House of Commons photo

Elsewhere

Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was public.

Last in Parliament October 2019, as Independent MP for Parry Sound—Muskoka (Ontario)

Won his last election, in 2015, with 43% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Fisheries Act June 12th, 2018

Madam Speaker, the member for Haldimand—Norfolk is right. One has to ask oneself what the reason is for a piece of legislation. Surely that is the first thing we do in government when we are tackling an issue. What are we trying to fix? Here we are debating the bill this evening, and it is fixing nothing and actually making the situation far worse.

I would say to the hon. member for Haldimand—Norfolk that this is exactly what is wrong with the Liberals' approach to these issues. They are trying to fix problems that do not exist, and quite frankly, are wasting the time of this place so they can do their touchy-feely good stuff, but it will actually have no impact, except a poor impact, on the people of Canada.

Fisheries Act June 12th, 2018

Madam Speaker, it is an honour to be speaking in the House of Commons this evening as we continue debate on Bill C-68. I am sure there will be more commentary as the night proceeds into the middle of the night and then late night, perhaps even early morning. Who knows in this place. It is an honour to serve the constituents of Parry Sound—Muskoka, regardless of the hour of the day. I am sure all colleagues feel the same about their ridings.

We are debating Bill C-68, which aspires to protect our oceans and fisheries. I believe all members of the chamber would want to do this. The issue is whether it does something meaningful in that regard. The answer is a resounding no.

As my colleague from Calgary just mentioned, there were extensive changes to the Fisheries Act under the previous government to ensure our fisheries were protected, and yet at the same time, it was much more user friendly for Canadians. It was important for economic development and it was also ridding the previous legislation of a nuisance factor, where every ditch all of a sudden became a protected area for fish that were too numerous to count.

Clearly, it was overreach in the pre-existing legislation, which the legislation of the previous Conservative government sought to remedy. Now we find ourselves again, with the Liberal government now in its third year, regurgitating legislation simply because there were changes made under the previous Conservative government. I am sure there is no ill will on the opposite side, but I tend to wonder whether the Liberals are simply trying to reinvent the wheel and put their own stamp on legislative priorities.

What happens with legislation like this is that it makes the situation worse for economic development. It makes it worse in trying to balance protecting fish habitat and at the same time moving forward in our communities. That is what we have with Bill C-68.

There are a number of things here. The bill seems to undermine transparency and due process by allowing the minister to withhold critical information from interested proponents. It goes against the Prime Minister's oft stated commitment in national and international fora to openness and transparency.

Let us talk about that for a few minutes. This is a constant theme of the government, that it is more open, more transparent, that the Liberals are the ones who cornered the market on openness and transparency. However, when we look at the record of the government, it is far from that.

In its 2015 platform, the Liberals said that they would fix the Access to Information Act. There was delay upon delay, and finally the President of the Treasury Board stood in his place and said that the government would have a two-pronged approach, that it would pick the fruit that it could pick first, and then it would leave the more difficult issues until later. That was denounced by the Information Commissioner, who had been waiting all these years for changes to the Access to Information Act. It was basically a big disaster for the government because it was not following through on its promises.

There has been a lack of transparency to the Parliamentary Budget Officer, and that is important. The Parliamentary Budget Officer is the person who works for the House, for Parliament, in analyzing the budgetary priorities of the government of the day. I will admit, when we were in government, and I was president of the Treasury Board, it was not exactly pleasant in this place for the Parliamentary Budget Officer to examine and be a pair of eyes over our shoulders.

It is not the most pleasant thing for politicians or bureaucrats, but at the same time, it is necessary. It is necessary for the proper functioning of this place to have that oversight. Because the executive has so much power under our parliamentary system, it is good to have that pair of eyes reporting to Parliament and reporting to the public on issues about budgetary priorities and the true cost of things.

The Parliamentary Budget Officer has been complaining about the lack of information given by the Liberal government. I know that governing is hard. I was there. What I find offensive, perhaps, disconcerting certainly, is when the government and Liberal politicians promise openness and transparency and deliver precisely the opposite, to the detriment of Canadians, and certainly the opposite of what they promised while campaigning in 2015.

In Bill C-68, there is a provision for advisory panels, but no guidance, no limitation, on how they would be used. What are the rights of citizens when we have these advisory panels? What are the property rights of citizens when we have these advisory panels? How do we balance these advisory panels with local interests and local knowledge? The bill is silent. I wish I knew the answer to that before I voted on this bill, but the answer is not forthcoming from the government of the day.

As I mentioned and the previous speaker from Calgary mentioned, there were amendments on these issues back in 2012 that received royal assent and came into force in November 2013. There was a proper balance between protecting fish and fish habitat and measuring the economic and social value so that fish and fish habitat that were at risk would get the protection they needed. However, this was not the case in every case. Not every fish in our environment needs protection. I hope this is not a politically incorrect thing to say.

In some places in our country, I would say to the audience watching television, there are a multitude of fish, and there are protections for them, but we do not need the uber-protections of the federal government deciding that it knows better than local people how to protect the fish in their environment. That is why it was important to have that balance.

Now that balance is gone, and alas, we are in a situation of debating this lamentable bill, which is just another way for the Liberal government to show the world how wonderful it is and how it understands fish habitat and the environment. However, what we are going to get is the national government deciding on fish in a ditch. This is ludicrous. This is the old, oft-used Shakespearean phrase, “The law is an ass.”

On this side of the House, we want to stand for common sense. We want to protect the fish environments that need to be protected, but we are not here just to create laws for the sake of creating laws. I know that the Canadian Electricity Association has said that this bill is two steps back. It is concerned that we are back to the pre-2012 provisions. In practical terms, this makes life tougher for its members.

On this side of the House, we will continue, as Conservatives, to represent and work with the fishers, the farmers, and the industry groups to make sure that their concerns are heard and to make sure that fish are protected but that our economy can move forward. That is why I am a Conservative, and that is why I oppose this bill.

Public Services and Procurement June 7th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, these partisan attacks do not change the facts on the ground. We are proud of our procurement record, which includes five C-17 Globemasters, 17 C-130 Hercules, 15 Chinook helicopters; and we initiated the contract for the Asterix interim supply ship, which, by the way, was on time and on budget despite the best efforts of the Liberals to kill that deal. We will put our record against their record any day of the week.

How is it possible for those incompetent Liberals to mess it up so badly when it comes to military procurement?

Impact Assessment Act June 6th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, I do concede that there has been some investment in renewable energy, and that is, of course, a good thing. Certainly, if business leaders see that as a growth area, far be it for me to second guess that.

However, the fact of the matter is that there has been a lot of uncertainty in the Canadian marketplace, which has seen a disproportionate number of companies fleeing it because of the uncertainty and red tape over the last couple of years. That point is undeniable. When we see a 70% drop in a two-year period of that kind of investment in Canada, that is not a worldwide trend. There is no worldwide 70% drop.

It is clear that it is the actions of the current government and its policies, of its saying one thing and doing something very different, that have caused this crisis in natural resources development. It can be a sustainable development, but not when the government puts so many onerous preconditions on this kind of development.

Impact Assessment Act June 6th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, that is an important question. I am not diminishing the question in the least, but it is a bit of a red herring. In no part of my speech did I say “no regulation” and in no part of my remarks did I say “under-regulation”. Of course, we have to protect our natural environment. That is part of our duty as citizens of this great country, and of the planet.

However, let me get back to my point. This bill promises to do something that will not happen. Liberals say that we can protect the environment and increase economic growth, and yet this bill will make it tougher, and it will take longer to get legitimate projects through the system. It is because of ministerial discretion, not because of science or some highfalutin principle.

It will be the cabinet that will be able to slow things down. That is a major point of contention in this bill.

Impact Assessment Act June 6th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to rise in the House. It is late in the evening, but it is good to see members of the House here to debate this very important issue. I am delighted that I am following the member for Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge, because I was in his wonderful community just last week. He may have been aware of that.

I had a wonderful session with the local chamber of commerce, as well as other constituents of his. Funnily enough, this bill never came up. Others topics came up, like this decision by the Liberals to buy a pipeline. A lot of his constituents were very concerned about the financial cost of that decision. A lot of other issues about economic growth and opportunity came up. The issue of affordability of housing came up and how the Liberal government was not addressing it. Therefore, I commend him for his constituents, but they did not talk about the same issues the hon. member has talked about this evening.

I come from Parry Sound—Muskoka. Navigable waters is an important issue in my riding as it is in many other ridings in the country. I have 8,000 lakes in my riding, as you well know, Mr. Speaker, when you drive through it, at the speed limit, on your way to your constituency. However, these issues are important. I think we can all agree in the House that we want sustainable waterways that can be used for generations to come, that we can all enjoy, that are available to citizens.

The issue is this: Is the bill helping us get to where we want to get to? We have heard a lot from the Liberal members about how wonderful the bill is, how it will make a difference. Let us look at some of the actual provisions of the bill and what they would do. When we do that, I think we will come away with a very different impression about how the rhetoric of the bill is one thing, but the actual impact of the bill is something very different.

I draw attention to the fact that the bill is riddled with ministerial exemptions that will delay development of Canada's natural resources, which has an impact on jobs and opportunity and the ability of our society to pay for the sustainability of our waterways and other environmental goals that we have. There is an extension of ministerial authority over the process. I am sure there have been comments on that at committee and at other stages of the debate of the bill.

Some environmental lawyers have opined that the bill would do nothing to enhance the environmental protections. Therefore, that is a significant flaw. That is not just a minor amendment issue. It goes to the heart, to the pith and substance, as we used to say, of the bill. That in itself is a reason for a second thought on it. When Governor in Council and ministerial exemptions can be exercised, this slows down approvals.

I have heard the hon. members on the other side say that we should not worry, that everything will be fine, that they will get approvals through, that they will protect the environment. However, that is not the way it works when we look at the legislation. The ability of the Governor in Council—that is to say the cabinet, the executive council of the government—to slow down the process is very clear.

The addition of the planning process and the associated timelines means that the overall review process is actually longer than what it was under the prior legislation. It will take longer to get a decision. Things will be slower. Red tape will be strangling. That is not good. That certainly is not good for the economy. It actually goes against the idea that we, as a civil society, have the means by which we can come to a negotiated solution to protect our waterways. The government always says it wants economic growth and development. This is a case where it is making it tougher to get the economic growth and development it claims it wants.

This is an issue. With the addition of a joint panel requirement, the end result will be more panels than before. More projects will have longer timelines.

We on this side of the House, in the Conservative Party, do not see an appropriate and sage balance between environmental protection and economic growth. That is the mantra of the government, but when we look at the bill, we are not getting that proper balance. We are in a competitive situation. We know that other jurisdictions are not waiting for Canada to get its act together. They are trying to be more competitive. They are trying to lower taxes and regulation for their citizens to increase economic growth and opportunity, particularly for young people, but this bill is going 180° in the opposite direction.

I know that the government is committed to investing over $1 billion over five years for the new Canadian energy regulator, but, again, we have not heard from government members on how this money will be spent. Where are the details for us, as legislators, to understand how that money will be spent to actually help the new Canadian energy regulator? As I have said, we are quite worried that this would decrease Canadian economic competitiveness without increasing environmental protection. That is the key problem I find with this piece of legislation.

We know that it is part of our responsibilities as members of Parliament to seek out sound economic and environmental policies and to make sure that one is not at the expense of the other. This does not have to be a zero-sum game. On this side of the House, we understand that increased prosperity does lead to better environmental outcomes.

In 2016, Canada's natural resources sector accounted for 16% of economic activity here in Canada and 38% of our non-residential capital investment, but what will kill that is regulatory uncertainty, red tape. That is what has been happening, to an exponential degree, over the last couple of years, to such an extent that Canadian energy investment has declined in the past two years more than in any other two-year period in the last 70 years. I think another hon. member mentioned an elephant in the room. This is the elephant in the room, and this is why this bill is not a solution to Canada's problems.

We urge the government to champion Canadian energy projects and provide regulatory certainty, predictability, and clarity to ensure the viability of these major projects. There are lots of assurances and rhetoric that go with this bill, but we have no real assurance that future projects of national and, indeed, local significance can and would proceed. It does build, unfortunately, on the growing Liberal record of increasing red tape and over-regulation.

On this side of the House, Canada's Conservatives will continue to stand against onerous regulations that destroy jobs, destroy economic growth, and lower our global competitiveness. We will continue to stand for the taxpayer, for the citizen, for the average person who seeks a better life in this country, and for growth and opportunity in Canada, because that is the solution to any environmental challenges. That is the solution for economic growth in the future.

Taiwan June 5th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, as the World Health Assembly meetings concluded last week, I rise to call for Taiwan to be included once again in all World Health Organization events moving forward. I believe that the enjoyment of good health is a universal right of every human being, which is why I successfully lobbied for Taiwan's inclusion in WHO events during my term as minister of health.

Epidemics know no borders. Taiwan's absence from the WHO creates a significant gap in global co-operation on public health safety and disease prevention. Taiwan hosts 60,000 Canadians on its soil, so any outbreak of infectious diseases, such as SARS in 2003, would affect Taiwanese as well as Canadians living in the country.

It is morally wrong for any country or organization to ignore the health and well-being of the 23 million Taiwanese people and prevent them from sharing health information. Therefore, I call upon the Minister of Health to end her silence and to start to advocate for the inclusion of Taiwan in the World Health Assembly.

Budget Implementation Act, 2018, No. 1 April 16th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, I want the member to drill just a bit deeper on infrastructure. During an election campaign and then in budget after budget the government promised the infrastructure. Where is the infrastructure? The infrastructure will ensure we have more Chinese billionaires in the belt and road initiative, but where is the infrastructure for Canada?

Birthday Wishes March 20th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to send happy 70th birthday wishes to Mr. Bobby Orr. In my riding of Parry Sound—Muskoka, there is no debate that he is the greatest hockey player to ever lace them up.

From an early age, it was evident that Bobby was a phenom. In rinks across Ontario, young Bobby would glide with ease from one end of the rink to the other, scoring goals for the Parry Sound Shamrocks at will, a scene that would be replayed many more times throughout his Hall of Fame career.

While his hockey career is known to many Canadians, they may not know that his hockey prowess is also matched by his great generosity and humanity. He has given so much back to Canada and his hometown of Parry Sound, including his annual youth awards, which I have had the honour of attending many times.

I call on hockey fans in the House today and across Canada to join me in wishing number four, Bobby Orr, a happy 70th birthday.

Business of Supply February 26th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, I find it passing strange that the parliamentary secretary is explaining how much his government respects public servants and allows them to do their jobs. However, in the Atwal case, which involved inviting a terrorist assassin to a dinner, which the Liberal government did, the first thing the government did was throw the public servants under the bus. Where is the respect there?

However, my question for the hon. member is about the issue at hand. The Auditor General's report made it very clear that the Liberal government ignored the warnings. The Liberal government did not respond to the warnings for months. The Liberal government had no governing mechanism to deal with this issue for months and months. How can the hon. member stand in his place and say that it is all somebody else's fault when the Liberals ignored the warnings, did not set up the system to deal with the warnings, and now everybody is further into the mess on this?