Robert Gordon KITCHEN

KITCHEN, Dr. Robert Gordon

Personal Data

Souris--Moose Mountain (Saskatchewan)
Email Address

Parliamentary Career

October 19, 2015 -
  Souris--Moose Mountain (Saskatchewan)

Most Recent Speeches (Page 1 of 37)

June 18, 2019

Mr. Robert Kitchen (Souris—Moose Mountain, CPC)

Mr. Speaker, the member talked about helping the oil and gas industry reduce its emissions. Putting a carbon tax on small businesses is not going to help those people, but there is something that is. The member is probably well aware that in the Paris accord, three of the four recommendations on progressing were about using carbon capture and sequestration, which were talked about and signed off on. This innovation already exists in Canada. Not only does it exist in Canada, but it takes the emissions captured and puts them underground, which helps the enhanced oil recovery.

In fact, just the other week, Mr. Michal Kurtyka, from the Ministry of the Environment for Poland, stated, “Carbon capture and sequestration will be important to make an advance to carbon neutrality”. Mr. Pawel Leszczynski, the COP24 presidency bureau chief, was also there.

My question is very simple. Why are you not championing this?

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Business of Supply
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June 18, 2019

Mr. Robert Kitchen (Souris—Moose Mountain, CPC)

Mr. Speaker, as we prepare to leave the House and the 42nd Parliament for the summer, I am happy to have a chance to speak to today's motion, which reads as follows:

That, given that the carbon tax will not reduce emissions at its current rate and it is already making life more expensive for Canadians, the House call on the government to repeal the carbon tax and replace it with a real environment plan.

This is an initiative that I am passionate about, which I have spoken about here many times. In fact, when I am back in the riding, my constituents continually talk to me about the carbon tax, how we are going to get rid of it and how quickly can can get rid of it. The carbon tax is something that has resonated particularly strongly with the people in my riding, and not in a positive way.

I have been privileged to serve the people of Souris—Moose Mountain for the last four years, and part of why I am speaking to today's motion is due to the commitment I made upon becoming an MP. I promised that I would represent the interests of all my constituents at every possible opportunity, and I am proud to stand here today to denounce the ineffective Liberal carbon tax and the negative impact it is having on Canadians across the country.

The fact of the matter, as stated in today's motion, is that the Liberals' carbon tax is not effective in reducing emissions, and it makes life more expensive for hard-working Canadians. The Liberals seem to think that all of Canada is urban. I say this because the majority of their policies, and especially those tied to reducing emissions, are targeted toward urban areas, with almost nothing for those living in rural Canada. When a major city gets new environmentally friendly buses, how does that benefit the people in my riding? Guess what: it does not.

Furthermore, Canadians living in rural areas are going to be hit hard by the carbon tax and in some ways more so than those who are living in urban areas. It is a normal and acceptable thing for people in southeast Saskatchewan to drive 30-plus miles just to get groceries. Driving 50 miles or more to see a doctor is the status quo, and nobody complains about it, because that is just the way it has always been done. Small businesses have no avenue to rebate the carbon tax. They end up eating it or increasing their overhead or passing it on to their customers, and risk losing their customers.

What does make people frustrated and angry is when a government swoops in and unilaterally decides that Canadians now have to pay more to go about their usual day-to-day lives, and with none of the benefits that those living in urban areas receive. The Liberal carbon tax is not helping the environment, but rather it is hurting Canadians through the increased price on things like gasoline, groceries and home heating.

I would like to share the experiences of some of my constituents that touch on how ill thought out and ineffective the carbon tax really is.

As members know, under the carbon tax, fuel used for farm purposes is meant to be exempt, but this is not the case here. Due to the Liberals leaving a loophole in their legislation, farmers who obtain their fuel at pump locations and not designated cardlocks are paying the carbon tax when they should not be. There is no mechanism to rectify this, and it is creating some big issues for farmers. While I have written letters to the minister, I have not heard one response.

Many farmers are not able to have fuel delivered directly to their farms, because they do not have the ability to store it, and so pump locations are necessary for them to do their jobs. There are huge increases in cost to secure storage areas and to protect storage areas from environmental issues, not to mention the security and protection of this resource. Furthermore, there is no cardlock station within a reasonable distance of these farmers, and a pump location is their only option.

For example, farmers on acreages that are 20 miles east of a pump location have to travel to fill up their vehicles and their equipment, and they are not even getting the promised exemption. They may farm acreages another 30 kilometres in the other direction or west of where they are coming from. We are now at the end of the spring seeding season, and farmers are still having to fight for their government to make good on the commitments it made to not charge farmers a carbon tax. It is yet another example of how the Liberal carbon tax continues to fail Canadians time and time again.

Unfortunately, Canadians have become accustomed to the Liberals misleading them and providing them with misinformation, especially when it comes to the carbon tax. When it was introduced, the minister said that 100% of the revenues from the carbon tax would go back to Canadians and that it would end up being revenue neutral. When asked specifically if that figure included the GST, the Liberals said no, that the GST would stay in our pockets. We have now found out that this is patently untrue and that the GST is being charged on top of the carbon tax, essentially a tax on a tax.

Here are some simple figures when it comes to the carbon tax and the GST on that. In 2017, the number of litres of gasoline used in Canada was 43.6 billion litres. The carbon tax at 4¢ per litre amounts to $1.7 billion that is collected. The Liberals are refusing to tell Canadians how high this tax will go as we move forward. This means that people living in this country are unable to make concrete plans for their future.

According to the Parliamentary Budget Officer, the Liberals would need to hike the carbon tax up to at least $100 per tonne to meet the Paris targets that they committed to. The PBO has also stated that in order to meet the Paris targets, gasoline prices would need to increase by 23¢ per litre. Despite their claims that they are on track to meet these targets, there is clear evidence to the contrary. It is yet another example of the Liberals attempting to mislead Canadians so that they can save face when it comes to their failed and ineffective carbon tax that has done nothing to reduce emissions.

I would like to highlight some of the innovative work that is happening right here in Canada with respect to reducing emissions. That is the utilization of CCS, carbon capture and storage, technology. The CCS technology is installed on unit 3 of Boundary Dam, the power station in my riding. CCS allows for the CO2 emissions of that unit to be captured and stored three to four kilometres underground, preventing these emissions from being released into the atmosphere. The stored CO2 is then used by the oil industry for things like EOR, which is enhanced oil recovery. The by-product of this process is also fly ash, which is a saleable product that is used in the production of cement. The EOR helps the oil industry reduce its emissions, and the fly ash helps the cement-production companies in reducing their carbon emissions.

While retrofitting power plants with CCS can be expensive, a recent study done by the International CCS Knowledge Centre found that the cost of retrofitting the Shand Power Station would be 67% cheaper per tonne of CO2 captured, compared to the Boundary Dam that is built today.

According to the Paris agreement, CCS is mentioned in three or four potential pathways to reducing emissions. In fact, the secretary of state in the ministry of the environment of Poland, Mr. Michal Kurtyka, and the COP24 presidency bureau director, Mr. Pawel Leszczynski, were visiting the Boundary Dam and they basically said that carbon capture and sequestration will be important and make an advance to carbon neutrality.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Business of Supply
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June 18, 2019

Mr. Robert Kitchen (Souris—Moose Mountain, CPC)

Mr. Speaker, the member talked about how he did not want to call it a tax. However, what we do know is the government put a GST on the carbon tax.

In 2017, 43.6 billion litres of gasoline were used in Canada and $2.6 billion were collected in GST. The Liberals said that they would give 100% of this money back. Surprisingly, the GST money will not be given back. We found after the fact that actually only 90% would go be given back. Therefore, any way we look at it, this is a tax.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Business of Supply
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June 11, 2019

Mr. Robert Kitchen (Souris—Moose Mountain, CPC)

Mr. Speaker, I am happy to rise in the House today to debate Motion No. 225, veteran homelessness in Canada, which has been put forward by my colleague, the member for Bay of Quinte. This member and I have worked together here in Ottawa for a number of years, and since the 2015 election, we have been on the Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs together. It has been a great privilege to work with him. We spent many hours discussing many important issues and what we can do to assist our veterans. I commend my colleague for his work in putting together this motion and for his time on the Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs. It has been a pleasure to work with him.

Also, I would like to acknowledge and thank the many Saskatchewan members of Parliament who are speaking to this motion today and recognizing how we, in Saskatchewan, have had to deal with veteran homelessness, not only in urban centres but also in the rural communities we represent.

I would like to take a moment to read the text of the motion that we are debating today. It reads:

That, in the opinion of the House: (a) the government should set a goal to prevent and end veteran homelessness in Canada by 2025; (b) a plan to achieve this aim should be developed by the government and be presented to the House by June 2020, led by the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development and supported by the Minister of Veterans Affairs; and (c) this plan should include consideration of whether a National Veterans Housing Benefit similar to the highly successful U.S. Housing and Urban Development – Veterans Administration Supportive Housing (HUD VASH) Program would fit the Canadian context, complementing the National Housing Strategy.

I add to that the amendment we just heard, which proposed using the word “co-led” instead of “led”. I do not think we will see that as an issue in our discussions, at least from my point of view.

I truly believe that all members on all sides of this House are in favour of ending homelessness among veterans. If my time on the veterans affairs committee has taught me anything, it is that when it comes to veterans, almost every politician is willing to put aside partisanship for the greater good of serving those who have served us. While we may have differences when it comes to what that service looks like, ultimately we all want the very best programs and services for those who have fought for and represented Canada.

With respect to this motion specifically, I truly and wholeheartedly support the intent behind it, and it is only the effectiveness of the measures contained therein that I take any issue with. We want to provide the best possible service to our veterans who are struggling with homelessness, and we want to ensure that we are using the most appropriate avenues to accomplish that goal.

Veterans each have their own unique story, with their experiences shaping who they are and where they are today. We need to understand that while a group of soldiers may share a common experience, how they deal with that experience is different from one individual to the next. What rolled off the back of one soldier may have affected another soldier deeply. There is no one-size-fits-all solution to the issues our veterans face, and that is certainly the case when it comes to veteran homelessness.

One thing that we have repeatedly heard at the veterans affairs committee is the importance of a community. The best people to help veterans are their fellow veterans, because only they can begin to understand what their brothers or sisters in arms have been through.

We had many community outreach groups appear before the committee and outline the outstanding efforts they have made from coast to coast with the goal of ending veteran homelessness.

Veterans Affairs Canada, or VAC, has provided information about its programs and services to approximately 200 of these community outreach organizations that work with the homeless in more than 50 major cities across the country. This includes key information on how to contact VAC. VAC is also currently involved in outreach initiatives with veterans groups and community organizations to find and assist homeless veterans. I am glad to see that this is happening, and I encourage VAC and the minister to ensure that supporting these organizations remains a top priority going forward.

I would like to touch on some of the great work already being done in this country with respect to community outreach for veterans. As I said, we heard from many grassroots organizations that are taking a community-based approach to finding and assisting veterans in need with housing, social benefits, mental health assistance and much more.

One of these organizations, which has testified at the veterans affairs committee more than once, is VETS Canada. VETS Canada does an annual tour of Canada's major cities, where volunteers walk the streets in order to identify homeless veterans in need and point them towards the appropriate services.

It also provides emergency transition housing in Halifax, Vancouver and Ottawa. That is just a fraction of what it does. In fact, the chair and co-founder of VETS Canada advised the committee that about half its referrals each month come from VAC case managers. That is how effective this organization has been in getting veterans the help they need. It is truly incredible to see what people can do if they are willing to put the time and effort toward a common goal, which VETS Canada so clearly has.

I would also like to highlight an organization that we all know very well: the Royal Canadian Legion. Its Leave the Streets Behind program provides emergency housing as well as financial assistance to homeless and at-risk veterans. It also works in partnership with the organization I just spoke of, VETS Canada, as well as other community-based groups, to serve veterans that require assistance. I am not sure if many Canadians are aware of the full scope of the Legion's work, outside of its annual poppy campaign in the fall, but it maintains a national network of support, allowing it to address matters that come to it at a local level. It is modernizing and adapting to the needs of today's veterans and has assured us that it will continue to do so into the future.

Other areas that homeless and low-income veterans can access are VAC's veterans emergency fund, the Royal Canadian Naval Benevolent Fund, the Canadian Forces personnel assistance fund and the Montreal Old Brewery Mission sentinels of the street program, just to name a few.

One of the issues we have unfortunately heard about repeatedly in the discussion on ending veterans' homelessness is that some veterans simply do not want to be found. There are a number of reasons for that, many of which a person who has never served would not understand. Veterans tend to struggle with issues that the majority of the population never will, such as PTSD from traumas that were personally experienced or things like a brain stem injury from being forced to take a medication with harmful side effects, such as mefloquine.

When people are stuck in the cycle of failing mental health, it can be extremely difficult for them to seek help. Many times, they will choose to self-medicate by using drugs or alcohol to cope with the mental turmoil they are experiencing. Homelessness is directly tied into this, as in some cases, veterans will lose everything, including their families and homes, because their mental health has deteriorated to the point where they cannot manage the demands of their day-to-day lives.

Even if veterans do seek help, they are sometimes turned away, as they do not meet the qualifications. For example, some veterans who are using medical marijuana are turned away from support programs that would otherwise help them, despite the fact that they are using marijuana under the advisement of a physician, as medication. The medical marijuana may be helping them cope and helping them get off the many neuropsychiatric medications and opioids they are on. However, they end up being removed or disallowed from participating in programs that are meant to help them, resulting in a continued cycle of homelessness.

Another thing we heard about, which was very interesting, was pets. I think that most of us here know how therapeutic it is to spend time with pets. They are constant companions who provide reassurance and comfort. People can pour their hearts out to animals and not worry that they will love them any less. However, it becomes a bit of an issue when we look at veterans' homelessness, as the majority of facilities that provide emergency housing will not allow pets. Most people would not think this would be a barrier to housing, but it truly is. Time and again, I have heard that veterans are willing to give up their beds in a shelter or emergency transition home so that they can have their dogs at their side. This is a small facet of all the details that need to be considered when formulating strategies to end veteran homelessness.

I would encourage the government to listen to its own Advisory Committee on Homelessness when it comes to a proven method of reducing homelessness in Canada. The advisory committee's final report on the Conservative's Housing First policy stated:

A key learning in the national implementation of Housing First is that the Housing First model must be adapted to local conditions (like funding, community size, local housing type and availability), and must be tailored to meet the unique needs of different populations (such as youth, women, veterans, Indigenous Peoples).

I could speak to this for hours, but unfortunately, I am limited in time. I am proud of the work that is going on in Canada, separate and apart from any federal government initiative, with respect to combatting homelessness among veterans. While I do not think that the national housing strategy referenced in the text of the motion will actually be the catalyst for ending veterans' homelessness, I am happy that the issue is getting the attention it needs.

Our veterans gave us so much and served our country with respect, honour and dignity. They deserve the same in return, and it is our job to ensure that they get it.

Topic:   Private Members' Business
Subtopic:   Veterans Homelessness
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June 4, 2019

Mr. Robert Kitchen (Souris—Moose Mountain, CPC)

Mr. Speaker, with this whole concept of closure, it has become apparent that the government does not want to keep the promises it made to Canadians. For example, the budget mentions the word “farming” only five times. The government promised it would help canola farmers. It came out with a change for things to go to $1 million and, surprise, it is not in there. It promised to get rid of the carbon tax on farm fuel and it is not there.

The whole approach of the government is to show nothing. It is embarrassing that we do not have the opportunity to talk about this.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Budget Implementation Act, 2019, No. 1
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