serving in Canada's armed services.

His retirement leaves an opening for the military's top position. Can the Prime Minister explain how the government plans to proceed in selecting a new chief of defence staff?

Judges Act April 14th, 2008

Mr. Speaker, as I was listening to the member opposite, I had to go back to today's projected order of business to find out exactly what we were debating because he seemed to be wandering a bit.

He went on at length as to why it took our government two years to deal with this amendment to the Judges Act.

The act was last amended in 1998 by the Liberal government. In the subsequent six or eight years that it was in the position of government, it did nothing else on it. It is a little disingenuous to say that two years is too long a period of time when the Liberals did not touch it for eight years.

He also mentioned that Canadians do not have a very high opinion of politicians. I think we are even second last to lawyers. However, I wonder if some of the actions of previous Liberal governments, for example the sponsorship scandal and some of the images that Canadians had of money changing hands in brown bags, if that might have had something to do with that opinion.

To get back to what we are debating here today, Bill C-31, an amendment to the Judges Act, perhaps he could comment on why the Liberals did not act on it for eight years when they were in government.

Afghanistan April 3rd, 2008

Mr. Speaker, over the past number of months, our Prime Minister, Minister of National Defence and Minister of Foreign Affairs have been working hard to communicate to our allies the importance and necessity of more NATO troops in southern Afghanistan.

Earlier today, our Prime Minister announced good news for the Afghanistan mission. Our NATO allies have met key conditions for keeping Canadian troops in Afghanistan. The French have committed to send more troops to eastern Afghanistan and the Americans have agreed to bolster NATO troops in the southern part of the country.

Our NATO allies heard Canada's message that more troops are needed and they responded. This signifies much needed help for our brave men and women who risk their lives daily in order to help make Afghanistan a better country. I for one am grateful for their sacrifices. Today the Prime Minister said Canada's engagement and sacrifice in Afghanistan has been widely appreciated and respected by all our NATO allies.

This is just one more example of strong leadership and real results from this Prime Minister and this Conservative government.

Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada March 13th, 2008

Mr. Speaker, I would like to welcome the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada and its members to the Hill today. Canada has one of the highest rates of MS in the world. Between 55,000 and 75,000 Canadians are living with this disease, and one of those is my daughter. While rarely fatal, it is a lifelong sentence and has a profound impact on families, health care systems and communities.

In the past few decades Canada has made incredible advances in the understanding and treatment of MS. However, as leading researchers retire, progress towards discovery in the field of MS is at risk. This is why the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada and the MS Scientific Research Foundation are undertaking the endMS campaign to attract and retain gifted physicians, scientists and researchers to make MS their lifelong cause. At the conclusion of this campaign, the MS Society will have increased the number of researchers and clinicians in the country, critical steps on the path to end MS.

I encourage all Canadians to stand with those who suffer from the disease and to continue to support MS research.

Petitions March 4th, 2008

Mr. Speaker, I would like to present a petition today that has been put together by people from the great community of Coaldale in my riding, the community known as the “Gem of the West”. These people call on Parliament to enact legislation which would recognize unborn children as separate victims when they are injured or killed during the commission of an offence against their mothers, allowing two charges to be laid against the offender instead of just one.

Afghanistan February 26th, 2008

Mr. Speaker, certainly the poppy issue in Afghanistan is a tough one. The poppy trade is how a lot of people in that country make their living. It is how they feed their families. I think it is something that we need to address. It is in the Manley report and will be part of our deliberations as we move forward on Afghanistan. We have to find an alternative to that means of making a living.

When we were in Afghanistan we heard from witnesses. We were told that farmers can make more money raising pomegranates, grapes, nuts, or whatever it is that they traditionally did, than they can by raising poppies, but the fact of the matter is that there is no financing. Cashflow is an issue. They have to feed their families during the year. The drug lords and the warlords have them under their thumbs when they bring them money in the spring and tell them they will come back in the fall for the crop.

We have to put in a great deal of effort there and our government has. One of the first commitments the government made was for irrigation projects in that country. We have to expand the agricultural base. We have to give people the ability to improve their lot in life by supplying irrigation, a stable source of water, and by reconstruction of some of the systems that were there.

When we were in Afghanistan, we were fortunate enough to fly over part of the country in a couple of helicopters. I was impressed by how much development there was and how much green area there is along the rivers. I think we have to concentrate on giving the people who make a living off poppies an alternative. If we work really hard and put our minds to it, we can come up with a strong economy there, based on agriculture.

Afghanistan February 26th, 2008

Mr. Speaker, I believe that what we are doing here today and what we did here yesterday in bringing this motion to the House of Commons and having this debate certainly does allow everyone in the House, no matter what position they take, to express their opinions.

You bet, Mr. Speaker, that there is disagreement. I totally disagree with the member's position.

I certainly disagree with the separatist party's position on this as well. We just had the Van Doos in Afghanistan doing a tremendous job in fighting for freedom, while here in the House there is a bunch of people who are here to tear apart this country and are not supporting this mission. Their own neighbours are over there fighting and they still do not support the mission.

This goes far beyond the House and the politics of this place. This is something that is Canadian. In my mind, it has nothing to do with what party we are from. This has to be a decision that is made in our hearts. If we cannot find it in our hearts to support this motion, to support what is happening, to support the people of Afghanistan and free them from the terror that they have lived under for so many years, I do not understand that. I think we all have it in our hearts to do that.

Afghanistan February 26th, 2008

My colleague says it is probably true.

This additional income is literally transforming lives as families can now afford to send their children to school, access health care and provide basic necessities.

Canada is promoting health and education in Afghanistan. Education has been one of the great success stories in the ongoing development and reconstruction of that country.

Our investment has made a real and measurable difference in rebuilding schools, supplying learning materials, paying teachers' wages and providing teacher education. Close to 6 million children are now attending school, one-third of them girls. This is a major achievement considering that only 700,000 children were in school in 2001 and not one of them was a girl.

As a result of improved access to medical care for women, the infant mortality rate in Afghanistan has dropped by almost 25% since 2001.

We are promoting the rule of law in Afghanistan. Reconstruction efforts will fail unless democratic institutions are established that can ensure security, the rule of law and respect for human rights.

Canada's governance programs help ensure that laws are both just and arrived at democratically. They support independent, effective institutions that enforce those laws so that everyone will feel safe in their communities and homes.

As we can see, there is much that we are accomplishing in Afghanistan. With the continued support of Canada and the international community, much more can still be accomplished. In fact, much more must be accomplished.

Throughout the history of this House, there have been no decisions more difficult than the decision to send our brave men and women into harm's way. Likewise, this House has rarely undertaken decisions more important than the decision to fight for freedom, to fight for what is right.

These decisions are of tremendous gravity for many reasons. They are important because of the necessity for those who are free to assist those who are not free. As Canadians, inhabitants of the true north strong and free, we have undertaken to assist in the establishment of an Afghanistan that will also be strong and free.

From the beaches of Normandy to the shores of Hong Kong, the fields of Vimy and the hills of Korea, Canadians have gone when they were needed for the pursuit of freedom. Just as Canadians fought and died for the freedom of our friends in Holland, France, Korea and many other places, Canadians have fought and died for the freedom that we are building with our friends in Afghanistan.

As we debate this motion here in the House of Commons, it is my sincere hope that we will all undertake our duty as members of Parliament with the same fidelity to duty and conviction that I have witnessed in our men and women in uniform.

Our fight in Afghanistan continues. We do not fight for empire or profit. We fight for freedom: the freedom of self-determination, the freedom from fear, and the freedom to prosper. In short, we are fighting so that one day the Afghan people may enjoy the same freedoms and peace that we possess here in Canada.

This government fully acknowledges that there is a long way to go. That is why we are one of the world's leading nations in the fight to restore peace and freedom in Afghanistan. It is also why we are continuously exploring ways to improve how we conduct our mission. The recent report by John Manley also offers some good suggestions in this regard and our government is committed to responding to them.

A lot of work lies ahead. Rebuilding a country ravaged by decades of civil unrest, violence and abject poverty requires time. Addressing the various challenges that continue to obstruct Afghans in their daily lives requires unwavering commitment, but we are on the right track and we must continue. The free world and the Afghan people are counting on our support.

I hope that all members of the House will do what is right and send the strongest possible message to all of those watching that Canada's resolve is strong and we support without reservation our brave men and women in this most difficult of tasks.

Afghanistan February 26th, 2008

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to rise in this House today to take part in this debate on Canada's mission in Afghanistan. I do so without hesitation, in support of our role in this multilateral, UN sanctioned and NATO led endeavour.

I also speak with the deepest appreciation and respect in support of our fellow Canadians who work and fight on our behalf in Afghanistan. As chairman of the Standing Committee on National Defence, I have had the honour of travelling to Afghanistan to witness their work and meet the sons and daughters of Canada who, far from family and home, toil for us and for Canada. They are so much more than ranks in uniforms. They are fathers, mothers, sons and daughters. They are our neighbours. They are our friends. They are our fellow Canadians.

Today our duty in this chamber is one of solemn importance as we are debating a commitment that Canada has made and will make both to the people of Afghanistan and to our allies. This commitment is enshrined in the Afghanistan Compact, an international agreement that provides a framework for cooperation between the Afghan government and the international community. Agreed to at the beginning of 2006 by more than 60 nations and organizations, the compact sets out benchmarks in the priority areas of security, governance and socio-economic development.

Canada's mission is multi-faceted and we continue to respond to evolving challenges by assessing and rebalancing our efforts, promoting security to secure development and governance. Our soldiers continue to provide security for the Afghan people. Our development workers provide means of survival, progress and prosperity. Our diplomats nurture a fledgling democracy in its infancy. As a whole, as Canadians, they are building a better Afghanistan for tomorrow.

As our fellow Canadians continue their work in Afghanistan, we too now undertake our part of the mission as we consider future direction. As Canada's elected leaders, it is our solemn duty to decide the matter of Canada's mission in Afghanistan.

Our soldiers, diplomats and development workers are following this debate. The government and people of Afghanistan wait with hopeful anticipation. The 37 nations with which we are allied in Afghanistan look on, and we can rest assured that our enemies are mindful of this debate as well.

All are watching with keen interest because Canada's active role in building peace and prosperity in Afghanistan is critical and is making a difference. While the challenges we face are complex and diverse, real progress throughout the country in the last few years is providing hope for a better future. Our efforts, combined with those of other donors and our growing network of dedicated partners on the ground, are paying dividends.

Our commitment has helped introduce democracy to Afghanistan. Presidential and parliamentary elections have been held, a new constitution has been adopted, and women represent more than one-quarter of parliamentarians. Canadians can be proud that we stood firmly by the Afghan people as these transformations took place.

Today, this government is also helping Afghans participate in grassroots democracy through the election of more than 19,000 community development councils across Afghanistan. These councils are elected at the local level, much like we elect municipal governments in Canada, to make decisions on community priorities.

Once development projects are identified, the work is carried out by locals. This approach ensures that Afghans have ownership over projects, which range from improving drinking water and transportation systems to providing irrigation and electrical power while strengthening education and health care.

In Kandahar province alone, more than 530 community development councils have been elected and more than 630 projects have been completed to date. These projects are providing lasting benefits to households and communities. This is due in large part to the fact that Afghans themselves are leading their own development.

Canada is also providing a safer world for the Afghan people. Canadians have assisted in the confiscation of 16,000 heavy weapons and the disarming of 63,000 former combatants. We are now focusing on training an Afghan national army and an Afghan national police force.

I have met with members of Afghan national army and the national police and have seen their commitment to peace. These are brave people working under extremely harsh conditions. We are working with these brave Afghan men and women, providing them with the tools and training to one day be the keepers of their own safety and security.

Canada is also addressing the terrible threat of landmines. Our contribution to demining programs has assisted in the prevention of countless deaths and crippling injuries. As stated earlier, many of the victims are children. The number of landmine victims has decreased by 55% over the levels from five years ago.

When my colleagues and I were in Afghanistan just over a year ago and went through the military hospital at Kandahar airfield, the doctors and nurses had just finished patching up a local Afghan person who had stepped on a landmine. They had put him back together. He was in tough shape but it looked to me as though his legs had been saved. This is the kind of work that goes on every day, which Canadians do not know about and need to know about.

We are helping to improve the Afghan economy. The country's per capita annual income doubled between 2002 and 2007. Through our support for Afghan national programs, we are contributing to the growth by helping to create the jobs that are key to reducing poverty.

We are also helping to grow the economy through our world-leading support for Afghan microfinance programs. The parliamentary secretary talked about this earlier. Microfinancing programs make financial services available to Afghans for the people who are unable to access financing through any other source. There is no banking system in that country.

This microfinance program has helped more than 418,000 Afghans undertake income generating activities for the creation of small businesses and for the assistance of farming operations.

At the Standing Committee on National Defence, one female witness who appeared was from Afghanistan. She said that the repayment rate on these microfinance loans is 95%. Most of them go to women and the 5% of them that do not get paid back are loans to men. She said that tongue in cheek, but it was interesting that she would say that.