- On the Parliament site
Last in Parliament November 2005, as Conservative MP for New Westminster—Coquitlam (B.C.)
Lost his last election, in 2011, with 35.80% of the vote.
Statements in the House
Sponsorship Program November 28th, 2005
Mr. Speaker, the government designed and executed ad scam for the benefit of the Liberal Party. At least 565 individuals and groups were involved in the scheme over many years. The Liberals claimed that they made a down payment on the money stolen from taxpayers, with a $1.14 million pay back cheque to the Government of Canada.
To be sure that the Liberals are telling the truth this time, will the government release a copy of both sides of the cancelled down payment cheque that is supposed to have been received from the Liberal Party?
Foreign Affairs November 22nd, 2005
Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Foreign Affairs has tabled his glossy report called “Global Partnership Program—Securing the Future”. He talks about security from terrorists getting nuclear material but not once does he mention the stated mission of Iran to get the bomb and follow the pledge of its prime minister to wipe Israel off the Earth. Just voting once a year at the UN for a motion that denounces human rights in Iran does very little.
Why has the minister failed to show leadership and lead a concert of nations to bring Iran before the UN Security Council over its nuclear weapons program?
Energy Costs Assistance Measures Act November 1st, 2005
Mr. Speaker, I think the principle is great. We would have to do some calculation as to the cost. We must look at regional fairness. In British Columbia we rely on natural gas where other areas of the country do not. However, the principle of not taxing in the first place is what I said in my speech, and the hon. member has something of a good idea.
Energy Costs Assistance Measures Act November 1st, 2005
Mr. Speaker, it is very pleasing to hear an NDP member beginning to espouse Conservative basic policy. He must be getting the message.
These are stop gap measures. We should have a long term plan to look at Canadian society's use of energy. We know where the direction of the cost of energy will be and those on the economic margin will always have difficulty facing that prospect.
The hon. member's fears of administrative bureaucracy and inefficiency are quite correct. Every speaker from the Conservative side today has talked about how inequitable is this plan. I mentioned a number of categories of individuals who would receive no benefit whatsoever.
The general comment I made is that a large federal government program, driven from the top down, is inherently inefficient, does not work and does not change the underlying problem. He has got the Conservative principle right. Do not take the dollar in the first place. That has a much better multiplier effect for the economy.
One of the suggestions I came up with, besides these small micro programs that are market driven and private society driven, is to simply raise the basic exemption for those on the economic margins. That would help people right across the country and it would absolutely cost no dollars to administer, unlike this series of programs.
Energy Costs Assistance Measures Act November 1st, 2005
Mr. Speaker, Bill C-66 is an act to authorize payments to provide assistance in relation to energy costs, housing energy consumption and public transit infrastructure. The bill states:
Part 1 of the enactment authorizes the making of payments to families who are eligible for the National Child Benefit Supplement, and to seniors who are eligible for the Guaranteed Income Supplement and Allowance under the Old Age Security Act, in order to deliver one-time relief for energy costs.
Part 2 authorizes payments of up to $500 million for the period...ending on March 31, 2010 to provide assistance for reducing housing energy consumption. It also authorizes funding of up to $338 million for the EnerGuide for Houses Retrofit Incentive Program.
Part 3 authorizes payments of up to $400 million for each of fiscal years 2005-2006 and 2006-2007 for public transit infrastructure.
The short title of the act is the “Energy Costs Assistance Measures Act”.
The plan is to act on three fronts, providing direct financial assistance to low income seniors and low income families with children, helping families lower their future household heating costs by making their homes more energy efficient, and providing money to municipalities for investment in public transit.
In general, the income thresholds are as follows. We need to look at these. A single senior receives the benefit up to an income of approximately $19,300, including the OAS benefit. A senior couple in which both spouses receive the GIS receives the benefit up to an income of approximately $29,000, including the OAS benefits. A couple in which only one spouse receives the GIS receives the benefit up to an income of approximately $38,700, including the OAS benefits.
In addition to being available to low income individuals aged 65 and older, the energy cost benefit will also be available to those aged 60 to 64 who are entitled to receive payment in January 2006 under the allowance or allowance for survivors programs. These individuals receive the benefit for incomes up to $25,536 and $18,744 respectively.
Delivering payments to families and individuals in this way poses a number of challenges, but the government hopes to ensure that relief is delivered to Canadians in need. That is what it claims.
Making homes and buildings more energy efficient is a key way for Canadians to offset higher energy costs. The incentives will help Canadians save energy and money, but it is a small gesture.
The measures include $500 million to provide direct financial assistance of between $3,500 and $5,000 to low income households to defray the cost of items such as draft-proofing, heating systems upgrades and window replacement under the new EnerGuide for low income households program. For multiple unit buildings and rooming houses, financial assistance will range between $1,000 and $1,500 per unit. Cost savings will average about 30% per household.
We know that the cost of energy is a major factor in housing affordability. These measures, in addition to the residential rehabilitation assistance program, may help reduce energy costs.
However, in B.C. we have some very interesting small programs that hint at innovative directions. They hint at what could be done to help energy consumers shift their consumption patterns. They are bottom up rather than bureaucratic and top down.
One B.C. program is called Car Heaven British Columbia. It deals with vehicle purchase and scrappage. Participants who donate a car of 1994 vintage or older that is currently on the road will receive a $1,000 certificate toward the purchase of a new General Motors or Saturn vehicle. All participants who donate their old gas guzzler car through the program will receive a charitable receipt for a minimum of $50 and the car will be towed away free of charge. Cars and their parts are then disposed of in an environmentally friendly manner.
In addition, between June 1 and November 30, 2005, anyone can enter Car Heaven's draw to win a new car or rail tour package. There is no requirement to donate a vehicle to enter the draw. This program is an initiative of the Clean Air Foundation, not government. It can be found at the website carheaven.ca and the phone number is 778-371-7123.
In B.C. we also have an exemption for non-motorized, two-wheeled bicycles. These bicycles, non-motorized, two-wheeled, and their repair, as well as bicycle parts, bicycle accessories and their installation, are all exempt from provincial sales tax.
Tax exempt parts include most normal bicycle components. Tax exempt accessories include pumps, carriers and other items. Accessories and equipment are exempt from tax if installed by the seller at the time the bicycle is sold. Safety equipment such as lighting, including batteries, reflectors, helmets, safety vests and bibs, are exempt regardless of when purchased. This is a small but meaningful help to promote the use of bicycles. All we need now is for the feds to make it GST free. For more information, people may call 604-660-4524.
Then we have that scrap it in B.C. program. Owners of cars and light duty trucks of 1993 vintage or older currently insured in the lower mainland can trade them for one of the following incentives: $1,000 toward a new hybrid vehicle; $750 toward a new vehicle; $500 toward a 1998 or newer used vehicle; 50% of the purchase price of bicycle up to $500; $750 toward van pooling or car pooling with the Jack Bell Foundation; $500 toward a member in car sharing cooperatives; TransLink monthly passes, 18 months concession, 12 months in one zone, 9 months for two zones, 6 months for three zones; and the West Coast Express, 28-day passes. These are all incentives that are available.
To be eligible the vehicle must have been continuously insured in the last 12 months on the lower mainland and failed an air care test at some point in its history. Simply go to the website called “incentivesandrebates.ca”. There is also the Vancity clean air auto loan, up to $3,000 per vehicle in reduced interest payments. The Vancity Credit Union offers its members prime rate loans for the purchase of gasoline, electric, hybrid and dedicated natural gas vehicles. As of September, the prime rate was 4.5% and the loan is up to five years.
In B.C. Terasen Gas, in cooperation with the British Columbia ministry of energy, mines and petroleum resources and Natural Resources Canada, now offers a program to encourage the use of high efficiency natural gas hydronic space heating systems in new construction and retrofit applications. The program will provide incentives to gas customers to help offset the cost of installing high efficiency boilers in commercial applications. In retrofit applications, additional incentives may be received for monitoring boiler performance and gas savings when an efficient boiler replaces a less efficient one.
Free workshops on the design application, installation and maintenance of high efficiency heating boilers in commercial buildings also are offered. The program began April 4 and runs until December 31, 2006. Simply call 1-888-477-0777.
The feds always seem to want to drive a big program from the top. I have given the example of small programs from the bottom. They spend a lot of someone else's money, taxpayer money, for a general objective.
The bureaucratic approach eliminates market forces and individual choice and flexibility. That style of administration is inefficient and sometimes is even outright wasteful. Generally it does not deliver any lasting improvement. The preferred choice is to not to take taxes in the first place to reward certain habits. Then taxes should be structured to reflect the true flow through cost of historical and external subsidies so the true cost is the consumer cost.
Retrofitting is good, but we need to stop building energy hungry office buildings and homes in the first place. In this case there needs to be a higher level playing field across the country for energy efficiency standards. The bill would deliver some dollars to some people. In the long run, it will do little to actually alter the underlying problem of the rates of energy consumption and the relentless trend of increasing energy costs. Governments should not be congratulated for just stop gap measures, for that is all we have seen from these Liberals.
The bill would not assist students, those receiving disability benefits, farmers, low income seniors who do not get the supplement of the OAS, childless poor Canadians or many who are close to the poverty line. Rather, raising the standard basic exemption on the income tax form would have zero administrative cost, unlike this program, and would help all who are in need.
People today are using energy like never before. Such items as dishwashers, microwaves, washers, dryers and a counter full of kitchen gadgets, personal computers, fax machines and modems have allowed us to save valuable time, but it does not come without a cost. It is increasingly important to manage the amount of energy we use, not only to save money but also to be kinder to the environment.
In conclusion, the bill may buy some votes in the short term, but it does little to help the Canadian dilemma of long term adjustment to the future cost of energy for the efficient movement of goods, capital and labour, or to heat our homes. Significantly, on this day of the release of the Gomery report, this is a money bill that is a confidence measure of the government.
Committees of the House June 14th, 2005
Mr. Speaker, the Liberals do not want to reappoint Mr. Reid because they do not like what he advocates, but we know that indicative of any totalitarian regime is the control of information. It is central to the functioning of any dictatorship.
Previously, I talked to the Auditor General about this. She said that there are limits to laws and rules and policy directives, but they just get ignored. What is needed in addition is a culture of transparency.
I want the member to talk about what this current move by the government reveals about its character. We see its love of secrecy and its record of undermining the access to information law. We have seen its failure to expand resources to actually implement the law. The central element, which is basic to all of democracy, is openness and transparency, public access and the public's right to know.
Can he explain in plain terms what the Liberal move means to the average voter? Why should the average voter care about us arguing about access to information?
Supply June 7th, 2005
Mr. Speaker, Conservatives have put forward for debate the following motion sponsored by our health critic, the member for Charleswood—St. James—Assiniboia. The motion states:
That, given a national strategy is needed now to reduce the growing human and economic costs of cancer, heart disease and mental illness; the House call on the government to fully fund and implement the Canadian Strategy for Cancer Control in collaboration with provinces and all stake holders, and given that Canada is one of the few developed countries without a national action plan for effectively addressing mental illness and heart disease, the government should immediately develop and initiate a comprehensive national strategy on mental illness, mental health and heart disease.
Mental health issues can be addressed from enhancing our emotional well-being to treating and preventing severe mental illness and disorder. A supportive environment for maintaining and improving mental health is one that shows respect for personal dignity and fosters a sense of having control over one's life.
In Canada the planning and delivery of mental health services is an area in which the provincial governments have primary jurisdiction. The federal government, chiefly through the Public Health Agency of Canada, collaborates with provinces. They seek to develop coordinated and efficient mental health service systems.
Mental health is an important part of overall health. Just as we can care for our physical health in a variety of ways, we can take steps to maintain and improve our mental health, and that of our families and communities.
We are reminded that at least one in five people will be affected by mental illness during their lifetime. About 4,000 people will commit suicide in Canada each year. Depression will be the single most expensive cause of loss of workplace productivity due to disability by 2020. The need for care, treatment, rehabilitation, community integration and support programs and services far exceeds what is available in most communities.
Sadly, mental health promotion and prevention issues have been placed near the bottom of the priority list of health care initiatives of the government. The stigma associated with mental illness and the lack of public awareness about mental health issues prohibits open discussion and blocks a coordinated approach to finding solutions and help for the people who need it most.
Canada does not have a national information collection and reporting system to allow for the accurate estimation of the incidence and prevalence of mental illness or to evaluate mental illness and mental health programs, services and policies that are paid for by the taxpayer. There is no nationally organized mental illness and mental health research agenda in Canada. Canada, unlike most other developed countries, does not have a national action plan for mental illness and mental health.
We need to promote mental wellness through wise lifestyle choices and body fitness. We need to encourage all Canadians to take a proactive approach to life and their mental well-being. Good mental health provides us with the ability to positively deal with the stresses and challenges of life, and facilitates the utilization of the full range of opportunities to enrich our lives and those around us.
For far too long the stigma of mental illness has made the victims hide their mental suffering while society failed to adequately provide for their needs. However, times have changed. Today, like cancer and heart disease, mental illness is viewed as a chronic disease. It can happen to anyone and like other illnesses it can be treated successfully. People coping with mental illness and those who help to support them deserve care, acceptance and respect. They also deserve a fair share of health care dollars.
Mental illnesses touch the lives of all Canadians, exerting a major effect on relationships, education, productivity and overall quality of life. In fact, approximately 20% of individuals will experience a mental illness during their lifetime and the remaining 80% will be affected by an illness in family members, friends and colleagues. With sufficient attention and resources much can be done to improve the lives of people living with mental illness.
Various reports on mental illness in Canada have been designed to raise the profile of mental illness among government and non-government organizations, and in industry, education, workplace and academic sectors. They describe major mental illnesses and outline their incidence, prevalence, causation, impact, stigma, prevention and treatment. The policy makers will have to pay better attention in order to shape policies and services aimed at improving the quality of life of people with mental illness.
Researchers recommend the collation of existing data as the first step toward developing a surveillance system to monitor mental illness in Canada. We need more resources to study mental illnesses in Canada, so we can use good Canadian data that is currently available, such as, hospitalizations and mortality data, as well as provincial studies.
Hospitalization data has its limitations however. Many factors other than prevalence and severity of illness can influence hospital admissions and lengths of stay. Moreover, the majority of people with mental illness are treated in the community rather than in hospitals and many may not be treated at all within the formal health care system.
The use of modern medications has humanized responses to mental health care. Data from provincial psychiatric hospitals would provide additional insight., but these data are often unavailable by type of illness. We need quality information to begin to fill the gaps to provide a more complete foundation on which to plan and evaluate policies, programs and services for mental illness.
For Canadians it is very simple. We stand for the Canada Health Act. However, before that, we stand for needy Canadians who are currently suffering while the system is unable to respond.
I am concerned about the thousands who simply cannot find a family physician with which to establish an ongoing therapeutic relationship. That positive relationship factor alone is a great mental health backstop. The fact of folk developing a quality relationship with their family physician is an aspect of psychoprophylaxis.
Conservatives stand for each of the five principles of the Canada Health Act: universality, comprehensiveness, accessibility, public administration and portability. They are values and benchmarks. They must also not become custodial rules which become barriers to healing or the ability of Canadians to care for their neighbour and the hurting in our communities.
These principles are the essence of Canadian public health care. Although these ideals are not met every day, we can strive to do a lot better. New science and the innovations from our medical researchers and from innovations from abroad all must be allowed to be incorporated into daily care. We still have administrative policies that get in the way of helping patients and alleviating real suffering, where policy comes before care and bureaucracy comes before healing. Canada could do much better.
Our public system, taken together with our history, becomes a societal guarantee of access to health care on the basis of need and not ability to pay. We support public delivery and public pay. Canadians turned their backs on developing a fully privatized health care system some 40 years ago. We collectively try to care for each other. However, the socialists want us also to ensure that all suffer together and some even die, as long as one bureaucracy and one mode remains. We must never allow the system to be before people, for we know that socialism hurts people, especially in health care.
We do not have an American system and our innovations are not replications of that. The comparison is erroneous. Although the Americans have the world's best health care for many, it is not for all.
May we not slide down to where all can potentially get some care, but it is only mediocre and not internationally competitive in best practice. Nevertheless, we ensure that no one will ever go bankrupt in order to get care. The problem now is what kind of care and at what levels, especially for mental health services.
The Prime Minister has demonstrated in his own personal care situation that there is a role for private for profit care. Catholic hospitals, the Salvation Army and others have demonstrated the complementary role that private non-profit care can have as part of the mix. Again, the Prime Minister is the best example, that we can expand somewhat privatization and help keep our Canadian health dollars at home without doing away or hurting the Canada Health Act.
Living in Canada we never forget that we are rich beyond the imaginings of many in this world. The right to own private property, the private enterprise system, which allows private profit in business, and the promotion of competitive open markets has gone a long way to generate the wealth needed to pay for the health care that we want.
Our privileged position means that we can ask much of ourselves and our government, and rightly so. Our medicare system can be a social equalizer in a positive sense if properly managed. It represents Canadian conservative values of equity, of equality, of justice and compassion.
I am calling today for the Government of Canada to have the patience, tenacity and a long range view to learn from the world and have more resolve to improve our public system as compared to other countries. That means investing significantly in mental health services.
Conservatives have the plan and vision to see it through to completion, for the benefit of this generation and the next. The nation, Canadians, expect no less.
Brian “Frosty” Forst June 1st, 2005
Mr. Speaker, I rise today to pay tribute to radio broadcaster Brian “Frosty” Forst, host of the CKNW morning show. He retired last week from New Westminster's station, the giant 98. He was a reliable favourite that kept the station as top dog and the most listened to station in British Columbia.
Frosty started at CKNW in 1963 and soon made the rolling home show a must for every driver. He became host of the morning show in 1973. His irreverent style and razor sharp wit started a new era in Vancouver area radio and made him the most highly rated morning host in British Columbia.
I want to recognize the significant contribution that Frosty made to the success of CKNW and to the quality of life of the thousands who came to rely on him. I thank him for bringing levity and humour to the morning show for over 40 years. He was the one who could make my day.
Brian “Frosty” Forst, host of the CKNW morning show says goodbye. Farewell Frosty and happy retirement.
Supply May 31st, 2005
Mr. Speaker, I have heard the minister very clearly. He has been quoting Justice Gomery. From what I heard, Justice Gomery was staking out new ground and enlarging the envelope to ensure that he did have the freedom, in spite of clause (k).
I would like the minister to state in this House that when the tough time comes, the Liberals are going to support the wording that he has just quoted and not back down, that Justice Gomery is looking for a larger horizon and that the government is not going to hold him to the limits of clause (k), which reads, “directed to perform his duties without expressing any conclusion or recommendation regarding the civil or criminal liability”.
First, Justice Gomery has enlarged that and the minister has quoted that. Therefore, I am expecting the minister is going to make a commitment on behalf of the Liberals that they are going to defend the Gomery interpretation rather than the (k) interpretation.
Second, rather than the cabinet sitting on it or holding it or having discussions or whatever, the report by Justice Gomery will be tabled in the news media for everybody to know.
Supply May 18th, 2005
Mr. Chair, my comment about the quota relates to resourcing because we know that an FTE, a staff member, a professional, can only handle approximately so many files in a year, and the department knows that. It makes that planning based on that.
However, when year after year our source points are tested by applicants, one would think that at some point there would be some kind of service demand relation that the department would respond to the kind of demand that it was getting out there in the field. If it does not do that, then it is artificially, by budget, setting a quota. This is what I have been seeing going on year after year at Beijing.