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  • His favourite word was actually.

Last in Parliament September 2014, as Conservative MP for Yellowhead (Alberta)

Won his last election, in 2011, with 77% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Canada-Panama Economic Growth and Prosperity Act November 7th, 2012

Mr. Speaker, it is a privilege for me to share my comments on a bill that should have been passed two and a half years ago. We are in the eleventh hour of debate on this bill, which is certainly not being rammed through. It should have been passed long ago.

We are a trading nation, as most members of the House and Canadians know. It is something to see the magnitude of trade that we do in Canada as we look at what has happened over our history. Eighty-five per cent of our trade has been with our southern neighbour, the United States.

Here I want to take the opportunity to congratulate President Obama for his win last evening and the people of Michigan for their decision to allow the new bridge to be built between Windsor and Detroit. The existing bridge is the largest trading bridge anywhere in the world. At times there is $2 billion a day in trade going across that bridge, so it is very important that a new bridge be built.

As I said, about 85% of our international trade has been with the United States, whereas last year it was about 73%. We are becoming less dependent on the United States and more dependent on other markets, such as the one we are debating under this piece of legislation, Panama's.

It is impressive to see the number of jobs created because of our international trade. One in every five Canadian jobs is generated through exports and 63% of our country's annual GDP is created because of international trade. Therefore, it is very important that we get this piece of legislation through. Panama is the hub of the Americas and a very important logistical platform for us to trade with in Central America.

This is a continuation of an agenda that our government has had since coming into office. We have signed nine different free trade agreements, including with countries such as Colombia, Jordan, Peru and Honduras; and with the European Free Trade Association, including Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. This is long overdue. We are very aggressively pursuing other countries with regard to free trade agreements, seen in the Canada-European Union free trade agreement, for example. We look forward to the final text perhaps being out before year end.

I was with the trade committee in Japan last week and was very encouraged by what we heard regarding a bilateral trade agreement with Japan, the world's third largest economy.

When we add all of these up and see exactly what we are doing, the possibilities of moving forward on our trade agenda are very encouraging.

Just to look at what we have done with NAFTA and the United States, since NAFTA was signed some 18 or so years ago, that agreement has created about 40 million jobs. The GDP of the three countries was a little over $7 trillion at the time of signing and is now over $17 trillion now. Between the three countries, we are now trading almost $1 trillion a year. It is very significant.

Canadians realize the importance of a trade agenda. What I cannot understand is where the opposition is at with regard to our trade agenda. Even today, opposition members say that they do not like and would get rid of the NAFTA agreement. They say they would never support it and never have supported it. It does not matter what kind of logic we use or what kind of math we put in front of them to show them the benefits of it, they disagree with it. This is something that I absolutely do not understand.

The opposition members have disagreed with all of the nine free trade agreements our government has signed, except maybe the one with Jordan, which they could not come to a decision on. They had to sit on their hands because they did not want to show that they were somewhat supportive of that agreement. When we look at the Canada-Panama free trade agreement, I would suggest that it is much more beneficial even than the agreement with Jordan. Yet the opposition filibusters and accuses the government of trying to ram it through.

There has been a lot of debate on the Canada-Panama free trade agreement, and it is amazing what is in that piece of legislation and what it will do for our agriculture sector. Agriculture is near and dear to my heart, as we farm about 3,000 acres of canola and wheat. It is important for us to understand the size of agriculture in Canada. The agrifood sector actually generates 8% of our GDP. It creates one in eight jobs in this country. That is 2.2 million jobs in Canada created because of agriculture. There is some $41 billion created because of trade in our agricultural products in international markets. Almost half of our total agricultural production in this country goes to international trade. Indeed, we are sixth largest exporter of agricultural products in the world.

It is very important that we make sure that we capture as many possible markets as we can for our agricultural products. Panama is the second largest market for agricultural products in Central America. This piece of legislation would allow agriculture not only to be enhanced but also for it to be done in a tariff-free way. How many tariffs are there? On the signing and implementation of this piece of legislation, 78% of Canadian agricultural exports to Panama would be tariff-free .

What are those products? The 20% tariff on frozen french fries, which help Prince Edward Island and Atlantic Canadians, would be eliminated. How about the pulse crops of the Prairies? There is a 15% tariff on those that would be eliminated immediately upon signing of this agreement. How about malt exporters, the barley growers of this country? The 10% tariff applying to them would be eliminated upon signing of this agreement.

By the way, the opposition disagrees with our getting rid of these tariffs and has fought this for two and a half years in the House. That is absolutely ridiculous when we see the benefits to these areas.

How about our beef sector, which has been plagued by the BSE crisis and all kinds of problems, including its exports to different countries around the world being shut down as a result? The producers have gone through a very difficult time. The tariff they face in the Panamanian region is 25% to 30%. That would be eliminated.

I was in Japan last week with the trade committee, where we were excited about the opening up of the export of our beef, from beef aged 21 months to beef aged 30 months now. However, Japan is another market that has been hurt because of the delays by the opposition with regard to this piece of legislation.

The tariff that really bothers me the most is the 60% to 70% tariff on our hog industry. It is amazing to see that kind of tariff placed on our hogs. That so important to us because our largest competitor in that market is the United States, which signed a free trade agreement with Panama on October 31. If we do not get our free trade agreement with Panama through the House, we will lose our competitive edge and never get it back. It is absolutely critical that we make sure that we stop playing around in the House and start doing what is right for Canadians. The opposition should get onboard.

There has been two and half years of filibustering in the House, two and a half years of wasted time and opportunity for us to be able to capitalize on the great infrastructure of the Panama Canal, as well as the opportunities for our agriculture sector and many others. The opposition says we are fast-tracking this by bringing in time allocation. I understand the NDP, because that is just their ideological bent and where they are at. They are what they are. However, two days ago we had the Liberals opposing our closure motion on this legislation. I find that really hard to understand.

Not only has the United States signed an agreement with Panama, but the European Union is also expected to sign an agreement, perhaps by the end of this year. Then we will lose a competitive edge with Europe as well.

It is absolutely amazing when we see what the opposition is doing with regard to this piece of legislation and the free trade agreements we have reached with nine different countries around the world and have been promoting. I just do not understand it.

I will quote the member for Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, who was the vice-chair of the trade committee at one time. He said that when it comes to trade agreements, they are “job-destroying”. I do not understand where he gets that math. How can he possibly get there?

There is only one thing that we heard with regard to trade in the NDP's platform and that was a $21 billion cap and trade carbon tax. That is what the opposition is promoting, instead of the positive trade we will experience when we pass this piece of legislation. I encourage the House to get on with this. The next two hours cannot go fast enough.

Infrastructure October 19th, 2012

Mr. Speaker, our government continues to focus on what is really important for Canadians and that is creating jobs and ensuring that we grow our economies and have long-term prosperity right across the country.

To help with that, our government recently launched the community infrastructure improvement fund. Our communities and the communities in my riding are ecstatic about that. In fact, they really appreciate the support they are getting for community spaces and buildings.

Would the Minister of State for Western Economic Diversification update the House on this important program and just how it is in such contrast to the high-tax NDP?

Canadian Tourism Awards October 17th, 2012

Mr. Speaker, I am proud today to rise and congratulate the Rocky Mountaineer Train Company for its nomination in the “social media initiative of the year” category at the Canadian Tourism Awards.

In Canada, tourism is a $78.8 billion industry that generates $15 billion in exports every year and employs over 600,000 hard-working Canadians. Tourism remains a viable source of economic stability throughout the country and it accounts for more of our GDP than agriculture, forestry, hunting and fishing combined.

In 2011, Rocky Mountaineer used a new social media strategy touching on every aspect of the customer experience. Highlighting Jasper National Park especially, it showered much of its attention on Canada's natural splendour. Jasper is the jewel of the Rockies and I invite all members of the House to come and see for themselves.

I congratulate Rocky Mountaineer and wish it all the very best at the awards in November.

CANADA-PANAMA ECONOMIC GROWTH AND PROSPERITY ACT June 19th, 2012

Mr. Speaker, the member is not opposed to trade; she is opposed to time allocation. This bill got to third reading with the last government. How much more debate does the member want on this thing?

Now we have started from scratch. This government has brought it up through committee and into the House, into third reading. That is a fairly extensive look at it. If the opposition has not made up its mind by now, it is never going to.

When it comes to tax havens, this is something that has been brought up before. In 2002 Panama committed to implementing the OECD's standards when it comes to exchange of tax information. In 2011, the OECD took another look at it and formally listed Panama as having substantial implementation and as having achieved international standards on exchange of information.

I believe Panama has come a long way. This is the right thing to do, and I encourage all members to consider that and vote for this piece of legislation.

CANADA-PANAMA ECONOMIC GROWTH AND PROSPERITY ACT June 19th, 2012

Mr. Speaker, that is an interesting comment. Maybe the member is rather new here, but when the Liberals were in power for 13 long years, they signed zero agreements.

We signed nine and are heading to ten free trade agreements. It is very important that we not allow other countries to eat our lunch when it comes to trade. That is exactly what I said: when it comes to Panama, we have the United States, Singapore and other countries ahead of us with free trade agreements. The first one in usually has an opportunity ahead of the others. That is why we are pursuing, aggressively, free trade agreements with Japan and others. There is an advantage to making sure we do that.

It is very interesting, coming from the Liberal Party that agrees with free trade, because they did absolutely nothing. We have seen that as a trend by the Liberal Party for many years, so we are not really surprised.

CANADA-PANAMA ECONOMIC GROWTH AND PROSPERITY ACT June 19th, 2012

Mr. Speaker, I addressed that question in my deliberations, but nonetheless I would like to repeat it.

It is absolutely no different from the agreement with Jordan that the opposition sat in this House and agreed with 100%. The most horrendous testimony we have heard in our committee came from the factories in Jordan, of the misuse of human rights, yet the side agreements on human rights and on the environment are the very same.

I am saying to my hon. colleague that it is ridiculous to say that the side agreements on human rights and environment say we are going to go soft on it. We are going to go as hard as we possibly can and make sure we do what we can, in this agreement and other agreements, to be able to respect human rights wherever we can. We understand very well that in Jordan and in Panama there may be problems.

I would say the opportunity to have more intense problems, when it comes to human rights, is in Jordan rather than in Panama.

CANADA-PANAMA ECONOMIC GROWTH AND PROSPERITY ACT June 19th, 2012

Mr. Speaker, it is a privilege and a pleasure for me to stand and speak to this important piece of legislation.

I just came from chairing the international trade committee. It is a pleasure for me to serve in that capacity. When it comes to trade, it is absolutely imperative that I explain to Canadians just how important trade is to Canada.

One out of every five jobs is created because of trade. Sixty-three per cent of our GDP is represented by trade, and we have accomplished that because of trade agreements.

The trade file started with NAFTA. NAFTA has been in existence for almost 17 years. What has happened in that time period? Jobs have gone up by 23%, meaning there are 40 million net new jobs in North America because of NAFTA. Trade has tripled, and has quadrupled with one of our partners.

Opposition members argue against free trade agreements. It really puzzles me that they let the Jordan free trade agreement go through on a voice vote; it was as if their union people were not watching. It is absolutely amazing to me that they could agree with the Jordan free trade agreement and then stand in the House and give some of the arguments that I have heard recently against the Panama free trade agreement. I will talk about that in a few minutes.

I want to give one quick example about NAFTA. We heard arguments that when NAFTA came in, the wine industry in Canada would be absolutely destroyed. It would cease to exist. All those arguments were presented on the floor of the House, and they were argued vigorously.

Can members guess what happened? Canada's wine exports amounted to $1.8 billion. From all the various countries—Argentina, Australia, France, Italy, Spain—we imported $800 million in wine, so our exports doubled our imports. What a great success story, and all because of international trade. That is something my hon. colleagues should keep in mind.

What have we been doing as a country? We have signed nine different free trade agreements: Colombia, Honduras, Jordan, Peru, the European Free Trade Association members, and Panama, the one we are dealing with today.

What are we pursuing? We are pursuing an economic free trade agreement with Europe. We just heard testimony less than an hour ago in committee from our chief negotiator, who indicated how well that is going. We expect to have the final draft by the end of the year.

Why is that important? It is important because it is the most comprehensive free trade agreement between any two nations anywhere in the world. It will supposedly be at end of text by the end of the year. It is exciting to see how well that is going, and I compliment the negotiators on that free trade agreement.

What does that agreement mean to Canada? It means $1,000 per family per year. That is a fair amount. That is $12 billion coming into Canada every year because of the economic free trade agreement with Europe.

We are also working aggressively on another free trade agreement, in this case with Japan. The benefits to Canada would be $9 billion. As well, there is India, Brazil, Thailand.

Just a few minutes ago we heard that we are in the TPP, which, as of yesterday, is a group of 10 countries on the Pacific rim that will work on a comprehensive free trade agreement in that group.

What about China? Last year we imported $44.5 billion from China. It imported $13.2 billion from us. To equalize the trade benefit from China and to balance the trade would be a $30 billion benefit. It could be just an act of goodwill by China.

We are very excited about accelerating trade and about our opportunities with these growing countries that are in need of the products we produce and the resources, industries and intelligence we have here in Canada to offer them.

What are the elements of the Canada-Panama agreement? We trade cross-border services, telecommunications, investment, financial services, government procurement and so on.

It is important to sign this agreement and get on with it. The bill reached third reading in the last Parliament. It is important because the United States, Chile, Taiwan and Singapore already have an agreement with Panama.

What would bilateral trade with Panama mean? In 2011, trade was $235 million. We imported about $144 million in products such as metals, gold, fruit, machinery, fish and seafood products. We exported about $111 million in products such as machinery, meat, aerospace products, vegetables and so. Signing this kind of agreement would provide a great opportunity for our corporations and our country.

It is very important to understand the opportunities that lay themselves before us under this agreement on the procurement side. In Panama it is projected there will be $28.9 billion U.S. worth of infrastructure projects over the coming years. One of the largest is the Panama Canal, which is a $5.3 billion expansion and a great opportunity for Canadian corporations with regard to not only that but also ports, roads, bridges and airports, with respect to procurement.

It is important to understand that the tariffs on our agricultural products are rather intense. They go from 13.4% right up to 260% for some of our agricultural products. Imagine what the elimination of those could do with respect to exporting frozen potatoes, pulses, pork, malt barley and other products such as beef, hogs and so on. When it comes to the non-agricultural goods, the tariffs are anywhere from 6.2% right up to 81% on many of those, such as materials, equipment, industrial and electrical machinery, paper products, vehicles and so on. We can see that the potential for this is great.

The resistance I hear from the opposition members is rather interesting because they have talked about labour problems, human rights problems and environmental concerns. There is a corporate social responsibility that has been agreed to by Canadian corporations when we get into this piece of legislation. It very much encompasses environmental protection, human rights, labour relations, corporate governance, transparency, community relations, peace and security, and anti-corruption measures. Therefore, the opposition members are really blowing smoke when they say that the legislation does not include any of this. It is very important that it is there and that we sign this agreement so that Canadian companies would be able to capitalize on these kinds of opportunities.

The corporate social responsibility part of this agreement is very important. It is something that has not been talked about an awful lot here but is something that is very important. With respect to the side agreements on labour and the environment, I have heard opposition members ask why they are not encompassed within the body of the agreement. It is no different than with Jordan, for which they had no problem with standing in this House. Well, actually they did not stand; they just sat there on a voice vote and let it go unanimously at third reading. It is off to the Senate and will be passed very soon we hope. There is no difference here with respect to that, so I do not know how, in their own thinking, they can support one and not the other.

In testimony at committee we heard the most outrageous circumstances on human rights happening in some of the factories in Jordan. The members of the opposition who are on the committee heard the same testimony. There are two approaches that can be taken when we look at a free trade agreement. We can either say that unless that country comes up to Canadian standards we will disengage or just check out because there is no point, which will send a message that we would not do business with anyone who does not come up to our standards. The other approach is to engage that country as much as possible, improve its standard of living and give Canadian businesses as well as the corporations in those other countries opportunities that would help them along, so that we both win. That is the approach this government is using.

The most hypocritical position I have ever seen in this House on the trade file is the opposition members supporting Jordan but not supporting Panama, Colombia and others. It is really beyond anything I have seen. Clearly, it is something that has to be addressed when we challenge the opposition members to come on side and sign the agreement. If they say they are pro-trade then they should do it. The excuses I have heard are absolutely not excuses but rather blind ideology that hurts Canadian businesses and Canada as a country.

Canada is a wonderful country. It is the greatest country in the world, according to the IMF, the OECD and Forbes magazine. We have created 760,000 net new jobs since the bottom of the recession. We have done that by lowering taxes and giving Canadian corporations the opportunity to actually develop and move their goods and services into international trade opportunities around the world. As a government, we will continue to do that. Why? That is what Canadians expect us to do.

The NDP would like to raise taxes to get out of this recession. We believe we should grow our country. That is the way to win, and we will continue to do that.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act June 13th, 2012

Madam Speaker, I listened to my hon. colleague, who sounded a bit like a wounded bear. I would like to challenge him on some of the things he said and ask him a question.

This budget is really about building Canada and the vision he talked about so inappropriately of Preston Manning, his vision of smaller government, greater opportunity for the private sector, lowering taxes to enable that and to help the private sector make this country what it truly is, the greatest nation in the world, the one that has the most prosperous opportunity, as endorsed by the IMF, the OECD, other organizations, and Forbes magazine as well.

How could my colleague, as a supposed Rhodes scholar and an individual who ran Ontario into the ground, be a person of that stature and be so misinformed on Preston Manning, the Reform Party and what we on this side believe are the opportunities that Canadians should have and do have? How could he be so misinformed on those ideas and why—

Alberta Beach Lions Club June 6th, 2012

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to recognize an outstanding accomplishment of an organization in my riding of Yellowhead. T

his coming Saturday, June 9, in Sturbridge, Massachusetts, the Alberta Beach Lions Club will be receiving an award at the International Snowmobile Congress 2012.

This group's great work has been recognize by the Canadian Council of Snowmobile Organizations, which has bestowed upon it a national excellence award for outstanding promotion and development of snowmobiling in 2011-12. This promotion of snowmobiling by the club is done with the common goals in mind in respect to the environment, conservation, access, education and accountability.

In Canada, there are over 603,000 snowmobiles registered and the industry has $6 billion of economic impact annually.

I am very proud of the Alberta Beach Lions Club for its hard work in promoting activities that are not only fantastic and fun, but also ones that bring family, people and communities together.

Canada–Jordan Economic Growth and Prosperity Act June 4th, 2012

Mr. Speaker, this House has seen an amazing sight this afternoon as the NDP has swallowed itself whole with regard to the trade file. It is absolutely amazing because there is no difference in the principle of the Jordan free trade agreement wherein it is not a perfect world. We heard some of the most horrendous testimony in committee with regard to what is happening in some of the factories, which is no different from what is happening in Colombia, perhaps in Panama and in some of the other countries with which we have free trade agreements that the NDP says that it will not support.

The principle is the same. It is not a perfect world but we try to make it better by engaging not disengaging. It is absolutely amazing and I will ask a quick question.

The leader of the official opposition was just up in the oil sands of Alberta. He had to go to the oil sands of Alberta to pull his head out of the sand on the trade file. When is the next time that he will go up there to learn more about how important trade is and take the rest of his caucus with him?