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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

Marketing Freedom for Grain Farmers Act October 20th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I would like to split my time with the hon. member for Medicine Hat.

This is an important issue that is near and dear to my heart, and the comments I am going to make this afternoon are biased, I admit. I am going to fess up right off the bat that I am a farmer. My son is actually the fourth generation on our farm so agriculture goes back a long way in our family. I have produced wheat and barley every year for the last 30 to 40 years, and my comments are biased because I will do and say anything I possibly can to support the farm family and agriculture in western Canada.

When my son wanted to take over the family farm, I tried to discourage him because I knew how difficult agriculture is. It is a very demanding occupation. So I told him to go and get a business education and I would teach him how to farm. So he got a business education and now he is teaching me how to farm. It is amazing what our young entrepreneurs in agriculture are doing and can accomplish. It is phenomenal to see how the industry has developed and is unbelievably engaging.

It is interesting to look at the trumped-up survey from this summer that the opposition members refer to so often. Believe me, farmers have been voting loud and clear and not just because of the 52 out of 56 seats that were won in the May election. They were voting with their seed drills and they have been doing it for a decade or more every spring when they grow products such as canola that are outside the Wheat Board.

Canola has outstripped wheat as the number one commodity in Canada and that is not an accident but it is because the farmers are getting the world price for their canola. They are not getting the world price for their wheat. Because of canola being outside the Wheat Board, farmers have the flexibility to manage and market and get those dollars into their pocket to handle the farm income in a way that enables them to handle the risks of their business. This is important.

The other thing about the survey and why I say it is trumped up is I have been farming for 40-plus years, all my life, growing barley or wheat every year and I never got a survey. I never had a chance to vote in this trumped-up survey. If farmers are missed like me in this survey and then those numbers are used to wail about what farmers really think, then the opposition has to soberly consider what it is doing and who it is representing.

It is not by accident that in the May election only four out of the fifty six seats in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta, provinces controlled by the Wheat Board, did not go to the Conservative government. Where were those four seats? Two of them were in downtown Winnipeg, one in downtown Regina and one in downtown Edmonton. I have not seen a combine or a kernel of wheat or barley in any one of those ridings ever.

So when members look at this piece of legislation, they should put aside ideology and do the right thing for agriculture and for farmers. Let us just for a second assume that the monopoly of the Wheat Board, if it is dual-marketed, is going to compromise the value at the farm gate. Then they would never have to worry about it because every farmer is astute enough to market their grain where they will get the best value for it. If that is the Wheat Board, that is where they will go. If that happens, nothing will change.

However, all this bill would do is allow farmers the opportunity to market their grain where they feel they can get better value for that dollar. If they can get a better value for the bushel of wheat or barley in an independent way by another avenue, then the question has to be asked how that can possibly be when the Wheat Board has a monopoly and has the inside track on getting the best value for farmers.

As I said a few minutes ago, if it were true that farmers were getting the best value for their wheat and barley, American farmers would be bringing their wheat here to capitalize on that marketing opportunity. That is not the case. The opposite is the case and there is a reason for it and it is that farmers are astute enough to understand their business plan and understand what is in their best interests as they move forward.

It is very important to say that this has to happen in conjunction with what was announced by our government on rail freight and transportation. The success of our country is really going to depend upon how well we can access international markets, how well and how fast we can get our canolas, wheats and barleys, our products and commodities to markets overseas. That is really where the growth lies.

As a government we put $3.6 billion-plus into the Asia-Pacific gateway so that we can streamline that transportation system. We have seen in our a government a change in the way that railways have actually treated agriculture. Their on-car deliveries this last year was up to over 90% compared to the year before, where it was down to about 50%.

Why is that changing? It is because of the rail freight service review. We have actually forced the railways to have a service agreement with those industries and farmers who have producer cars and so on, and who are shipping their products.

It has to go hand in glove because the railways win when shippers win, and when shippers and railways both win then Canada wins. It is very important that we make certain to streamline that system, so that the system will be able to handle the kinds of demands and opportunities that are there.

It is interesting, when we look at agriculture, just how big it is. It has changed so much. Since the 1950s it has gone up 300%, the productivity level in agriculture. That is what we are actually doing on the farm.

Seventy six per cent of those young farmers, in this survey that is being referred to, said that they wanted to break the monopoly. They wanted to have the opportunity to capitalize on markets other than the monopoly of the Wheat Board. Even using this survey, when we start looking into the future of where we are going to go, that is really the question, where do we go from here? What is it going to look like after we have dual marketing?

We have lost productivity or opportunity for our world share in wheat. It has fallen 42% in the last 50 years. We have lost 42% in the ability to capture those markets. When it comes to barley, the numbers are even worse. It is two-thirds, 66% since the 1980s that we have lost in the ability to capitalize on those international markets.

Where does the future lie? The population of the world right now is about 6.9 billion, 7 billion. What is it going to be in 2020? It is expected to be 7.6 billion. That is 68 million more people to feed, every year in this world. Where is agriculture going to be? It is not the same today as it was in the 1930s, when the Wheat Board was first brought in by a Conservative government, and it was voluntary, not forced, not a monopoly.

We are saying we should break the monopoly and allow the opportunity to see if the Wheat Board actually can do the job for the farmers or not.

We are saying that we have grown in opportunity for agricultural exports, but not because of the Wheat Board. It is in spite of the Wheat Board. It was $39 billion that was traded in 2010. We are in the top five agricultural exporters in the world. That is something to be proud of. It is because of the quality of the product that it is in such demand around the world.

The price is not realized. We are not getting world prices for wheat. We are here to protect our farmers. We have to actually ensure we have the farmers' interests in mind as we stand and speak on this piece of legislation. This is a very important piece of legislation that we are committed to for our electorate.

Speaking of that, I get this all the time. The opposition is saying that farmers think this and farmers think that. Well, I happen to be one of those farmers. So I have to ask, is it just me or do I represent my riding? I have yet to have a piece of mail or a phone call from anyone in my riding, although I am sure there are some people out there, that supports the monopoly.

I have yet to have one of those people call my office and say, “Can you phone me back and explain why you are doing what you are doing?” All of them are saying, “We want freedom. We want choice”.

That is where we need to go with this piece of legislation. It is an unbelievable opportunity that we have before us for agriculture in this country, for the family farm in this country, but more than that as we grow this country and capitalize on those international markets that are ripe for the taking.

We look forward to this bill passing. We encourage everyone in this House to consider their support as we come down to the vote on this.

Marketing Freedom for Grain Farmers Act October 20th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I listened to my hon. colleague intently. In response to the kind of issues he put forward with regard to the Wheat Board I would use a term that he has used many times in the House, “total horse feathers”.

As a farmer I understand full well exactly what he is talking about. I was the minister in charge of railways and I am aware of the issues regarding rail and the rail service review. It has been announced that legislation is coming with regard to the protection of railways. However, that is not the gist of my question.

My hon. colleague said that the Wheat Board is actually capitalizing on a better price for wheat for farmers in western Canada. If there was a shred of evidence of that being true, then farmers in Saskatchewan and Alberta would not be loading their grain cars and trying to run the border to get across to the other side to get a better price for their product, especially when they will be thrown in jail by that government for that act. The opposite would be happening. Americans would be loading their grain cars trying to rush the northern border to capitalize on a better rate through the Wheat Board. That is just the logic of it.

The real question is how much it is costing farmers in western Canada at the farm gate to support and subsidize the Wheat Board because that is what is happening.

Marketing Freedom October 20th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, our government is focused on what really matters to Canadians which is, creating jobs and economic growth.

Instead of working with us, the NDP caucus members have become so disunited that they are contradicting each other on important issues that are important to Canada, and particularly western Canada.

Yesterday, the NDP leader tried to argue, wrongly, that Parliament could not amend legislation that would give farmers marketing freedom.

One of her own colleagues, the member for Winnipeg Centre, said that he actually did not buy her argument.

Now, I seldom agree with him, but on this one I do. In fact, he recognized that our legislation can give farmers the freedom that they are asking for. Unfortunately, his leader does not agree with him.

This contradictory position from the NDP is just yet another worrying example of how weak and disunited the NDP is and that it is nowhere even close to being fit to govern.

Marketing Freedom for Grain Farmers Act October 20th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I could not agree with my colleague more when it comes to the Wheat Board.

At home we farm about 3,000 acres. I have a son who is looking after it at the present time. He is still combining and trying to get the crop off, but he asks me why he is getting a world price for canola outside the board but not getting a world price for wheat, which is in the board.

I would like to know what my colleague would say to my son and I would like to ask that question to the opposition. Obviously none of those members actually farms wheat or canola and understands exactly what is happening at the farm gate. The real question should be how much the Wheat Board is costing at the farm gate today, because it is very significant.

Could my colleague come up with an answer that would satisfy my son?

Jasper Dark Sky Festival September 29th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, in the beautiful riding of Yellowhead, something exceptional is going to happen in the month of October. This exceptional thing is the first annual dark sky festival.

In March, Jasper National Park became the world's largest dark sky preserve.

One might ask: what is a dark sky preserve? A dark sky preserve is an area established by the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada to promote the visibility of night skies.

The federal government has invested a significant amount of money in our parks, which has created a significant number of jobs as well as an increase in tourism. A record number of Canadians and international tourists enjoyed beautiful Jasper this summer. This is significant to our economy, because tourism adds more to our GDP than agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting all combined. Jasper is an exceptionally beautiful place during the day, but in the evening the skies are breathtakingly beautiful.

Every Canadian should come out to Jasper. All Canadians should experience the beauty for themselves as we celebrate the very first dark sky festival.

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians Act June 25th, 2011

Madam Speaker, Canada Post is actually a great corporation and the employees great people.

It is unfortunate to see the kind of debate that has been going on over the last number of days. We have to ask the question, why is the NDP adamantly opposed to even putting the issue before an arbitrator?

When one side or the other is so opposed to going to arbitration like the NDP, which would just involve someone coming in to make a ruling that would be just for both sides, maybe they are on the wrong side of this issue.

Would my hon. colleague agree with that?

Questions on the Order Paper March 21st, 2011

Mr. Speaker, in response to (a), what analysis has the government conducted on the impacts of rail shipment rates on the forestry, mining, agricultural and manufacturing sectors, the government’s capacity to analyze the impacts of rail shipment rates is limited by the lack of accessible data. The Canada Transportation Act requires railways to prepare publicly available tariffs that identify a rate for the movement of traffic. However, it is not clear the extent to which tariff rates are applied in practice since most rates in the forestry, mining and manufacturing sectors are established within confidential contracts. For example, in its submission to the rail freight service review, Canadian Pacific Rail indicated that confidential contracts govern more than 75% of its business. Within confidential contracts the rates can vary from published tariffs, as rates are negotiated in conjunction with related service commitments, ancillary charges, terms and conditions. The government does not have access to confidential contracts.

The transport of western grain is subject to the revenue cap provision of the Canada Transportation Act. Each year, the Canadian Transportation Agency examines whether the railways have complied with the legislation. The agency has just released its determination for the 2009-2010 crop year, finding that the revenues of both railways were below the amount allowed by the legislation.

In response to (b), what analysis does the government conduct on the impacts of the lack of competition in the railway sector on remote and northern communities, the government monitors and conducts analysis on freight rail transportation issues in Canada including issues related to shipper’s access to more than one railway. At present, the government is addressing concerns about rail freight service through the rail freight service review. The review consisted of six analytical reports to achieve a better understanding of the nature and extent of problems within the logistics chain, focusing on the performance of stakeholders involved in the rail-based logistics system, primarily the railways, particularly Canadian National Railway, CN, and Canadian Pacific Railway, CP, but also shippers, ports, shipping lines and terminal operators.

Phase two consisted of a panel of three persons who consulted extensively and received written submissions from over 140 different stakeholders from across the rail-based logistics chain. As noted in the interim report of the panel that led the review, there is a range of views as to the degree of competition and captivity that exists in the rail-based supply chain. At the same time, the research report entitled, “Analysis of Railway Fulfillment of Shipper Demand and Transit Times”, prepared by QGI Consulting, found that there were no systemic differences in transit time performance depending on shipper size, flow size, access to rail competition or core versus non-core railway origins.

The panel’s interim report, consultant analytical reports and stakeholder submissions are publicly available on the rail freight service review website.

In response to parts (c), (d), (e) and (f), the government will review the panel’s final report before deciding on next steps.

Champlain Bridge March 21st, 2011

Mr. Speaker, as I said before, the safety and security of the Champlain Bridge is a very important one. It is one we take very seriously.

Last Friday we announced a significant amount of dollars and together with the last two years, since 2009, $380 million has been allocated to make sure the bridge is not only safe but it stays that way long into the future.

I have just tabled documentation with regard to that and my hon. colleague can be assured that the bridge is safe.

Champlain Bridge March 21st, 2011

Mr. Speaker, when it comes to the bridge, as I said, it is safe and I have that affirmed by the Federal Bridge Corporation. As for the investment of $380 million, only somebody from the Bloc would see that as plaster and a minor amount of dollars to cover the repair. Those dollars will keep it that way long into the future.

When it comes to any future options with the bridge, we are waiting for a final report and we will look at those options as they come forward.

Champlain Bridge March 21st, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my hon. colleague for the question.

We take the safety of the Champlain Bridge very seriously. In fact, we have done more than that. Last Friday, together with the previous years since 2009, we have announced $380 million to ensure that it is not only safe today but it is safe long into the future. We can affirm that. I actually have a letter in my hand coming from the Federal Bridge Corporation that I would be pleased to table or give to the hon. colleague to be able to help her out. It tells us that the bridge is safe today, and with the investment it will be safe long into the future.