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Track Tom

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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word is ask.

Conservative MP for Moose Jaw—Lake Centre—Lanigan (Saskatchewan)

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

Statements in the House

Committees of the House December 13th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, if you will indulge me, I just have a few words to say before I table this report. Several months ago, the Minister of Public Services and Procurement and I had a conversation, at which time she indicated her desire to have a widespread consultation with Canadians about the future of Canada Post. Although, as members know, ministers cannot direct committees to undertake any study, I thought it was a very legitimate observation that the government needed to consult on one of our most iconic government institutions. Therefore, I took the suggestion back to our committee, who agreed that a widespread consultation would be appropriate. From there, we decided to conduct our study. It was an extensive study, and we travelled to 22 communities across Canada—communities both urban and rural, large and small, remote and first nations communities—in fact, 22 communities in all 10 provinces plus the Northwest Territories, in a three-week period.

It was an exhausting time for all of us on the committee, so I would like to offer my very sincere thanks to all of those who assisted: our clerk, our analysts, the PVO officials, the translators, the logisticians, and most particularly the committee members themselves. We found out, as you would know, Mr. Speaker, having been a parliamentarian for several years, that one way we can determine the true character of people is to put them in cramped quarters for three weeks and force them to interact with one another. We had a prime example of how parliamentarians of all different political backgrounds were able to come together. Yes, there were disagreements at times, but they were respectful and at all times professional. I want to offer my very sincere thanks to all of those who assisted me in this undertaking.

With those brief words, I would like to say that I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the following report from the Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates: the fourth report, entitled “The Way Forward for Canada Post”. Pursuant to Standing Order 109, the committee requests that the government table a comprehensive response to this report.

Democratic Reform December 8th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, I have been a member of Parliament for over twelve and half years, and I cannot recall a time when a minister or a government initiative has been mocked so relentlessly as this minister and this survey. Does the minister not realize that the reason she and her government are being ridiculed is because the survey in itself is ridiculous?

The minister appointed a panel of so-called academic experts to help her design the survey. I can see why, because it gives the minister a chance to blame yet another group of individuals for her own failures.

Why does the Prime Minister not simply do the right thing and appoint somebody who knows what they are doing to this important file?

Roger Parent November 30th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, it is with great sadness that I rise today to mark the passing of Saskatchewan Party MLA, Roger Parent at age 63. Only yesterday, it was announced that Roger had been diagnosed with cancer, then literally just hours later, Roger passed away at the Royal University Hospital in Saskatoon.

Roger had been an MLA since 2011. Before his election, he had long been an advocate for aboriginal and poverty issues in and around Saskatoon. He had been involved with the Saskatoon Homelessness Initiative, the Saskatoon aboriginal economic development committee, the Saskatchewan committee on aboriginal procurement, and the Métis Nation—Saskatchewan.

His contributions to the community and to the lives of individual people were many. Needless to say, his passing comes as a complete shock to the people of Saskatchewan, particularly to those who knew him well and who loved him.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to his wife, Sheila, the entire Parent family, and his many friends throughout Saskatchewan to whom we offer our most sincere condolences and sympathies.

Canada Pension Plan November 28th, 2016

Madam Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for his kind remarks at the outset of his question. From one Blue Jays fan to another, I suppose we will always have some areas of agreement as well as some of disagreement.

My answer to that would be to ask what life his children or my children or grandchildren will have if they do not have jobs. Many small business people have told me that the CPP expansion, even though the government suggests that it is a modest increase, would have an incredibly detrimental effect on their ability to hire more employees.

In fact, when we were on a tour across Canada just recently, we happened to be in Thunder Bay. I went to a restaurant for dinner with one of my colleagues. The restaurant owner, once finding out that I was a member of Parliament, started to engage me in conversation about what the expansion of the CPP premiums would mean to his business. He told my colleague and I, very clearly, that the profit margin was so skinny that with the CPP expansion, he would either have to close his doors or lay off employees. What kind of retirement would he have? What kind of retirement would his employees who might be laid off have?

There are other ways to help Canadians who need assistance plan for retirement. We expanded the GIS. The GIS is targeted to the lowest-income Canadians in this great nation of ours. We expanded it. I believe the Liberal government, to its credit, increased it by about 10%. Things can be done without increasing a job-killing tax, which Bill C-26 most surely is.

Canada Pension Plan November 28th, 2016

Madam Speaker, my approach, quite frankly, is that I believe in individual freedom. I believe in an individual's right to make his or her own decisions rather than have the government step in and be Big Brother all the time. That is a fundamental distinction that I do not know my colleague opposite truly understands.

In other words, I believe the government is trying to find a solution for which there is no problem. Statistics bear that out. Fewer than 5% of Canadians right now, fewer than 5% of seniors, are living below the poverty line, when 30 years ago it was 30%. More Canadians are saving as they prepare for retirement. They are doing so of their own volition. They are doing so with plans they generate themselves. They are not being told, nor do they want to be told, how to invest and where to invest.

That is why I believe in individual freedom. That is why I believe that Bill C-26 is a flawed piece of legislation.

Canada Pension Plan November 28th, 2016

Madam Speaker, before I begin my remarks on Bill C-26, let me first offer my personal congratulations to everyone in the Ottawa Redblacks organization for a great Grey Cup victory yesterday. It was one of the more exciting games I have seen. A special shout out to Henry Burris, formerly of the Saskatchewan Rough Riders, who played a fantastic game. If that is the last game he plays in this league, it is a fitting exist. It was a magnificent performance.

I have some comments to make about Bill C-26, and, quite frankly, they are extremely critical.

Let again remind members of the definition of a tax. In essence, that is what is contained in Bill C-26. A tax is defined as “A compulsory contribution to state revenue, levied by the government on workers' income and business profits, or added to the cost of some goods, services, and transactions”.

Let us take that definition and examine what is contained in Bill C-26.

Bill C-26 purports to have CPP premiums increased. Are they going to be increased voluntarily or is it compulsory? It is compulsory. Workers and employers alone have no say in the matter.

Is it levied upon workers' incomes and business profits? Most assuredly, it is. Both employers and employees are going to be forced into paying increased premiums.

Therefore, I would suggest, by anyone's definition, that Bill C-26 is a tax. It is a tax increase. It is a business and payroll tax. This is the worst time in Canadian history to be levying new taxes.

I am not a fan of taxes of any sort at any time. However, in the position we are now in Canada, with a sluggish economy, raising taxes is absolutely incoherent to me. It makes no sense. It takes money out of the pockets of people. It reduces the availability of Canadians to save more money. It reduces the ability of businesses to expand and create new jobs, in fact, just the opposite. I have talked to many small business owners who say that a CPP increase will, in eventuality, force them to either close up shop or lay off employees to try to survive. Neither one of those two options is a good one for small business owners.

The thing I cannot quite understand is why the government is trying to pass Bill C-26 now. Frankly, it is simply not necessary. Empirical evidence backs that up.

The government suggests that Bill C-26 is a way to increase retirement benefits for those Canadians who need it most.

When we take a look at the statistics, we find that less 5% of Canadian seniors are living below the poverty line. We have made great strides over the last decades. Only 30 or 40 years ago close to 30% of Canadians were living on low incomes. It is less than 5% now. Where is the need to increase retirement benefits if Canadians themselves are not living below the poverty line?

Additionally, I would point out that Canadians are saving more money now than they ever have in the past, approximately twice the amount they saved in 1990.

I would argue that all Canadians are aware of the responsibilities that come with planning for retirement. Their financial literacy quotient is increasing, and they are taking steps to prepare themselves for retirement.

Once again, if there is no need, why does the government feel it necessary to increase CPP premiums, to put additional taxes on Canadian businesses and Canadian workers? It does not seem to make much sense.

However, I think we can safely say that the reason the government is doing this is that it is part of its DNA. That is why its members are Liberals. They live to increase taxes. This is just one more example of it.

However, what is truly troubling to me is that this paternalistic approach to saying the government knows best, that it will take care of the retirement needs of people, is not only paternalistic, it is insulting to Canadians. In effect, the government is saying that Canadians do not have the capacity to plan for their own retirement, so the government will do it for them.

I have confidence in Canadians. I have confidence that they can plan for their own retirements and they do not need to be told by any government, let alone the current one, how to go about doing that.

I would point out for members of the chamber that there are more opportunities, more investment and retirement vehicles, in the marketplace now than there ever have been before to assist Canadians in planning for their retirements. I make specific reference to the TFSA, the most important advancement in tax avoidance that we have seen since the advent of RRSPs, a vehicle we introduced when our Conservative government was in power.

The TFSA, currently permeated in the Canadian tax base by about 10 million stakeholders who have TFSAs, allows after-tax dollars to be put into a tax-free savings account. The money generated in that account over years is tax free, and is not taxed when that money is taken out.

We introduced this new innovation several years ago when we were in government. We started with a contribution limit of $5,000 per year, the amount Canadians could put into their TFSAs. A few years later, we increased it to $5,500. Then just before the last election, we increased the contribution limit to $10,500 to allow Canadians to put up to $10,500 a year into tax-free savings accounts to help plan and prepare for their retirements.

What did the Liberal government do? It rolled back the TFSA contribution limit, down to $5,500. In other words, it took away the ability of Canadians to put an addition $5,000 into TFSAs. What was the rationale? The Liberals say that Canadians simply do not have $10,000 kicking around at the end of the year. Therefore, since they would not be able to max out their contributions, the government would reduce their ability to even try.

In other words, the government is saying that Canadians could not afford to contribute to TFSAs. What is its answer? Instead of allowing Canadians the opportunity to voluntarily put money into tax-free savings accounts, the government is forcing Canadians, who apparently cannot afford it, to pay money into a state-run pension plan that is taxable when people withdraw their benefits. Canadian investors have no ability to choose the investment vehicle of their choice.

Nothing makes sense about this whatsoever. If Canadians are going to be forced to save, why not allow them to at least put it in tax-free savings accounts? No, that is not the case. They are being forced to put it in the CPP.

Granted, I believe the pension fund managers of the CPP over the years have done a very good job. However, the point is that, as an individual, I would like to control the investment vehicles myself. I want to choose whether I want to put money into mutual funds, stocks, bonds, or other investments, rather than someone telling me what I have to invest in and what my rate of return will be.

Once again, this seems to be a pattern with the government. It has the attitude that government knows best. We have seen this before. The insult to Canadians is that Liberals do not believe Canadians are bright enough to choose wisely with their investment accounts. They believe the government is smarter than Canadian taxpayers.

We can all recall, just a few short years ago, during the federal election campaign, when the Conservative government introduced the universal child care benefit. The chief of staff of the prime minister of the day, Paul Martin, went on television and said that it was a bad idea because if the government gave money directly to parents and let them choose how to raise their children, they would blow it all on beer and popcorn. That is the attitude the current government has. It is paternalistic, it is condescending, and it is insulting. That is why, on this side of the House, we will oppose Bill C-26.

The basic difference between Conservatives and Liberals is this. As Conservatives, we believe in lower taxes, balanced budgets, and smaller governments. The Liberals believe in higher taxes, deficit spending, and much larger governments. Eventually, Canadians will see the light and that is why, on this side of the House, we will be opposing Bill C-26, and opposing it with vigour.

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns November 14th, 2016

With regard to vehicles purchased, broken down by department, agency, crown corporation, or other government entity, since November 4, 2015: (a) how many vehicles have been purchased, broken down by make, including, (i) Porsche, (ii) Lexus, (iii) Mercedes, (iv) Tesla, (v) BMW, (vi) Lamborghini, (vii) Ferrari; (b) what was the date and purchase price of each of the vehicles identified in (a); (c) what was the year and model of each of the vehicles identified in (a); (d) were the vehicles identified in (a) new or used when purchased; (e) were there any vehicles purchased for a price in excess of $50 000, or equivalent, not covered by parts (a)(i) through (a)(vii); and (f) if the response to (e) is affirmative, what is the make, model, purchase price, and date of purchase of each vehicle?

Canada Pension Plan November 4th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the tough but fair question from my colleague. My colleague is exactly right. We believe in individual initiative. We believe that Canadians have enough intelligence on their own to make their own investment decisions. We believe that Canadians can chart a course for their own retirement. Unfortunately, the government does not seem to believe that Canadians have that intellectual capacity to make their own choices.

In the situation my colleague mentioned, it would be devastating for a small business owner to be forced to pay that amount of money when he could be reinvesting that money in his own business or using that money to put into his own investment portfolio.

Our choice is individual rights. Their choice is government knows best.

Canada Pension Plan November 4th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, we are voting against a payroll tax. We will always vote against higher taxes. Unfortunately, the Liberals believe that government intervention and raising taxes, spending billions of dollars running this country into debt is the way to get this country's economy back on track. Conservatives will always oppose that.

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns November 4th, 2016

With regard to responses to Questions on the Order Paper tabled thus far in the current Parliament, and if responses were tabled when the Privy Council Office did not have the associated completed “Statement of Completeness” forms from all of the departments providing a response: (a) how many times did this occur; (b) for each question identified in (a), what was the number of the question and the date each response was tabled; (c) for each question identified in (a), which departments did not complete the forms; and (d) were completed forms submitted to the Privy Council Office after the responses were tabled and, if so, (i) for which questions, (ii) by which departments, (iii) on what date was each form received?