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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was opposition.

Last in Parliament September 2021, as Conservative MP for Moose Jaw—Lake Centre—Lanigan (Saskatchewan)

Won his last election, in 2019, with 71% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Supply March 22nd, 2005

Mr. Speaker, I listened quite carefully to the hon. member's comments and, unfortunately, I did not hear too much on the motion. He spoke a good deal to other government programs but he did not really speak to the motion, which in effect asks the government to remove non-renewable natural resources from the equalization formula.

The government has already done this with Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia and, by doing so, it has set the national standard.

The equalization program is a national program that must be applied equally to all provinces. Hence, by consequence, it should suggest that if Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador have non-renewable natural resources removed from the equalization formula for their provinces, it should be equal and the same for other provinces across Canada. However I hear that member and other members across the floor stating, no, that special circumstances require special deals. This is not what should be happening with a nationally administered program.

I would like the member opposite to explain how he can justify stating that there can be one special deal for a certain region of Canada but not the same deal for other regions of Canada.

Supply March 22nd, 2005

Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask my colleague to expand a little on what he was saying toward the end of his presentation regarding the inability of the provincial government in Saskatchewan to fully fund certain agriculture support programs like CAIS.

By my understanding, if Saskatchewan were allowed to keep 100% of its non-renewable natural resources, it would mean an estimated $800 million yearly and perhaps even higher than that. That is an enormous amount of money that could be put to the agricultural sector in our province. That is being absolutely ignored by the federal Liberal government.

I would like our member from Yorkton to expand upon that and let me know what an extra $800 million to $1 billion a year could mean if it was dedicated toward our agricultural sector.

Supply March 22nd, 2005

Mr. Speaker, I suppose it is not often that I tend to agree with the member opposite on things, but I do on one thing. I found the tone of the hon. member's presentation to be very negative and critical.

During her presentation it appeared to me she was stating that the NDP may not take a position in support of the motion. I would remind the hon. member that the NDP Premier of Saskatchewan is certainly supportive of this motion. In fact, I have met with the NDP Premier of Saskatchewan and his finance minister and we are all supportive of the removal of non-renewable natural resources from the equalization formula. I got the sense from the member's comments that the NDP, federally, may not be supportive of this motion. I find that confusing. I recall only a few short weeks ago the leader of the NDP stood in the House critical of the government on this very issue and showed his support for the removal of non-renewable natural resources.

What is the NDP's position?

Supply March 22nd, 2005

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I believe there have been consultations among all parties and that you would find unanimous consent for the following motion. I move:

That today's supply day motion standing in the name of the member for Regina--Lumsden--Lake Centre and seconded by the member for Prince Albert be amended to be seconded by the member for Blackstrap.

Supply March 22nd, 2005

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Finance talked about the Saskatchewan net to GDP ratio of approximately 25%. My information has it at about 34%. I wonder if the minister could confirm that.

He talked about the payments last year to Saskatchewan of $710 million, but he failed to recognize that there was also an equalization adjustment of $223 million, in effect clawing that money back. Therefore, the net to Saskatchewan was not $710 million.

I stated several reasons why I believe that non-renewable natural resources should be removed from the formula. There are many more which I will not get into now because of time, but one of the indices which I think is a true indicator of the net fiscal capacity or the net worth of a province is what I mentioned earlier, and that is the net per capita fiscal capacity. It shows that in 2003 Saskatchewan was the third worst in Canada with under $20,000.

Provinces such as Manitoba and Quebec had a higher net per capita fiscal capacity, yet they were receiving an enormous amount of money more than Saskatchewan. Projected for 2005-06, Manitoba which has a higher net per capita fiscal capacity than Saskatchewan is going to receive $1.6 billion. Quebec will receive $4.8 billion. Saskatchewan will receive only $82 million. I wonder how the minister can justify this as being fair to Saskatchewan.

Supply March 22nd, 2005

Mr. Speaker, I would ask my colleague to further explain a comment he made during his presentation about the differences between Saskatchewan and its fiscal capacity and some of the other provinces. It appears to me that in Saskatchewan the net per capita fiscal capacity is about the third lowest in Canada. Newfoundland and Labrador, I understand, is the lowest, but Saskatchewan is the third lowest.

Provinces like Manitoba and Quebec, and others of course, have a higher net per capita fiscal capacity, yet my understanding is that in the upcoming year Manitoba will be receiving approximately $1.6 billion in equalization payments, Quebec will be receiving $4.8 billion in equalization payments and Saskatchewan will be receiving only $82 million. I see some inequities there. I wonder if the member could expand upon that.

Supply March 22nd, 2005

Mr. Speaker, it is truly a pleasure to rise in this assembly today to speak to the motion because equalization is truly a unique Canadian program.

First conceived in 1956 and implemented in 1957, which as we know was coincidental with Newfoundland entering Confederation, this is a program that treats all Canadian provinces equally, in terms of wealth distribution. In fact, the program was designed to allow all provinces to have the ability, in relative terms, to offer the same basic programs and benefits to its citizens at relatively the same tax rate. In other words, the way the program works is to allow the have provinces, or the more wealthy provinces, the ability to assist financially those provinces who are considered to be have not, or poorer, provinces.

This is a very complicated program, and probably in Canada there is no more than a handful of people who actually understand the formula that goes into designing the equalization program. However, suffice it to say there are approximately 33 revenues bases that comprise this program. Out of those 33 revenue bases, 11 of them deal with non-renewable natural resources.

What we are asking today in this motion is that the non-renewable natural resources should be removed from the equalization formula.

Before I go on, Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time today with the hon. member for Prince Albert.

There are many reasons why we feel that non-renewable natural resources should be removed from the equalization formula, but I only will deal with two or three of them. I think that will illustrate exactly why the current formula is flawed.

First, right now it is almost a disincentive for many provinces to develop their non-renewable natural resources. The reason for that is quite simple.

Currently, under the formula, provinces are clawed back or taxed back on revenue derived from natural resource development, and I will make most of my comments designed around what is happening in Saskatchewan because I am far more familiar with my home province. We have the perverse situation where for every dollar that Saskatchewan receives from oil and gas revenue in past years, the government has clawed back or taxed back over 100% of the revenue. In other words, if we get $1.00 from an oil and gas sale, the government has taxed Saskatchewan anywhere from $1.03 to $1.08 in previous years. That is just perverse. It should not be allowed to happen.

There is no incentive for provinces to fully develop their non-renewable natural resources if they realize that the more money they make off natural resources, the more money the government will claw back. That program is deeply flawed and should be amended.

We have seen in years past, particularly in the year 2001-02, situations in Saskatchewan where the government has clawed back certain revenues from oil and gas exploration as much as 200%. Other provinces, particularly the Atlantic provinces of Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia, which cut a separate deal with the government, will only be clawed back up to 70%.

However, in Saskatchewan, particularly, the money that we gain from oil and gas revenues and all non-renewable natural resource revenues should be reinvested back into the province.

In Saskatchewan about 85% to 90% of all our oil and gas reserves are still in the ground. It is very difficult to get oil, particularly heavy oil, out of the ground. Saskatchewan has been an industry leader, with some new innovations such as horizontal drilling. Now we are looking at new and innovative ways to get oil out of the ground by pumping carbon dioxide into the ground, which ends up trapping itself but allowing more oil and gas to come to the surface. That requires an incredible amount of reinvestment in the province to employ these types of technologies and to employ the research and development required. However, how can we do that if the government is taking at least $1.00 to $1.03 for every $1.00 we gain from revenue? This should not be allowed to happen.

Second, I believe there is a very strong economic argument that suggests that oil and gas, non-renewable natural resources, should not be included in the equalization formula. I would like to frame this in the sense of a business model.

If I were a business owner and had a capital asset that I wanted to sell, converted that capital asset in my company into a cash asset, it would not show up on my income statement. It simply would be a balance sheet transaction. The income from my business is from the sale of my primary products. If I owned a shoe store, I would get my income and my profit and loss would be determined by the amount of shoes I sold. However, if I just converted a capital asset into a cash asset, that would not be considered income. It would be a balance sheet transaction.

What the government is doing with oil and gas, which should be considered a capital asset and when sold converted into a cash asset, is treating it as income. That is not the way the equalization program should work.

The economic indices and the tax revenue bases which compromise the economic argument for equalization suggest that revenue bases such as taxation, whether they be corporate, sales or personal, are the types of revenue bases which should determine the fiscal capacity or the net worth of a province. The government should not be allowed to take a capital asset that is converted into a cash asset and say that proves the net worth or the fiscal capacity of a province.

Finally, one of the most overwhelming arguments for why non-renewable natural resources should be removed from the equalization formula is the recent history with the new deal, the Atlantic accord, signed by the government with the provinces of Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia.

I absolutely believe that the Prime Minister and the Minister of Finance did the right thing. It was a matter of fairness. They recognized that these provinces needed to keep 100% of their oil and gas reserves. They cut a deal, signed an accord and allowed these provinces to keep that money.

While I believe in the inherent fairness of that deal, I also believe, as the name suggests, that the formula for equalization should be equally applied to every province and territory in Canada. In other words, I do not believe the government can make one deal with one or two provinces and not apply the same deal to other provinces across Canada. The formula fundamentally must be the same. We must have the same equity, the same formula applicable to all provinces. We cannot go into a situation where the government says that it will treat one province differently than another. This is equalization and the same equalization formula must be applied to all provinces.

While I believe that Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia were treated fairly, I urge the government to give the same consideration to Saskatchewan.

I was born and raised in Saskatchewan and I will probably die in Saskatchewan. I love my province. I absolutely know one thing and that is the Minister of Finance loves Saskatchewan as well.

Saskatchewan people are some of the most honest, industrious, hard-working and optimistic people in Canada. We have faced our share of adversity over the years, starting with the dirty thirties and most recently with the drought and the frost situation affecting our farmers. However, one thing the Saskatchewan people have never done is complained unnecessarily. Unlike the comments of some of the members opposite who seem to categorize Saskatchewan people as whiners and complainers, all Saskatchewan people want is to have a fair deal.

That is why I urge all members of the House, when the vote takes place tonight, to recognize that in issues of fairness across the board everyone should vote in support of this motion without equivocation, without compromise and without exception.

Supply March 22nd, 2005

moved:

That the House call upon the government to immediately extend the expanded benefits of the recent Atlantic Accord to all of the provinces since the existing equalization claw-back on non-renewable resource revenues severely curtails the future prosperity of Canada by punishing the regions where the economy is built on a non-renewable resource base.

Airline Industry March 11th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, we are not talking about government protection here. We are just talking about high airport rents. We warned the government time and time again about the problems associated with high airport rents, but the government dithers and does nothing.

Jetsgo is the tenth airline in the last dozen years to fail. This government is doing absolutely nothing for the airline industry and it is also failing Canadians. Will the minister take action today, reduce rents and give our airlines a fighting chance?

Airline Industry March 11th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, today we have learned of another example of Liberal incompetence. Jetsgo announced it is grounding its fleet, and one of the main reasons for it doing so is high airport rents.

Thousands of Canadian travellers are literally left out in the cold because of this government's mishandling of this file. When will the government stop dithering, reduce airport rents and show some action by letting our airline industry in this country remain competitive?