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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

Supply November 25th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for his question.

I think that is what we are trying to get across here. It is that we are not all the same. Every province has its own uniqueness. We are saying that we would like to give the provinces the powers to develop those differences and that uniqueness while staying in Canada.

As the hon. member said, I certainly would not support any move for Canada to join the United States. That is a poor analogy.

We are saying that we are different. Let us give the provinces the power and ability to enhance those differences while staying in Canada.

Supply November 25th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the hon. member for Yellowhead.

The importance of today's motion on national unity is like no other. As this country approaches the beginning of a new millennium, we are increasingly being faced with growing concerns of global proportions, and now more than ever Canada is being asked to play a leadership role in many international organizations and treaties.

From our peacekeeping missions to banning land mines, Canadians have often been hailed for showing leadership. Just yesterday in the House we showed how this country can work together when we dealt with the land mines issue. There was unity within this House.

All these great accomplishments will lose their significance if we are unable to keep this country united. The world has often looked to Canadians for help in restoring peace to troubled nations. But we will be risking this international profile if we cannot manage to put an end to divisive thinking and begin reshaping our federation with one goal in mind, national unity from coast to coast to coast.

Since the signing of Confederation the dynamics of our federation have been tried and tested many times. Our system of federalism has served us well over the last 100 years. However, dynamics change over time and, like the old family car that has safely carried us on many long cross-Canada trips, an overhaul is needed. Keep in mind that the body of this old car is classic and irreplaceable. We have been emotionally attached to it but it is unable in its present condition to get us where we need to go.

Long overdue is the time for tune-ups. In fact, we know we were wrong to not fine tune the old jalopy on a regular basis and now we are faced with two choices. We can put it out to pasture and watch it rust or we can rebuild the framework, overhaul the system to get it running smoother and better than ever.

Last September nine provincial premiers and two territorial leaders started rebuilding the framework of that irreplaceable classic. The work of the provincial premiers is a good first step toward real progress on national unity.

Meech Lake and Charlottetown rejected equality of citizens and provinces and did not solicit the genuine input of grassroots Canadians.

The Calgary declaration, on the other hand, puts the equality of citizens and provinces and the need to engage Canadians in national dialogue front and centre. The Calgary declaration is not carved in stone but rather is open to changes that may emerge from extensive consultation.

In the past the differences between the provinces and the people have been magnified and we have forgotten some very crucial similarities. For example, regardless of culture and language we all want the best for our children. We all want them to grow up in a country free of political division.

It is a shame that the separatists in Quebec are trying to keep Quebeckers from participating in this meaningful consultation process. This is a great disservice to our fellow Canadians in Quebec. Their input is vital to the process and we want to hear what Quebeckers have to say as we begin this renewal of federalism.

Obvious is the reason the separatist Government of Quebec has chosen not to participate. Any constructive means to solve our unity disputes would douse the fire of separatism, leaving the separatists without a mandate.

Now is the time for Canadians to reach out to one another and embrace our diversity. Unique, yes. Distinct, yes. Equal, yes. We have always accepted that Quebec is unique. However, we believe that all provinces are unique in their own right. We favour a rebalancing of federal-provincial powers to ensure that each province is allowed to nourish its distinctiveness while the federal government's powers are strengthened in the areas of national concern.

In the past politicians have shortchanged Quebeckers with one word phrases in an attempt to appease their dissatisfaction with the federation. Why not give them the tools they require to strengthen their culture? The only stipulation we request is that those same tools be made available to all provinces to use in areas that matter most to them.

Let me emphasize that granting provinces more control over the development of their distinctiveness and the concept of equality are not on opposite ends of the spectrum. In the process of rebuilding the federation, just as the old classic family car needs an overhaul, a realignment of powers of the federal and provincial governments is needed. Instead of focusing on purely symbolic one word phrases which politicians time and again refuse to accurately define, we should focus on presenting provinces with the tools needed to develop that which makes them unique.

The concept of equality does not mean that everyone is the same. At the risk of oversimplifying the situation let me use another analogy. In a classroom if a teacher hands out identical boxes of supplies to each student and tells them they are to make a project using those supplies, it stands to reason that no two projects will be identical. The creative processes vary from student to student as each places different importance on how to use the supplies based on each student's vision of what their project will encompass.

In the federation equal does not necessitate identical. It would be unrealistic to expect the provinces to exercise their powers uniformly. Rather, the provinces will have equal powers to try what is best suited for their traditions, their character, their education, social services, and the list goes on, all the while keeping in mind adherence to national standards guidelines. Canadians need to feel free to come forward and offer solutions and ideas on how to improve the federation and how their province should diversify and nurture its distinctiveness.

It would be wise for all levels of government to view the separatist movement in Quebec as a wake-up call to improve our federal system. In the spirit of co-operation that was demonstrated in the Calgary declaration, respecting differences and allowing provinces more power to develop their unique societies will foster unity in this country.

Earlier today a member of the Bloc stated that western Canada could not handle Quebec's distinctiveness. I encourage the member of the Bloc to listen to what we are saying. We are well aware that the Bloc and the Parti Quebecois are determined to undermine any national unity plan because that would put an end to their singularly divisive political agenda. I encourage that member of the Bloc to visit our province. He will be pleasantly surprised to find out that we embrace our differences. Perhaps he might like to visit some of our francophone communities.

In my constituency of Lethbridge our school system has a very strong French immersion program. It began in 1975 and continues to teach children the beauty of distinctiveness, distinctive culture and the value of learning new languages, including French.

I recently received a letter from the mayor of Lethbridge regarding a set of resolutions formed by the city council of Lethbridge on the issue of the possibility of Quebec's seceding from the federation. The Lethbridge municipal council has taken an interest in this issue because its sister city is Saint-Laurent, Quebec.

The positive relationship between Lethbridge and Saint Laurent has steadily grown over the years, highlighted by youth, cultural and linguistic exchange programs. As we face the possibility of yet another referendum it is now more significant than ever to reach out to our respective sister cities and remind our fellow Canadians how much we cherish their friendships and the friendships that have developed from these exchanges.

With most of this discussion of separatism focusing on our differences it is imperative that we regain perspective and remember how much we share in common.

The responsibility of conveying this commonality must also be shared by federal, provincial and municipal representatives as well as with individual Canadians who wish to help keep this great country united.

I commend the city council of Lethbridge for presenting such positive resolutions and for acting to help its fellow Canadians in Quebec who wish only for improvements to the federation and not for separation.

In a recent poll in my constituency over 80% of respondents believe that making federal institutions more accountable is the best route to solving Canadian national unity problems. Nearly two-thirds who responded agreed that realigning more powers to the provinces, precisely what Quebec has long asked for, is the key to keeping this country together.

I feel strongly that if we persevere to keep Canada united we will indeed enter the 21st century with new found confidence and prosperity.

I urge all Canadians to contact their municipal, provincial and federal representatives and to continue communicating with our sisters and brothers in Quebec. Let us keep our Canadian family together once and for all.

National Child Day November 20th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, on this National Child Day I would like to bring attention to the plight of the children in Canada whose parents are finding it difficult to feed and clothe their families, a situation which the government has perpetuated through high taxes.

In many cases the troubles families find themselves in are no fault of their own. Families that work long hours, work more than one job still find that their after-tax income is not enough to properly care for their children.

The average family spends more on taxes than on food, shelter and clothing combined. This causes a great deal of anxiety and pain to hard working Canadians. This situation does not need to exist nor should it exist.

When will this government wake up, get its hands out of the pockets of hard working Canadian families and give them their money back? Through inflated income tax, job killing, high EI premiums and now an almost doubling of CPP premiums, the government continues to take, take, take.

Children are living in poverty in Canada because the Liberal government is taxing their families into the poor house.

Canadian Wheat Board Act November 19th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, this is the first opportunity I have had to rise in the House to speak. I cannot think of a better subject to do it on. It is a subject that I have grown up with all my life and heard about all my life.

Before I get into my speech, I would like to thank the people who helped put me here, the people who worked on my campaign and the people who had enough courage to vote for me. I hope I do not let them down.

It is with a feeling of responsibility that I rise today to address the amendment to the wheat board act, Bill C-4, and in particular Motion No. 1.

This wheat board act historically has been a subject of much discussion in the constituency I represent, the constituency of Lethbridge, and obviously right across the prairies. Quite frankly, it has been a very divisive subject. It has pit rural neighbour against rural neighbour and region against region. It has caused a lot of hardship and a lot of hard feelings among the farm families on the prairies, probably more than any other subject.

There are grain farmers on the prairies who want to see the Canadian Wheat Board completely dismantled. They are fed up with the lack of accountability to the producers. That is what this is all about. It is accountability to the producers, not accountability to the government, and the lack of options that these producers have to market their products.

We seem to be at an impasse here. The government has taken this bill, it has worked with it and brought it back and it is still not acceptable. Either the government continues to ignore the demands of producers, while many grain farmers are inappropriately fined and jailed, or it takes this sorry excuse of a bill back to the drawing board, makes some serious amendments and starts listening to the full scope of recommendations by producers and even its own Western Grain Marketing Panel.

When this government had the opportunity, why did it not change this tired legislation? Why did it choose not to? Why instead did it bring forward a half baked proposal that does not address the critical problems that are facing beleaguered grain farmers today?

If producers did not support the bill when it was Bill C-72 during the last Parliament, then they will not support this one. This government cannot change things just by slapping another number on it.

Sadly enough, perhaps this piece of recycled legislation is the best the Liberals can come up with. Considering that the Canadian Wheat Board controls $5 billion in sales, has approximately 110 producers and that farm group after farm group testified at the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food that this is a seriously flawed piece of legislation—I have letters from producer groups in western Canada explaining the problems they see with the legislation and begging this government to make changes—I guess I naively thought that the government would come up with something better, make a more serious effort on it.

In Bill C-4 the government has failed to prove to producers that it is in the grain marketing business. The time is long overdue for grain marketing to be treated with common sense using sound marketing principles in order to bring maximum returns to the producers for their products. That is what this bill should address, maximum returns for the producer. A previous prime minister even went on record in years past to say “why should we sell this grain?”

Monopolies in other industries are rarely tolerated, so why are grain producers exceptions to the rule?

Thousands of grain farmers have spoken and Bill C-4 shows that the government is not listening, which perhaps may help to explain why it is rushed through committee.

The government has not shown producers that it will be responsible to them through a completely producer elected board, insisting instead on appointing the key members of that board. The time has come for government to relinquish its monopoly on grain marketing.

A fully effective board of directors is fully elected board of directors if the voice of farmers is truly to be heard.

Subsequently, if the aforementioned amendment were adopted, section 3.02(4) would be deleted since it would not be necessary to specify equal powers between elected and non-elected directors.

The government has insinuated all the way through the process, and I heard the minister responsible say this, that the expertise to run this board does not exist among the producers. They have to have five appointed members because it is such a large business. I suggest to the government that it look at some of the operations these producers have if it wants to see efficiency in operations. It could learn something and could maybe incorporate some of those practices into the bill.

Just imagine if producers ran their operations like the government does. We do not hear of too many farmers who are running up huge deficits year after year, all the while adding to a huge debtload. If only governments were held to the same degree of accountability as producers.

The government has chosen to cherry pick through the recommendations of the Western Grain Marketing Panel, focusing on the recommendations that fit its agenda and ignoring the recommendations that fit the needs of producers. What happened to all the recommendations that producers and the panel supported? Why were the requests for marketing offices producers are asking for ignored? Why is the government so afraid to put some options on the table for producers? Why did the government not resolve the contentious and divisive issue when it had the chance? Where is the transparency that producers are demanding? The auditor general is still denied access to the wheat board operations. This in itself is ringing alarm bells with producer groups across the country.

The Canadian Wheat Board does not have to answer to the Access to Information Act. How can the directors act freely if they are bound by this secrecy? Why will the Liberal government not come clean?

What has the government done in Bill C-4 to address the unbelievable problems in the grain transportation system in this country? Absolutely nothing. This government never even bothered to tackle the Canadian Wheat Board's role in grain transportation anywhere in Bill C-4.

Problems and inefficiencies cost grain producers dearly every crop year, year after year. The nightmare we experienced last year must not become a legacy to the efficiency or the lack thereof in our transportation system.

Why is it always the products of hardworking Canadian grain farmers that sit on rail sidings? Why are the grain cars put on sidings while other products continue to port? Could it be because neither the rail company nor the wheat board is penalized for late delivery? Could it be because the penalty goes directly to the producer, becoming just another transportation tax for producers to pay?

In closing, why when the Liberal government had the chance did it not address these problems? Why when the Liberal government had the chance, and took the time and went to the considerable effort of setting up a panel to make recommendations in producing the bill, did it not put to rest the suspicions of producers in the divisive aspect of the Canadian Wheat Board?

The rural families of Canada and the prairies, families on both sides of this issue, deserve far more.

Environment November 19th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, we still do not know what the government will do in Kyoto, and it is 13 days away.

We know two things, though. The government will sign a binding agreement. It wants to be greener than the U.S. The Prime Minister wants to be greener than the U.S. The minister will not tell us what she will do and what the promises will be.

The first thing we want out of the government is a commitment on how much the CO2 reductions will be. Next we want tabled in the House what it will cost Canadians.

Supply November 6th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, I heard some comments from the hon. member opposite that I liked and that surprised me.

He said that high taxes were killing jobs. It was great to hear that from across the House. We have been saying that for a long time and we know it. The small businesses I have talked to complained about filling out one set of tax forms. If it is taken from two to one, what is the difference? They are still filling out a set of tax forms. It is still taking their time. They still resent having to be a tax collector for the government.

When they had meetings a consensus was brought to bear that businesses wanted a harmonized tax system. Was a question put to them on whether they wanted a tax at all? Was that ever raised? They were to have harmonized taxes. Did they want two taxes or one tax? What do we do about the GST which the government promised to get rid of but is still in place?

We talk about increased revenues for provinces and the federal government. Where is that revenue coming from? It is coming out of the pockets of families and businesses. The emphasis should be on putting the money back.

You have commented on the consensus and I want you to elaborate on that—

Environment November 5th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, in 1966 the Liberal government rushed the sale of nuclear Candu reactors to China without following the rules laid out in the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act. Back then the Liberal government showed a complete lack of respect for the safety of citizens.

The Liberals have done it again. Now they are trying to push another Candu sale, this time to Turkey.

The Liberal government is kidding itself if it thinks that setting up a sham of a shallow assessment will stop the lid from blowing sky high on this issue. It is another sneaky backroom political deal.

The recent decision by Ontario Hydro to shut down seven operating reactors proves that safety concerns better be addressed before we sell these things to other countries.

To add even more insult to Canadians the Liberal government is using taxpayers' money to finance these deals. So much for the public input just mentioned on how best to spend Canadian tax dollars. The government has once again allowed a business deal to take precedence over the environment.

Bus Accident October 20th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, I rise today on behalf of all Canadians to reach out to the citizens of St. Bernard-de-Beauce in Quebec. The families and friends affected by the tragic bus crash have been in the thoughts and prayers of all Canadians.

It is imperative that safety concerns be immediately addressed and it is encouraging to see the Quebec government is doing just that. This is of little consolation to the deep pain and sadness engulfing the community of St. Bernard-de-Beauce but if stronger safety standards can avert another disastrous accident, they must be implemented.

The families of the 43 victims of the accident will need time to heal from their terrible loss.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for a moment of silence to pay our respects to those lost in this tragic accident and to those whose reserves of courage are desperately needed at a time like this.

Speech From The Throne October 2nd, 1997

Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate you on your appointment. You look very regal today and I am sure you will rule the House with a fair hand.

I was listening to the member from across the way. She mentioned she has many manufacturing businesses, many retail businesses, small businesses and large businesses in her constituency, as I have. She mentioned that at a recent meeting they were quite happy with what is going on. They are thriving.

This is what I heard when I was campaigning and talking to these people in businesses in Lethbridge. They would really appreciate a tax break. I have been told that if we could give businesses a tax break, they would hire more people, they would reinvest in their businesses, they would expand and they would start new enterprises.

I would like to ask the member if this type of comment has come to her and if there is any plan by this government to do just that.

Taxation September 30th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, it is with a great deal of honour that I rise to address this House for the first time, to rise from the seat that belongs to the citizens of the constituency of Lethbridge.

I have pledged to be accountable to them and to bring their ideas and concerns to this House and to hear their pleas for economic relief. I have pledged to make this government accountable to them.

Whether it is hardworking families in the agricultural sector or industrious entrepreneurs in large and small businesses in cities, towns and rural districts, or families struggling to make ends meet raising their children, or the disadvantaged who are desperately seeking a better life, one common thread that ties them all together is the continuing erosion of their after tax income.

I reassert my pledge to work hard as a member of the official opposition to press the government to bring much needed and long overdue tax relief to these and all citizens of Canada.