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  • His favourite word is liberals.

Conservative MP for Provencher (Manitoba)

Won his last election, in 2015, with 56% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Committees of the House October 17th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives are pleased to support the final report from the HUMA committee on Experiential Learning and Pathways to Employment for Canadian Youth. Also, the Conservatives have further contributed to the work of the committee through the addition of a supplementary opinion.

For a 2018 iteration of the Canada summer jobs program, the Liberal government added an attestation requirement for all applicants, a values test, that drew significant backlash from Canadians from all walks of life. Many Canadians agree with the positions of the Liberal Party as a condition of receiving federal funding represents a marked departure from previous practice, whereby all Canadians would have equal opportunity for a public benefit regardless of their personal beliefs or values. The Conservatives believe that the rights of freedom, thought, belief, opinion and expression must be respected by the federal government and not undermined.

The Liberal government deemed 1,559 applications incomplete in relation to the attestation, a twelvefold increase in rejections the previous year. Therefore, students across the country were deprived of their opportunity to gain work experience in upwards of 1,500 potential job placements as a direct result of the Liberal government's values test.

We urge the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour to ensure that employer attestation is not a requirement of an application in the Canada summer jobs program going forward and not a requirement for application in developing new programs to support youth employment in Canada.

Petitions October 16th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, it is a privilege for me to rise today to present a petition signed by Canadians domiciled in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Their particular concern is with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, specifically freedom of conscience, freedom of thought and freedom of belief. They believe these are fundamental rights that need to be recognized by the current government.

They would like to make it known to the Prime Minister that they would like him to defend their rights of conscience, belief and thought, and to remove the attestation from the Canada summer jobs program and any other government funding.

Carbon Pricing October 4th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister's carbon tax is just another example of a Liberal failure. The Province of Manitoba is the latest to stand up for families that just cannot afford another tax. In fact, the Prime Minister acknowledges that industry cannot afford it either. The B.C. LNG project was only announced after the Prime Minister exempted it from paying this carbon tax.

Will the Prime Minister cancel his carbon tax, or will he insist that hard-working middle-class Canadians pay this tax?

Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities October 3rd, 2018

Madam Speaker, I am very pleased to speak to Motion No. 190 today, introduced by the member for Mississauga East—Cooksville. I stand here also as the deputy shadow minister for employment, workforce development and labour. I am so thrilled to work with the previous speaker, the shadow minister for employment workforce development and labour, the member for Foothills, Alberta. This file is very important to us and to all Canadians.

There are many challenges in the construction industry and I want to give a few statistics before I delve into what I want to talk about. The Canadian Construction Association says that its sector employs almost 1.4 million Canadians. That is seven per cent of Canada's total workforce. That is significant. Annual construction is responsible for about $120 billion in economic activity, or seven per cent of overall GDP in Canada.

Construction work in Canada will continue to be a large economic contributor for years to come and it is essential that all governments support the efforts of the industry and efforts to attract skilled workers and provide workers with the training and support they need.

As we heard earlier, the Liberal government announced $180 billion in spending on infrastructure several years ago. Unfortunately, I hear from many contractors in my constituency and province that they are not seeing the money. The statistic we heard earlier was that only six per cent of that $180 billion has been let and is actually working on real projects. That is very concerning.

I want to talk about my own experience in the construction industry. I am involved in the heavy construction aggregate industry, so I have a firsthand knowledge. I am a member of the Manitoba Heavy Construction Association and I spent time working on the aggregates committee, as my company is involved in that type of work.

It is very difficult to attract skilled workers such as apprentice heavy duty mechanics or welders, and there are lots of different reasons for that. It is difficult to attract drivers. The transportation industry in Canada is robust. Some of the largest transporters internationally and across Canada are located in my riding, so there is a heavy draw on class 1 vehicle motor operators. They also contribute to the construction industry by driving gravel trucks and heavy equipment haulers.

There is also a serious lack of heavy equipment operators in the construction industry that contributes to the overall shortage of workers. One of the aspects that is missing is training for heavy equipment operators. Training is not very accessible. We do not have a program for it in any of our colleges or universities, and oftentimes it is the job creator who does on-the-job training for heavy equipment operators. This is a direct cost to contractors and employers and something that governments need to look at.

The scope of the motion has been narrowed by definition in the motion to the GTA and Hamilton areas. Several speakers, including speakers from within the Liberal Party, have indicated that it is a very narrow scope and that there would be good reason and merit to expand the scope of the study to include the construction industry right across Canada. The member who presented the motion should entertain expanding the scope of the study, because the issue is not just problematic in the GTA and Hamilton areas.

In fact, the Business Development Bank of Canada says that 40% of Canadian entrepreneurs are already having difficulty finding the workers they need. I have some statistics from the BDC. In Ontario it is 40%. The member obviously is very aware of that. The scarcity of workers in British Columbia is also at 45%, and in the Atlantic region it is 50%. Quebec is at 37% and in the Prairies we do a little better at 32%, but there is a significant need for workers in the construction industry. I would encourage the member who presented the motion to be open to expanding the scope of this study to include all sectors right across Canada.

How do labour shortages affect construction? Contractors are sometimes faced with the problem of not knowing if they will have adequate labour resources to complete a project, so they have to bid on projects accordingly. When they do that, the price of a project goes up and we see construction prices rise as entrepreneurs and contractors have to anticipate that they may not be able to complete a project on time because of construction labour shortages. That is something we need to look at as well.

Another thing that was mentioned earlier is that our trade sectors and Red Seal programs need to be given proper attention. That is why, when the previous Conservative government rolled out programs that supported the Red Seal training program, it was very well received. It encouraged people to consider enrolling in colleges, even universities, that would train them in the trades, with the ability to get licensed and their Red Seal certification. The Conservative government supported that financially for employers and employees to pursue that avenue.

If schools, high schools and parents would encourage children that there are very viable, honourable careers in the construction industry, I think more young people would explore the idea of participating in the trades. A lot of folks absolutely love working in the trades and if they received that encouragement in schools and at home, I think we would see a significant increase in young kids enrolling in trades programs. That is something that I hope this study will also conclude: that we need to get youth interested in the trades.

Working in trades is a very good occupational option for a lot of people. I know a lot of people in the mechanical side of the heavy construction industry, whether it is automotive or heavy industrial mechanics, making well into six figures, and there is nothing shabby about a six-figure job these days. That is something most people do not realize is available and attainable in the trade and construction industries.

There are a lot of challenges in the construction industry, but one challenge I want to allude to is seasonal work. As we know, we live north of the 49th parallel and we have winter. Winter has hit Calgary with record snowfalls already this year. My wife sent me a text this morning showing that there is snow in southern Manitoba today. The construction industry is seasonal. We need to recognize that. That creates specific challenges not only for getting the work done but also employing people in the construction industry. We have to have programs and backstops that accommodate the fluctuation in the construction industry so that people do not only have work for six months of the year and then have to look for other types of employment to support their families.

We have to make sure there are backstops in place that support workers in the seasonal construction industry. There are some trades, of course, and some construction that carries on year-round, but not all construction. We need to be sensitive to that and I am hoping that the study will recognize that and offer up some solutions.

Another sector I would like to talk about, which is not directly related to the construction industry, is the aviation industry. I happen to be a pilot, so I have some interest in that. The aviation industry employs 154,000 people and right now Canada is facing a shortage of 3,000 pilots. We heard recently in the House that our military is short 450 pilots. Therefore, we are experiencing labour shortages not only in the construction industry but in many different sectors.

I know this study focuses specifically on the Canadian construction industry in the GTA and Hamilton areas. I hope that study will be expanded. I am looking forward to the outcome of the study and supporting the motion.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship September 26th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, I take issue with some of the parliamentary secretary's comments. He made the assertion that resources are not being redeployed to deal with illegal migrants and thereby slowing down processing the claims for legitimate refugees applying to come to our country.

What is really problematic in this whole situation is that the Prime Minister has no plan. Perhaps most concerning is that he is not willing to even receive criticism around this issue. He refuses to answer questions in the House about his failure, except I may note that in April, when I asked him to confirm whether crossings between legal points of entry were illegal, he actually did confirm to the House and Canadians that yes, that was illegal crossing. Even though many of the members in his caucus prefer to keep calling it irregular, the Prime Minister did confirm in his answer to me that indeed these crossings are illegal.

I would like to reiterate that what we need from the Liberal government is a plan to deal with the influx of illegal migrants.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship September 26th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, I rise here this evening to follow up on a question I asked the Prime Minister back in April of this year on the subject of illegal border crossers.

For nearly two years, the Conservatives have been asking the Prime Minister and his Liberal government to take action to address the influx of illegal migrants. It is profoundly disappointing that instead of putting forward a plan to resolve the problem, the Liberals have allowed a trickle of illegal crossings to grow into a stream and to now grow into a flood. Because of their inaction, a minor problem that could have been addressed early on has become a crisis. Do not take my word for it. Recent polls have indicated that two-thirds of Canadians consider this situation of illegal migrants a crisis.

When I realized that Canada was experiencing a concerning increase in the influx of illegal border crossings at the beginning of 2017, nearly two years ago, I called on the Liberal government to take swift action. Instead what we got was tweets from the Prime Minister saying, “Welcome to Canada” and “Regardless of who you are or where you come from, there's always a place for you in Canada.” Here we are, 19 months later, and it is clear that the Liberals are either unwilling or unable to fix this mess of their own making.

We are not just talking about some abstract concept here, we are talking about the lives of real people. Under the current Prime Minister, large numbers of refugees are not receiving the support they need to successfully integrate into the Canadian economic and social fabric.

In addition to that, asylum seekers are facing backlogs that are years long to have their asylum claims heard. In the meantime, they are being housed in hotels or moved from shelter to shelter, drawing welfare payments and struggling to access language training services. All of this is costing taxpayers excessive amounts of money, yet it is not delivering the desired results.

Furthermore, the Prime Minister has normalized the policy of allowing people to use Canada's asylum system as a means to immigrate to Canada for economic reasons. Asylum is for those who are facing violence, persecution and war. When we treat economic migrants as refugees, resources that ought to be reserved for those in dire need are instead redirected to individuals who were already safe. This is not compassionate. In fact, it is downright unfair to those who are languishing in refugee camps around the world waiting for their chance to come to Canada, for their chance to be free from war, persecution and violence.

We recently learned that more than 65% of illegal migrants from 2017 to 2018 had legal status in the United States prior to illegally entering Canada. Despite the border security minister's false claims over the weekend that the “overwhelming majority of those people have left”, we know that only six of 900 illegal migrants under U.S. deportation orders have been removed. Though he later retracted it, it is concerning that the minister appears to be unaware of just how bad the situation actually is. Since early 2017, more than 34,000 illegal migrants have entered Canada. Only about 400, about 1%, have been removed. These are facts the minister should know well. I will go a step further there. These are facts that should have led the Liberal government to develop and implement a plan to address this crisis a long time ago.

I continue to await an answer from the Liberal government. Will it put a stop to illegal border crossings? Will it restore order and fairness to our immigration and refugee system? Will it defend the integrity of our borders? Will it stand up for the thousands of vulnerable individuals who want to come to Canada the right way?

Firearms Act June 18th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, as I have said before, this bill would do nothing to address the serious issues that the government should be focusing on: gun violence, criminality, and the illegal use of guns. I do not know why the Liberals would pit rural members against urban members in their caucus.

Firearms Act June 18th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, that has nothing to do with the bill we are discussing. The hon. member and friend from Winnipeg Centre should look at the legislation carefully to see if this is something that would really address the situation he is talking about, gang violence in his own constituency, which is a significant problem. I realize that and acknowledge that this is a serious issue in his riding.

I will affirm very clearly, from my understanding of this legislation and from what I have read, that this will not help you at all, because it is not law-abiding gun owners you have a problem with. It is gangs, illegal guns, and the drug trade, which will only get worse once Bill C-45 is passed later this week by the Senate. You will have nobody else to thank for that but yourself—

Firearms Act June 18th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, in answer to the member's question as to why Conservatives did not get elected two and a half years ago, I am looking at two and a half hours ago, at what happened in Chicoutimi—Le Fjord. I am thinking that the member across the way needs to get his head out of the sand, or maybe out of the ocean, and start looking at the surf clam scam in his own area of the country. I believe his brother was recently awarded a contract by the federal government for a surf clam licence, a company that did not even have a boat. If he wants to talk about reasons why people do not get elected, we do not have to look very far.

Firearms Act June 18th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, Bill C-71 was introduced in March of this year. In his speech arguing in favour of the bill, the Minister of Public Safety called it “important legislation that prioritizes public safety and effective police work, while treating law-abiding firearms owners and businesses fairly and reasonably”. He went on to add that this bill upheld the Liberal Party's commitment not to reinstate a federal long-gun registry.

I take issue with both of those claims. What I have seen with the Liberal government's Bill C-71 is quite the opposite. Bill C-71 does not treat law-abiding firearms owners fairly, and it is abundantly clear that the Liberals are moving forward with what is, in effect, even if not in name, a new gun registry.

Let us begin with the claim that law-abiding firearms owners are treated fairly by the Liberal government. I think all Canadians believe in ensuring we treat firearms owners responsibly. We understand that, in the interests of public safety, there are sensible measures that can be taken. I think all of us in this place agree on that point. The trouble with Bill C-71 is that it is not offering any sensible measures to combat gang violence, gun violence, or escalating crime rates in our rural communities.

My Conservative colleagues and I recognize that the safety of Canadians must be the number one priority of any government, and we will support common-sense legislation related to firearms that will help keep Canadians safe, but here is the problem: Bill C-71 does not do that. It has no measures to combat the increasing rates of gun violence, domestic violence, gang violence, or to address the increasing rates of rural crime either in my riding of Provencher or across the country.

All this bill does is add greater costs and regulatory burdens to law-abiding firearms owners. In fact, the bill uses the words “registrar” or “reference number” 28 times. Do members know how many times the words “gang” or “criminal organization” appear? Zero. If Bill C-71 is not targeting criminals, who exactly is going to be impacted by this legislation? How are Canadians going to be better off for it? The answer to that first question is, unsurprisingly, law-abiding firearms owners. This bill makes the same mistake the Liberals always make on this issue. It is targeting law-abiding firearms owners instead of criminals. It is high time the Liberals stopped treating lawful gun owners like criminals.

This legislation offers plenty more red tape for those who follow the law. It will certainly create a larger burden for farmers and hunters. However, for those who disregard our laws and commit crimes, there is nothing here to dissuade them from continuing.

As I often say in this place, it is among the primary responsibilities of government to protect its citizens. In fact, our previous Conservative government understood that we could be tough on crime while respecting those who own firearms legally and operate them safely. The criminal element behind firearms violence was always where we focused our attention, yet with Bill C-71, the Liberals have entirely neglected to address the criminals who use guns to commit violence, while treating law-abiding firearms owners like criminals. Why would they do this?

As is the case on most occasions with the Liberals, they are more interested in being seen to be taking action rather than actually taking meaningful action. Let me explain.

It is difficult to address gun and gang violence; we all understand that. It is quite easy, however, to increase red tape and place new restrictions on those who are already following the rules. The Liberals get the benefit of being seen to do something even though the impact of their proposals will do nothing for the serious gun and gang violence Canadians want to see gone from their streets.

I think it is worth highlighting a CBC analysis that was undertaken on this bill, because it speaks to the way the Liberals have tried to justify Bill C-71. The Minister of Public Safety used statistics going back to 2013 to suggest that there had been a dramatic surge in gang shootings since that time. “Gun homicides are up by two-thirds”, he warned. However, he chose 2013 specifically because it was an unusual year statistically speaking. The year 2013 “saw Canada's lowest rate of criminal homicides in 50 years, and the lowest rate of fatal shootings ever recorded by Statistics Canada”, the CBC analysis from March reads. As the analysis indicates, “What appears to make 2013 attractive as a point of comparison is that any year in the past half century can be made to look alarmingly high by comparing it to 2013.”

The Liberals want to be seen as doing something. They were able to manipulate the statistics to create a monster that does not really exist. The Conservatives know that there are still very real issues out there with respect to gun and gang violence, but the Liberals have shown they are not serious about addressing the difficult challenges.

Conservatives will not simply vote in favour of this legislation and play pretend with the Liberals. When the Liberals want to tackle serious crime, Conservatives will be the first to stand with them. In fact, they may consider looking back at our years in government for some pro tips in that regard. Canadians can count on us to fight for concrete actions to keep Canadians safe, focusing our efforts on the criminal element behind this violence. We will not join the Liberals' crusade to make life more difficult for law-abiding Canadians.

Second, I want to discuss the Liberals' claim that Bill C-71 somehow would not reintroduce a gun registry. Now, I know that my Liberal colleagues and the Prime Minister bristle when any assertion is made that this bill is nothing more than a backdoor attempt to bring back the federal long-gun registry. We have heard the Prime Minister say that they are committed to not restoring a long-gun registry and that they are not restoring a long-gun registry; it is that simple. However, somebody needs to explain to the Prime Minister, and to my hon. colleagues, for that matter, that when the federal government is using a federal registrar to keep records on law-abiding firearms owners, that is a gun registry. It is that simple: registrars keep registries. This bill is not about restricted firearms. This is not about illegal guns. The Liberals want to use a federal registrar to keep records on non-restricted firearms and law-abiding firearms owners.

Again, the bill uses the words “registrar” or “reference number” 28 times, and the words “gang” or “criminal organization”, zero times. That is why we on this side of the House have called out this proposal for what it is. It is nothing more than a backdoor attempt to bring back the wasteful and ineffective long-gun registry that Conservatives were given a clear mandate to eliminate. I find it interesting that the Prime Minister dismissed this long-gun registry as a failure back in 2012. This was despite his vote in favour of keeping it intact earlier on. Therefore, we should not be surprised that he has changed his mind again. Now he wants a new registry, he just does not want to call it a registry. However, if it walks like a registry and if it talks like a registry—I think members know where I am going—it probably is a registry.

Here is why these kinds of registries do not work. In Canada, 93% of gun crimes that result in death are committed with illegal guns by people who should not have them. The people the government should be targeting with this bill are not legal firearms owners, but those in possession of illegal weapons. Therefore, why in this legislation are the Liberals ignoring gangs, and instead targeting hunters, farmers, and northern Canadians? I serve a rural riding. A lot of good, law-abiding people own firearms, and nobody knows better than hunters and farmers the importance of gun safety and the social responsibility that comes with owning a firearm. That is why it is deeply insulting to have the Liberals consistently impugn not only those people's ability to be responsible citizens, but the kind of moral equivalency we see the Liberals trying to draw between violent gang members, criminals, and then law-abiding firearms owners. The Liberals need to stop focusing their fire on law-abiding farmers, hunters, and northern Canadians, and focus it on felons, on gangs, and on the flow of illegal guns across the borders. However, instead, they continue to target law-abiding citizens, trying to trip them up into an offence by changing the rules.

I do not see any merit in this piece of legislation as it stands. It would not achieve what the Liberals say it will. Instead of targeting gangs and illegal guns, they have stubbornly chosen to keep law-abiding Canadians in their crosshairs. That is why I will be voting against this bill.

That said, I am pleased to highlight that Conservatives have been behind initiatives to address crime in Canada. As I close, I want to highlight the recent efforts of my colleague, the member for Lakeland, and her work to draw attention to rural crime in particular. I was pleased to second her motion, Motion No. 167, which called for an in-depth study of rural crime rates and trends, as well as the current resources available for rural policing and whether they are sufficient. This represents just one of the many efforts by the Conservatives to tackle crime and improve the lives of law-abiding Canadians. I am pleased to say that motion was passed unanimously by this House. With that, I want to close.