House of Commons photo

Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was budget.

Last in Parliament November 2013, as Conservative MP for Macleod (Alberta)

Won his last election, in 2011, with 78% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Federal-Provincial Fiscal Arrangements Act November 29th, 2004

Madam Speaker, it is an interesting comment that we hear about taxation. Our Conservative Party was criticized when we came out with our policy platform saying that we need to cut taxes. In my mind that is a tough thing to criticize.

Our party believes that structured taxes, taxes that are spent wisely are an effective tool. In fact, we need that to run our country properly.

However, when we see the inventive budgeting that has gone on across the floor with these kinds of surprise surpluses, that is very difficult for me to explain to families that are having a difficult time buying food for their children, buying clothing, paying for education, running their businesses.

When we see this sort of a budget and this sort of a surplus it goes far beyond any projected expenses. People do not mind paying taxes. However, when they see that sort of a surplus left over, there is not that kind of a surplus left over in their budgets at home. In fact, if families budgeted the way the federal government does, they probably would be out on the street. It is unfortunate that the government can get away with doing that and we cannot in real life.

Federal-Provincial Fiscal Arrangements Act November 29th, 2004

Madam Speaker, I guess the one comment I would make in answer to that question is that the buck stops here. The taxes come to the federal government. The federal government distributes them back to the provinces

As I mentioned in my speech, the provinces continually have had to come hat in hand looking for funding for our education systems which have had their budgets slashed.

Those that are closest to the people are the ones that seem to take the brunt of the criticism. The member talked about criticism. It is the criticism received by our municipal administrators that have had smaller budgets because our provincial governments have had smaller budgets to work with. That blame should be laid at the feet of the federal government.

The federal government is the one that made the decisions where the spending priorities are. The spending priorities have not been on education and shortening the lineups in our health care system. It is unfortunate that the premiers have had to come begging for more money.

We see this equalization as perhaps a better method of stopping the buck from just stopping here, but let us equalize it out across the country so it is fair to all.

Federal-Provincial Fiscal Arrangements Act November 29th, 2004

Madam Speaker, it is an honour to rise in the House today to talk about Bill C-24, an act to amend the Federal-Provincial Fiscal Arrangements Act. It speaks to one of the most fundamental elements of Canadian character. This legislation is a step toward the modernizing the way Canada operates as a nation and one that is typical of the Liberal government: overdue and incomplete.

For context, it is important to note that section 36 of the Constitution reads:

Parliament and the legislatures, together with the Government of Canada and the provincial governments, are committed to the following three things:

(a) promoting equal opportunities for the well-being of Canadians--

A Conservative priority if I ever heard one.

--(b) furthering economic development to reduce disparity in opportunities--

Again an idea I could get behind.

--and (c) providing essential public services of reasonable quality to all Canadians.

I believe all Canadians and parliamentarians should strive for these objectives.

Further, subsection 36(2) reads:

Parliament and the Government of Canada are committed to the principle of making equalization payments to ensure that provincial governments have sufficient revenues to provide reasonably comparable levels of public services at reasonably comparable levels of taxation.

There is no question that the Liberal government has not lived up to this commitment. Year after year the premiers have been forced to tell the Prime Minister that they are not receiving sufficient funds. We cannot make this country stronger if we accept that citizens in one region are less valued or eligible to receive services than another. Enactment of this bill will increase equalization payments by 42% from 2004-05 until 2009-10. This means $8.9 billion in 2004-05, increasing to $12.5 billion in 2009-10.

Again I go back to overdue and incomplete. While the increase in payments is needed, the Liberal government has had to set the total level of equalization on TFF for years to come. It is clear that the Liberals have not set the total levels of payments because their formula has been ineffective in setting the total levels of payments.

Also, the bill does not spell out how these payments will be divided among the provinces and territories in the future. Instead, the federal government has launched a review by an independent panel of experts on which the provinces and territories have been provided with two seats. However the federal government has retained decision making authority on how future levels should be allocated.

While the Conservative Party of Canada has repeatedly called for a panel, we must be conscious of Liberal manipulation in this endeavour. The panel could be used as another Liberal delay tactic at best, or simply a ploy to fool stakeholders into thinking that they had input into the process. This also gives the Liberal government one of its favourite escape hatches. When things go wrong, it will now have a fall guy to take the rap. “It is not our fault we got it wrong”, the Liberals will scream, “the experts made us do it”.

It is also important to note that the bill does not deal with non-renewable resource revenue within the current equalization formula. The Conservative Party has long sided with the concern expressed by the provinces with respect to the inclusion of non-renewable resource revenue in the current equalization formula. Under the current formula, provinces that benefit from non-renewable resource revenues are subject to a clawback that results in lower equalization payments. This is unfair and unacceptable.

I come from a province that has prospered enormously from its natural resources and it is inconceivable that the same opportunities and potential for economic growth are not available to Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador. The Conservative Party, along with the majority of the provinces, have long advocated for the removal of non-renewable resource revenues from the equalization formula. This would ensure that the spirit and intent of the program remains intact and to encourage the development of economic growth in the non-renewable resource sectors all across Canada.

I am proud to stand with my Atlantic colleagues to say in the House that the Conservative Party supports the efforts of Newfoundland and Nova Scotia to receive 100% of their offshore oil revenues outside of the current equalization formula, with no cap and no restrictions.

I believe that all regions of the country should benefit from changes to the equalization formula to encourage the development of natural resources and economic growth. Therefore the Conservative Party of Canada would remove non-renewable natural resources from the equalization program and change the formula.

The territories are an important element to consider as well. Bill C-24 does not address the outstanding concern that the Conservative Party and the territories have in the need to develop a resource revenue sharing agreement between territories and the federal government.

The TFF is an important and necessary grant mechanism to address and present the needs of the territories. The Conservative Party supports the TFF but also believes it is imperative that the federal government take steps to develop a resource revenue sharing agreement with the territories to facilitate their desire for control over their own economy and move to economic independence.

It is important that no province or territory suffer financially under the new formula, and I do not say this lightly. The Liberals portray themselves as the only national party but they stake that claim on the smallest of toeholds in many provinces, and after this summer's election they could not even secure a majority of seats in the House.

Nonetheless, they govern with the arrogance of a Liberal government of the past. I have seen it over the years, especially on the issues that face the agricultural industry. The Liberal government loves to divide and conquer. Whether it is region against region or commodity against commodity, the Liberals are almost automatic in their rush to create a domestic squabble to distract Canadians from their inability to get the job done.

The Conservative Party supports the equalization program as an essential component of Canada's nation building efforts. In order for Canada's provinces to grow and prosper, it is important that an effective equalization program be in place. Equalization is a difficult issue to address. By even using the language “haves and have nots”, this is inevitably causing discord and rancour.

As Canadians we have chosen to govern our country as a Confederation. The balancing of regions and provinces has historically proven a challenge. Some governments have managed the project better than others but citizens across the nation have felt the benefit in many small and subtle ways.

As I stand in the House today, I would like to leave the members across the floor with a final message. It is not just the Canadians who voted for them that deserve the respect and commitment to their best interests. It is not just their friends and cronies who should benefit from the power of governance. This issue, this act, is only one element of ensuring all Canadians prosper. The Conservative Party of Canada is proud to stand with every one of them to demand better.

Ukraine November 29th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, the government has invested over $10 million in governance projects providing Russian decision makers with Canadian expertise and experience. I hope the government will ensure that all advice given focuses on encouraging Russia to respect Ukraine's sovereignty. Meanwhile, Canada should be using its aid dollars to support the democratic process in Ukraine.

Will the ministers of foreign affairs and CIDA commit to a lead role for Canada to offer aid, resources and observers necessary for Ukraine to hold a free and fair repeat election?

International Aid November 15th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, last year CIDA sent a measly $120,000 to the Canada Landmine Fund, but never wanting to turn down a photo op, the government plans to celebrate its mediocrity and send the Governor General, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and CIDA's parliamentary secretary to the Mine-Free World Summit in Nairobi later this month.

Could the Minister of International Cooperation assure Canadian taxpayers that this delegation's trip will cost less than last year's entire budget for the landmine fund?

Agriculture November 1st, 2004

Mr. Speaker, it is with great honour that I rise in the House to speak of the courage and resilience shown by farmers and ranchers in the great riding of Macleod.

In the past few years they have been devastated by droughts, where there was barely enough feed for the livestock and little grain to pay the bills. Then came plagues of grasshoppers and BSE. Now we face tariffs on our wheat and pork.

How can I assure them that the Liberal government will do all it can to help them? While producers are still waiting for CAIS payments from last year, Liberal cronies at Bombardier have received a $1.5 billion loan guarantee for a sale to Air Canada, which has just come out of bankruptcy.

With failed programs, corporate subsidies, members opposite defaming our largest and closest trading partners, what can we say to these ranchers and farmers?

Tlicho Land Claims and Self-Government Act October 29th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, there certainly is a concern for setting precedents in this legislation. As we read it now, there is a lot of ambiguity in the agreement.

If indeed this legislation allows the Tlicho band to have to be consulted on international agreements or treaties, then I would have great concerns that it also provides the band the avenue that it could actually negotiate its own. Certainly something of that nature has to be of great concern to a federal government that represents all Canadians.

In response to the member's second question, I will try to be brief. It sets a bad precedent in the fact that only members of the Tlicho band can sit as chief and a specified number of the band members. It is very limiting in who actually is going to manage this and how one brings in outside expertise.

Tlicho Land Claims and Self-Government Act October 29th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, absolutely, self-government is the effective good part that we see in this. It is not the only one, but it is the standout.

I represent five first nations in my riding of Macleod. That is a very fundamental issue to those people. It has been far too long that this has sat on the back burner. I look at this as a step in the right direction, but I think, even in having consultations with some of those first nations people in my own riding, they are concerned that this probably steps outside the bounds of what is acceptable.

They want self-government, but they also want to be part of the Canadian Constitution. They want to be able to control their own destiny, but they want to do it in an acceptable manner to all Canadians.

Tlicho Land Claims and Self-Government Act October 29th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, I wish to inform the House that I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for Selkirk—Interlake.

It is my great honour to rise in the House today. Once again I come to the House to speak to the legislative agenda of a tired and confused minority Liberal government.

On October 7, I spoke in the House in reply to the Speech from the Throne. At that time I was disappointed at the insipid leadership and the weak agenda outlined in the Speech from the Throne. A mere 22 days later, I find my worst fears confirmed.

Just over three weeks into this 38th Parliament and the government has proven that rather than address the issues important to Canadians in a full and honest manner, it has resorted to recycling failed legislation from previous administrations and reneged on promises made in this summer's federal election campaign.

This minority government is so desperate to pad its non-existent legislative agenda that it has rushed the Tlicho land agreement into the House of Commons before it is ready.

In fact, if we take a look at how the bill came before the chamber today, we see that Parliament is once again being manipulated. I would like to remind the House that the bill has been introduced on an all or nothing basis. But then, the Liberals have rarely seen a controversial topic that they could not dodge.

Canadians who are watching these proceedings today are rightly outraged. They know that our debate today is an example of the worst abuse of the political process. The government, on the advice of the clerk of the House, has taken the position that Parliament lacks the capacity to amend the provisions of this agreement. The bill has not proceeded in any way that is respective of parliamentary supremacy.

There has been no consideration at committee, no amendments possible and no way for members of Parliament to contribute to this very important agreement.

I fear that the Liberal government is trying to paint those who would take their parliamentary responsibility seriously as anti-aboriginal or against self-government. I find that sort of tactic insulting, unnecessary and very unproductive.

Why should Canadians be surprised? This is a government that has repeatedly shown that it would rather have the courts do its job than do the hard work itself.

The true shame of this cowardly tactic is that hon. members, such as my colleague, the member for Calgary Centre-North and the official opposition critic for Indian affairs and northern development, cannot share the wisdom of their experience with the House. The party opposite may not bring candidates and members of Parliament to the House whose qualifications they respect and value, but in our party we know that our caucus has the mental fortitude to engage in the legislative process.

The member for Calgary Centre-North brings personal and professional experience that makes him a recognized Canadian expert in the matter of native land claim settlements. This is the betrayal of the Canadian people. It is no wonder they are cynical about the political process.

The bill is too important to be rammed through the House with no opportunity for true legislative amendment. This is not to say that the bill is not without merit. There are many benefits captured within the agreement.

However, beyond the flagrant dismissal of Parliament, what concerns members on this side of the House can be summarized in four main points.

The first are the contentious provisions regarding the finality of this bill. Second, there are concerns that the agreement may incur on Canada's international autonomy. Third, the bill seems to create jurisdictional confusion, a sure route directly to the court system. What a surprise.

Finally, the government is flirting with the discriminatory application of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Again, all this will serve to do is create an environment of uncertainty and distrust leading to yet more lengthy court disputes.

Let us take these concerns individually. If Canadians are not going to be provided with true representation through their members of Parliament, the Conservative Party of Canada will show Canadians what a constructive approach to law-making looks like.

The Conservative Party of Canada believes that Canada's first nations deserve equitable and fair powers of self-government. When done right, aboriginal agreements can right the wrongs of the past and set the stage for a bright future for everyone.

We can look at the Nisga'a agreement to see how an agreement can achieve closure to a long standing land claim, and it is this type of finality that is lacking in Bill C-14. The 3,000 Tlicho band members deserve better.

The issue of finality is very important. Aboriginal self-government issues have been ignored and delayed for too long. When the Nisga'a agreement was passed through federal legislation, it gave the first nations confidence that their agreement was a full and final arrangement.

From the point of view of members of the House and Canadians across the country, there must also be a belief that agreements negotiated and passed into legislation are full and final agreements. The bill lacks that finality, leaving first nations, Canadians and parliamentarians playing a waiting game, always unsure if the agreement will be reopened at the whim of a minister or the demand of the Tlicho government looking for more powers or rights.

When negotiating self-government agreements, the federal government walks a fine line between recognizing and granting powers to our first nations and ceding our national sovereignty.

There is still work to be done on Bill C-14 to clarify the provisions relating to international matters. The lack of limits to the Tlicho government's powers to enter into international, national and other territorial agreements creates an unacceptable situation where the federal government would transfer powers to act on the global scene to an internal community.

While the Liberals may have lost their sense of Canadian federalism, on this side of the House we still believe that it is the federal government that negotiates, signs and speaks for the Canadian people. Apparently all their dabbling in unfair, unequal and unpopular governance models have left them confused. The House can rest assured, if the Liberals are unwilling or unable to take responsibility for governing Canada, we are more than prepared to take that weight off their shoulders.

The third item of concern is the area of jurisdictional concern. Allowing the wording of this agreement to stand without amendment could create a third order of government. This was never the intention of self-government under our Constitution. There can be no equal or parallel authority to the federal government. Bill C-14 would allow concurrent authority.

Again, the government would rather push inadequate legislation through the House than do the work to clarify these provisions. If, indeed, this came to a conflict situation, there is no dispute mechanism, once again requiring the courts to address weak legislation put forward by the Liberal government. This is unacceptable.

Finally, we have concerns regarding the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Canadians value the rights and freedoms protected under the charter and continue to believe in the Constitution as paramount in our federal system.

However the Liberal government has shown its disrespect by recognizing a Tlicho constitution that cannot provide less protection than what is outlined in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It leaves the door open for there to be a constitution which allows for more protection. Legislation is not supposed to create sects, divisions or a group of Canadians who have more rights than others. Bill C-14 is undoubtedly setting an unhealthy precedent.

This approach and the provisions of the legislation make a mockery of the parliamentary process and demean the legitimate rights of Canada's first nations to thoughtful and meaningful self-government legislation.

It is for all those reasons that we believe that Bill C-14 is inadequate and not yet ready to be passed.

China October 28th, 2004

The minister is ignoring reality, Mr. Speaker. China has a booming economy which is now the number one recipient of private foreign investment in the world, receiving $53 billion U.S. in new money. Canadian companies are ranked among the top 10 investors. It is time for China's government to take responsibility for helping its own poor people.

How can the Minister of International Cooperation justify giving aid to China?