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View Mark Strahl Profile
CPC (BC)
View Mark Strahl Profile
2013-06-13 10:16 [p.18265]
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Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise on behalf of the constituents of Chilliwack—Fraser Canyon to present three petitions.
The first petition calls for increased penalties for impaired driving.
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View Mark Strahl Profile
CPC (BC)
View Mark Strahl Profile
2013-06-13 10:16 [p.18265]
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Mr. Speaker, the second petition is regarding cluster munitions.
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View Mark Strahl Profile
CPC (BC)
View Mark Strahl Profile
2013-06-13 10:16 [p.18265]
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Mr. Speaker, I also have hundreds of signatories to a petition calling on this House to condemn discrimination against females occurring through sex-selective pregnancy termination.
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View Mark Strahl Profile
CPC (BC)
View Mark Strahl Profile
2013-06-13 15:50 [p.18311]
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Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to be sharing my time with the member for Northumberland—Quinte West. It is particularly apropos to be doing so. He is a former police officer who has served in remote northern communities, as many members in the Conservative caucus have. I believe there are 14 former police officers in our caucus, among them are the member for Northumberland—Quinte West, the member for Kootenay—Columbia, the member for Yukon, the Minister of International Cooperation. All of them have served this country well. They have put their lives on the line to protect ours. They certainly have the on-the-ground experience which the member for Churchill was just referring to, so I will certainly take my lead from the member for Northumberland—Quinte West and look forward to his speech.
I appreciate the opportunity to talk about this important issue. This is a piece of legislation that concerns cracking down on the illegal trafficking of contraband tobacco. Like most Canadians, unfortunately, members of my family have been touched by cancer as a result of smoking tobacco. My grandfather died at the age of 57 after having taken up smoking when he joined the air force in World War II. He smoked for 40 years and he was taken away from my family far too soon. My wife's aunt just passed away this last year. It was the same situation. For 40 years she was addicted to cigarettes. It took her from our family far sooner than we would have liked.
We need to continue our efforts to convince Canadians that smoking is a bad thing in all its forms and that contraband tobacco is particularly nefarious. Not only does it contain all the negative factors associated with smoking, but it also deprives the government, which has to look after people who become ill from smoking cigarettes, of tax revenue. I heard a colleague in the NDP mention the figure of $2 billion a year. The member for Churchill, another NDP member, also mentioned the lack of revenue being a key concern when dealing with contraband tobacco. That is where I am going to focus my speech.
Contraband tobacco is not only illegal, but it is detrimental to the health and safety of Canadians. In addition, as I said, the trafficking of contraband tobacco deprives the government of important revenue that is earned through the sale of legal tobacco products, revenue that helps fund programs aimed at stopping the use of tobacco, particularly among youth, and that funds health care for those who need it.
As I said, I am going to focus my comments today on what our government is doing to protect government revenues and the Canadian tax base. Since coming to office in 2006, our government has taken a number of steps to improve the integrity of the Canadian tax system and make it stronger and fairer for all Canadians. In an uncertain global environment, the most important contribution the government can make to help create jobs, growth and long-term prosperity is to maintain a sound fiscal position. Managing tax dollars wisely ensures sustainable public services and low taxes for Canadian families and businesses.
Our government is committed to responsible fiscal management, which includes returning to balanced budgets in the medium term. Also, we are controlling spending. It also includes continuing to enhance the integrity of the tax system to ensure that everyone pays their fair share of taxes. Such actions help keep taxes low for Canadian families and businesses, thereby improving incentives to work, save and invest right here in Canada.
In past budgets, our government adopted tough rules to close tax loopholes and prevent a select few businesses and individuals from avoiding taxes. Since 2006, including measures proposed in economic action plan 2013, the government has introduced over 75 measures to improve the integrity of the tax system. Economic action plan 2013, in fact, takes several important steps to improve the integrity of our tax system and to close tax loopholes. The measures include strengthening compliance with the law, and fighting international tax evasion and aggressive tax avoidance.
In economic action plan 2013, our government announced a new stop international tax evasion program, which would enable the Canada Revenue Agency to pay individuals with knowledge of major international tax non-compliance a percentage of tax collected as a result of information they provide.
We would require certain financial intermediaries, including banks, to report their clients' international electronic fund transfers of $10,000 or more to the CRA. In addition, we propose new reporting requirements for Canadian taxpayers with foreign income or properties and have streamlined the process for obtaining information concerning unnamed persons from third parties, such as banks.
Again, this speaks to our desire to make sure that everyone is paying a fair share and not skipping out on tax bills or using aggressive tax avoidance schemes. We are doing our best as part of our effort to get back to a balanced budget in the medium term, and this is part of our plan to do that. Fighting things like contraband tobacco and the loss of revenues through contraband tobacco will help us meet that goal.
In May of this year, our government announced a $30 million investment to target international tax evasion and aggressive tax avoidance.
This investment includes new resources of $15 million through economic action plan 2013 to establish the necessary systems for the CRA to receive reports from banks and other financial intermediaries on international electronic fund transfers of $10,000 or more, and an additional $15 million in reallocated CRA funds that will be used to bring in new audit and compliance resources dedicated exclusively to issues of international compliance and revenue collection that were identified as a result of measures outlined in our last budget.
To ensure that these activities move forward quickly, the government announced the creation of a dedicated team of CRA experts responsible for the implementation of the international tax evasion and aggressive tax avoidance measures announced in that budget. It would ensure that the full force of the agency's international compliance and auditing resources are brought to bear on individuals or businesses seeking to hide money or assets offshore.
Again, a key part of this bill is to ensure that are we cracking down on the organized crime that uses contraband tobacco as a revenue source and deprives the Government of Canada of a revenue source as well.
I will give a bit more background on what Bill S-16 does.
First of all, the bill fulfills a platform commitment. In 2011, our government made a commitment to establish a mandatory jail time for repeat offenders. Bill S-16 would bring amendments to the Criminal Code to establish a new offence of trafficking in contraband tobacco, with mandatory jail time for second and subsequent convictions.
It is important that we send the message that if one is going to break the law, one would not get repeated slaps on the wrist and be allowed to walk away and treat the justice system as a joke. There will be real penalties. The primary target of this new offence is organized crime and those who are involved in the trafficking of contraband tobacco in large volumes.
The definition of trafficking would include sale, offer for sale, possession for the purposes of sale, transportation, distribution and delivery of contraband tobacco. The penalty for the first offence would be up to six months of imprisonment on summary conviction and up to five years of imprisonment if prosecuted on indictment.
The bill also proposes that repeat offenders convicted of this new offence on indictment would be sentenced to a mandatory minimum penalty of 90 days on a second conviction, 180 days on a third conviction and two years less a day for any subsequent convictions.
We are taking action and fulfilling our campaign promises. We are targeting organized crime and working to ensure that the revenues would be going into government coffers at all levels to promote smoking cessation programs, reach out to our youth and fund health care and other services that we have grown to rely on. An important part of maintaining those important services is passing this bill and cracking down on contraband tobacco.
I urge all members of this House to support the bill.
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View Mark Strahl Profile
CPC (BC)
View Mark Strahl Profile
2013-06-13 16:00 [p.18312]
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Mr. Speaker, obviously we work not only with our partners at all levels of government but also with the RCMP and our international partners as well to tackle this important issue.
If the member refers to the speech of the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Safety, she will see that the parliamentary secretary gave a comprehensive analysis of the work we have done with the cross-border group and U.S. authorities to ensure that we are able to respond when there is suspicion of smuggling of goods or suspicion that contraband tobacco may be crossing an international border.
Certainly that is something we are aware of and something we are working on proactively. I hope we can count on the hon. member's support when we bring forward measures to tackle that sort of activity.
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View Mark Strahl Profile
CPC (BC)
View Mark Strahl Profile
2013-06-13 16:02 [p.18312]
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Mr. Speaker, our spending to promote government initiatives is much lower than the last year of Liberal government. We have also increased our spending on health transfers. It will be up to $40 billion by the end of this decade. Members can contrast that with the Liberal Party record of cutting $25 billion in health and social transfers.
Young Canadians know the dangers of smoking, but we need to reach out to them where they live. The way we could do that is at the local, provincial and local school board levels. Those are the levels that are going to reach out with an individual plan that will work best for those communities. To have a one-size-fits-all approach from Ottawa is not the best way to do it.
We have given an unprecedented level of resources to the provinces to deal with education and health care. They are in the best position to direct those dollars.
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View Mark Strahl Profile
CPC (BC)
View Mark Strahl Profile
2013-06-13 16:04 [p.18313]
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Mr. Speaker, when we were talking about young people, both of the individuals I referred to started smoking early in their teens, and it led to tragically shortened lives. One of the things that we know affects youth smoking rates is the cost of cigarettes and whether they are available at a cheap rate.
The Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Safety pointed out that one-third of the cigarette butts found at Ontario high schools are contraband. The reason is that young people generally cannot afford to pay for regulated tobacco products, so they look to a cheaper product.
Contraband tobacco is actually targeting our young people. It makes it easier for them to get into this highly addictive and deadly habit. We need to stop the supply of contraband tobacco, which will reduce youth smoking going forward.
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View Mark Strahl Profile
CPC (BC)
View Mark Strahl Profile
2013-06-10 14:15 [p.17970]
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Mr. Speaker, while our Conservative government celebrated a milestone of over one million net new jobs created since July 2009, the NDP deputy leader was in New York at Left Forum 2013, a conference committed to addressing the destructive nature of capitalism's inherent drive to growth.
Left Forum included seminars entitled: anti-capitalist strategies and imaginaries, taking socialism seriously, and discussions on Israel's deadly economy and the Palestinian right to return. Attendees were also treated to a series of anti-development seminars including one entitled, the necessity of direct action to prevent expansion of oil and gas infrastructure.
Despite the NDP leader's efforts to distance himself from the word “socialism”, his deputy leader has once again reminded Canadians of the NDP's anti-capitalist, anti-Israel and anti-development roots. While the NDP members pontificate on anti-capitalist strategies to kill jobs, Canadians can rest assured that every time our Conservative government travels abroad, it is to promote jobs, growth and long-term prosperity.
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View Mark Strahl Profile
CPC (BC)
View Mark Strahl Profile
2013-06-06 16:30 [p.17840]
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Mr. Speaker, it is always entertaining when that member rises to his feet and speaks about just about anything but the bill in front of us. He did that again today.
The member talked about lip service. He asked us to do the math. We have some math here. Between 2006 and 2014, approximately $3 billion will be invested to support first nations communities in managing their water and waste water infrastructure. In 2011-12 alone, there were 402 major and minor first nations water and waste water infrastructure projects, with 286 more planned for this fiscal year.
The hon. member talked a lot, but not about Bill S-8. He talked about the lack of funding, when there has actually been $3 billion. He talked about a lack of projects, when there have been 600, approaching 700 projects.
Perhaps the member could reconcile the facts with the rhetoric in his speech.
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View Mark Strahl Profile
CPC (BC)
View Mark Strahl Profile
2013-06-06 16:40 [p.17842]
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Mr. Speaker, it is indeed a pleasure to participate in this debate today. I want to say at the outset that I will be splitting my time with the hon. member for Edmonton Centre.
Just this morning we saw the results of the good work of the Conservative government when it comes to working with first nations people. We were in the aboriginal affairs committee discussing the Yale First Nation Final Agreement, which involved Chief Robert Hope of the Yale First Nation, the Government of Canada and the Government of B.C. I am hopeful that will move ahead quickly. We saw how it can work when we work together. Certainly, I want to congratulate the Yale First Nation in my riding of Chilliwack—Fraser Canyon for all its hard work over 20 years at the table and finally getting the resolution they have been seeking with their treaty.
I am here today to talk about Bill S-8, the safe drinking water for first nations act. I believe this is an act that fully deserves the support of all colleagues in the House. The proposed legislation would address the serious problem of chronic unsafe drinking water in many first nations through an innovative and collaborative process, which is the key. The proposed process would have first nations work alongside government officials to design and implement regulatory regimes.
A starting point for this work would be the regulations that currently apply to communities adjacent to first nations, which is good common sense. More precisely, this means reviewing provincial or territorial regulations and adapting them to recognize the particular circumstances of first nations communities. We certainly recognize that an Ottawa-based, one-size-fits-all solution is not the solution that first nations need.
Members of this House need to recognize that currently no legally enforceable drinking water and waste water regulations exist for first nations on reserve. This is simply unacceptable. Regulations provide the framework for safe drinking water and waste water systems. They are essential because they map out clear lines of responsibility for each of the many steps required to safeguard water quality, such as source protection, regular quality testing and close adherence to established standards and protocols for water treatment and distribution. This is why regulations are essential for first nations communities. We must safeguard the drinking water for first nations members.
In essence, Bill S-8 is enabling legislation, as the member for Peace River, the chairman of the aboriginal affairs committee, stated earlier. It would authorize regulatory regimes developed through the collaborative process that I have just described. The proposed legislation does not dictate what the regimes must contain.
Unfortunately, some critics have chosen to misinterpret this approach and portray the bill instead as an effort by the Government of Canada to offload some of its liabilities. A closer look at the issue, however, reveals that this is simply not the case.
The truth is that collaboratively developed regulations would clarify the roles and responsibilities of all parties, including chiefs, band councils, water operators, and federal departments and agencies. The Government of Canada has no plan to offload or download its responsibilities to first nations, or to provinces and municipalities for that matter. Bill S-8 aims to engage as many stakeholders as possible in the design and implementation of regulatory regimes that protect the safety of drinking water.
Collaboration has been a defining characteristic of our government's efforts to resolve the issue of first nations access to safe drinking water since the very beginning. Seven years ago, the Government of Canada and the Assembly of First Nations agreed upon a joint plan of action. For instance, both partners appointed members to the expert panel that reviewed regulatory options. Although the panel did not recommend a particular option, it did lay out the benefits and limitation of various options. The panel's final report repeatedly emphasized the need for ongoing collaboration.
Here is an excerpt from that report:
The federal government and First Nations partners should take steps to pare away bureaucracy, collaborate with provinces on tri-partite harmonization, and both simplify and update procurement procedures. Over time, First Nations should take on an increasing share of the activities directly related to planning, procuring and gaining approval for plants.
Bill S-8 proposes to follow the expert panel's advice by authorizing regulations developed with the direct input of first nations and designed to meet the particular needs and circumstances of their communities. The government's approach with Bill S-8 effectively rejects other options that have been considered in the past, such as imposing a single federal regime or merely incorporating provincial and territorial regulations without adaptation. These one-size-fits-all approaches are attractive because they should make it easier and faster to establish regulations and assign responsibilities, but these approaches could never reconcile the significant differences that exist among first nations communities. The truth is that we believe the best solution is to design and implement regulations by working directly with first nations and other stakeholders. This is a bottom-up rather than top-down exercise.
To get a sense of what the process might look like, I draw the attention of the House to an effort led by the Atlantic Policy Congress of First Nations Chiefs Secretariat. Known as the APC, this advocacy and policy group comprises representatives from more than 30 first nations located in the Atlantic provinces. For the last few years, the APC has been studying regulatory options for drinking water.
Representatives of the APC described this work to the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development on May 23. Mr. John Paul, APC's executive director, said the organization appreciates that drinking water is ultimately a health and safety issue. Here is an excerpt of his testimony. He said:
We need to own whatever regulations come out of this, and we need to believe that they're workable and to figure out exactly what we need to do on the human resources side, the governance, and all of those different things.
In an effort to take ownership of regulations, the APC contracted one of Canada's most qualified experts in drinking water, Dr. Graham Gagnon, director of the Centre for Water Resources Studies at Dalhousie University. With Dr. Gagnon's help, the APC has developed a list of the technical benchmarks that could provide the basis for a regulatory regime. Perhaps more significantly, however, the APC and Dr. Gagnon have been working on a new approach to regulating the safety of first nations drinking water. The approach would involve a regional first nation water authority. The authority would be similar to those that other communities in Canada use to help govern public utilities and post-secondary education institutions.
Here is how Dr. Gagnon described the proposed authority to the standing committee:
Implementation of a first nations regional water authority would enable coordinated decision-making, maximize efficiencies of resource allocation, and establish a professionally based organization that would be in the best position to oversee activities related to drinking water and waste water disposal. This would, on a day-to-day basis, transfer liability away from chiefs and councils, and pass it to a technical group.
That is very important. He said this would, on a day-to-day basis, transfer liability away from chiefs and councils and pass it to a technical group. As the quote indicates, the creation of a first nations-owned authority could be a valuable part of the solution, at least for Atlantic first nations. APC continues to investigate this option.
It is impossible to say if all first nations would pursue such an approach, but the mechanism proposed in Bill S-8 would provide first nations with the opportunity to propose and develop solutions that best meet their needs and best protect their communities. As the APC's example indicated, liability would not be downloaded or offloaded to first nations but, rather, options would be developed to address the role and responsibilities of the various stakeholders by region. This collaborative approach is precisely why we should endorse the legislation before us.
Our government fully supports Mr. Paul and the APC as they develop their regulations, and we hope the opposition will realize how important this is and support Bill S-8. The bill would help us move forward and work with first nations to develop regulations that serve them well and help provide safe drinking water for first nations right across the country.
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View Mark Strahl Profile
CPC (BC)
View Mark Strahl Profile
2013-06-06 16:51 [p.17843]
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Mr. Speaker, as chance would have it—and I am not sure if the hon. member heard that speech—I did give a riveting speech on incorporation by reference of regulations just last week. I know she was there for that.
We are working closely with first nations to develop these regulations. Certainly, we have been at the table with significant funding to ensure we are providing that infrastructure for first nations, as I mentioned earlier in the debate. Between 2006 and 2014, we will have provided $3 billion in infrastructure upgrades. Since just 2007, nearly 700 projects have been undertaken to provide that critical infrastructure for first nations who do not have it.
We are going to work with the first nations. Again, the government has committed $330.8 million over two years through economic action plan 2012 to help sustain progress made to build and renovate water infrastructure on reserve.
We continue to be there, both with a collaborative approach with first nations and with financial resources to ensure we are providing first nations with the infrastructure they need.
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View Mark Strahl Profile
CPC (BC)
View Mark Strahl Profile
2013-06-06 16:54 [p.17844]
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Mr. Speaker, let me just say that I will certainly put the record of this government on delivering results for grassroots first nations people up against the record of 13 years of inaction of the previous Liberal government.
We have worked together. I mentioned that at the beginning of my speech. We worked together today and debated a treaty in committee, working together with three levels of government to deliver results. There is certainly no broken trust there.
We have also been involved in an extensive engagement with first nations on this issue since we formed government. In the summer of 2006, the expert panel held public hearings across Canada. It heard from 110 presenters. In March 2009, there was a series of engagement sessions with more than 700 participants, of which 544 were first nations. In the winter of 2009-10, we met with first nations chiefs to discuss implementation and engagement during the earlier sessions. From October 2010 until October 2011, we held without prejudice discussions with first nations organizations to address their concerns.
This is a collaborative approach. We are going to continue to work with first nations. We know that working with them will deliver results for first nations communities.
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View Mark Strahl Profile
CPC (BC)
View Mark Strahl Profile
2013-06-03 20:28 [p.17572]
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Mr. Speaker, I am sure all Conservative members appreciated that trip down memory lane where we got to learn about the Liberal government.
For 13 long years Canadians had a Liberal government. Then the Liberals went from a majority on that side of the House, down to a minority official opposition, down to the window seats at the end because they lost the trust of Canadians.
The member talked about health care. One of the things the Liberals did was cut $25 billion in health care transfers to the provinces. They downloaded those tax cuts onto the provinces.
Perhaps the member could explain for Canadians how they were so wonderful for the health care system when Canadians rejected that government, rejected its cuts to the program and indeed looked forward to our agenda at the end of this decade where we had $40 billion in health care transfers, the greatest amount ever transferred to the provinces for health care.
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View Mark Strahl Profile
CPC (BC)
View Mark Strahl Profile
2013-06-03 20:48 [p.17575]
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Mr. Speaker, it is indeed a pleasure to rise today on Bill C-60, economic action plan 2013 act, no.1.
As we know, Canada's economic action plan is working. Just this past Friday, Statistics Canada announced that the Canadian economy grew by 2.5% in the first quarter of 2013. This represents the strongest quarterly growth in nearly two years. Additionally, Statistics Canada positively revised its economic growth in the fourth quarter of 2012 up from 0.6% to 0.9%. This is the seventh straight quarter of positive growth in Canada, which is another sign that our economy is on the right track. Additionally, of the over 900,000-plus net new jobs created in Canada since the depth of the global recession, over 90% are full-time, and nearly 75% are in the private sector, which represents the best job-growth record in the entire G7.
Bill C-60 includes a number of measures that were in the economic action plan. They include reforms to the temporary foreign worker program that would ensure that Canadians are always given the first crack at available jobs. It would introduce a new temporary first-time donor super credit for first-time claimants of the charitable donations tax credit. We have reaffirmed our government's plan to proceed with the sale of Ridley Terminals in British Columbia. We would formally establish the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development to better align Canada's foreign diplomacy, trade and development efforts. We would improve benefits for Canadian veterans through changes to the war veterans allowance, which would result in over 3,100 veterans being eligible for this allowance for the first time. In addition, an estimated 5,350 veterans and survivors would benefit from the change. We would support high-quality value-added jobs in important sectors of the Canadian economy, such as manufacturing, by providing tax relief for new investments in manufacturing equipment. We would provide better support for job-creating infrastructure in municipalities across Canada by indexing the gas tax fund and would keep taxes low for hard-working Canadian families and job-creating businesses.
I want to expand on a few items I just mentioned as well as some additional items in Bill C-60.
The adoption expense tax credit is a great measure included in Bill C-60. It would better recognize the costs associated with the adoption process.
I am the father of an eight-year-old son, and it is a privilege for my wife and I to raise him. There are many others in this country who have chosen to expand their families through adoption. I think of my own family and friends who have done that. I think of the member for Essex, who has been a national leader on the importance of adoption and the recognition of the expenses families incur when they choose to make that addition. No value can be placed on what a new child brings to each family, but we want to make sure that we recognize the costs earlier in the process. This would be a great measure that would apply to adoptions finalized after 2012.
The first-time donor super credit is something we would bring in to encourage young Canadians, primarily, and those who have not given before to a non-profit organization, to do so.
I think of some of the great local charities in my riding of Chilliwack—Fraser Canyon, such as the Meadow Rose Society, which provides care for single moms in low-income families who do not have the necessities, such as formula and diapers, to provide for their young babies. Some of us may take these for granted, but they represent a significant cost. The Meadow Rose Society is there to help those moms in Chilliwack. This is an example of an organization that people who have not given before may want to use that first-time super credit for. They would get a little extra bang for their buck when they made that donation.
Another opportunity in Chilliwack is the Ruth and Naomi Foundation, which helps the homeless and the at-risk homeless in Chilliwack by providing them with a place to sleep and a warm meal. It is supported by local churches and organizations across the spectrum in Chilliwack. It is another great charity that would benefit from this super credit.
I wanted talk about something else near and dear to the people of Chilliwack. A number of veterans have chosen to make their homes in my community, in large part because CFB Chilliwack was a place people used to come through for their basic training. Unfortunately, CFB Chilliwack was closed during the decade of darkness in the 90s under the Liberal government. However, a number of veterans have returned at the end of their military careers to make Chilliwack home. That is why I was pleased to see that Bill C-60 would include tax relief for Canadian Armed Forces members and police officers deployed on international missions. It would streamline the process for approving tax relief for those members who are deployed on international moderate-risk missions.
There are a number of veterans in my own family. Both my grandfathers served, one in the air force and one in the navy. I have a cousin who returned last year from a tour in Afghanistan, so this is an issue that hits close to home for me. That is why I was pleased that we would be improving veterans' benefits for low-income veterans of both the Second World War and the Korean War as well as their survivors.
We would provide assistance to additional veterans and their survivors. Under the current program, a veteran's total calculated income includes a disability pension provided by Veterans Affairs Canada. That pension is automatically deducted from the amount of benefits available to veterans and survivors under the war veterans allowance. Under the proposed amendments, to better assist those veterans who have served their country, the government would no longer take the disability pension into account when determining eligibility and calculating benefits under the war veterans allowance program.
Improving services for veterans is part of the pattern of our government. In the main budget, we doubled the amount available to the Last Post Fund. We have streamlined the veterans independence program to provide benefits directly to recipients of that program. Also, we have recently invested and promoted the helmets to hard hats program. That is just one more measure we have included in this recent budget.
I was at Hope Secondary School in Hope, B. C. this weekend and spoke to the graduating class there. It is a diverse community. There were a number of first nations graduates at Hope Secondary School. That is why I was pleased to see in the bill that we would provide $5 million to Indspire for post-secondary scholarships and bursaries for first nations and Inuit students. That is something that would be welcome news to the over 30 first nations in my riding and the over 10,000 individuals in my riding who are first nations.
I was speaking with Chief Robert Hope of the Yale First Nation at that graduation. He had two members from his first nation graduating there. I could see the pride he had on seeing those folks walk across the stage to get their diplomas.
Our economic action plan is working. We have had record numbers of jobs since the depths of the recession. We have cut taxes over 150 times, resulting in savings of over $3,000 for the average Canadian family of four. We continue to have the best banking sector in the world. We continue to lead the industrial world in economic growth.
Our economic action plan is working, and that is why I would ask all members of the House to support Bill C-60 so that we can continue to promote an economic plan that is working for Canadians.
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View Mark Strahl Profile
CPC (BC)
View Mark Strahl Profile
2013-06-03 20:58 [p.17577]
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Mr. Speaker, the hon. member is the youngest member in this House, and I am youngest member from British Columbia. This tariff regime we are talking about has not been changed since 1974, and that is four years before I was born and probably 14 years before the hon. member was born.
I think it is time we recognized that those economies the tariffs were designed to help, economies like China and India, have grown up a lot since 1974, as have we. For developing nations, this was a form of foreign aid.
We no longer need to provide those extra breaks to those countries. They are standing quite well on their own two feet. We should be looking to advantage Canadian manufacturers, Canadian businesses, and that is exactly what we would be doing with Bill C-60.
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View Mark Strahl Profile
CPC (BC)
View Mark Strahl Profile
2013-06-03 21:01 [p.17577]
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Mr. Speaker, indeed, I am proud of the steps we have taken for our veterans. It was the right decision to take, and we have committed the almost $800 million that that court case will cost Canadian taxpayers. That is something that has been implemented, and we are proud to bring it forward in this budget.
The question I have for the hon. member is whether he is proud of his government that sent our troops to Afghanistan with green uniforms, into a desert theatre. Is he proud of sending them there with Iltis jeeps? Is he proud of sending them there without the equipment they needed to do the job?
We stand up for our men and women in uniform while they are serving and after they leave the forces, and members can bet I am proud of that.
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View Mark Strahl Profile
CPC (BC)
View Mark Strahl Profile
2013-06-03 22:11 [p.17587]
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Mr. Speaker, the hon. member and I are both from British Columbia. He was lecturing the finance minister earlier about NDP governments. He will remember the nineties when Premier Mike Harcourt resigned in disgrace in British Columbia. Premier Glen Clark resigned in disgrace in British Columbia. In fact, in the election that just occurred in British Columbia, British Columbians were so alarmed at the prospect of another lost decade of another NDP government that Adrian Dix's 22-point lead in the polls evaporated because of the anti-development, anti-jobs, high tax rhetoric that we hear parroted by the member right now.
Why does he think that a message that was so soundly rejected by British Columbians will suddenly now be embraced by Canadians?
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View Mark Strahl Profile
CPC (BC)
View Mark Strahl Profile
2013-05-23 19:25 [p.16927]
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Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the official opposition House leader, who I think has proved that a member of Parliament should be able to rise and give a 20-minute speech on anything at any time. He certainly did that well. I know his constituents and mine are seized with this issue and are glad that we are debating it here today. I am thankful that there is some time before the nightly playoff hockey will start so people can watch both this debate and that, later on.
I am pleased to speak about the incorporation by reference in regulations act, Bill S-12. The bill deals with the regulatory drafting technique. Essentially, it is about when federal regulators can or cannot use the technique of incorporation by reference. Bill S-12 has been studied by the Senate Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs and has been reported without amendment to the House for consideration.
The technique of incorporation by reference is currently used in a wide range of federal regulations. Indeed, it is difficult to think of a regulated area in which incorporation by reference is not used to some degree. Bill S-12 is about securing the government's access to a drafting technique that has already become essential to the way government regulates. It is also about leading the way internationally in the modernization of regulations. More particularly, Bill S-12 responds to concerns expressed by the Joint Standing Committee for the Scrutiny of Regulations about when incorporation by reference can be used. Incorporation by reference has already become an essential tool that is widely relied upon to achieve the objectives of the government.
The Senate committee considering the bill has heard that it is also an effective way to achieve many of the current goals of the cabinet directive on regulatory management. For example, regulations that use this technique are effective in facilitating intergovernmental co-operation and harmonization, a key objective of the regulatory co-operation council established by the Prime Minister and President Obama. By incorporating the legislation of other jurisdictions with which harmonization is desired or by incorporating standards developed internationally, regulations can minimize duplication, an important objective of the red tape reduction commission, which issued its report earlier this year. The result of Bill S-12 would be that regulators have the option of using this drafting technique in regulations aimed at achieving these objectives.
Incorporation by reference is also an important tool for the government to help Canada comply with its international obligations. Referencing material that is internationally accepted rather than attempting to reproduce the same rules in the regulations also reduces technical differences that create barriers to trade, something that Canada is required to do under the World Trade Organization's technical barriers to trade agreement.
Incorporation by reference is also an effective way to take advantage of the use of the expertise of standards-writing bodies in Canada. Canada has a national standards system that is recognized all over the world. Incorporation of standards, whether developed in Canada or internationally, allows for the best science and the most accepted approach in areas that affect people on a day-to-day basis to be used in regulations. Indeed, reliance on this expertise is essential to ensuring access to technical knowledge across the country and around the world.
Testimony by witnesses from the Standards Council of Canada before the Senate Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs made it clear how extensively Canada already relies on international and national standards. Ensuring that regulators continue to have the ability to use ambulatory incorporation by reference in their regulations means that Canadians can be assured that they are protected by the most up-to-date technology. Incorporation by reference allows for the expertise of the Canadian national standards system and the international standards system to form a meaningful part of the regulatory tool box.
Another important aspect of Bill S-12 is that it allows for the incorporation by reference of rates and indices such as the consumer price index or the Bank of Canada rates, important elements in many regulations. For these reasons and more, ambulatory incorporation by reference is an important instrument available to regulators when they are designing their regulatory initiatives.
However, Bill S-12 also strikes an important balance in respect of what may be incorporated by reference by limiting the types of documents that can be incorporated by the regulation-maker. Also, only the versions of such a document as it exists on a particular day can be incorporated when the document is produced by the regulation-maker only. This is an important safeguard against circumvention of the regulatory process.
Parliament's ability to control the delegation of regulation-making powers continues, as does the oversight of the Standing Joint Committee for the Scrutiny of Regulations. We expect the standing joint committee will continue its work in respect of the scrutiny of regulations at the time they were first made, as well as in the future. We expect that the standing joint committee will indeed play an important role in ensuring the use of this technique continues to be exercised in the way that Parliament has authorized.
One of the most important aspects of this bill relates to accessibility. The Minister of Justice recognized this in his opening remarks to the Senate standing committee during its consideration of this bill. Bill S-12 would not only recognize the need to provide a solid legal basis for the use of this regulatory drafting technique, but it would also expressly impose in legislation an obligation on all regulators to ensure that the documents they incorporate are accessible.
While this has always been something that the common law required, this bill clearly enshrines this obligation in legislation. There is no doubt that accessibility should be part of this bill. It is essential that documents that are incorporated by reference be accessible to those who are required to comply with them. This is an important and significant step forward in this legislation. The general approach to accessibility found in Bill S-12 will provide flexibility to regulatory bodies to take whatever steps might be necessary to make sure that the diverse types of material from various sources are in fact accessible.
In general, material that is incorporated by reference is already accessible. As a result, in some cases no further action on the part of the regulation-making authority will be necessary. For example, provincial legislation is already generally accessible. Federal regulations that incorporate provincial legislation will undoubtedly allow the regulator to meet the requirement to ensure that the material is accessible.
Sometimes accessing the document through the standard organization itself will be appropriate. It will be clear that the proposed legislation will ensure the regulated community will have access to the incorporated material with a reasonable effort on their part. It is also important to note that standards organizations, such as the Canadian Standards Association, understand the need to provide access to incorporated standards.
By recognizing the changing landscape of the Internet, this bill creates a meaningful obligation on regulators to ensure accessibility while still allowing for innovation, flexibility and creativity. Bill S-12 is intended to solidify the government's access to a regulatory drafting technique that is essential to modern and responsive regulation. It also recognizes the corresponding obligation that regulators must meet when using this tool.
This bill strikes an important balance that reflects the reality of modern regulation while ensuring the appropriate protections are enshrined in law. No person can suffer a penalty or sanction if the relevant material was not accessible to them.
This proposal will provide express legislative authority for the use of this technique in the future and confirm the validity of existing regulations incorporating documents in a manner that is consistent with that authority.
We have many years of successful experience with the use of ambulatory and static incorporation by reference in legislation at the federal level. This knowledge will be useful in providing guidance in the future. There is also every indication that the use of this technique will be essential to implementing regulatory modernization initiatives here in Canada, in conjunction with our regulatory partners in the United States and around the world.
To conclude, enactment of this legislation is the logical and necessary next step to securing access in a responsible manner to incorporation by reference in regulation. I encourage members to support this legislative proposal and recognize the important step forward that it contains.
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View Mark Strahl Profile
CPC (BC)
View Mark Strahl Profile
2013-05-23 19:36 [p.16928]
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Mr. Speaker, I think I can answer that by saying yes and no.
I do not believe that the term “accessible” in this particular bill refers to accessibility in the traditional common-sense definition of being accessible to someone with a disability. That being said, the government, by using incorporation by reference, is still required to meet all of the obligations it is required to meet normally. Therefore, if there is a requirement, if it is commonplace for the government to produce references on a website that is readable by someone with a visual impairment, then that requirement will carry over to this. However, as far as I know, the accessibility in this legislation refers more to the ability of someone to access it generally and not specifically as it relates to a person with a disability.
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View Mark Strahl Profile
CPC (BC)
View Mark Strahl Profile
2013-05-23 19:38 [p.16928]
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Mr. Speaker, incorporation by reference does not allow the government to avoid its language obligations. Canada's Constitution requires that acts of Parliament and regulations made under them must be enacted and published in both official languages. It also recognizes that it is constitutionally acceptable to incorporate by reference a document that is not available in an official language if there is a bona fide, legitimate reason to do so.
Documents generated by the government would always be incorporated in both official languages. Therefore, this legislation would not change anything in that regard, and obviously there would be every effort made by the government to have the documents or the reference material available in both official languages. However, in the case where that is not possible, and there is a legitimate reason for it not being possible, this would allow those documents to be referenced as well.
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View Mark Strahl Profile
CPC (BC)
View Mark Strahl Profile
2013-05-23 19:40 [p.16929]
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Mr. Speaker, I certainly appreciate that, and I could not hope to fill the shoes of the hon. member for Okanagan—Coquihalla when he left the scrutiny of regulations committee. I am just trying to pick up the slack where he left it.
I did want to comment on the hon. opposition House leader's comment that there was no fight to get on the scrutiny of regulations committee. I think the member for Hamilton Mountain, the co-chair of that committee from the New Democratic Party, would take great offence at that. She does a great job as well.
Returning to the member's question, using incorporation by reference in regulation would facilitate harmonization and intergovernmental co-operation. It would reduce barriers to trade. It would allow the government to access leading edge technical expertise from national and international standards writing organizations.
The hon. opposition House leader mentioned a case of an updated health regulation in a bill that he brought forward when he was first elected. If that regulation had been incorporated by reference and been updated, it would have automatically updated the legislation and the regulations so there would not have been a need to go through a legislative change at that point. If there had been a medical advance or there was a new warning system for a certain chemical, that would have automatically become law through this sort of process. That is my understanding. There are definite benefits to the health and safety of Canadians and also to the productivity and commercialization prospects for companies across this country.
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View Mark Strahl Profile
CPC (BC)
View Mark Strahl Profile
2013-05-23 19:43 [p.16929]
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Mr. Speaker, it is going to be the Standing Joint Committee on Scrutiny of Regulations that will continue to monitor when these changes come forward. It is important to know as well, as he mentioned, the ambulatory versus the static or the static versus dynamic. There are certain statutes or laws where certainly having an ambulatory reference would not be appropriate. That is clearly laid out here.
The Standing Joint Committee on Scrutiny of Regulations will continue to monitor these sorts of situations with able staff and members of Parliament. It is a unique committee that operates on consensus with the opposition. The member can take great comfort in the fact that his colleagues, along with the government side, will continue to ensure Canadians are protected through regulations, and we would use the incorporation by reference found in Bill S-12 for the benefit of all Canadians.
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View Mark Strahl Profile
CPC (BC)
View Mark Strahl Profile
2013-05-02 12:12 [p.16196]
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Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for Edmonton—Leduc for his great speech. I was a little disappointed that he did not get to give a 20-minute speech, because if he had, I know he would have talked about the excellent improvements for veterans that have been made in this budget implementation act.
I know that the hon. member is a strong supporter of veterans in his area. I am hoping he can expand on what this budget and this implementation act would do to improve services, not only in terms of the pension but also in terms of the burial funding that was previously cut. I am hoping that he can expand on that.
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View Mark Strahl Profile
CPC (BC)
View Mark Strahl Profile
2013-04-30 11:30 [p.16074]
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Mr. Speaker, I listened carefully to the member's speech, and he once again invoked the spectre of Somalia to justify his opposition to this bill. He blamed the chain of command and others for trying to bury that episode, when in fact it was his own government that prematurely shut down the Somalia inquiry and then, as a follow-up, disbanded the Canadian Airborne Regiment. That was a shameful overreaction that irreparably damaged an elite capability of the Canadian Forces. He did not mention that.
He also failed to mention the comments of the Canadian Forces Provost Marshal when questioned by my hon. colleague from Edmonton Centre when this matter was before committee in the last Parliament. The Provost Marshal said:
I think if I were just to take the legislation as written, without the safeguards that are present, I would have a lot more concern, but due to the transparency clauses that exist—the interference complaint process under part IV of the NDA—those types of safeguards certainly make it more robust. It allows me to make sure that there is an avenue of approach, should there be a conflict.
My question for the hon. member is this: why will he not take the word of the Canadian Forces Provost Marshal, who says that this legislation would have the appropriate safeguards to ensure there would be no undue interference in his investigations?
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View Mark Strahl Profile
CPC (BC)
View Mark Strahl Profile
2013-04-30 11:59 [p.16077]
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Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for Chicoutimi—Le Fjord for his speech and for the NDP's belated but welcome support for the bill here as well as at committee. I am a member of the national defence committee, and we were certainly grateful to get the NDP's support for our amendments on criminal records for summary trial offences. That was a positive.
I would say that the member's speech was so comprehensive and set out the NDP position so well that I would hope that NDP members would now let the speech of the member for Chicoutimi—Le Fjord stand so that we may move on to a vote on this issue. As the member for Edmonton Centre mentioned, there have been 100 speeches on this issue, and we know that they do have an interest in this. Perhaps I could ask the member how much more he believes needs to be put on the table after his excellent and comprehensive speech.
Perhaps the member could also talk about the Liberal Party's new-found interest in this file and the fact that while the Liberals could not be bothered to stay until the end of the committee proceedings on this bill, they have now decided to ramp up their efforts. Maybe he could talk a bit about that, and bout why they did not address the issue during their 13 years in government. Maybe they just needed a little more time.
If the member could address both of those issues, that would be great.
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View Mark Strahl Profile
CPC (BC)
View Mark Strahl Profile
2013-04-30 12:31 [p.16081]
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Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the hon. members for Windsor West and Beaches—East York for their half-hearted support of the bill, but support nonetheless. We will take it, at this point.
One of the things the member referenced in his speech was the summary trials. Supreme Court of Canada former chief justice Brian Dickson, who examined the summary trial system, stated:
The requirement for military efficiency and discipline entails the need for summary procedures. This suggests that investigation of offences and their disposition should be done quickly and at the unit level.
Former chief justice Lamer also said:
Canada has developed a very sound and fair military justice framework in which Canadians can have trust and confidence.
There certainly have been in-depth examinations of the summary trial process and it has been found to be fair, and found to be constitutional as well.
The member mentioned the undue hardship on a member with post-service consequences of summary trials. However, the reason the members are supporting the bill at third reading is that 95% of convictions at summary trial stage would no longer appear on a criminal record. Would the member not agree that this would be a step in the right direction, and that is the reason they are supporting the bill?
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View Mark Strahl Profile
CPC (BC)
View Mark Strahl Profile
2013-04-30 13:33 [p.16089]
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Mr. Speaker, I listened with amusement to the hon. member's speech.
I did want to ask him why the members of the Liberal Party of Canada did nothing about this during its 13 years in power. How many more years would they have needed in government to bring forward significant reform to Canada's military justice system? Are they just blowing hot air once again here in the chamber?
I know the hon. member was not a member of the government, but he could look behind him to the hon. member for Scarborough—Guildwood and perhaps ask him.
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View Mark Strahl Profile
CPC (BC)
View Mark Strahl Profile
2013-04-25 14:06 [p.15910]
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Mr. Speaker, I recently met with a number of families in Chilliwack who are concerned by a large marijuana grow operation that has sprung up in their neighbourhood. Shockingly, this massive grow op is considered a legal grow under the medical marijuana access program regulation set up by a previous Liberal government.
Medical marijuana grow ops have grown out of control in my riding of Chilliwack—Fraser Canyon. Families are concerned that their children, their safety and their standard of living are all put at risk when a grow op is located in their community.
Organized crime has infiltrated the program and there is no ability for city officials or firefighters to even know where these so-called legal grows are located.
Fortunately, our government is making significant changes to the program and will make it illegal to grow medical marijuana in neighbourhoods by March 2014.
Unfortunately, the NDP and Liberals have opposed our efforts to get rid of these grow ops. It is time for them to get onboard with our government, keep families safe and get marijuana grow ops out of our neighbourhoods.
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View Mark Strahl Profile
CPC (BC)
View Mark Strahl Profile
2013-04-24 15:18 [p.15843]
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Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise and present two different petitions from the people of Chilliwack—Fraser Canyon.
The first calls on the House to condemn atrocities against Falun Gong practitioners.
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View Mark Strahl Profile
CPC (BC)
View Mark Strahl Profile
2013-04-24 15:19 [p.15843]
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Mr. Speaker, the second petition calls on the House to condemn discrimination against females occurring through sex-selective pregnancy termination.
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View Mark Strahl Profile
CPC (BC)
View Mark Strahl Profile
2013-03-25 15:02 [p.15154]
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Mr. Speaker, no government has done more to create opportunities for aboriginal Canadians to participate in our economy. This includes expanding the first nations land management regime, which is just one way we are empowering first nations with the tools they need to take greater control over their lands, resources and economic futures. This regime has a proven track record. Jobs, investments and greater self-sufficiency are attained by those first nations who participate.
Can the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development please update the House on today's announcement?
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View Mark Strahl Profile
CPC (BC)
View Mark Strahl Profile
2013-03-04 13:59 [p.14546]
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Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House today to highlight the wonderful work of the Chilliwack Hospice Society and its outgoing executive director, Geri McGrath.
Established in 1986, Chilliwack Hospice delivers a number of programs that help meet the physical, social, emotional and spiritual needs of individuals and families during the dying and grieving process.
Like most non-profits, the work of this organization depends on the efforts of dedicated volunteers. In the case of Chilliwack Hospice, they number over 200.
Under Geri's leadership, the hospice has seen a major growth in programs and services. In 2008, it provided palliative care to 30 patients, and by 2012 the number had grown to 568.
Sadly for Chilliwack, Geri has accepted a position with the Vancouver Hospice Society and will be spearheading their efforts to open their new hospice beds. Our loss is Vancouver's gain.
I would like to thank Geri McGrath, her staff and the dedicated volunteers at Chilliwack Hospice for the compassionate care they provide to my constituents in their time of greatest need.
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View Mark Strahl Profile
CPC (BC)
View Mark Strahl Profile
2013-03-04 15:08 [p.14559]
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Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to present a number of petitions from the people of Chilliwack—Fraser Canyon stating that the House condemn discrimination against females occurring through sex-selective pregnancy termination.
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View Mark Strahl Profile
CPC (BC)
View Mark Strahl Profile
2013-02-25 15:03 [p.14254]
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Mr. Speaker, in a report commissioned by our government, Mr. Emerson confirmed that the Canadian space industry is well positioned to take advantage of emerging opportunities, succeed commercially and contribute to the public good.
Canadians are immensely proud of our space sector and its well known achievements that have contributed to its reputation as a world leader in space technology. Canada has earned this reputation by setting the bar high and aiming for the stars.
Can the Minister of National Defence update the House on the latest developments in the space sector?
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View Mark Strahl Profile
CPC (BC)
View Mark Strahl Profile
2013-02-05 13:54 [p.13694]
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Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for Ajax—Pickering.
As several government members indicated previously, we cannot support the motion, because it simply misrepresents the facts.
The changes we have made to employment insurance are ensuring that Canadians are always better off working than not. That is why it is important to invest in connecting Canadians with available jobs in their local labour markets. The extra-five-weeks pilot project was a temporary measure brought in in 2008 and reintroduced in 2010 through Canada's economic action plan to help EI recipients during the recession. While the opposition continues to fearmonger, the facts simply do not lie. Thanks to our efforts included in Canada's economic action plan, we have seen over 920,000 net new jobs since July 2009.
We are in a period of economic recovery, and we need to help Canadians who want to work connect with those jobs that are available in their areas. Our investments in connecting Canadians with available jobs is about making sure that Canadian workers are better aware of the opportunities available in their local areas and that Canadians always have first crack at jobs in their local communities, before temporary foreign workers do.
Our government is focused on getting Canadians working. We are focused on creating jobs. We are making progress, despite these fragile economic times.
Yet while our government makes improvement after improvement and we continue to see thousands of net new jobs created every month, what do we get from the opposition? We get fearmongering, misrepresentation of the facts and proposals to impose massive new taxes on Canadians. Our government does not accept that as a way to go about fostering continued economic recovery.
To date we have seen the NDP propose over $3.8 billion in annual EI spending. This means that $3.8 billion would be taken from the pockets of hard-working Canadians and small businesses, which would be forced to pay higher premiums. This does not make any sense given the economic times we live in.
Our economic prosperity depends on our ability to meet emerging and growing labour market challenges. It depends on our competitiveness. It depends on our resolve. Foremost among these challenges are skills and labour shortages. According to Statistics Canada, in the fall there were 268,000 job vacancies across the country. Our government is rising to meet this challenge. We have invested heavily in skills and training to ensure that Canadians have the skills and training they need to gain employment in the workplace.
We know that Canadians want to work, but they often face challenges finding work. What are we doing to help unemployed workers find jobs? As announced in economic action plan 2012, our government has been investing to connect unemployed Canadians with available jobs in their local areas that match their skill sets. As part of this initiative, Service Canada is sending job alerts twice a day to Canadians who are receiving employment insurance. These job alerts come from many different sources, including the job bank and private sector providers. As always, employers are required to provide evidence that they have exhausted efforts to hire Canadians before they turn to temporary foreign workers.
The improvements we have made are aimed at ensuring that Canadians receiving EI benefits will always benefit financially from accepting available work. These are common sense changes that also work toward clarifying, not changing, the responsibilities of Canadians who are collecting EI. These changes are about empowering unemployed workers, helping them get back into the workforce, and focusing resources where they are needed most.
We are helping Canadians who want to work get back to work. We are ensuring that all of these changes are grounded in common sense and fairness. It bears repeating that should Canadians who have been making legitimate efforts to find work be unsuccessful, EI will continue to be there for them, as it has always been. We fully recognize that there are Canadians who are having difficulty finding work, particularly in the off-season in parts of the country where much of the economy is based on seasonal industries.
One of the myths the opposition has been spreading is the reference that our EI improvements will result in downloading of costs to the provinces. Nothing could be further from the truth. As we invest in connecting Canadians with jobs, we will actually be helping the provinces, because employed people pay taxes, which in turn helps fund provincial programs.
We will also deliver significant funding to the provinces to invest in the skills training of EI and non-EI recipients to help Canadians get into more stable, higher-paying jobs.
As several members have commented, the changes with respect to a reasonable job search only clarify an existing obligation under the Employment Insurance Act to be actively looking for work.
Personal circumstances will always be taken into consideration. Such circumstances include physical ability, family commitments, transportation options and whether someone would be better off working than not.
EI is an important program in Canada and will continue to be. These improvements have introduced a needed new common sense effort to help Canadians get back to work faster. That is good for Canadians, good for their communities, and most important, good for their families. For these reasons, I urge all members of the House to vote against the motion and to support our efforts to create jobs and get Canadians working.
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View Mark Strahl Profile
CPC (BC)
View Mark Strahl Profile
2013-01-29 14:06 [p.13384]
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Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House today to celebrate the life of a remarkable woman, Dorothy Kostrzewa. Born Dorothy Chung on August 17, 1928, she and her family would survive a devastating fire that destroyed Chilliwack's Chinatown. While others left, her family would stay and Chilliwack is grateful that they did.
In 1971, Dorothy was elected to Chilliwack's city council, making her the first Chinese Canadian woman to hold elected office in Canada. It would be a position she would hold for 31 years. The accolades she received for public service are too numerous to mention, so allow me to provide just a few highlights. Dorothy was awarded the Order of Chilliwack. She was named the woman of the year, millennium woman of the year and one of one hundred Chinese Canadians making a difference in B.C.
While the community mourns the passing of Chilliwack's grand lady, we celebrate her incredible legacy. We are thankful for having had the privilege of knowing her and thank her family for sharing this remarkable woman with us.
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View Mark Strahl Profile
CPC (BC)
View Mark Strahl Profile
2012-12-10 11:17 [p.13041]
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Mr. Speaker, as someone who is undecided on the bill at this point, I want to honestly ask the member this. I have heard concerns from people who are worried that merit would not be the first criterion when we are considering these positions, that the first criterion would become competency in either official language. I am hoping she can address that specific issue as it has been relayed to me. Can these two things reconcile? Can we talk about merit and bilingualism separately, or do they have to be brought together in this case?
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View Mark Strahl Profile
CPC (BC)
View Mark Strahl Profile
2012-12-03 16:43 [p.12774]
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Mr. Speaker, I am proud to be on this side of the House as part of the Conservative team and it is good to be able to talk today on Bill C-45, the jobs and growth act, 2012.
While I am on feet, I did want to salute the Parliamentary Spouses Association, which today held a fundraiser that raised $10,000 for the Tim Horton Children's Foundation. I would like to salute everyone who had a part in that today.
Bill C-45 is an act to implement certain provisions of the budget. It is the jobs and growth act, and our plan is working. We have seen 820,000 net new jobs created since the recession started in July 2009. There are more people working today than before the recession began, and that is because of the prudent leadership of our Prime Minister, Minister of Finance and our strong plan to ensure that our economy remains strong.
We are among the leaders in economic growth in the industrial world and our debt to GDP ratio is among the lowest in the world. Truly, Canada is the envy of the world right now because of our financial position.
We have had some independent accolades. Members do not have to take my word for it, although I would appreciate it if they would. Canada has had the best banking system in the world for five years in a row, according to the World Economic Forum. As my colleague before me mentioned, Forbes magazine has indicated that Canada is the best country in the world in which to set up a business.
However, we know that the economic recovery is fragile. We cannot take it for granted. We have seen sluggish growth the world over, including Europe, and there are concerns about the fiscal cliff in the United States. There is uncertainty everywhere around the world, in Greece, Italy and Spain. In many countries, the economic future does not look bright. We have to be concerned about that as Canadians. Even though we have had a good run of economic growth, we cannot assume that it will continue forever. That is why we need strong leadership and the strong measures included in Bill C-45.
We must remain vigilant if we are to maintain the significant economic advantage that we have built up over the last number of years. That means continuing to promote things like responsible resource development. We need to continue to promote things like our oils sands and our natural resource sector, provided that we do so in a way that is both economically beneficial and environmentally responsible, and that is what we have committed to doing.
We need to continue to maintain a low-tax plan for jobs and growth. I heard a previous questioner indicate that perhaps we should be raising taxes in order to keep our economy strong. However, on the Conservative side of the House, we disagree. We believe that we need our low-tax plan for jobs and growth. Raising taxes would not lead to growth but in fact hinder growth.
We need to continue to promote trade of our Canadian goods and services, not just to our traditional trading partners but also with the developing world. We need to look to countries that need the things we produce and we need to continue to promote our interests in those countries. That is why I am so pleased that the Minister of International Trade is away from Canada a lot because he is working on our behalf to secure new markets for our goods and services. I want to thank him for that. Indeed, we have learned that we cannot afford to rely solely on the United States because it has economic troubles of its own. We cannot have all of our eggs in that basket. Therefore, we need to continue to promote trade.
These are the kinds of things, in my view, that we need to continue to maintain for Canada's economic advantage. However, there are a few specific items in Bill C-45 that I do want to address, such as improvements to the first nations land management system.
My riding is home to 33 first nation bands. Many of them are under the first nations land management regime. Our government is committed to working with first nations to create conditions that will accelerate economic development opportunities.
Giving interested first nations greater control over their reserve lands and resources would bring a brighter and more prosperous future for them. Our government has already taken steps to enable interested first nations to assume greater control of their own land and resources under the First Nations Land Management Act. I am encouraged to see so many first nations in my riding under that regime.
Under the first nations land management framework, first nations can opt out of the 34 land related sections of the Indian Act and establish their own regimes to govern their lands, resources and environment. Thanks to the actions of our government, in January 2012, there were 18 new entrants that came under the framework. Today, there are 56 first nations that are operating and developing their own land codes. We want to expedite the process to allow more first nations to participate.
On March 15, 2012, the National Aboriginal Economic Development Board voiced its concern with the current process. It said:
First nations do not have an ability to move swiftly in developing their lands as a result of the restrictions that arise under the Indian Act and the red tape that comes with them.
The Auditor General has also identified the designation and leasing process to be a cause of unnecessarily lengthy approval times.
Bill C-45 proposes changes to the First Nations Land Management Act that would reduce voting thresholds to a simple majority vote, eliminating the need to hold repeated votes over a one or two-year period. What sometimes happens now is that if a majority of members of a first nation do not choose to cast their ballot, the First Nations Land Management Act requires them to hold a second vote, which takes time and resources and unnecessarily slows the process. One can imagine if we applied the same rule to a municipality that said it were electing a council and that if over 50% of the people did not bother to show up to vote, that process was not good enough. We think that process needs to be changed so there is one vote with a simple majority allowing first nations to control their own lands.
The second change would eliminate the need for an approval by order in council and allow the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development to authorize land designation. This would make the system more efficient and allow first nations more control, thereby reducing approval times for first nations land management by several months. The streamlining of land related approval processes would encourage economic development on first nations land and create jobs, growth and long-term prosperity there as well.
I also want to talk about something that affects small businesses in my riding. The majority of businesses in my riding are certainly small and medium-size enterprises. Just as they are across the country, they are the major engine of job creation in my riding. Budget 2011 contained a hiring credit for small businesses of up to $1,000. It provided relief to small businesses by helping to defray the cost of new hires. Bill C-45 would extend the credit to an employer's increase on its 2012 EI premiums over those paid in 2011. It has the potential to help over 536,000 employers whose total EI premiums were below $10,000 in 2011. This would reduce payroll costs by $205 million and allow small and medium-size enterprises to continue to hire more folks and to keep their costs in check so they can continue to drive our economy forward.
The Canadian Federation of Independent Business said of the credit:
It is a popular measure among all SMEs but is particularly important among growing firms as it helps them strengthen business performance.
I met with some constituents who had concerns about pipelines in my riding. They asked about credits for oil and gas companies and why we were not doing more to promote green energy. I encouraged them to read Bill C-45, which is rationalizing and phasing out over the medium term inefficient fossil fuel subsidies. We are also promoting the use of green technology through the accelerated tax credit program there.
I want to sum up by saying Bill C-45 continues our government's plan for jobs and growth. The plan is working. The plan is having real results for Canadians. I encourage all members of the House to support it.
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View Mark Strahl Profile
CPC (BC)
View Mark Strahl Profile
2012-12-03 16:54 [p.12775]
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Mr. Speaker, I want to address some of the preamble of that question.
Obviously our government has done nothing but increase transfers to provinces for health care. The health care transfer will be $40 billion by the end of this decade, which is an increase in anyone's books. I do not quite understand how the NDP's math could indicate that a 6% increase for the next three years and 3% going forward is a cut.
We believe that the 2012 budget should be passed in 2012. We do not think that is an unreasonable expectation. There have been hours of debate in the House, hundreds of speeches, and 12 different committees studying different aspects of the bill. We want our jobs and growth plan for 2012 to be passed in 2012. We think that is a reasonable expectation.
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View Mark Strahl Profile
CPC (BC)
View Mark Strahl Profile
2012-12-03 16:57 [p.12776]
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Mr. Speaker, that is great question by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence.
I think that is the main difference between our government and the opposition. We hear them complaining about cuts. The cuts they complain the loudest about are when we cut taxes. When we cut the GST from 7% to 6%, they complained loudly about that. They complained even more loudly when we cut it from 6% to 5%.
We have heard members here in debate calling for an increase in taxes on the Canadians who are doing well, and for increases in taxes on corporations. We are not going to go down that road. No country has ever taxed itself into long-term prosperity. No country has ever taxed itself into creating jobs and growth.
We will continue on our low-tax plan for jobs and growth because it is the right thing to do.
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View Mark Strahl Profile
CPC (BC)
View Mark Strahl Profile
2012-11-26 12:28 [p.12422]
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Mr. Speaker, I thank both the minister and the parliamentary secretary for their roles and participation in this morning's dedication ceremony of the beautiful stained glass window in the outside foyer commemorating the apology for the residential schools and the efforts to reconcile that. It was a great ceremony.
However, I have a question about this legislation. Would the minister describe the extensive consultation process that took place leading specifically to the development of the bill in relation to the Nunavut planning and project assessment act? Would he share that consultation process with us?
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View Mark Strahl Profile
CPC (BC)
View Mark Strahl Profile
2012-11-26 13:44 [p.12432]
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Mr. Speaker, I want to get the comments of the member for Yukon. Previously the member for Western Arctic complained and indicated that he did not see the reason for this bill and he did not know why the status quo was not the preferred option. I am wondering if the member can tell me what are the elements of the Northwest Territories' surface rights board bill that make it better than the status quo and why we should take the lead of the great member for Yukon over the member for Western Arctic, who seems to prefer the status quo.
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View Mark Strahl Profile
CPC (BC)
View Mark Strahl Profile
2012-11-22 15:05 [p.12355]
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Mr. Speaker, our government has consistently been there to provide leadership and support to the provinces and territories to help them with their health care priorities. We are providing the provinces and territories record amounts of support by increasing the size of the Canada health transfer by nearly 35% since we formed government. Unfortunately, some members of the NDP have had difficulty understanding what an increase in the amount of money in transfers to the provinces means.
Could the minister please update this House on what our government is doing to help support the Canadian health care system?
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View Mark Strahl Profile
CPC (BC)
View Mark Strahl Profile
2012-10-29 14:01 [p.11582]
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Mr. Speaker, Chilliwack—Fraser Canyon is about 1,500 kilometres from Fort McMurray, but the oil sands and natural gas exploration in northern B.C. and Alberta play a major role in our economy. At Britco Structures in the town of Agassiz, 200 workers build mobile housing units for use in the oil patch. At TYCROP in Rosedale, 300 workers produce specialized natural gas equipment. Countless others make the commute to work directly in the oil patch.
The NDP leader says that the oil sands are hurting manufacturing. In my riding, the oil sands are driving our manufacturing industry, putting millions of dollars back into our local economy and providing high-paying, family-supporting jobs.
Instead of trying to divide Canadians and score cheap political points by stirring up fear, I invite the New Democrats to look at the facts, work with our government to promote responsible resource development and support our continued efforts to ensure we protect the environment while growing our economy.
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View Mark Strahl Profile
CPC (BC)
View Mark Strahl Profile
2012-10-22 15:52 [p.11300]
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Mr. Speaker, Bill C-15 provides a statutory articulation of the objectives, purpose and principles of sentencing in the military justice system. This would provide military judges presiding over courts martial, presiding officers at summary trials and appellant judges in the Court Martial Appeal Court and the Supreme Court of Canada with parliamentary guidance similar to that which is provided to their civilian counterparts, while recognizing the unique characteristics and requirements of the military justice system.
Does the hon. member agree that providing statutory articulation of the objectives, purpose and principles of sentencing to these important actors in the military justice system is something that should be supported by all members of the House?
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View Mark Strahl Profile
CPC (BC)
View Mark Strahl Profile
2012-09-19 15:30 [p.10152]
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Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to present a petition on behalf of my constituents in Chilliwack calling upon the Parliament of Canada to amend section 223 of our Criminal Code in such a way as to reflect 21st century medical evidence.
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View Mark Strahl Profile
CPC (BC)
View Mark Strahl Profile
2012-06-20 14:17 [p.9872]
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Mr. Speaker, our government understands that opening new markets and creating new business opportunities leads to jobs, growth and long-term prosperity for all Canadians. That is why we are committed to deepening Canada's trading relationships with the dynamic and fast-growing economies of the Asia-Pacific.
The nine current members of the trans-Pacific partnership represent a market of 510 million people and a GDP of nearly $18 trillion. Yesterday, Canada welcomed the support of all TPP members for our participation in the negotiations toward an agreement that would enhance trade in the Asia-Pacific region and would provide greater economic opportunity for all Canadians. Once again, our government is delivering on our pro-trade plan. The Canadian Federation of Agriculture applauded the news, saying, “The TPP represents significant market opportunities for Canadian farmers and a strong boost to the Canadian economy”.
Our government looks forward to helping develop a 21st century agreement as a full and ambitious partner at the table.
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View Mark Strahl Profile
CPC (BC)
Mr. Speaker, during the vote it was noted that the member for York West was taking some photographs of members on this side of the House. I would ask that she confirm that she has deleted those photos.
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View Mark Strahl Profile
CPC (BC)
View Mark Strahl Profile
2012-06-11 21:54 [p.9207]
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Madam Speaker, I was pleased to have the Parliamentary Secretary in my riding, along with the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, to hear from the municipalities of Chilliwack, Hope, Kent and Harrison Hot Springs. While we were there we discussed how some of those municipalities were spending more money on environmental consulting than on the works on their drainage ditches to keep the roads open and the fields dry.
The one story I recall was in the city of Chilliwack, where DFO allowed the city to clean one half of a ditch, but it was not allowed to clean the other half. Could she talk about how ridiculous some of these policies are and how this budget will clean some of that up?
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View Mark Strahl Profile
CPC (BC)
View Mark Strahl Profile
2012-05-09 23:09 [p.7832]
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Mr. Chair, I am grateful for this opportunity to address the committee of the whole and to add my voice to those who have already expressed their support for the men and women of the Canadian Forces. It is good to be here with my colleagues, the Minister of National Defence and the Associate Minister of National Defence, as well as General Natynczyk. Perhaps the greatest honour in my young political career came when I joined the general in Esquimalt to welcome home the HMCS Vancouver and her crew from their deployment in Libya. I thank the general for being there for that.
As we know, the primary responsibility of the Canadian Forces is to protect and defend Canada. This is a vast country, covering 10 million square kilometres and bordered by over 200,000 kilometres of coastline. These numbers are staggering, and it is awe-inspiring to think that roughly 40% of the land mass and 75% of the coastline is contained in our rugged Arctic.
This region has an important historical and symbolic significance to the cultural makeup of our country. As we know, with each passing year more and more northern Canadians are affected, one way or another, by their changing environment. As waterways are becoming increasingly navigable, traffic into and through their region is on the increase. The potential for new transportation and trade routes is becoming a reality, just as the desire, from both inside and outside of Canada, to access the vast resources found in the Arctic increases.
Obviously this is a time of tremendous and, some would say, unequalled opportunity. Mindful of that opportunity, in 2009 our government released its northern strategy on behalf of all Canadians, from the north and the south, to ensure that together we could carefully monitor and protect our Arctic environment, promote and support both economic and social development in the north, improve and devolve governance so that more decision-making is in the hands of northerners and continue exercising Canada's sovereignty in the north so that we can deliver on these goals.
To achieve this vision, our government is working through provincial, territorial and local governance structures. Our government is working with northern Canadians so that they can achieve sustainable improvements to their economic, environmental and social well-being over the long term and exercise the same kind of control over their own future as Canadians do in any other part of the country.
The National Defence team plays a valuable supporting role in the north, collaborating seamlessly with northern communities and with other government departments such as Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada, the Department of Public Safety and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and learning from northern residents about how to work and survive in this beautiful and often forbidding part of our country. They have tapped into this fountain of knowledge and experience through the Canadian Rangers program. The Rangers, made up of over 4,000 Canadians of mostly Inuit, first nations and Métis descent, give the Canadian Forces an important and permanent presence in the north. They exercise our sovereignty by reporting unusual activities, collecting local data in support of the Canadian Forces and patrolling our country's Arctic.
Just last month, they and a number of their military colleagues wrapped up Operation Nunalivut, which saw them conduct sovereignty patrols over thousands of kilometres in some of the most remote and inhospitable land on earth. The Rangers also play a valuable role in mentoring and educating troops from the south about how to manage, respect and, ultimately, care for the north. Clearly, they are crucial to Canada's Arctic. This is why our government has taken steps to give them new equipment—including new GPS units, radios, binoculars and survival equipment—to help them better perform their important role. It is why we are committed to expanding the Canadian Ranger program to over 5,000 members, a target our government has made great progress on in the last five years and one that it is now close to meeting.
We are also looking beyond our borders for partners, because we have learned that partnership is not only a way of life in the north, it is the key to success. That is why we recently worked through the Arctic Council to establish a legally binding Arctic search and rescue agreement, something the Canadian Forces continue to lead on, including through a multinational tabletop exercise hosted by Canada last fall. It is why the Chief of the Defence Staff recently hosted a meeting of his counterparts from other northern countries to discuss issues of common interest, particularly support to civilian authorities, and it is why we regularly invite our Arctic neighbours to participate in some of our military training in the region, most notably Operation Nanook, our largest annual Arctic exercise.
This exercise showcases our sovereignty as the Canadian Forces brings together local, territorial and federal stakeholders and it highlights the need for co-operation in a place where no one can hope to succeed alone.
This fact was tragically reinforced during last year's Operation Nanook when First Air flight 6560 crashed near Resolute Bay and the Canadian Forces, working with civilian authorities and other partners, were able to rescue the three survivors and quickly get them to the hospital.
Initiatives like Operation Nanook allow lead departments and the Canadian Forces to combine traditional indigenous knowledge and know-how on the ground with more modern capabilities like aerial patrols conducted by the Royal Canadian Air Force, maritime patrols in partnership with the Canadian Coast Guard and even space-based satellite systems to provide detailed surveillance and monitoring of the north on behalf of the Government of Canada.
Our government recognizes what advanced equipment and facilities can make possible in the north. That is why it is carrying through on measures to increase the Canadian Forces' capabilities and infrastructure in the region.
Six to eight Arctic offshore patrol ships, the first of which we can expect to take to water later in this decade, will provide an important presence in the area as ice-bound passages become navigable. We are also continuing the development of a berthing and refuelling facility in Nanisivik and of an Arctic training centre in Resolute, which will reinforce our presence in the area and, just as important, serve as a place where our men and women in uniform can learn to operate effectively in the north, availing themselves of both the wisdom of the Rangers and of modern technology and approaches.
The Arctic lies at the heart of our identity as Canadians. For decades, its remoteness and severe weather kept it immune from much of the change and many of the dangers affecting the rest of Canada and the world. An increased interest in the Canadian Arctic has brought with it real challenges to this precious part of our country and its inhabitants. The Department of National Defence and the Canadian Forces play an important and even vital role in Canada's Arctic. Canada's armed forces have developed knowledge, partnerships and capabilities that make it especially suited for work in Canada's north. This government is committed to building on these so the Canadian Forces continues to be a valuable contributor to our Arctic security.
I have a question for the associate minister. Our Conservative government made a commitment to rebuild the fleets of the Royal Canadian Navy and the Canadian Coast Guard and, as a result, launched the national ship procurement strategy for which our government was widely commended. While much of the focus has been on the shipbuilding contract award process, what has not been as clear is the impact this will have on the Royal Canadian Navy and the Canadian Forces as a whole. Could the associate minister explain the benefits that this will have for our Canadian Forces?
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View Mark Strahl Profile
CPC (BC)
View Mark Strahl Profile
2012-05-09 23:20 [p.7833]
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Mr. Chair, this question is for the Minister of National Defence.
The brave men and women of the Canadian Forces have demonstrated leadership on a global scale and have taken on a leadership role in a multitude of missions across the world.
Maritime security offers another opportunity for Canada to continue to play a leadership role with our allies. Maritime security is an ongoing concern for not only Canada, but many of our major allies and partners.
Is the Minister of National Defence able to inform the committee of the whole of Canada's contributions to address global maritime security concerns?
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View Mark Strahl Profile
CPC (BC)
View Mark Strahl Profile
2012-05-09 23:23 [p.7834]
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Mr. Chair, when I was with the general on the HMCS Vancouver, I saw him gather the sailors around and say to them, “It's who ought to ask for help”. At the highest level, the general has made it clear that the mental health of the soldiers, sailors and aircrew is of the utmost importance.
Could the Minister of National Defence expand once again on the investments we have made in the area of mental health?
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View Mark Strahl Profile
CPC (BC)
View Mark Strahl Profile
2012-05-03 15:37 [p.7537]
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Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from Vancouver South for splitting her time with me. It is a pleasure to rise in the House today to speak in favour of our government's economic action plan. Allow me to start by quoting just one of the many positive assessments of our recent budget.
David Frum of the National Post wrote that under this Prime Minister, “...Canada can fairly claim to be the best-governed country among advanced democracies in the world” and that the recent “federal budget locks up Canada’s lead”. He explained that the world's major economies share a common economic problem. How do we nurture a fragile economic recovery while returning to a balanced budget?
In the United Kingdom we see the danger of moving too quickly: the economic recovery falters. In the United States we see the danger of moving too slowly: dangerous debt levels and the loss of the country's AAA credit rating. Canada has the pace just right. We are on track to balance the budget in the medium term. The Canadian economy continues to grow. In fact, Canada's economy has expanded in nine out of the last ten quarters. Since July 2009, the Canadian economy has created nearly 700,000 net new jobs, the strongest job growth record in the G7.
Contrary to the assertions by the members opposite, these employment gains have been in high quality jobs, with 90% in full-time positions, and over three-quarters in high-wage industries and in the private sector. For the first time in more than three decades Canada's unemployment rate is well below that of the United States.
Among major industrialized countries Canada has an enviable economic record. The world has taken notice. The World Economic Forum has ranked Canada's banking system as the soundest in the world for the fourth consecutive year. Forbes magazine ranked Canada number one in the world for business to grow and create jobs. Our economy outperforms our major trading partners. Canada is well ahead of other G7 countries in returning to balanced budgets. The International Monetary Fund projects that by 2016, Canada's total debt-to-GDP ratio will remain at about one-third of the G7 average and more than 20 percentage points below that of Germany, the G7 country with the next lowest ratio.
This afternoon I will speak to three reasons why I believe MPs should support our economic action plan.
First, the economic action plan continues our focus on creating jobs, growth and long-term prosperity for all Canadians.
Second, our action plan will ensure Canada's social programs are sustainable in the long term so that they will be there for future generations when we need them.
Third, we will return Canada to balanced budgets by achieving fair, balanced and moderate savings.
Our action plan proposes a number of measures to create jobs and opportunities for Canadians. I will focus on one measure, our responsible resource development initiative. Here are some important facts. In 2010, natural resource sectors employed over 760,000 workers. In the next 10 years, new investments of more than $500 billion are planned across Canada. The problem is that those who wish to invest in our country have been facing an increasingly complicated and cumbersome set of rules that add costs, delay projects and kill jobs.
In my home province of British Columbia, in the government's 2010 Speech from the Throne, it was noted that some $3 billion in provincially approved projects were “stranded in the mire of federal process and delay.” The B.C. Minister of Finance, Kevin Falcon said, “We have many projects on the table today that are in the billions of dollars that could have important ramifications for jobs and employment and revenues.”
There are numerous examples of economic opportunities missed and jobs lost due to needless bureaucratic duplication and red tape. I will provide one such example. There is a proposal to develop a 396 megawatt offshore wind energy project in Haida Gwaii in British Columbia. The proponent estimates that the project would have a capital investment of $1.6 billion and would create up to 200 construction jobs. The federal decision to approve the process came 16 months after the provincial decision.
Our action plan 2012 proposes to remove these impediments that are unnecessarily delaying responsible resource development and costing Canadians jobs.
The Conservative government would focus on four major areas to streamline the review process for major economic projects. We would make the review process for major projects more predictable and timely, we would reduce duplication and regulatory burden, we would strengthen environmental protection, which is very important to note, and in British Columbia, as across the rest of the country, it is very important that we would enhance our consultation with first nations people.
As has already been established, Canada's financial situation, compared to other advanced democracies in the world, is enviable. Our government is not content to rest on our laurels and ignore the challenges that will face Canada in the coming decades. Our action plan is proposing necessary changes to our retirement system to ensure that it will be there for all Canadians.
Here is the challenge that we will be facing in the not too distant future. In the 1970s, there were seven workers for every one person over the age of 65 collecting old age security. Today, there are four workers for every senior collecting OAS, and in 20 years the number will be only two. In addition, in 1970 life expectancy was age 69 for men and 76 for women. Today it is 79 for men and 83 for women. At the same time, Canada's birth rate is falling. Given these demographic changes and realities, the cost of the old age security system will grow from $38 billion in 2011 to $108 billion in 2030. This program is funded out of general revenue every year and this increase is simply unsustainable.
Our action plan 2012 would put the OAS program on a sustainable path by proposing legislation to raise the age of eligibility for OAS and GIS benefits gradually. The phase-in period would begin in April 2023 and it would not be fully implemented until January 2029. Let me be very clear. These proposals would not impact those currently collecting benefits or those nearing retirement. An 11-year notification period followed by a six-year phase-in period would ensure that individuals have significant advance notification to plan their retirement and make necessary adjustments.
At least 34 other countries are increasing the age of eligibility for their programs. They all realize that they need to ensure the sustainability of those programs for future generations. Our actions would ensure that OAS remains strong and is there for future generations when they need it and is available for all seniors today who are currently receiving the benefits.
Finally, our action plan 2012 would keep Canada on track to a balanced budget over the medium term. We would not raise taxes. Doing so kills jobs. We would not cut transfers to individuals, nor would we cut transfers to other levels of government for health care, education and social services, as was done by previous governments. Our government would return to balanced budgets while continuing sustainable increases in transfers for health, education and social programs. Federal transfers to my home province of British Columbia would total over $5.6 billion in 2012-13. This represents a 23% increase, over $1 billion more, than the province received from the former Liberal government.
Canada is a very blessed country. Due to the leadership of our Prime Minister and the Minister of Finance, our country has avoided the worst of the global economic storm and is on a sound financial footing. The measures I have discussed today—responsible resource development, long-term sustainability of our social programs and modest cost savings to return to a balanced budget—are part of our action plan that will create jobs, economic growth and prosperity for all Canadians.
I would ask all hon. members to join with our government and support economic action plan 2012.
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View Mark Strahl Profile
CPC (BC)
View Mark Strahl Profile
2012-05-03 15:48 [p.7538]
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Mr. Speaker, what we are doing is standing up for Canadian citizens and for Canadian jobs, 760,000 jobs in the natural resources sector.
We know the NDP members oppose any development of the oil sands and have called for a moratorium on the development. They oppose any hydrocarbon, fossil fuel development at all. So it is no surprise that they are also opposing the Canadian jobs that result from these projects.
We have seen that they oppose Keystone XL which created over 140,000 jobs. They opposed the northern gateway pipeline, right off the top. They are also opposing the private sector unions which are clearly onside with natural resources development, and have said they support our regulatory reform because they know that these projects give good jobs and good benefits to Canadians. That is why we will continue with our responsible resource development plan.
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View Mark Strahl Profile
CPC (BC)
View Mark Strahl Profile
2012-05-03 15:50 [p.7538]
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Mr. Speaker, the hon. member's question was all over the map, from British Columbia to Newfoundland. I will try to focus on equalization and transfers to the provinces.
I do not know the hon. member's electoral history or if he was here during the time when the Liberal government cut $25 billion in transfers in health and social transfers to the provinces. Certainly, we did fix the equalization program to ensure that it was fair for all Canadians.
I also have no problem discussing the small-town impacts of our bill. I toured a local production facility, Britco in Agassiz, British Columbia. It produces housing units for natural resource development projects. The company sees a direct link between our plan to have regulatory reform and its business model. It has increased the number of its good, high-paying, high-skilled jobs, because of our program to ensure that we have responsible resource development.
I will continue to support the budget, as people in small-town Canada do.
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View Mark Strahl Profile
CPC (BC)
View Mark Strahl Profile
2012-05-02 15:25 [p.7466]
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Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present two petitions today.
The first petition calls on the House of Commons to amend section 223 of the Criminal Code in such a way as to recognize 21st century medical evidence.
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View Mark Strahl Profile
CPC (BC)
View Mark Strahl Profile
2012-05-02 15:26 [p.7466]
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Mr. Speaker, the second petition is from the good people of Simcoe—Grey who are calling upon the government to clarify food labels for food products that are peanut-free, tree nut-free, only peanut-free and only tree nut-free, so that there is a national standard for labels and symbols that indicate whether or not a product contains these life-threatening allergens.
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View Mark Strahl Profile
CPC (BC)
View Mark Strahl Profile
2012-04-30 11:55 [p.7306]
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Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for St. John's East for providing me with this opportunity to express my esteem for search and rescue services. I also congratulate him on his re-elevation to defence critic. As a member of the national defence committee, I look forward to working with him again.
Coming from British Columbia, I have a unique appreciation of the reliability and efficiency of this service and of the extraordinary work of all those who contribute to it, whether professional or volunteer, in uniform or not.
I will take a moment to thank the RCMP, Kent Harrison Search and Rescue and Chilliwack Search and Rescue, which just yesterday participated in a very difficult, very dangerous recovery effort after a tragic hang-gliding accident in my riding of Chilliwack—Fraser Canyon.
We western Canadians are blessed with a natural environment of exceptional beauty. Enjoying the great outdoors has become a key part of our lifestyle and identity. Western Canada has also become a prime destination for visitors from all over the country and from abroad who want to take advantage of the unparalleled recreational opportunities that we have to offer, activities like skiing, rock climbing, kayaking, hiking or camping, to name just a few. However, while our lakes, rivers, forests, mountains, coastlines and island chains are among the most spectacular in the world, they are not without dangers. This is something that we can easily forget.
We sometimes also forget that our environment can make search and rescue operations particularly challenging. Fortunately, we can rely upon the dedication and expertise of search and rescue professionals. such as the two Canadian Forces SAR techs from 442 Squadron in Comox who parachuted out of a CC-115 to a plane crash site 130 kilometres southwest of Williams Lake, B.C. on January 22. Because of their actions and the response of the 442 Transport and Rescue Squadron, all four occupants of the aircraft were found alive.
Not all incidents are that extreme, but I think all of us from the west can think of many incidents where search and rescue services were called upon. Because of that, we appreciate the importance of ensuring the quality of these services. Therefore, I fully understand and share the desire of the hon. member for St. John's East to provide Canadians with the best system of search and rescue services possible.
However, I cannot support the motion that we are debating today. Focusing uniquely on the issue of Canadian Forces' response posture does not accurately reflect the nature of Canada's search and rescue system, nor the specific needs of Canadians.
We have already heard that there is no mandated international norm for response posture. Focusing solely on the Canadian Forces would also be a mistake, because they are only one part of a larger system. What really matters to this government, and what I believe matters to Canadians, is having a search and rescue service that is well suited to the specific challenges of our Canadian environment.
Therefore, in taking part in this debate today, I will speak to some of those particular challenges as well as help Canada's current search and rescue system do a good job of addressing them.
Canada is a uniquely challenging environment for search and rescue. As we all know, we live in an extremely vast country, with a land mass of almost 10 million square kilometres and the world's longest coastline. However, Canada's area of responsibility for search and rescue extends even further than that, totalling approximately 18 million square kilometres when the ocean regions for which we are responsible are included. Within this space, a relatively small population is dispersed over great distances. Needless to say, a country as vast as ours contains enormous geographical diversity.
What is more, the Canadian climate can be very hostile, with temperatures ranging from 35°C to -50.
Taken together, all of these characteristics make Canada unique in the world when it comes to search and rescue and to inherent challenges of trying to reach people in distress, of trying to cover vast distances quickly and then to locating and assisting people in hard to reach places and often under difficult conditions.
Such a unique environment calls for an equally unique search and rescue system. Fortunately, Canada has just such a system, one that is specifically tailored to meet the needs of Canadians and one that is very successful at quickly responding to emergencies and saving lives, at no cost to the user, I should add.
I will now take a few moments to explain that system so as to ensure the motion before the House is taken in the proper context.
Given the particular conditions and challenges of our country that I have just described, no single organization, not even one as versatile and responsive as the Canadian Forces, could possibly cover every inch of our territory all of the time.
Canada's search and rescue system is based on extensive collaboration and co-operation between numerous different departments, agencies, levels of government and other actors. This includes other federal departments and agencies, provincial and territorial governments, municipal and local organizations, commercial companies and volunteer organizations.
Co-operation among these various stakeholders helps ensure that, in every part of the country, local knowledge and expertise can be harnessed in support of search and rescue efforts. It also ensures that people and resources already in the area can provide as fast and effective a response as possible.
Of course, none of these organizations can operate in isolation. Instead, they work together and support one another within the framework of our comprehensive and collaborative approach. Within this context, the Canadian Forces play a crucial role in responding to many different emergencies but are by no means the only provider of search and rescue services. Together with the Canadian Coast Guard, they coordinate the country's response to air and sea incidents by operating the Joint Rescue Coordination Centres in Victoria, Trenton and Halifax. With respect to the provision of air search and rescue services, the Canadian Forces have primary responsibility in cases of downed aircraft and are responsible for providing air support to the Canadian Coast Guard in emergencies at sea.
However, the response to search and rescue incidents on land is different. In cases of ground emergencies, provincial or territorial governments lead the response, including the provision of air services, while the Canadian Forces' role is solely to provide assistance if and when it is requested by the local authorities. It makes perfect sense to rely primarily on local organizations, police forces, volunteer associations, commercial companies et cetera in cases of ground SAR because they have the knowledge, the resources, the expertise and the experience required to respond in the fastest, most appropriate way.
Of the approximately 9,000 search and rescue incidents reported annually in Canada, military assets are deployed for approximately 1,100 and help to save an average of 1,200 lives each year. However, operational statistics only tell part of the story when it comes to this government's commitment to search and rescue. Beyond the responses themselves, the Department of National Defence and, indeed, the government more broadly are actively engaged on a number of fronts to help improve the preparation and coordination of stakeholders as well as the availability of information and public education about the dangers of the Canadian environment.
Each year, the government invests millions through the SAR new initiatives fund to enhance the effectiveness, efficiency, economy and innovation of search and rescue response and prevention activities across Canada. On the international stage, Canada also continues to work with like-minded nations to discuss and review search and rescue efforts. For example, last year we organized and hosted the first ever gathering of specialists from eight Arctic Council nations, in Whitehorse. This year, we welcomed the defence chiefs of those same countries, in Goose Bay, to encourage closer co-operation in dealing with emergencies in the Arctic.
Through all of these programs and initiatives, the government is consistently taking steps to improve the search and rescue service in Canada not just by improving response times but also by improving the coordination and co-operation of stakeholders, by helping develop new technologies and practices so that authorities can be notified of emergencies faster and, perhaps most importantly of all, by providing funding to improve the availability of information and public education on the hazards of our Canadian environment so that fewer of these emergencies occur in the first place. We do all of this because we are committed to the quality of our search and rescue system.
Although I am happy to see that the opposition shares in this commitment, I cannot support the motion before us today.
For the reasons I have just described, I ask the opposition to expand its perspective beyond the narrow issue of military response postures to the broader realities of search and rescue in Canada and to support this government in continuing to find ways to invest our resources where they can make a real difference in the safety and survival of Canadians.
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View Mark Strahl Profile
CPC (BC)
View Mark Strahl Profile
2012-04-23 15:12 [p.7016]
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Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to present a petition on behalf of residents of Chilliwack, Abbotsford and Langley calling on Parliament to speedily enact legislation that restricts abortion to the greatest extent possible.
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View Mark Strahl Profile
CPC (BC)
View Mark Strahl Profile
2012-04-05 12:43 [p.6961]
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Mr. Speaker, I have several petitions to present today.
The first petition is from the people of Chilliwack calling upon the House of Commons to speedily enact legislation that restricts abortion to the greatest extent possible.
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