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

The Environment September 27th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I want to congratulate five high school students from Swan Valley Regional Secondary School in my constituency for their first place achievement in the 2011 Canon Envirothon competition.

Team members were Nyla Burnside, Matt Forbes, Teagan Markin, Breanna Anderson and Eddie Shao. Their advisers were: Rick Wowchuk, Shawn Stankewich and Alex Verbo.

They defeated 53 teams from across North America. They are the very first Canadian team to win this prestigious award for their exceptional knowledge of the environment.

Swan River is an agricultural, forestry and tourism dependent community. The residents of Swan River Valley, as exemplified by the extraordinary achievements of their Envirothon team, have an innate and practical understanding of sustainable development and the wise use of natural resources. This understanding is common throughout rural Canada.

By winning the Envirothon award, these students have demonstrated the relationship they have with their environment. These young people will surely be the conservation leaders of tomorrow.

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians Act June 25th, 2011

Madam Speaker, one of the things I find highly offensive about the members opposite is their appropriation of the term “working Canadians”. I represent working Canadians, and many of the colleagues on this side of the House strongly represent working Canadians. Many of them, tens of thousands of them, voted for us in all of our constituencies.

It is highly offensive to my constituents when people like loggers, miners, ranchers, farmers, and tourism operators are not included in their definition of working citizens. These people work very hard and for many of them, a 60-hour week is considered an easy week. Not only members opposite represent working-class folks. We represent them as well. They are voting for us in ever-increasing numbers, especially in rural Canada.

I represent a widely dispersed rural constituency. Internet service is sometimes intermittent. Mail service is very important to the seniors and the businesses in my constituency. Can the member tell us why the NDP is persisting in hurting rural Canada?

Anniversary of Ukrainian Settlement June 23rd, 2011

Mr. Speaker, on May 2 the voters of Dauphin—Swan River—Marquette bestowed on me the honour of representing them in the House of Commons by re-electing me.

On June 14, parliamentarians from all parties elected me as the chair of the Canada-Ukraine Parliamentary Friendship Group. I succeeded the former chair, the member for Langley, whom I thank for his distinguished service.

In 1891, the first wave of Ukrainian settlers arrived on Canada's shores, and the rest, as they say, is history. This year marks the 120th anniversary of that settlement.

Western Canada was a destination for many of these settlers who yearned for a farm of their own. The Ukrainian culture is alive, well and thriving in my constituency, as is the case in many regions of Canada. The many manifestations of Ukrainian culture in my constituency range from beautiful churches to lovingly tended cemeteries, thriving dance groups, beautiful gardens and, of course, productive farms.

I am honoured to celebrate the 120th anniversary of the Ukrainian settlement, a testament to our great land of hope and opportunity.

Leader of the Liberal Party of Canada March 21st, 2011

Mr. Speaker, the Liberal leader is again attempting to mislead Canadians about his job-killing, high tax agenda. Last week he inaccurately stated, when asked about the corporate income tax rate, “We have to maintain it at 18%”. As of January 1, Canada's business tax rate is 16.5%, cut from 18%. The Liberal leader knows this, but this is not the only instance of him making inaccurate statements.

Why is the Liberal leader misleading Canadians? The answer is obvious: he wants to hide the fact that his Liberal Party will raise taxes. He would much prefer if Canadians believe he will only freeze taxes “where they are now”.

The Liberal leader is misleading Canadians for his own political gain. This is clear evidence that the Liberal leader is a political opportunist. Indeed, the very definition of a liberal is someone who raises opportunism to the level of a principle.

The Liberal leader's high tax agenda will stall our recovery, kill jobs and set families back.

Outstanding Citizens March 7th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, on March 3, Karen Davis of Dauphin and Adrienne Mack of Neepawa were awarded the YWCA Women of Distinction Award. This award is presented to role models who have made significant contributions to their communities.

Karen has distributed new books every month to 200 children in the Dauphin area, while Adrienne has volunteered for several community organizations, including the Yellowhead Road Runners Club and Neepawa Rotary Club. These citizens and others like them make Canada a better place in which to live.

I would also congratulate 20-year-old Shane Luke, captain of the Dauphin Kings MJHL hockey team. Shane was nominated for the Canadian Junior Hockey League Player of the Year award. Shane was named the MJHL's most valuable player and won a trophy for hockey ability and sportsmanship. He will attend Providence College next year on a full scholarship at the division one level.

Whether it is outstanding volunteers or skilled athletes, the people of Dauphin—Swan River—Marquette are well served by such outstanding citizens.

Business of Supply February 10th, 2011

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to respond to the motion by the hon. member for Gaspésie—Îles-de-la-Madeleine concerning Forillon National Park. Right off the bat I will apologize for my Manitoba high school French and hope my friends across the way will indulge me.

This is almost my first speech in the House, as I have said a few words before, but I would like to thank all hon. members for the wonderful and warm reception that I have received, members opposite as well. I do not think that will last very long but, for the time being, it has been truly wonderful. I also thank members opposite for their help, as well my friends on my side.

I know we all think Canada is a wonderful country, but in my case it has a special poignancy for me. Both my parents, Joe and Ida Sopuck, were born in eastern Europe and came to Canada as immigrants in the 1920s, arriving at Pier 21.. For those who have not been there, it is a very moving experience to visit it. I and all my colleagues in the House can appreciate what a wonderful land of opportunity Canada is. Not only is it a land of opportunity, it is a wonderful land with beautiful landscapes.

I have not been to Forillon National Park, but I understand it was created in the 1970s to protect and showcase examples of one of Canada's most unique and wonderful regions.

However, I have experience with local people and their relationships with national parks. My constituency has within its boundaries Riding Mountain National Park. Therefore, I will be pleased to answer members' questions when they want to learn more about Manitoba.

I happen to live right next to a national park. My wife and I have 480 acres of land about five kilometres away from the park. I live in the middle of a farming and resource community and my neighbours make a good living off the land right next to a national park.

I appreciate the hon. member's concerns for families who were required to leave their lands when the Forillon National Park was created in 1970. We had a similar experience near Riding Mountain National Park. We had generations of people who had come from faraway lands and first nations communities who made good livings in the area and they, too, were forced out of the area.

The riding that I represent, Dauphin—Swan River—Marquette, is a very large riding consisting of 52,000 square kilometres. It has a number of provincial parks, as well as a national park. I would like to thank the constituents of Dauphin—Swan River—Marquette for electing me and placing their trust in me.

I know that my constituents who live around Riding Mountain National Park and the constituents who live around Forillon National Park would have a lot in common. Leaving aside the bitterness about national parks, they have a rural way of life based on natural resource harvesting and a deep concern for the land and the landscape.

The people in my constituency have a deep and abiding stewardship ethic. My entire constituency is covered with what are called conservation districts where people look after the land and make a living from it at the same time. There are various conservation organizations that work very hard to keep our landscape in great shape.

Agriculture is the backbone of my constituency. What has developed over time is something that I like to refer to as the culture of agriculture. Not only do people in my constituency care for the land but they strongly care for family and community. We have logging, commercial fishing, trapping, tourism and a budding oil industry.

The point I am making in terms of Forillon National Park and Riding Mountain National Park, is that I agree that the people of Forillon National Park have an issue with the park, as do my constituents, and I deeply sympathize with them.

Riding Mountain National Park started out in the late 1800s as a dominion forest reserve and became a national park in the 1930s. Here is where the story gets interesting. In the 1970s, under the Liberal government of the day, I will continue the great tradition, one by one the resource uses in the park were phased out. First, the logging was phased out. Then the grazing was phased out. Then the haying was phased out. Not a bit of compensation was ever paid to the people who were eliminated from that park. Whole farms were destroyed. Family farm operations were destroyed because of that.

I have a very deep sympathy for what happened in Quebec with the creation of this national park. I do agree with my colleague from Elmwood—Transcona, when he said that we cannot create parks in this way any more. I can assure members that one of my jobs as an MP will be to look out for the interests of my constituents who live around Riding Mountain National Park. I do intend to speak with the Minister of the Environment and the parliamentary secretary on a regular basis about this particular issue.

In conclusion, I would like to thank members for this opportunity. However, let us never forget that rural Canada is the backbone of this country. One of the things that I am very gratified to see happen in the last few years is how our natural resources industries are carrying the entire country. We as a country have an opportunity to have thriving natural resources industries: agriculture, forestry, mining, fishing and so on. We have the opportunity to have beautiful parks and wild places conserved. I think we can do both.

Constituents of Dauphin—Swan River—Marquette January 31st, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I would like to express my gratitude to the people of Dauphin—Swan River—Marquette who recently elected me as their member of Parliament.

From farmers and ranchers, to commercial fishermen and loggers, to tourism operators and trappers, and to a wide variety of service and public sector occupations, my constituents represent the best of rural Manitoba.

My constituents have a deep commitment to their way of life. Our way of life stresses self-reliance, hard work, ambition, respect for property rights and dedication to family and community, plus a deep commitment to the responsible use of the Earth's resources.

My constituency has a bright future as we combine an economy based on the continued wise use of our natural endowment with those emerging economic opportunities based on new communications technologies. We now have creative entrepreneurs conducting global businesses from dispersed rural communities.

I pledge to be a strong advocate for my constituents and those values that sustain our way of life.

Canadian Forces December 15th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, every day our Canadian Forces work to make the world a safer place. In the face of danger and away from their families, friends and loved ones, these brave men and women are examples of all the good things Canadians are capable of.

Our largest overseas deployment is serving in Afghanistan and this winter they will be celebrating the holidays without the comforts of home.

Would the Minister of State for Transport please tell the House about the program in place to help the families and friends of these soldiers stay connected with our troops during the holiday season?