House of Commons photo

Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was environmental.

Last in Parliament October 2019, as Conservative MP for Dauphin—Swan River—Neepawa (Manitoba)

Won his last election, in 2015, with 46% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Oceans Act May 13th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, I found the comments from the minister about our environmental track record to be ludicrous. This is clearly a government with an environmental and fisheries policy that is show over substance. I can prove that.

When the Conservatives were in government, we introduced the recreational fisheries conservation partnerships program, which funded 800 on-the-ground fisheries conservation projects by local communities. The minister and the government cancelled that program. Fisheries conservation communities and organizations from across the country have been denied the support they so desperately need from the government, and the fish stocks are suffering. I will prove that.

Under the government and the minister, Atlantic salmon fish stocks have collapsed and Pacific salmon stocks are in jeopardy, all because of the inaction of the government. This is a government that has denied local people the right to consult.

The minister presides over the most arrogant department in the history of Canada. He says that marine protected areas are something local people want. Given his and his department's track record in terms of dealing with local communities, as well as their dismal track record in conserving fish stocks across Canada, why should we believe him?

Business of Supply April 29th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, one of the things that is very bad about Liberal environmental policy is that they never do any math. Nobody does any math or numbers, and they throw around words like “pollution” without even understanding what pollution is. Sulphur dioxide is pollution. It is a compound that our industry has largely gotten rid of in this country. Carbon dioxide, on the other hand, and there can be too much of a good thing, for sure, is the first element of the photosynthetic equation, which is without a doubt the most important equation on earth.

The member's comments about the efficacy of alternate energy I found quite amusing, because the Liberals never quantify the effects of their so-called clean energy. For example, I am looking at a paper from the American Bird Conservancy, which wrote, “We estimate that hundreds of thousands of birds and bats die every year when they accidentally collide with turbine blades”. Having said that, the current government has allowed the wind energy industry complete exemption from the Species at Risk Act.

He talked about mass transit and that Canadians should use it more. Well, I have to point out to him that in my 60,000 square kilometre constituency, there is no mass transit. The Liberals are completely leaving rural Canadians behind. Why do the Liberals care so little about the people in rural Canada, who put a roof over their heads and food on the their plates?

Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act April 9th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, I listened with great interest to my colleague's speech. I was shocked at the very beginning of his speech when he implied that sound environmental technology is just a recent thing. As someone who has been in the business since 1973, and part of the Mackenzie valley pipeline assessment, I can tell him that we have had 40 years of continuous environmental improvement.

I want to talk about what is happening to the Canadian economy because of what the Liberal government is doing. Interestingly, in March of this year, the United States economy added 196,000 jobs, while in the same month, employment in Canada fell by 7,200. Back in the day, the Canadian and American economies were in lockstep. If the U.S. grew 200,000 jobs, we would grow 20,000. Now our economies are starting to diverge, strictly because of the regulatory regime that the Liberal government has put in place.

C.D. Howe reports that during this time investment in the Canadian oil and gas sector fell from $125 billion in 2014, under the watch of the great former prime minister Stephen Harper, to $75 billion in 2018. This was during a period when global investments in oil and gas have increased, especially in the U.S., which had a 50% rise in oil and gas sector investment in 2017.

How can the member defend this shabby record?

Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act April 9th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, I will give the House a bit of personal history.

Back when I was a young biologist, I spent time in the Mackenzie Valley doing some of the initial environmental impact assessment work. I stayed in the community of Norman Wells, which has been producing oil since the Second World War with zero environmental impact. I also lived in the community of Fort Simpson for a while, so for a southerner, I know the area somewhat, and I can guarantee that any project proposed there is done under the most strict environmental standards. In fact, the standards that were in place back in 1973 were world-class even then.

I would like to quote a couple of newspaper articles for the House.

On June 5, 2018, the Edmonton Journal writes, “Investor flight from energy sector is a national embarrassment”.

The CEO of the Royal Bank of Canada said, “Our competitiveness is challenged. Our capacity to grow and advance the economy is stalling.”

The C.D. Howe Institute writes, “C.D. Howe blames Canada’s sclerotic regulatory regime for the killed and stalled projects and the flight of investment capital.”

Can my friend and colleague comment on the downward spiral of the Canadian economy as a result of the sclerotic regulatory regime that the government has implemented?

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns April 5th, 2019

With regard to the development of the new Canada Food Guide: what scientific evidence formed the basis of the decisions to (i) advise Canadians to choose protein foods that come from plants more often, (ii) advise Canadians, in recommending they choose protein foods that come from plants more often, that the benefits of eating more plant-based proteins are greater than the overall benefits of consuming more of the unique nutrient packages found in meat-based proteins, even though the latter include nutrients not as easily accessed from many plant-based proteins such as iron, zinc, vitamin B12 and essential amino acids, (iii) advise Canadians to eat only lower-fat dairy products despite evidence that some products that are higher in fats can provide health benefits?

Committees of the House March 19th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, I hate to interrupt my fellow Manitoban, but talking about Supreme Court appointments is clearly ridiculously off topic. It is not relevant to this debate, and I would ask you to direct the speaker to stay relevant to the topic.

National Defence Act February 28th, 2019

Madam Speaker, I would like to ask my hon. friend a very simple question based on her experience in the military.

She talked about how poorly equipped the military had become under the present government. Could she provide her views on how the present government is treating the military?

Questions on the Order Paper December 6th, 2018

With regard to all Marine Mammal Regulations introduced or amended by the government since November 4, 2015: what are the details of all biological, ecological, population, and impact studies conducted by the government, broken down by regulation or regulatory change, including (i) completion date, (ii) who conducted the study, (iii) findings, (iv) website location where the findings can be located, (v) methodology?

Ending the Captivity of Whales and Dolphins Act November 29th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise to speak on Bill S-203.

I am opposed to this bill. The bill is fundamentally flawed. I was interested to hear the previous two speakers conflate this particular bill with environmental conservation and the conservation of whales. This has nothing to do with conservation or the environment.

Any population ecologist worth their salt only considers the numbers of individuals who are in the population. With this particular bill, even though the previous speakers tried to conflate it with environmental protection, the only thing that counts are the numbers of cetaceans that are out there, the population size.

This bill will do nothing for the conservation of cetaceans or, indeed, the understanding of the natural world. This particular bill, in my view, is an emotional reaction to a problem that simply does not exist.

In terms of cetaceans, I know that the government is always pointing out the problem populations, and quite rightly so, the southern killer whale, the Atlantic right whale, the belugas in the St. Lawrence. I am pleased to say that in Manitoba, off the Churchill estuary, we have a population of beluga whales of 55,000 individual animals. Studies have shown that population is stable and/or increasing.

Obviously, interacting with cetaceans in the wild is desirable, but many Canadians simply do not have the opportunity to do so. I was interested in the parliamentary secretary's comments about the Arctic and narwhals. I think I am one of the few people in this House, apart from the member for Nunavut, who has actually seen narwhals and experienced their beauty in the wild. It is something that very few people will see. They are remarkable creatures.

Many Canadians, however, do not have the opportunities that people like myself or those in the science community have had. Viewing cetaceans in captivity may be the only opportunity for many to understand cetaceans. Again, if the only place a person from an urban area who does not have a chance to get out in the wild and view cetaceans can learn about cetaceans is in captivity, obviously there are communication tools that various facilities will use to inform the visitors about cetaceans, cetacean conservation and the issue of the endangered species, for example. These are very important communications tools.

Regarding Ontario, I have been advised that there was a lengthy public debate in Ontario, which included the creation of an independent and international scientific advisory panel. They produced a very comprehensive report. There was the creation of a technical advisory group, composed of stakeholders from across the country. There were public hearings. I have been advised that provincial legislation has been passed that expressly permits keeping marine mammals in humane care, and creates and implements stringent regulations regarding the care and treatment of marine mammals.

The member for Saanich—Gulf Islands talked about the issues of animal cruelty and so on, and it reminds me of the debate we had on Bill C-246. The slippery slope is alive and well when it comes to this type of legislation. Who knows where it will lead, to rodeos or medical research? Who knows where this will lead once a bill like this is passed?

In terms of Marineland, again the founder of Marineland, John Holer, who is sadly now deceased, spoke to the Senate committee on May 16, 2017. Some of the takeaways from his testimony were that Marineland employs over 100 people year round and 700 during the operation season; Marineland has employed over 50,000 people in its 56 years of successful operation; Marineland does not seek or rely upon any public funding; Marineland annually commits approximately $4 million a year to advertising, reaching more than 15 million people across Canada and the U.S.; and Marineland attracts close to a million visitors yearly to the Niagara region.

Obviously, the entire regional economy benefits from this tourism opportunity. Also of tremendous importance, thousands of special needs children, at least 3,500 per year, visit Marineland through special programs, including events like Autism Day.

What is important is looking at the population of cetaceans. I go back to the point that this particular bill has nothing to do with environmental conservation. Nobody should be led to believe that it does.

However, the humane holding of cetaceans in captivity, following veterinary-approved codes of practice, is a conservation tool that can be used to educate Canadians about cetaceans.

I recall, for example, the great debates that we had on Bill C-246, the animal rights bill, a private member's bill that a Liberal member of Parliament tabled. Thankfully, a number of people in the government caucus voted against that bill, despite the protestations of the member who introduced the bill that it would not affect any of the animal-use communities.

The animal rights movement is clever in how it pushes forward legislation or policy change. The process is to start with something that seems innocent and then keep going and going, and pretty soon who knows what will be banned? For example, once we ban cetaceans from captivity, what is next? Let us look at beluga whales for example.

There are 55,000 beluga whales in the Churchill River estuary during the summer months. They are hunted by Inuit people from Arviat further north. Taking a few and putting them in captivity would mean nothing to the population of beluga.

Right now, however, polar bears are allowed to be held in captivity. Winnipeg has a world-famous, multimillion dollar polar bear exhibit. The number of polar bears is less than half that of beluga whales. What is next? This can go on and on.

Some people have a real antipathy towards zoos in general or animals in captivity, but this is how these campaigns start and this is the reason I will be actively opposing this legislation.

In terms of cetaceans, and as someone who has been to the Churchill River estuary and seen beluga whales, I have also been fortunate enough to see narwhals, which are incredible creatures. I can certainly understand the attachment people have to these beautiful creatures. Again, we admire them because we are taught about the beauty of nature and wildlife in facilities that are responsible and effective. However, without these facilities, many Canadians would never see such creatures.

The parliamentary secretary talked about the conservation of cetaceans. I want to tell him and the government caucus about the devastating effect that the new marine mammal regulations will have on the community of Churchill.

As I said, in the estuary in the summertime beluga whales are there in the thousands. As soon as a boat is launched, they swim up to it and there is nothing that can be done about it. These ridiculous marine mammal regulations that the government is insisting on enforcing would potentially kill this $10 million industry.

I made a statement about Churchill earlier in the House today. Ecotourism is a $10 million a year industry, employing 300 people. But the community of Churchill is on the ropes economically, and the whale and polar bear watching industries are the lifeblood of that particular community.

In the new marine mammal regulations, there is a minimum distance requirement of 50 metres. In the Churchill River estuary, which is not a very large area, there could be 30,000 beluga whales. How can they be avoided? Interestingly enough, the marine mammal regulations do not apply to large vessels that may be plowing up and down the estuary. They can plow through belugas willy-nilly, pardon the pun.

In terms of the ecotourism industry in the Churchill area, the very gentle environmental “use” this industry makes of the Churchill River estuary is the ultimate in sustainability, yet the government is promulgating marine mammal regulations that could potentially put that industry out of business.

I heard about the situation with humpback whales in Conception Bay. The operators there offer people the opportunity to slip into the water and swim with the whales. That would be completely banned under the new regulations. I have been told that the operator in Conception Bay lost $60,000 in business.

None of these regulations will have any positive impact on cetacean populations whatsoever. I guarantee there has been no scientific proof that these marine mammal regulations will improve the situation of cetaceans in Canada. All they will do, as the Liberal government has done over and over again, is to hurt remote rural communities. I find that unacceptable.

Whale-Watching Industry November 29th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, after nearly 18 months without an operational rail line, rail freight service has resumed for the town of Churchill. This is excellent news that will help lower the costs of food and goods for the people of Churchill and the surrounding area.

However, just as the community is starting to get back on its feet, the Liberal government is trying to kill Churchill's lucrative tourism industry. Beluga whale-watching tours are a critical component of Churchill's tourism industry. Beluga populations are healthy, and an estimated 60,000 belugas migrate to the region. It is clear that the whale-watching industry has had no negative impacts on the beluga whale population.

The Liberals' proposed whale-watching regulations could affect 200 jobs and up to $10 million of economic activity for Churchill, a community that is already suffering economically. I call on the Liberal government to give a complete exemption from these regulations for the whale-watching industry in the Churchill estuary. This would ensure that the tourism industry can continue to thrive and support the entire community of Churchill.