House of Commons photo

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

Pearson Peacekeeping Centre June 18th, 2007

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I think if you were to seek it you would find unanimous consent to suspend until 12 o'clock.

Canadian Wheat Board June 12th, 2007

Mr. Speaker, the agriculture minister has been doing such a great job of answering questions today that I want to give him another chance.

During the last election, our party campaigned on greater marketing freedom for western farmers. We recently held a plebiscite on barley in which a clear majority of growers, 62%, told us they wanted greater freedom of choice.

For far too long producers have been forced to sell their crops through the single desk monopoly of the Canadian Wheat Board. Can the Minister of Agriculture tell the House when barley growers will finally have their freedom to choose how they market their own grain?

Class of 1997 May 30th, 2007

Mr. Speaker, June 2 will mark 10 years since I was elected. I first took my seat in the House of Commons in the 36th Parliament. The overwhelming feeling of responsibility I felt the first day I sat in the chamber stays with me 10 years later. It is a feeling I hope I never lose as long as I enjoy this great privilege.

In the 140 year history of Canada, there have been a total of 4,015 members of Parliament and it is indeed an honour to be one of those chosen to serve.

The elections of the 36th, 37th, 38th and 39th Parliaments were each unique and offer me some great memories. An incredible amount has happened in the past 10 years. There have been some tough battles to fight. Some were won, some were lost, but all were worth the effort.

The class of 1997 brought 94 new members to the House of Commons. Ten years later 34 remain. To those of us remaining, happy anniversary, and to those who have supported me over those years, especially my wife and family, I thank them.

Petitions May 28th, 2007

Mr. Speaker, I table a petition today that was presented to me by the Polish community in Lethbridge and area. It asks the government to lift the visa requirements for visitors from the Republic of Poland because Poland does not require visas for Canadian visitors to Poland.

Lifting the visitor visa requirements would increase family visits, tourism, cultural exchanges and trade missions. The Canadian Polish Congress representing 800,000 Canadians of Polish heritage strongly recommends the lifting of such visa requirements for Poland.

Business of Supply April 26th, 2007

Mr. Speaker, the tactics used by the Taliban are to indiscriminately kill. They do not care who they kill. Their idea is to terrorize the whole country, whether people are soldiers or civilians. That is what we are seeing.

Business of Supply April 26th, 2007

Mr. Speaker, in my mind, success is millions of children going to school, Afghan women by the thousands starting their own businesses and taking advantage of micro-financing.

There was an interesting comment that 99% of the funds that are loaned out through micro-financing are repaid. When the women were asked why it is only 99%, they said that the other 1% was the money the men borrowed. The women consider themselves to be very successful entrepreneurs. That is interesting.

Success is democracy. Success is the rule of law. Success is bringing hope to villages that had no hope. Success is looking into the eyes of Afghans and seeing optimism. Success is seeing girls out on the street. Success is being able to laugh without it being against the law, to be able to go out and play in the streets with a simple toy, which was not allowed under the Taliban. These are all measures of success. The success that our troops are creating on the ground is converting to this success when we can reconstruct that country.

Business of Supply April 26th, 2007

Mr. Speaker, the member is correct. We are part of an international security force. Thirty-seven countries have come together to bring security to that part of the world so that we can rebuild it and re-establish democracy and the rule of law. That is what we are doing. It is not counter-insurgency. It is establishing security within a country.

A lot has been said about the amount of money that has been spent on security in comparison to reconstruction. In my mind we have to spend what we need to spend to create the security. Then we will be able to spend the kind of dollars that are needed on reconstruction.

Canada's commitment to Afghanistan over the next number of years is among the highest in the world, $1 billion to help the country re-establish itself, plus $200 million more to be spent over the next couple of years.

I want to mention one other thing. Last Friday in my hometown of Lethbridge there was a special event to raise funds for the Wounded Warriors Fund. Canadian entertainer Julian Austin was there. There were 500 to 600 people who showed up. Some $15,000 was raised in a very short order to help soldiers who are coming home. There is support across this country for what our soldiers are doing. To me that exemplifies that kind of support.

Business of Supply April 26th, 2007

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to rise today to speak about Canada's involvement in Afghanistan. I appreciate the opportunity, but I will certainly not be supporting the motion put forward by the NDP today.

To abandon our commitment and withdraw the Canadian Forces from Afghanistan today would be irresponsible, premature and devastating to the overall mission.

As my colleagues are all aware, our men and women in uniform are part of a dedicated team of 37 nations in the International Security Assistance Force. We are operating with a UN mandate and under the command of NATO.

We are making solid progress through an integrated approach, civilian and military, that relies on the skills and training of Canadians from across government. This is a moral duty. For generations Canadians have unselfishly stepped up to help those in need. This is a profound legacy that, in partnership with our friends and allies, we are continuing today.

Canada is in Afghanistan for reasons that have been explained many times. We are in Afghanistan because our national interest is threatened. We are in Afghanistan because our allies need our help. We are in Afghanistan because Afghans, people who have suffered from too many years of conflict and neglect, have asked for and need our assistance.

Before we contemplate breaking our international commitments, we need to understand what we would be leaving behind. Afghanistan has not seen real stability for more than a generation. Basic infrastructure and public services such as safe water, access to medical care and schools simply do not exist in much of Afghanistan, but the Afghan people remain resilient and committed to building a better future.

Sadly, as Canadians we are all too aware that a minority of Afghans do not want our help, fanatic insurgents working to undo the good that Canada, the international community and hard-working Afghans have struggled so hard to achieve.

The Taliban extremists, who repressively controlled the country before, have not stopped scheming and working to do so again. They are waiting for us to abandon our commitment. They are dedicated to terrorizing innocent Afghans. They do not hesitate to brutally and publicly execute those who stand against them.

They are willing to adopt any means, be it improvised explosive devices or suicide bombers, to endanger our troops and erase the good progress that Afghans have seen. They focus on undermining the efforts and credibility of the Afghan government and the international community.

This is our enemy.

This why the Canadian Forces remain a vital part of the Afghan mission. Canadians are helping Afghans and their elected government make headway against a deceitful adversary.

We are joined in our efforts by our friends and allies. Our allies and partners have come to count on the Canadian Forces. Their considerable expertise, skills and training, along with some of the best equipment available, rank the Canadian Forces among the most capable in the world.

As the chair of the Standing Committee on National Defence, I had the opportunity to visit Afghanistan at the end of January and we were told repeatedly by our friends, allies and Afghans themselves how the contribution of our Canadian Forces is making a tremendous difference in that country. The optimism that exists over there now is in large part due to our Canadian Forces.

Our troops are sharing their training and knowledge with their Afghan counterparts, building independent Afghan capacity. Afghans are eager to take responsibility for their own security and they are dedicated to building a safe and stable future.

The Canadian Forces, their international partners and the Afghan national security forces are working jointly to bring security to southern Afghanistan. No matter how much some try to deny it, it is only through security that progress and development can continue.

The positive outlook among Afghans, the focus on a more promising future, is impossible to dismiss. When I was in Afghanistan, I heard it from the Afghan people and I saw it in their eyes.

This mission is truly guided by Afghan hands. Afghans are creating development according to Afghan culture and needs. That is why Canadians and local Afghan elders come together in regular shuras or meetings. It is during these shuras that the Afghans share their priorities.

We received a briefing while we were in Afghanistan from Warrant Officer Henley, who takes part in the shura meetings. It was a great briefing on what he is doing. He is doing a tremendous job.

These priorities stem from the Afghanistan Compact. This five year pact between Afghanistan and its 60 international partners was signed in January 2006. The compact lays out very specific benchmarks that address Afghan security, governance and development needs and set specific timelines for their completion. By signing it, the international community, including Canada, has pledged to provide the Afghanistan government the necessary resources and support.

As the Minister of National Defence stated yesterday before the foreign affairs committee, progress in achieving the compact's benchmarks is being made on many fronts. Some of the progress he cited are the following.

The Afghan national army, which Canada is helping to train and professionalize, is making great strides and reaching the strength of 70,000 troops required by the compact. Villages in Kandahar province are now serviced by some 150 kilometres of new roads, including four bridges, and 50 kilometres of power lines, with 10 power transformers and 42 power generators all built with Canadian help. More than 1,000 new wells, 8,000 hand pumps, four large water reservoirs and kilometres of new water supply have been built in Kandahar province with Canadian support.

The continuation of this progress is reliant upon our ability to maintain the support we promised, and of course, is contingent upon establishing security and stability in southern Afghanistan. Development and reconstruction cannot happen without security. That is why Canada's approach to the Afghanistan mission involves diplomats, military and police forces, and development and correctional officers. All are playing essential roles in the Afghanistan transition.

The Canadian Forces, the Canadian International Development Agency, the Department of Foreign Affairs, Correctional Service Canada and others have formed what the Minister of National Defence rightly calls a true team Canada. They are addressing the challenges they face with an integrated approach and are bringing their respective strengths to bear.

Our embassy officials are providing advice on regular issues to the Afghanistan government and international representatives. In addition to this, Canada supports the Afghan government by providing a 50 member strategic advisory team in Kabul. This team, comprised of military and civilian officials from DND and CIDA, provides planning support to Afghan government ministries in an effort to meet the goals of the Afghan national development strategy.

Canada, having pledged approximately $1 billion to Afghan development reconstruction projects, also remains among the top aid donors to Afghanistan. In February our government announced a further $200 million in funding to be used this year and next.

It is understandable that Canadians, in a hurry to see progress, want concrete, easily evaluated proof of progress, new hospitals, clinics, full classrooms and clean water gushing from wells, but we must be patient. Real progress, the underlying proof of development, is difficult to quantify in a country decimated by decades of conflict.

My colleagues in the House have been told about the thousands of kilometres of road that now exist in Afghanistan. They have heard the news reports about the Canadian Forces' determination since last fall to complete the construction of Route Summit, a two lane paved road that connects the Panjwayi district with Highway One.

Route Summit is only about four kilometres long, but it will make an enormous difference in the lives of Afghans. This short stretch of road will allow people to get to market to buy and sell produce. It will improve security by providing quicker access to problem areas for the Afghan national security force. This road will begin to reunite a nation by allowing people to visit friends and family across Afghanistan. Most important, Route Summit exemplifies the Afghan government's capacity to provide for its population.

Canadians can be very proud of all that has been accomplished because of Route Summit. Local construction crews worked with Canadian combat engineers to build the road while our soldiers protected it. This is just one example of many where the Canadian Forces have made a difference in Afghanistan. One soldier told us that this stretch of road was captured with Canadian blood and it is now being paid for with Canadian dollars.

It is because of our security efforts that we are seeing life blossom in places that had previously seemed deserted. Activity is returning to villages, and communities are buzzing, moving toward prosperity. Prosperity means that children can survive past their fifth birthday. They can go to school and they can help contribute to a better future for Afghanistan.

We need a patient eye in examining Afghan progress. I turn to our critics, those who believe that Canada should abandon Afghanistan, and I ask them to look at the progress that has been achieved. Yes, I know it is different from what we expect here in Canada, but this is Afghan progress. After years of war and poverty, Afghans are defying all opposition and choosing to move in a new direction, choosing freedom and democracy.

Canada has had a significant role in changing Afghan expectations for the future. We have worked to create hope where there had been only despair. Canada has taken up its rightful place in the world. We are making a difference, but I cannot support the motion before the House today.

National Blood Donor Week Act April 24th, 2007

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise tonight and speak to Bill S-214 which is a very important bill before the House.

We do not very often stop to say thanks to the people that volunteer for almost everything that is needed in this country. No matter where we look or where we find a need, we can always find a person to fill that need. Certainly, blood donors are included in that group. If we take a week each year and call it national blood donor week, it is an appropriate thing to do.

I notice that the bill has been around for a while. It is now time that we dealt with it. I applaud the sponsor of the bill for bringing it forward in the House. We will see what happens to the bill as it goes on. It appears that most speakers tonight are in favour of the bill.

The blood system in Canada sometimes is in the news for some of the wrong reasons. In recent years it has been in the news for all the right reasons. Our blood system is a safe system. It is a system that meets the demand. I always remember when there is a long weekend approaching and people are expected to be injured on the highways that there is always a call that goes out to anyone who has not given blood in a while to go down to their blood donor clinic and donate. There is always a need and it reoccurs time and time again.

I also think of our troops, whether they are in Afghanistan or anywhere in the world and how they will require blood when they are injured. Canadians can help our troops by donating blood.

The whole idea that one donation of blood can be spread out and do so much for so many people is something I did not realize was possible until a few years ago. I thought that a pint of blood was a pint of blood. It is not. Canadian Blood Services processes the blood and use it for all types of treatment. Many people are helped through one donation.

The government is right in supporting Bill S-214 and it recognizes the importance in encouraging and promoting blood donations. Of course each donation has the potential to safe a life.

Health Canada regulates the blood system and the products under the Food and Drugs Act to make sure that Canada's blood supply is safe. We have been down that road in the past and the government is very vigilant today that without the system being absolutely 100% safe, it is not of much value.

The demand for blood grows as our population grows and lifestyles change. There is always a need to continue promoting and making sure that people understand that donating blood is critically important.

In Canada blood is donated voluntarily. In some countries people are paid for donating a pint of blood. Here in Canada it is strictly voluntary. Donating blood is purely a selfless act and it should be recognized through any means.

The bill reads that the week where June 14 falls would be known as national blood donor week. Our party supports the bill. A national blood donor week would coincide also with World Blood Donor Day which is the second Tuesday in June around the world.

I have heard the comments in the House tonight and I believe that we are on the right track in taking this simple initiative to make sure that the thousands and thousands of people across Canada who donate blood on a regular basis are recognized. I must say that I am not one of those people who goes on a regular basis. My colleague from Rainy River is hanging his head. I have not donated on a regular basis and I should, and maybe some day that will happen.

I always tell the story of when I had a blood test when I got married, I hit the floor a couple of times. I do not know if that has anything to do with it. Certainly, lots of my friends and acquaintances have given blood over 50 times. That is a remarkable plateau to reach. I certainly appreciate the fact that they donate regularly.

I understand that another colleague here wants to say a few words. I will conclude my comments so that he may give his comments as well.

In closing, we support the bill. It is a great idea to recognize and just say thanks once a year to the people who give blood in this country.

Business of Supply April 19th, 2007

Mr. Speaker, I too am on the defence committee as the chair. We were in Afghanistan at the end of January and we were briefed by a number of people, General Richards being one. His comments about the contribution of Canada to that mission were exemplary. There were no bounds to his praise for our troops. It was quite refreshing to hear.

There were two people we met who really impressed me. The first was a soldier who disarms improvised explosive devices. He was quite an impressive young man. The other one was a warrant officer who sits down with the shura councils. When we talk about winning the hearts and minds of Afghanistan civilians, that is where we need to start. That is where emphasis needs to be placed and we are doing that.

I would like a comment from the member opposite about the efforts we are putting into dealing with shura councils.