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Crucial Fact

  • 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

Health February 20th, 2002

Mr. Speaker, there is $900 million left in the hepatitis C compensation fund.

The former minister was clearly mistaken. It is not the end of public health care and there is plenty of money for all of the victims.

Why will the minister not commit to extend compensation to the hepatitis C victims of tainted blood?

Health February 20th, 2002

Mr. Speaker, in 1997 the federal government ordered the backbenchers to vote against compensating all Canadians who had contracted hepatitis C through tainted blood.

For four years the former health minister stubbornly refused to change his mind. He said that the country could not afford it. He said “It will be the end of publicly financed health care”.

Will the minister right the wrong of her predecessor and compensate every victim of hep C through tainted blood?

Health Care February 19th, 2002

Mr. Speaker, the social union agreement which the minister helped negotiate is up for review this month. Real federal leadership would have called the provinces together for a national conference to achieve a dispute mechanism and to renew health care confidence.

Why has the minister not called for this conference? Where is the leadership?

Health Care February 19th, 2002

Mr. Speaker, the clock is ticking. The deadline is approaching. Are we any closer today than we were in January?

Health Care February 19th, 2002

Mr. Speaker, in January the provinces gave the federal government an ultimatum. They set 90 days to agree to a dispute settlement mechanism or they would go it alone on health care reform. The clock is ticking--

Supply February 19th, 2002

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member is right. I believe every one of the five principles are compromised in every one of the provinces and we do have a patchwork. The provinces are saying that they need a dispute mechanism on the Canada Health Act because the interpretation is being compromised in every area. We need to identify what the interpretation is so the provinces can get on with delivering health care instead of this adversarial approach that we have seen by this government.

Supply February 19th, 2002

Mr. Speaker, we have to understand that when it comes to costs in health care, the money comes out of the jeans of the working men and women. Whether we pay for it through a pharmacare program or through different insurance programs, we must be careful not to just mask the real cost of the system.

A pharmacare program is something that has been talked about a lot but I am not convinced that it is the way to go to reduce the cost to the actual working people walking the streets and paying the bill. As passionate as we like to be when it comes to dealing with seniors' expenses for pharmaceuticals, which will just increase, I am not convinced that a pharmacare program is necessarily the way to go.

Maybe we need to examine and debate pharmacare but I believe we must do what is most efficient in order to deliver health care. We should put our energies into focusing on the misuse of drugs and on getting the best drugs instead of wondering how we will actually pay for those drugs, because we are competing with many different interests.

Supply February 19th, 2002

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member's question is a good one. He is absolutely right. The number one driver of health care costs in the last year was the 9.1% increase in drug costs. When we really break that down does it mean the cost of drugs have risen higher or that utilization has gone up?

I believe the utilization, unquestionably, is the number one reason that the costs have risen. Will that change in the coming years? I would suggest that it probably will not because more drugs in the chain now are about to be approved than we have ever seen before.

I do not believe we can stop it that way. We cannot hold back the tide of new drugs. However we can add efficiencies within the system and we can put in place a regulatory body so that those drugs that are being used are not misused. I see a bigger problem in the misuse of drugs. We must address the issue of the number of individuals who are addicted to prescription drugs.

The drug problem is multi-pronged and there are many different areas we can go on that. The member is absolutely right when he says that it is one of the big problems we have to tackle. I see absolutely no leadership on that from the government,.

Supply February 19th, 2002

Mr. Speaker, it is a privilege to speak on this issue. It is an issue of great passion for most Canadians and I am passionate about it myself.

I would like to split my time with the member for Okanagan--Coquihalla.

I will pick up the debate where we left off, speaking about the number of dollars spent in health care. I applaud the hon. members of the Bloc who brought forward the motion, which talks about the dollars, the provincial jurisdiction and the Romanow report. I support the hon. members, although I would put a caveat on their suggestion that the Romanow report may not open debate. I think that debate is what we need in the country and I think the Romanow commission will help fuel some of that debate. I hope it is a healthy debate, although even the greatest report coming from Mr. Romanow would probably be used as a political pawn, as we have seen happen with health care. I will explain.

Health care is the top priority for all Canadians. The latest poll, on December 7, showed that 82% of Canadians had health care as the number one issue on their minds. It continues to be the number one concern for people.

A government that is supposed to respond to the people it serves has failed them, I would argue, in not addressing the problems in health care. Let us take a look at health care funding since 1993-94. Where did the CHST cash transfers go? They were at $18.8 billion in 1993-94. By the way they are not there now because since that time we have seen a massive unilateral withdrawal. In 1995 there was a massive $3.8 billion reduction in funding transfers with the CHST dropping to $14.7 billion in one year. Two years later the CHST fell to $12.5 billion. This slash and burn approach of the federal finance minister was great for his bottom line but it was absolute devastation for health care.

I was made part of the health care crisis because I was on a regional health authority and actually was at one of the first Alberta round tables brought together to try to deal with the crisis of a $900 million reduction in one year while still sustaining the health care system. The federal Liberal government actually put this burden on the backs of the provinces. In turn, the provinces, with 82% of health care budgets being spent on human resources and actual frontline staff, had to impose a penalty on those people.

This had a ripple effect that absolutely crippled our system. There were enormous consequences. There were massive layoffs of thousands of health care workers and professionals. If that is not bad enough, when those numbers of people are laid off and it is done in that way there is a drop in morale. In fact eight years later stats show that the most dangerous places to work in Canada are our health care facilities. Morale is lower and the number of sick days higher than in any other workforce in Canada. As well, enrolment in medical and nursing schools was cut back and now we are into a massive crisis where we have no doctors to look after the people of the country and no nurses to work in our facilities.

Yesterday it was interesting to ask the Minister of Health about the 1,500 new frontline doctors who are supposed to fan out across the country to train our doctors at our facilities on how to work and deal with bioterrorism attacks. They cannot even find a dozen in the country.

Another issue is new medical technology. New medical technologies were promised to upgrade obsolete equipment. Absolutely nothing was found. The government said it put in $1 billion for that. I did a little research and asked where the $1 billion went. I asked the Canadian Medical Association and it is asking the same question because it still sees medical equipment that is broken down. Hopefully we will be able to find some specific answers. We will follow it up.

Over the last eight years $25 billion has been removed from the federal responsibility for health care in the country. That is in light of an 8% increase in the population. In 1993 there were 28.7 million people in Canada and today we have 31.1 million people. This is a massive number of people we are looking after. Not only that, we have the increase in inflation. Just the cost of doing business in the country has risen 13% since 1993.

Today what are the fruits of this shortsightedness? Wait lists, as I said, are a plague on the system. They grow longer and people on the waiting lists are dying. There is the shortage of nurses and doctors. According to a survey done by the College of Physicians and Surgeons, two-thirds of the physicians in the country are refusing to accept more patients and we are asking them to actually do more work. They are saying they are stretched to the maximum and cannot even take on new patients.

The confidence of Canadians in our health care system has plummeted and why would it not? What more could we expect? This kind of damage is not cured overnight.

To take the opportunity to undo some of the damage by putting more money into the system, the government came up with an accord in September 2000, but that money will happen over a five year period. It is like offering someone who has just walked through the desert a cup of water. The provinces had no choice but to accept it. It was a sort of unilateral decision, just prior to an election, by the way.

What a golden opportunity it was for the federal government and what a missed opportunity. If it wanted to show real leadership on health care and to help out with some of the crises happening in its reign, the government should have followed the dollars with some conditions. It should have led the provinces and showed them how to protect health care and sustain it over the long term. Instead of that, this was just an election ploy with no leadership. The accord was just something that had to be signed so the government could appease its conscience somewhat through this next period of time by just throwing money into the system.

The federal government's responsibility used to be part of a 50:50 arrangement. Now it is down to 14% and in some provinces it is less than that; in Alberta I think it is at 12%. Clearly health care is not a priority of the government. We saw that as recently as the last budget. At least the government could have brought this up to the 1993-94 level by adding another $500 million as a token to say it is with the provinces and realizes there is a problem. Not one penny has come forward. We have seen 6.5% annual increases in health care costs over the last four years. That is purely not sustainable and every province knows it. Every premier is yelling and saying that something has to be done and that they will move forward.

We need to come up with new approaches to rein in the escalating drug costs. We need to find new, efficient ways of delivering health care. We need to ensure greater accountability among the users and providers of health care to eliminate some of the waste in the system. We need to promote more responsible use of health care dollars even within that system. We need to place a greater emphasis on prevention and keep people healthier in the first place to avoid the cost crisis management approach we have seen from the government.

Up to now I have just talked about the dollars and the crisis of the dollars, but health care is a two-pronged problem. Not only did the government pull all the money out of health care, it held the provinces in a straitjacket so they could not be innovative in their approach to delivery. Every time we saw one of the provinces being innovative we would see the Minister of Health ride in with his sword, shake it at the provinces and say “don't you dare” and fly off within minutes before he could be questioned.

The social union framework in 1999 was supposed to appease some of that. What did we get? There was supposed to be a dispute settlement mechanism for any challenges to the Canada Health Act and we are still waiting for that today. I am wondering where the Minister of Health has been in coming up with a dispute settlement mechanism that is fair and takes provincial as well as federal interests into consideration.

When it comes to the Romanow commission, I believe he will do the best job he knows how to do. There will be 18 days of hearings, 7 expert focus groups, 9 partner events, 5 regional sessions, 1 workbook and 1 national conference. It sounds like the 12 days of Christmas. That is the kind of debate that will go on.

The government is great at studying. It has spent some $242 million on studies since it came to power, yet there has been no leadership. I believe Mr. Romanow will do a great job, and the best job that he can, but the government will use it as political positioning for the next election, which is unfortunate for Mr. Romanow and for the health care of Canadians.

Species at Risk Act February 18th, 2002

Mr. Speaker, I rise today on behalf of my constituents of Yellowhead.

I will begin by saying that this is very important legislation for us in our constituency. In the spirit of true debate, which I hope is what we have here even though I would be somewhat surprised if that is what we have, nonetheless I will give it my best shot, I hope the words we say today will actually be listened to and that the people of Canada will understand and discern just how important the legislation is to them and the generations that will come after them. The legislation has some serious flaws and we really need to consider that.

We are here once again to discuss what will happen with the good ideas from caring, concerned citizens to implement legislation that is designed by Liberals and Ottawa bureaucrats.

Bill C-5 is very good and well intended legislation to protect species at risk. I do not think anyone wants to injure those that are most vulnerable in our world as far as species. There is no question that our habitat is very important to all of us. I do not think anyone here would intend anything but good. However the legislation we are discussing today would perhaps have dire consequences for its intention.

The reality is that the bill would do very little to protect at risk animals. It would probably do the opposite and speed up their decline and perhaps even damage our environment at the same time. We need to seriously debate the amendments that would make this flawed legislation into an effective tool to really protect endangered species.

For most of the last century, the protectors of our lands have been those who have a vested interest in the long term sustainability of the environment: the farmers and the resourced based industries like forestry. They have taken it upon themselves to protect the land, partly out of concern for the environment and partly because of clearly defined environmental laws that promote wildlife habitat. We can see that in the forest industry where there have to be so many setbacks, like not cutting right up to banks of streams and having to leave certain blocks of trees for habitat on to roads and such. These pieces of legislation are there and in place and the habitat co-exists with industry. The implementation of this comprehensive legislation to protect endangered species has become so misguided.

We have seen other examples of this kind of legislation. I refer to the well intended Bill C-68, legislation that was intended to make our streets and citizens safer. Instead of making them safer, the legislation did absolutely nothing to take guns out of the hands of criminals but it has cost $700 million so far. We have well intended legislation that has missed the mark. I would suggest that Bill C-5 would do exactly the same thing.

Although Bill C-5 is well intended to save species at risk, without some amendments it would do the opposite. I am very concerned about that and I am not alone. I believe most of the citizens I represent feel the same way.

The Canadian Alliance is committed to protecting and preserving Canada's natural environment but it is very important to make changes to the legislation. If we do not, we will have serious problems. I think many of the members in the House will discuss and debate the kinds of changes that are needed today. Bill C-5 is an example of top down, controlled legislation coming from the Prime Minister's Office that again shows the contempt the government holds for members of parliament.

At the very least, the bill should be put to the test of free votes in the House. This check on the legislation has been discarded in the name of Liberal partisanship and the threat of the Prime Minister's Office has been looming down over backbench Liberals for many years. This is legislation that should go beyond that because Canadians are not interested in partisan wins. They are interested in legislation that is good for the country, not legislation that is flawed or deficient.

The Canadian Alliance is committed to supporting good legislation at any time and pointing out the flaws of bad legislation to make it better for the citizens of our country. That is what I hope will happen with this legislation.

I would like to talk about some of the good things in the legislation. Protecting endangered species is a worthwhile goal. The Canadian Alliance will do its bit to prod the species at risk legislation into accountability so that we can determine which species are to be protected based on a scientific decision and not on politics.

We were encouraged by the snowmobile clubs and associations from across the country with regard to the legislation and to changing criminal activity to accidental activity. This is a very important issue for me because I come from what is termed the snowmobile capital of Alberta, which is Whitecourt. We know very well how devastating this piece of legislation would be on the tourism and snowmobile industry if it came forward in its present state. We would not want to see steep penalties because of accidental harming of an endangered species and most snowmobilers would not want to see that either.

One of the greatest downfalls of Bill C-5 is the lack of guarantee for fair and reasonable compensation for property owners, farmers, ranchers and resource users who are sure to suffer losses. To be forced to do so at the expense of their livelihood is absolutely ridiculous. Over the past year, citizens of my riding of Yellowhead have repeatedly raised the issue. The way Bill C-5 is currently written would bring devastation to the industries that are already suffering from crippling Liberal policies.

In Yellowhead it is not one industry that will suffer from C-5, many will. Not only is there the agriculture sector, but there is also the resource sector, including forestry, which has vast tracks of land. It is very important that they be heard in this piece of legislation.

There is already legislation, whether provincial or federal, with regard to some of the things that need to be taken into consideration when it comes to looking after some of the species that come onto these lands. I am not saying we do not need other legislation but we certainly need to consider the implications of this one.

The farmers of Yellowhead who are already on the brink of collapse cannot face the economic responsibility of protecting the endangered species of Canada without assurances of some fair compensation. As the legislation is currently written, it is in the self interest of farmers to make their land inhospitable to wildlife to ensure endangered species are not found on their property. I am very fearful that farmers may do some of the worst things, which would be to remove habitat that endangered species usually like to get to, because of this piece of legislation. They may remove the species or their habitat before looking after the species.

Why would I say that sort of thing? I would like to tell the House what happened on my farm just a year ago.

We are very excited when the bald headed eagle comes onto our farm. Every year we set the clock to the arrival of the bald headed eagle, which is March 21 every year. Last year when the eagle came back, our cattle were calving. My son ran out to check one of the cows and the bald headed eagle was feeding on the calf as it was being born. It was a terrible situation. He chased the eagle away and ran back in.

It was 4.30 p.m. He called the wildlife department to see what he could do with the bald headed eagle as it was an endangered species, but everyone had gone home. He left a message saying he would have to shoot the eagle. Right away the wildlife officer called back and said not to shoot at the eagle rather shoot into the air. That is what he did. I do not know if there were any feathers when he shot into the air.

We cannot expect a farmer to lose his livelihood over protecting an endangered species. This legislation is prone to do that and we have to understand the damages that would result from it.