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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was liberal.

Last in Parliament October 2015, as Conservative MP for Calgary West (Alberta)

Won his last election, in 2011, with 62% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Business of Supply April 29th, 2008

Mr. Speaker, I want to point out once again what I consider to be the hypocrisy in this, because the other parties engage in exactly the same practice and it is a long-standing practice.

In my particular riding we are very fortunate that it is a wealthy riding and we have been around as a long-established Conservative Party. I do not believe the seat has been represented by a Liberal, NDP or Bloc member ever in the history of this country going all the way back to R.B. Bennett. As a result, my constituency does not feel as though it has to transfer money during the midst of a campaign. We can run a campaign on less than $50,000, and God bless the constituents of Calgary West, they will elect a Conservative, and they probably would elect a Conservative for less money.

That being said, any money that is transferred or that we give away can be done before the election campaign. It does not need to be done during the midst of the campaign like it is for other parties and other candidates and other circumstances. My riding of Calgary West does have more than $50,000 to spend on a campaign, but we are confident that people will re-elect a Conservative in my riding, so these transactions take place before the election occurs, not during the writ.

Business of Supply April 29th, 2008

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to provide all hon. members with a clear, open and, most important, complete account of the facts surrounding the Elections Canada affair.

I say complete for a reason, for if we view the Elections Canada affair through the lens of that agency versus the Conservative Party alone, then we are taking a much too narrow view of the facts. What I want to lay out on the public record today is that the other parties in the House availed themselves of the exact same methods identified in this dispute and yet Elections Canada chose to scrutinize only Conservative Party candidates in this regard.

I am sure the irony cannot be lost on the members of the House, even as they piously call for truth in answers, that certain opposition members spent their week away from the House presenting Canadians with a storyline that was not in concert with the truth.

There are a lot of questions to be answered for sure but what the opposition parties, like Elections Canada, cannot get away from is that they will be the ones who will be expected to come clean with many of the answers, the most important of which is why they condemn practices that they themselves use.

Before I get into the meat of this issue, I would like to briefly talk about something known as national content as it relates to political advertising.

Here in the House of Commons we are in the business of governance. We are elected by the people of Canada and working for the people of Canada. That is what we do and, whether one is a part of the government or a member of the opposition, it should be the goal of all members in the House.

We all have slightly different approaches as to how this work for the people should be carried out. Some of us believe that Canadians want a government that puts faith in individual families and small businesses. Some in the House instead believe the only good answers can come from the government itself. Some parties in the House are old school centralists, some parties in the House were elected on a separatist platform and some in the House were elected on the sentiment that the centralist versus the separatist debate was accomplishing nothing for Quebec or anyone else. Therefore, we have offered Canadians a different say.

In short, we have a diversity of political opinion in the House, one that reflects the diversity of opinion that makes our country great.

All of us here were elected by our constituents. Some of us are more seasoned, while others have only been elected for less than a month. Regardless of length of service, though, surely all of us remember going door to door in our ridings, and for some us the doors were a little further apart than others, and speaking to our potential constituents about what we were going to do to help the people of our ridings and just as important, about what the party we represented was going to do for Canada.

In short, while local candidates campaign on local issues, they also, to a large degree, rely on national issues of the party they represent. Balancing local, regional and national issues is a healthy part of our democracy. We are all responsible to our constituents but we are also all part of a national team: one party, one leader, one national message. That is the way it works.

That is the way it is supposed to work. Local candidates are going to talk about national issues, which is why they are federal candidates, which is how Canadians know who we are, what we stand for and what we are going to do for them. That is what is known as national content. Whether it is buttons, T-shirts, banners, flyers, pamphlets, TV commercials or radio ads, local federal candidates will work closely with the national campaign on their local campaigns. Every party does this and every party is right to do this.

The fundamental inviolable rule, however, is that local campaigns take full responsibility for local expenses, while the national campaign takes full responsibility for national expenses. On this count, the Conservative Party and our local campaigns are in full compliance with the Canada Elections Act. To say otherwise is false and a gross distortion of the facts.

That is why in May 2007 the Conservative Party took Elections Canada to court. The court case specifically related to Elections Canada's refusal to recognize the expenses claimed by some Conservative candidates for the 2006 election because of some new and novel definition of what it called national content. Elections Canada apparently wanted to send a message that this kind of collaboration was wrong.

This is very thin ice for Elections Canada. It is moving away from serving as an impartial arbiter of the rules toward a highly interventionist approach that actually passes judgment on the content of different campaigns. That has never been the role of the agency and it should concern us all.

Let us look at another way that the national campaign helps local candidates. I am talking about the transfer of money to support local campaigns in order to carry out election related activities. Again, every party does this and every party is right to do this. However, curiously, in this case, it was only the Conservative Party that was singled out by Elections Canada. We were singled out for following, not only the long established rules of elections practice, but also the widely used practice of other major political parties.

I will share some examples with members of this House. Let us take, for example, part of the NDP campaign in British Columbia in 2006 election. According to documentation obtained through Elections Canada, NDP candidates for Saanich—Gulf Islands, Nanaimo—Cowichan, and Victoria all participated in a cooperative media buy with the national party organizers. These NDP cooperative media buys bore a striking resemblance to the matter that is behind the motion we debate today.

We should consider that they involve a number of local campaigns banding together to purchase advertising for their area. The NDP headquarters organized the buy. The invoices were processed by the NDP headquarters. No transactions occurred directly between the local campaigns and the media outlets. The cost of the media buys were allocated entirely to the local campaigns and the content of the advertising was based on the national content of the NDP campaign.

A similar occurrence transpired with NDP candidates, several of whom have gone on to become MPs sitting in this House in the greater Vancouver area. We should consider that there were no less than 12 NDP candidates in that region who participated in a local media buy where, again, Elections Canada did not question the validity of their transactions. I do not know whether our friends in the NDP have been visited by Elections Canada with the CBC and Liberal Party cameramen in tow, but given the events of the past week one would wonder why that is not the case.

When the Conservative Party took Elections Canada to court, examples of Liberal Party election practices were also provided. The Liberal Party also made liberal use of regional media buys. Who do we see named among the Liberals who partook in these regional media buys, surprise, surprise? We see none other than the name of the member for Beauséjour. Oddly, he chose not to focus on this during his press conference last week.

Again, according to Elections Canada documentation the member for Beauséjour participated in a local media buy that apparently was arranged by the national party and contained, with the exception of the local candidate's name, entirely national content.

As with the previous NDP examples, this media buy again involved combined local campaigns banding together to buy regional media advertising, arrangements that were made by national party organizers, invoicing processed at the national level and no prior contact between the local campaigns and the media outlets.

However, in the instance of the campaigns of the member for Beauséjour, Elections Canada documentation contained a Liberal Party memo that notes the local campaign was to pay for the advertising. However, as there is no listing of this purchase within the documentation of the member's Elections Canada return, we are left to guess how those ads were paid for and by whom.

I wonder if the hon. member might clarify to this House whether he has had Elections Canada officials, CBC crew members, RCMP officers and other parties' cameramen knock on the doors of his party's office over this practice. Although the member's finances appear to be non-compliant, again, these New Brunswick regional media buys did not appear to merit questions by Elections Canada.

There is a rather vicious irony to this. The member who is being most vocal about the purported abhorrence of this practice has engaged in it himself and with what appears to be less than compliant methods.

Questions have also been raised about the practice of transferring funds from the national party to local campaigns to assist them with electoral related activities.

First, let us put aside the fact that it is perfectly reasonable for local campaigns to be supported by their national headquarters. As I mentioned earlier, we are all working toward a common goal and despite a lot of noise from our friends opposite to suggest otherwise, they not only think but they also act the same way. According to Elections Canada documentation obtained by Conservative Party lawyers, it is very clear that the Liberal, NDP and Bloc all engage in the same practice as the Conservative Party.

For example, the 2006 election documentation shows many examples of Liberal Party headquarters transferring substantial funds but also invoicing similarly substantial funds as well. Documentation shows that the Liberal Party made $1.7 million in transfers to local candidates in the 2006 election, while invoicing them $1.3 million as well.

The NDP made $884,000 in transfers to NDP local candidates, while invoicing them a total of $545,000 for goods and services provided to them in the election.

The Bloc made $732,000 in monetary transfers to its local candidates in the 2006 election, while invoicing its local candidates $820,000 for goods and services rendered.

It is quite clear that all parties in this House engage, most vigorously I would add, in the practice of transferring money back and forth between headquarters and local ridings during elections.

Additionally, in Elections Canada documentation, it is clear that there are numerous examples where transfers from party headquarters to Liberal, NDP and Bloc candidates exactly or closely matched amounts that candidates were invoiced by the national party.

The member for Don Valley West was invoiced $5,000 by the Liberal Party on June 16, 2004. The Liberal Party also deposited a cheque for $5,000 to the candidate on July 9. On June 28 the candidate paid the Liberal Party invoice with a cheque of $5,000. Then the candidate cashed the Liberal Party cheque on July 15. That is the same amount. That is Liberal campaign spending in and out.

The member for Vancouver East was invoiced $7,003.64 by the NDP on January 13, 2006. On January 31, 2006, a cheque from the NDP to the candidate for $7,003.64 was deposited. On February 1, 2006 a cheque from the candidate to the NDP that pays the invoice for $7,003.64 was written and cashed on March 1. That is the very same amount. That is NDP campaign spending in and out.

Clearly this is a common practice. Should the courts ever rule that a different interpretation of the law is in order, then all parties will have to change their practices. The courts will make that decision, not the Conservative Party, not the Liberal Party, not the Bloc nor the NDP, and not Elections Canada.

All of these examples I have brought up today are clearly laid out in the affidavit submitted by the Conservative Party to the courts over our legal challenge to Elections Canada. We have been very clear. Not only do we feel that we have followed the rules which are laid out by Elections Canada, but it is also clear that we have adhered to a standard no different from any other party's in this House.

As my hon. colleague stated earlier, all of us here have the honour to be elected to this House by the people of Canada and although we have different ideas about the best way to run the country, one hopes that at the end of the day we all have the same goal, which is to run it well. Each of us sitting here worked hard to win this honour. There was a lot of pounding the pavement, long hours and dedication.

Conservative candidates played by the rules, the same rules followed predominantly by candidates from all parties. Our local candidates talked about local issues and they talked about national issues. We supported our local candidates in their efforts to win office, the same way that the other parties in this House supported their local candidates in an effort to win office.

Those are the facts. Everything else is political posturing.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank you, Mr. Speaker, and the hon. members opposite for giving us the opportunity to set the record straight.

Afghanistan March 12th, 2008

They are dark, sunless hours. But I appreciate all those men and women who make those sacrifices.

I met a young man when I was there in Cold Lake. For three years he has been wanting to serve in Afghanistan. He would continue to serve and be the engineer who keeps those lights going on the runways, the backup batteries and chargers. He could make double or triple the amount of money working in the oil patch in northern Alberta for fewer hours.

This man, good soldier that he is, stays on board with that cause and hopes that he can see service in Afghanistan. That is nobility for the cause. I hope the NDP takes some of that to heart.

Afghanistan March 11th, 2008

Maureen Basnicki. That is right.

She sat on the couch in my office and told me about how her husband was over 100 storeys high in the World Trade Center. The reason she knows he was there is because he phoned home. She was not there to take the call, but nonetheless, somebody else let her know that he had made his best effort. He talked about how difficult it was and that he was above where those planes crashed into the building, and did not know how they would escape or get out or what the scenario would possibly be, not knowing of course that those towers would later collapse.

Joined with her was a gentleman whose relative was the first to have his throat slashed on board the United flight that crashed into a Pennsylvania farm field en route to Washington, D.C.

These people are frustrated. They know there are groups out there that raise money on behalf of terrorist organizations and funnel it to help those causes.

Maybe it is martyr money that is given to people who make the ultimate sacrifice as the ultimate terrorist in the cause. Maybe it is money that is given to help buy the detonating devices or the bombs. Maybe it is money to provide safe houses. Maybe it is money to help provide or manufacture false travel documents, et cetera.

But anyhow, they want to have the ability to go after these terrorist fundraising groups through civil action, through lawsuits, because they are having a great deal of difficulty in proving it in criminal court.

They would have a much easier time going after these groups with a probability in a sense and reasonable grounds in civil courts. I wholeheartedly support them in their effort. I think it is a valuable tool that we have in our potential arsenal to go after terrorism and we should pursue it wholeheartedly.

Earlier this evening, I heard the NDP ask questions and catcall some of my colleagues and make criticisms.

I would like to point out that some of the soldiers I know affectionately call the leader of the NDP Taliban Jack. I think that needs to be said. It needs to be heard and the soldiers need to know that we are listening.

The NDP members attacked the credibility of the government this evening. They said that Mr. Karzai and his government were not perfect. I think I would be the first one to stand and say that I do not think the NDP is perfect.

The NDP, despite the fact that we won the cold war in eastern Europe, still does not support the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. The NDP is the party that proposed unilateral disarmament to leave Europe defenceless to the Warsaw Pact so that they would have served as a mere speed bump had those tanks rolled westward.

I will let that credibility sink in, but so many times in the past the NDP have always been the appeasers of aggressors. I am not sure what line in the sand NDP members would draw before they would be willing to stand up and fight.

They say that the Karzai government is not perfect. I would ask all members to think on this fact long and hard. This Parliament that we stand in today is the result of at least 1,000 years of history.

I was very lucky to be in the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association and travel to London on the 50th anniversary. When we think how long it took with King Canute in the 800s to establish property law and then in 1215 at Runnymede for some of the barons to say that the king should indeed have restrictions on his ability to tax.

I imagine the NDP in 1215 would have been a jester, running around saying, “Oh, but my Lordship, I don't think you can make any criticisms of King John because you have serfs on your land”. That is cute, but nonetheless, that was an important forward movement with regard to the restriction of the powers of the monarch so that we did not have capriciousness.

It took longer yet with the glorious revolution and various other things through history to arrive at the Parliament we have today. For the NDP members to expect that in a place like Afghanistan it will have a Parliament exactly like ours today, after 1,000 years of British common law history, is ridiculous. They should look at the situation and really compare what is fair.

In that respect, would our NDP colleagues prefer that the Taliban was still in charge? Is that what they would like? Or, would they have preferred that the Soviets had won their way and, instead, imposed their sense of order? Or, would they have us pull out and either allow the Taliban back in or possibly even allow the Iranians to impose their sense of justice on the place? It is nonsensical. If we are not there, who?

I also want to talk about the thanks that are well deserved with regard to these endeavours. We in this place have it pretty good. We are here in an air-conditioned room. It may be cold outside and we have suffered a storm on the weekend, but life is not so bad for parliamentarians when we consider the contrast. I thank the men and women who serve.

I remember the cook who was on board the HMCS Toronto when I was lucky to be embedded with them in the Arabian Sea in Operation Apollo. This gentleman spent 18 months at sea because his trade was hard to come by. I do not think there is enough of them in the navy. Ideally, he should only have spent six months on board that vessel but he was there 18 months later after first being deployed still doing his job and serving our country. I thank him tremendously for providing the meals and the bolster to the morale of those sailors on-board our vessels.

I also want to thank a gentleman by the name of Doug Movat who I met this past November at a Remembrance Day ceremony at the Bowness Legion that is in or close to my riding. Doug served in the infantry in Afghanistan. He told me stories about being in 54° Celsius temperatures, which is pretty hot. I think the hottest I have ever experienced was when I was at a port in Fujairah. It was 45° in the shade and I thought that was something else. However, he suffered through 54° temperatures while wearing a Kevlar vest in Afghanistan. I thank him for his sacrifice.

I also appreciate the young men who have been willing to join the cause, people like Lieutenant Will Lymer, who signed up with the Governor General's Foot Guards, did his basic training, his weapons training and finally his leadership training. Will sometimes gets up at 5 a.m. to run his new recruits. I am not sure it is something I would do, but I humbly appreciate what he does.

This weekend we had one of the largest dumps of snow that I think I have ever seen in my lifetime and I was born in Winnipeg. I think that says something, Mr. Speaker. This weekend Will stood out in the storm for at least six hours so that his recruits could train to shoot their C7s.

There are so many sacrifices. We could talk about those who have passed on in service. These are the real heroes. As one of the American comedians, Dennis Miller, puts it, we live the life of Riley. These men and women put themselves on the front line to defend civilization, to bring order out of that chaos.

We recently, with my committee and Veterans Affairs, did a tour of some of our bases across the country. I think of the dark, sunless hours in places like Cold Lake. I look at the member behind me and I know that he spent a lot of time in Cold Lake, bless his heart.

Afghanistan March 11th, 2008

Mr. Speaker, I listened earlier this evening to some of the comments of fellow colleagues in this chamber. It is important for people back home to realize that one of the most fundamental questions we always ask on an endeavour like this is, why are we there?

I would boil it down to this. My colleague identified Afghanistan as having been a rogue state. Our purpose in many respects is to bring order to what was chaos. That is as simple an equation as I can boil this down to. I think it has tremendous value.

It is worthwhile for some of the people in this place, and those watching at home, to think of what prompted us to get into this.

I remember being phoned early on the morning of September 11. I watched the planes crash into the towers and the towers collapse. I personally had a friend who was working in downtown New York, and he still does, as an investment banker. He told me the story of walking north from those buildings, as the smoke poured out of them and as the emergency vehicles rushed in. He watched as people jumped from the upper stories of the World Trade Center. He used his shirt, his tie and various items of clothing to cover his mouth so he did not breathe in as much of the soot and the dust as what would have normally happened had he not shielded his lungs.

I was in New York one month after the towers collapsed. For the folks back home in Calgary, I want to paint this picture, and for members here I hope it will provide some sense of gravity of the situation.

We have the Petro-Canada tower in downtown Calgary. It was built when the government of Pierre Elliott Trudeau nationalized Petrofina, and it is not necessarily a loved institution in our city. Nonetheless, each tower of the two complexes of the World Trade Center was twice as wide and twice as tall as the Petro-Canada tower. Each of those towers therefore represented eight times the mass of the Petro-Canada tower. When those two buildings came down, that was 16 times the size of the Petro-Canada tower.

When I was there a month later, three blocks away from the epicentre of that destruction was police tape, and nobody but emergency workers were allowed to walk in that space. Then another two blocks beyond that, for a total of five blocks, no motorized were vehicles allowed. Therefore, an area of 10 blocks, 5 blocks each side all the way around, 10 blocks by 10 blocks, 100 square city blocks, was taken out and immobilized as a result of those towers collapsing.

It was not just those two towers. All the buildings surrounding them were heavily damaged or fully collapsed as a result of the debris that came down. Every street in every direction for as far as the eye could see, nose to nose, was lined with nothing but containers, massive dumpsters, the types of things we would imagine being loaded on the barge of a ship. The containers were full of nothing but debris. I do not know whether the debris was parts of buildings, or paper, or people.

In my city, that would represent an area in downtown Calgary from the Bow River, north of the city, right down to the railway tracks in the south, to the Beltline, and from basically the car dealerships in the west, right out to the East Village and Inglewood in the east. It would be the entirety of downtown Calgary that literally was immobilized and rendered useless as a result of the collapse of those towers.

I went there both a month afterward and two months afterward. When I stood three blocks away from that epicentre a month after that incident occurred, I stood there and I watched as the steam was still venting from the epicentre. That of course made sense because New York, being the highly civilized place that it is, with all the traffic and the people and the transit cars and the subway system, and everything else that is involved was built into the granite block that is Manhattan, and there were countless electrical and natural gas and other mains operating underneath the World Trade Center. There were fires still at 1000°C burning underground causing that venting and steam. That was still the case two months later when I visited. It was less, but it was still there in evidence.

So that, in a sense, boils down one kernel to why it was crucial for us to step in. We could not allow something like that to happen again without making our best possible effort to stem it.

Since that time, I have had the honour of having people come to visit my office who have personally lost loved ones as a result of these terrorist attacks.

I know that Senator Tkachuk, in the other place, has a bill that he is putting forward on this very issue.

I had a lady sit in my office here in the East Block on Parliament Hill. She wants us to change, in a sense, the justice system to allow her and others like her to pursue civil actions against terrorist fundraisers.

Tackling Violent Crime Act March 3rd, 2008

Mr. Speaker, how many times have we seen a violent criminal get off with a light sentence only to reoffend? How many times have we watched repeat offenders prey upon our communities?

This past Thursday, Bill C-2, the tackling violent crime act, received royal assent. This legislation makes changes to Canada's Criminal Code that will protect Canadians against those who commit serious and violent crimes. It was finally passed after being delayed by the Liberal dominated Senate for three months.

The Liberals attempted to water it down. They could not resist coddling the criminals. Their supporters, the defence lawyers, thought that ambiguity in law would mean more billable hours. Liberals do not want a streamlined judicial system.

Canadian families need real protection against serial criminals. The new law strengthens the Criminal Code by bringing in tougher mandatory jail times as well as better defence from adult sexual predators by increasing the age of protection from 14 years to 16 years.

Canada's government has made streets safer for the public and life harder for criminals.

Economic Statement November 28th, 2007

Mr. Speaker, Canada's government recently announced the deepest tax cuts in a generation. The economic statement announced last month proposes broad-based tax relief for individuals, families and businesses of almost $60 billion.

There will be a $14 billion reduction in the federal debt. Measured against the economy, the national debt has fallen to its lowest level in 25 years.

The GST will be lowered to 5%.

Business taxes have been reduced to make Canada more competitive and investment friendly.

Together, these measures will reduce personal income taxes by more than $400 for a typical family earning $80,000 a year.

I am proud to be part of this hard-working, focused government that is committed to lowering taxes.

Criminal Code June 19th, 2007

Mr. Accountant.

Committees of the House June 15th, 2007

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the sixth report of the Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs in relation to the support for veterans and other victims of post-traumatic stress disorder and other operational stress injuries.

Immigration and Refugee Protection Act June 5th, 2007

Mr. Speaker, I heard the member give his speech and I am somewhat troubled in the sense that there were things that really dragged the hon. member's party and the previous old government down. I want to clarify as well that the party in question, the opposition Liberals, were in power for 13 years. The Liberals certainly had copious opportunities to make these changes, so it is highly ironic that we, having been in office for 15 months, are being accused of being old somehow, when they had 13 years, certainly a much longer time, almost 12 times as long, really.

It comes down to this: One of the scandals that happened under the old government's watch was this whole question of women being brought over and exploited. I heard a Liberal minister previously defend in this place the practice of bringing over and exploiting these young women for lap dancing and various things. We are trying to fix that.

Does the hon. member want to address that at all?