- On the Parliament site
Last in Parliament September 2008, as Conservative MP for Portage—Lisgar (Manitoba)
Won his last election, in 2006, with 69.78% of the vote.
Statements in the House
Canada Labour Code February 11th, 2005
Mr. Speaker, the Manitoba NDP government is planning to proceed with a plan to force every worker on the Red River floodway expansion to unionize, despite the fact that 95% of Manitoba's construction companies are not unionized. This seems to be a clear attempt to help union boss buddies do by the back door what they have not been able to do by the front door.
Given the fact that the federal government is a fifty-fifty partner in this, I give it the opportunity today to make it clear that it opposes the forced unionization of Manitoba construction workers.
Budget Implementation Act, 2004, No. 2 February 4th, 2005
Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from Edmonton--Sherwood Park for his comments. He brings to the House considerable expertise, as was evident in his comments. I do not want to see that expertise wasted. I would like to take advantage of that expertise through my questions for him.
Notwithstanding the incredible waste of taxpayers' dollars that has occurred under this administration, I do not want to focus on that. I find it unfortunate and distasteful but it is not the focus of my question.
We know the government has claimed that its ability is very significant in terms of money management. It makes that claim repeatedly by saying that it has run surplus budgets for some time. We also know, in rough numbers, that the Liberal government inherited a debt created largely during the years of Pierre Trudeau and the previous prime minister, years of incredible overspending, which of course now the Liberals have has repeated in the last several years. The Liberals do not appear to have learned from the past. We know that.
We know the Liberals inherited a debt, we know that it continued to rise under their management, and we know that it has now dropped somewhat, to a level of approximately $60 billion less than what it was over a decade ago.
Where did the $60 billion come from? Notwithstanding the fact that much more money could have been applied to the debt if the Liberals had not wasted it on gun registries, foolishness, papering the bedroom walls of their friends and paying for lavish expenditures and trips such as those André Ouellet has enjoyed at the expense of the taxpayer, without receipts, notwithstanding any of that, they paid it down, they claim, by $60 billion. But what did they do with the EI surplus?
Forty-five billion dollars more was taken in by the government from working Canadians under employment insurance than was paid back in benefits to the workers of this country. There was $45 billion more taken out of the pockets of small business people, the major employers in this country, $45 billion more than was paid out in benefits. It was taken in by the government and it was not put in a reserve. The government did not set it aside. No. It is gone. It has vanished.
Where did the $45 billion go? Maybe it went against the debt. I am not sure. Maybe it went to André Ouellet. Maybe it went to worldwide travel. Maybe it went to the gun registry. We do not know. We are not sure. Maybe it went to jets for the Prime Minister. I do not know.
But I do know this. I do know that the government's claims of incredible money management are grossly overinflated. I would like the member to clarify for me if he feels that the employment insurance program could have been run more honestly and more transparently rather than used as a cash cow for the government.
Sponsorship Program February 1st, 2005
Mr. Speaker, former Liberal cabinet minister André Ouellet hired himself to the best paying patronage position in the country and then he took $2 million in non-receipted expenses. All the while it turns out he was receiving gifts, luxury box tickets and invites to the home of his good friend, Jean Lafleur. Like his Liberal colleagues, he was so busy spending taxpayer money, he forget to protect taxpayer money.
How many other contracts did Lafleur receive from the government following the $275,000 which went missing?
Sponsorship Program February 1st, 2005
Mr. Speaker, in 1997 the Liberal government granted Canada Post $275,000 to sponsor a stamp launch. Canada Post has no record of ever receiving the money. Liberal friendly Lafleur Communications was hired to transfer the money but it appears that never happened. Liberal incompetence may have paid Lafleur a 100% commission for doing little or no work.
How many other Liberal friends forgot to forward their funds?
Finance January 31st, 2005
Mr. Speaker, our colleagues from other regions may not be aware of the change in the Crow rate which used to subsidize the exporter transport of raw materials out of western Canada to processing facilities elsewhere, for example, in eastern Canada. I suppose an example of this would be the tie-in with the Canadian Wheat Board, which really is not the Canadian Wheat Board but is actually a western Canadian wheat marketing monopoly. There is a misunderstanding of the concept of those things which many colleagues in the House may still retain.
With the Crow rate demise, what happened is that shipping costs for agricultural families, farm producers, escalated considerably. This changed the cropping practices of much of the land base in western Canada. For example, Manitoba has just surpassed Prince Edward Island as the leading producer of potatoes in the country. There are two major potato processors within my riding, Simplot and McCain. This has resulted in expanded potato acreage.
Potatoes have to be hauled by heavy trucks. The use of our roads has changed dramatically. The wear and tear on our roads has changed dramatically, but the method of funding the construction, repair and maintenance of those roads has not changed significantly. What has happened is we have shifted an onerous burden onto our local governments and our provincial governments in this respect.
One example would be that the Trans-Canada Highway, the national highway system, through much of western Canada was designed to allow for overpasses to be built over the highways. The roads are brought together very closely in many locations. Those overpasses have never been built. What is happening now is the B-trains, the big long potato-hauling and grain-hauling trucks are pulling out into the intersections and blocking the Trans-Canada Highway to the detriment and danger of the people travelling down the highway and to the people doing the hauling.
We need an investment in a national highways program. We need that gas tax reinvested in the jurisdictions which need those investments to be made urgently in the interests of the safety of the citizens there and the citizens who travel across Canada.
Finance January 31st, 2005
Mr. Speaker, while I thank the member for his rhetorical interventions, I invite him to read the minority recommendations that the Conservative Party has prepared and has forwarded to the finance minister. They outline in great detail some of the questions that he has raised just now.
I also want him to be aware in his references to the fiscal imbalance. Unlike the government opposite, we do not deny that such an imbalance exists. The fact is, of course, that with the support of the Conservative Party the Bloc finance critic was able to succeed in his attempt to have a resolution brought forward which established a subcommittee precisely to look into that issue.
I alluded in my comments to a couple of specific examples from my area which relate to that imbalance. I think in part that the infrastructure references I made, and the aboriginal policy references with specific interventions and specific ideas for a policy initiative, were two examples of where we believe the government's lack of policy, lack of direction and fuzziness around those and other categories of policy development are creating a major concern and a major and growing problem across Canada.
That being said, I again invite the member to consult his own colleagues and become more aware of the specifics of the issue, using the resources that are available to him.
Finance January 31st, 2005
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to add my comments to the prebudget debate today.
I learned the other day that goldfish apparently cannot create new memories, which is interesting. I guess that every time they swim around their bowl that little plastic castle is a brand new thing to them, an exciting new event.
This may be humorous when it comes to goldfish, but it is not an appealing quality in a government. It is not an appealing quality for a government to be unable to learn from its mistakes or to learn from the past. Unfortunately that is what we have in this country.
Canadians deserve better. Unfortunately, I do not believe they are going to get this old dog of a government to learn any new tricks after a dozen years. The old tricks may have helped the government retain power but they have diminished Canada's image at home and abroad.
In recent months, Canadians are learning the sad degree to which power corrupts for this group: the adage seems to be that if it is good for the Liberal Party, it is good for Canada. There are many examples--too many--and they include: abusive and overt political manipulation of the immigration system; rampant patronage in senior levels of government departments and crown corporations; political favouritism in the awarding of government contracts, including direct involvement by the Prime Minister's Office; and the laundering of millions of dollars of payments to Liberal-friendly firms through the sponsorship program in exchange for doing little or no work, at least for the taxpayers of Canada, that is.
This is a tired government and a self-serving government. It is unwilling to admit its own failings. It is a goldfish government. It is unwilling to learn from its mistakes. It is led by a dithering leader whose international road show is simply a pathetic public relations exercise but also a tacit consequence of the absence of a domestic agenda, all thumb-twiddling and reaction but not a plan.
After all those years of wanting power the Prime Minister does not seem to know what to do when he gets it. There is reaction. There is reaction to the Auditor General's report by attacking the Auditor General. There is reaction to the Gomery commission by delaying and then partially disclosing information, or worse, by attacking the judge himself. There is reaction to questions regarding the stripper-pizza fiasco by attacking the opposition or making blanket assertions, wrong and false of course, about the opposition's immigration policies.
It is very difficult not to be cynical when one knows this is a government that has wasted billions of dollars on a failed gun registry in order to play to the post-Montreal massacre polls, a government that mismanaged away millions of dollars in the HRDC boondoggle and then broke the department in two just to get rid of the acronym, a government that deliberately keeps employment insurance premiums elevated and overtaxes working Canadians but claims to have compassion for low income people, who are disproportionately punished by high employment insurance premiums.
We have seen overpayments of $45 billion and counting. That is $6,000 per household. That is money that working people should have had in their hands so they could decide what to do with it. Most damaging of all to the low income workers of this country is the fact that this money is not in a reserve somewhere. It has been spent and it is never coming back.
This is a government that continues to allow the diversion of profits from this country to tax havens abroad by the creation of debt-reducing tactics allowed here, such as leveraging on Canadian assets and borrowing money to invest offshore, which results in the shifting of profit and the reduction of tax obligations for Canadian corporations so located, such as Canada Steamship Lines International.
Most of all, it is hard to believe that this debate and the hundreds of hours of prebudget consultation with Canadians are anything more than a cynical shell game when one recognizes that apparently the government has no accurate ability to conceive or develop its own budget numbers.
Last year $1.9 billion was the projected surplus and the finance minister went to great lengths during the election campaign to dispute any notion of the Conservative Party's proposed expenditures in a number of areas, saying they would drive us into deficit. Then we found out just weeks later that the actual surplus was not $1.9 billion but $9.1 billion, or off by $7 billion. Previous years have been almost as bad.
The inaccuracy, combined with the employment insurance overcharge, has accelerated debt paydown by default, but it has come at the price of transparency and in the absence of a fulsome discussion of what our priority investments as a nation actually ought to be.
The Liberal approach does a disservice to the budget process. More important, it discredits the budget process.
From our perspective, the Conservative Party believes in an elimination of wasteful spending. We believe in lower taxes, including lower EI charges, in increased basic exemptions and in reduced marginal rates.
I would particularly like to emphasize today the need to raise the lifetime capital gains exemption for small businesses and farmers. This level has not been increased since 1987.
I would also emphasize the need, particularly as a consequence of the BSE crisis in this country, for us to move on income averaging for farm families.
As well, because of the consequences of the elimination of the Crow rate by this government, road use has changed dramatically, particularly and nowhere more so than in rural western Canada. As a consequence, secondary roads are deteriorating rapidly under the use of heavy truck traffic that was not anticipated in the years gone by when those roads were designed.
This shifts an incredible burden of billions of dollars of investment onto provincial and municipal governments. We need a plan, an infrastructure strategy for road renewal in this country, and we need it urgently.
As well, when one considers all aspects of our corporate tax system, not just the corporate tax rate but depreciation, sales tax on capital inputs, inventory deductions and others, Canada has one of the highest tax rates on capital in the world, which is why tax havens in Barbados are so popular.
Unlike Barbados, however, we are not an island. We must be competitive. We export 80% of what we produce. We cannot allow uncompetitive tax structures to diminish our productivity and we must never be complacent about job creation.
There is another area I would like to address: aboriginal policy. As a member of Parliament for Manitoba I think this is particularly important, although I believe it to be a national issue. In Manitoba we have the highest percentage of aboriginal people within a province. It is currently at 13% and it will rise.
We have seen the social malaise that has too often characterized both the life on aboriginal reserves and the life for aboriginal people off reserve, but as with so many other subjects, the Prime Minister seems unable to address the issues around Canada's aboriginal people, apart from the “we feel your pain” rhetoric, perhaps.
I came across a quote the other day. These are the words of Frank Scott concerning a former prime minister, William Lyon Mackenzie King. He stated:
He seemed to be in the centreBecause we had no centre,No visionTo pierce the smoke-screen of his politics.We had no shapeBecause he never took sides,And no sidesBecause he never allowed them to take shape.
These words could describe our current leader. Or current Prime Minister; I hesitate to use the word leader.
He squashed the previous government's accountability initiatives for aboriginal governance and he promised change, but nothing has happened in the years since. He was sworn in with a sweetgrass smudging ceremony conducted by an aboriginal elder from my province, but it was all about optics. Since then there has been no substance. So far the only thing the Prime Minister has raised is false hopes. While he dithers, people suffer and billions of dollars are thrown at a problem, with no end in sight. As a country we need to develop a plan.
I have a six point plan for him, developed with the input of aboriginal people across Canada and supported by the Conservative Party. None of these proposals will be expensive. Certainly they will all pay for themselves in very short order, unlike the perverse outcome of the $2 billion a year in welfare payments which will be distributed to aboriginal people this year. That money, most of it given to perfectly healthy young people, has become a welfare addiction, according to the Manitoba chiefs, and a rite of passage for 18 year old aboriginal young people.
These proposals, on the other hand, will not cater to power hungry chiefs but will enhance the power of their constituents.
First of all, we need to extend the Canadian Human Rights Act to protect reserve residents, the only Canadians who are not so protected.
Second, we need to eliminate the Indian Act provision which prohibits the repossession of chattels sold on reserve. This is an unnecessary obstacle to aboriginal people who wish to obtain credit.
Third, we need to establish home ownership programs, as has been done on several dozen reserves already, so aboriginal families will share the same property rights and responsibilities the rest of us take for granted. This will remove the power of chiefs and councils to evict families from their homes.
Fourth, we need to introduce schools of choice programs so families can exercise influence over education, which has been restricted by some chiefs and historically by non-aboriginal governments.
Fifth, we need to reform welfare delivery so that it enhances skills development and self-esteem rather than diminishing both.
Sixth, we need to establish matrimonial property laws consistent with provincial legislation so that aboriginal women are no longer forced to stay in abusive relationships.
These changes will address the root causes of much social malaise for aboriginal people. They are not a panacea, but they are far better than funnelling $10 billion through 20 different government departments.
These changes and others will build accountability from within far better than 5,000 federal bureaucrats can do from without.
Alas, my bet is that the Liberal government will do a poll and find out that playing to the status quo is easier. People do not like change. Any poll will show us that. It is especially so for those in power. They just hang on to power. That is all this government seems capable of or interested in doing.
We can provide more efficient government, more honest and transparent management, lower and fairer taxes and a better future for low income Canadians and aboriginal people.
That is precisely what this opposition party is proposing to do.
Question No. 11 January 31st, 2005
What expenditures, including a complete itemized list of such expenditures, did Canada Post Corporation incur for promotional activities, marketing and advertising expenses from 1996 until 2003?
Citizenship and Immigration December 9th, 2004
A cabinet minister is aahing and oohing,Romanian stripper could be her undoing,Biggest story in this town,Gonna get a dressing down,Termination has been signed,It's the Liberal bump and grind.
We need new Canadians, she has the answer.You can become an exotic dancer.And if you're a Liberal volunteerShe's gonna let you stay right here.Step up to the front, all the others won't mind.It's the Liberal bump and grind.You might be a doctor or a nurse,Improve your chances by stripping first.Chemist or engineer, heavy or gauntyYour chances expand if you do the full Monty.But don't let them touch you or else you'll get fined.It's the Liberal bump and grind.She isn't quite sure if she's coming or going.Her cover's been blown and the naked truth's showing.Doing partisan favours has led to a bashin'You can't jump the queue in the name of compassion.It's time for the PM to make up his mind.It's the Liberal bump and grind.
Canada Post December 3rd, 2004
Mr. Speaker, the Liberal government ministers say they cannot possibly meddle in the Canada Post decision to jack up stamp rates and mailing rates.The fact is they have been meddling in Canada Post for years. They have turned it into patronage heaven over there.
They have dumped so many Liberal appointees, friends, flacks, hacks and family members onto that corporation that they have had to set up a special hiring unit at a cost of almost $3 million to deal with all the patronage. No wonder they have to raise the stamp rate. Pork-barrel politics are expensive.
How many of André Ouellet's family members are still employed in Canada Post?