Last in Parliament November 2005, as Liberal MP for Halton (Ontario)
Lost his last election, in 2006, with 41.44% of the vote.
Statements in the House
Pacific Gateway Act November 2nd, 2005
Mr. Speaker, I agree entirely with the hon. member. Members of this caucus will continue to push for more programs in that area. I have spoken on a number of occasions about the standard of living and the quality of life of the next generation. I have three children. In fact, my youngest met the hon. member last night. I firmly believe that the standard of living and the quality of life of the next generation will be in direct proportion to the skills and training we give them today.
Not just the physical natural resources but the skills will ensure that the next generation will have the prosperity that my generation has had. The generation previous to mine worked to ensure that many of my generation could get the skills and training through universities and colleges. I am certain that we will continue to work with the government on this. I could not agree more that the standard of living and the quality of life will depend on the skills and training we provide. We cannot rely just on the natural resources. That is part of what this is all about: ensuring that we diversify into these markets.
As I said earlier, and I know the member agrees, we have the best people in the world and we have the best companies in the world. With the government supporting them, I fully believe that the next generation will have the prosperity that our generation has had. That is the goal of every member of the House.
Pacific Gateway Act November 2nd, 2005
Mr. Speaker, I will have to disagree with my hon. friend. Canada has had the highest standard of living of all the G-7 countries over the last few years. He will know that the G-7 countries include the United States, which has a far larger disparity in terms of rich and poor than Canada. I believe this is a result of the social programs that we have talked about. I believe it is because of the health care programs and the $41 billion we put into health care.
As members know, the United States does not have a health care system. Thirty-five million people do not have any health care system. It has larger disparities. It has the very rich, like Bill Gates, but it also has the very poor. Because of its social network, I believe, Canada has a better standard of living across the total population.
Other G-7 countries include France, Germany, Britain and Japan. We have had the best standard of living and job creation. When this government took over, the unemployment rate was heading toward 12%. We have almost cut that in half. That is a good thing.
As members know, in the last budget we helped some low income people, particularly seniors, by increasing to about $10,000 the amount that they do not pay any taxes on. This will mean that literally hundreds of thousands of people will pay no taxes. I think that is a good thing.
I say to my hon. friend that we will have to disagree, because I believe the standard of living and the quality of life over the last few years have indeed improved. That is not to say that we cannot do more. That is what this government is all about. That is what this bill is all about: ensuring that we have the money and the income to do it.
On the second point, I think it would be agreed, going back decades, as I said in my speech, that we need to diversify, plus we have the U.S., the largest market in the world, right next door. We need to diversify. That is what Bill C-68 is all about. In order to diversify and to help the great people I talked about in terms of labour and the companies, small, medium and large, it is the government's responsibility to put the infrastructure in place.
As members know, through this period we have done it with the cities and communities. That is what this bill is all about. Even though the member may have been critical in that regard, I think we are both saying the same thing. We are trying to diversify so that when the downturn comes, which will inevitably happen in all countries and in the United States, we are able to compete.
When it comes to some of the trade disputes, this government has been very strong with the United States. In the cases of the softwood lumber and the BSE, when we have felt that the U.S. has not acted in the best interests of our country, this Prime Minister and our ministers have been very strong in terms of dealing with the United States.
I believe, as has been said, that Bill C-68 will enhance and help us go into the emerging markets.
I will note one thing last thing as we wind down. Because of these emerging markets in Asia, and the two I talked about in particular were China and India, we need to focus on the west coast. I know that there have been some discussions about what we are doing on the east coast. I am sure that my hon. friend, coming from that area, will give his full support to this piece of legislation because it is a good piece of legislation which will help companies right across this country in regard to competing in markets.
When we do this, I know that it will increase our standard of living and quality of life. I know that is the goal of all members in the House. All of us hope that at the end of the day we will be able to achieve that for the constituents we are here to represent.
Pacific Gateway Act November 2nd, 2005
Mr. Speaker, when we last met on this issue, I was talking about the Government of Canada's commitment to fully developing the Pacific gateway. I spoke not only about transportation but also about some of the infrastructure. I also talked not only about the impact of the Pacific gateway on transportation but the effectiveness of the gateway and how the Canadian economy would take advantage of it. Not only will the fine province of B.C. benefit from this, but all Canadians will benefit.
China and India are often referred to as the Asian tigers. They are becoming an emerging market with which we need to deal.
The Pacific gateway transportation advisory committee will consist of individuals from municipalities, which is very good because municipalities have an active stake in infrastructure in our great country. The committee also will also include representatives from the transportation sector because it needs to be an integrated strategy.
Aboriginals also have been included on the committee as well as environmentalists. It is extremely important that aboriginal issues be taken into consideration as well. Environmentalists must be involved because we are talking about major infrastructure programs. Emergency preparation experts will be included as well.
The Pacific gateway transportation advisory committee will consist of individuals offering their expertise on the opportunities of the gateway and how Canadians can take full advantage of this potential.
Without the funds to operate the advisory committee, it would be difficult for it to do its job. As a result, up to $35 million over five years has been identified for the work of the council and for the federal departments. We will be interacting with the council to make the delivery of the Pacific gateway strategy a success.
The stakeholders in the transportation sector have long advocated for a more integrated approach to transportation, and I stressed that point in my earlier statements. This approach should address the inter-connections, and I am sure the stakeholders will ensure that happens. Canada's Pacific gateway council will fulfill this need.
The home of the council will be located in the Vancouver area, which is fitting recognition of the critical role that this region will play in Canada's Pacific gateway.
As a result of this initiative, I believe Canada will be able to take up the opportunities and the challenges of the changing Asian marketplaces. We all know that will be a growing area, and the government fully supports it.
As I said in my earlier discussion, the impact of the Pacific gateway strategy reaches well beyond the Pacific. The result of this initiative will yield benefits across the country. All Canadians will benefit from the initiatives, particularly as they relate to the fact that Canada is a trading nation.
We have been successful as a result of our trading. Up until now it has been essentially with the United States, upwards of 86%. The government is trying to diversify that. Canada's closeness to the world's largest market, the United States, has been a blessing. However. there is a famous saying, “Don't put all your eggs in one basket” and it can be applied here. If there is any type of downturn, we need to ensure we are diversified.
Canada's Pacific gateway will connect to markets across North America and beyond, thereby strengthening Canada's position in the competitive world of international commerce. That is a priority of the government. Up until now, we have done that very well. Members will know the statistics of how well this country is doing in its economy versus our G-7 partners. We cannot rest on our laurels and it is up to the government to provide the infrastructure needed to ensure our businesses thrive.
Whether small, medium or large businesses, our business is to compete with anyone in the world. We have the finest labour and trained people in all parts of the country, but we also need the infrastructure. All small, medium and large companies need to have the infrastructure in place so they can compete and ship their products to other parts of the world.
Our labour force is the best in the world without a doubt. It is highly skilled, but it also needs to ensure we have the infrastructure. I see that as a vital part of government. It is one of the reasons we put together, before the last election, the infrastructure program dealing with municipalities. As businesses say, it is up to the government to put these infrastructures in place.
I am very confident of our success. We have the best labour force and the best companies. We now have a great infrastructure. We also have been blessed with having a lot of raw materials. We have a lot of oil, minerals, water and wood. Those are blessings that came to our great country. When that is put together with the people and the infrastructure the government will put in place, it will definitely ensure that our high standard of living continues. If we are unable to compete or trade, particularly with emerging markets, our standard of living and quality of life will deteriorate.
Canada's Pacific gateway strategy is an important part of the efforts of the Government of Canada to secure and enhance Canada's prosperity for years to come. We are doing other things in the areas of health care and the economy. We also have been very blessed with having a great success over the last while. We have money coming in and no deficit.
We are the only country in the G-7 that does not have a deficit position. We have had eight straight balanced budgets. When all this is put together, along with the new deal for cities and communities, the government has clearly committed to helping ensure that we maintain the prosperity for which we all are looking.
We will break new ground by confirming and addressing a broad range of interconnected challenges and opportunities.
On behalf of the good people of Halton, I am proud to participate in this debate and I look forward to some questions from my colleagues.
This is a very good initiative. I would encourage all members of the House to support the bill and I want to commend the government and in particular the minister for an excellent bill.
Citizen Advisory Committees November 2nd, 2005
Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House today to inform my fellow colleagues of an innovative process that I use to communicate and work directly with my constituents. They are called citizen advisory committees.
We currently have committees on the topics of health care, citizenship and immigration, seniors, rural and agriculture. These groups meet a minimum of four times a year in small groups of 10 in order to exchange real dialogue and debate on issues.
They provide me with advice and feedback on issues and legislation which I in turn take back to the caucus and ministers. In between meetings we share ideas through e-mails, letters and phone calls. This allows an ongoing dialogue and is much more effective in dealing with complex issues.
On October 15, I held an advisory group meeting on Bill C-407, an issue that has become very emotional to many of my constituents. I had the opportunity to listen and take notes on the opinions, concerns and comments of my constituents which I will then discuss with my caucus.
I would like to thank everyone who came out to this meeting and thank all those who have taken the time to volunteer on the advisory committees. Their time, work and comments are very much appreciated.
Pacific Gateway Act October 31st, 2005
Madam Speaker, I am pleased to speak to Bill C-68. I will talk a bit about the Canadian Pacific gateway council.
Canada, as has been mentioned by a lot of members in this House, is probably one of the most trade dependent nations in all the G-7 countries. Much of the prosperity depends upon trade. We all know that in the neighbourhood of 86% of our trade is presently with the United States.
However, the Government of Canada has long recognized that the Pacific gateway is strategically positioned as a gateway to North America. Not only the Prime Minister but all members in this House from all political parties realize that the trade that will be coming in place with China and our friends in India as well is very critical. They are known as the emerging Asian tigers.
I think there is agreement here that we need to, on all parts, diversify our trade. We have been blessed being right next door to the largest market, the United States, but there can be downturns for whatever reason. There have been economic downturns, historically, in the patterns of the economy. We need to ensure that we diversify into some of these emerging markets.
The fact that we probably have right now the largest number of people coming from China and India to Canada gives us a real leg up in that area. I am pleased that Bill C-68 will take a look at the Pacific gateway and ensure that we have the infrastructure in place.
I agree with my hon. friends that we need to look at some of the work that the B.C. government has done in taking a look at this issue. As has been mentioned, and I know friends from the Bloc Québécois feel the same way, the provinces have a very strong say in what happens in their trade policies. That is one of the reasons why Canada, in the past, has gone on trade missions and invited the premiers from all of the provinces to attend. We are fairly decentralized in terms of our federation and the provinces do need to have a say in exactly what is happening.
I am pleased that we are listening to our friends in B.C. and the B.C. government, and what they are looking at doing in expanding in that area. I know the previous speaker talked about that a little bit and was actually very helpful, in terms of understanding what the B.C. government is doing. That is one of the reasons these debates are helpful. My good friend to the left here who spoke a little bit earlier and my friend from Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca talked about some of the things happening in that area. So, I am particularly pleased that the government will attempt to look at these emerging markets, particularly with our friends in China.
The Government of Canada is fully developing the Pacific gateway. To do this most effectively, many interconnected issues need to be addressed. I think that is paramount. It is not just one solution. There need to be some interconnected issues, not only transportation infrastructure but building deeper links with Asia-Pacific and, as well, maintaining secure and efficient borders and labour market pressures. While we talk about some of the infrastructure, and particularly in this case the transportation infrastructure issues, there are also other issues.
Federal policies and investments in this area have achieved real results for Canada. However, we cannot rest on our laurels. We need to continue to have greater focus on the need of connecting them in the gateway context. These interconnections reach beyond transportation, and so must the consensus building. That is why I believe that the advisory process of future decisions is so very important.
We must recognize, as a federal government, that we do not have all of the answers to the solutions and that we need to look at the advisory process and get some good advice in the other areas.
I am glad members on all sides have talked about some of the things that the B.C. government is doing by sharing those ideas and repeating them in the House. Having them reinforced with the various ministers can only help in achieving our goal of helping everybody who is affected by this.
There are some who would say that it affects just one area of the country. I do not believe it does. Our trade affects all the country. When we do one thing that is good for a particular area, it benefits all of us in the spin-off jobs that come as a direct result of it.
Canada's Pacific Gateway council would be created through the legislation to advise on the decision making process on a full range of transportation and other issues. I am glad to see it in the legislation. I know governments of all political stripes attempt to consult, but I like the fact that the legislation deals with transportation and other impacts affecting Canada's great Pacific gateway.
The council would provide a dedicated forum for examining these interconnected issues in an integrated way. It is important, when we are having the debates and discussions, that they be in an integrated way. There is no sense moving ahead on one front if it needs to happen on perhaps one, two, three or four other fronts as well. By having the advisory process, it will help to ensure and to reinforce the things that need to happen and get a consensus on the priorities.
I think all members would agree that sometimes priorities have to be made not only in this area, but also in areas of health care, education and the spending. If we can build a consensus on the priorities, it will make it much easier for the government to make the decisions. Far too often in the political process we do not build the consensus on the priorities. We sometimes seem to manage from day to day. By doing the long range process, we can build a consensus on priorities and that can provide the advice to the government.
I know opposition members will say that the government does not listen in respects. I think on most occasions the government attempts to listen when there is a broad consensus on what it should do. Having been involved, I know the government attempts to look at all the good ideas coming forward from all members.
If we can set the priorities, if we can get a consensus on priorities, if we can stop some of the partisanship that happens as a result of this, then I think it will be helpful to the government. We probably could do that in building the consensus on the priorities.
The council would have a mandate to advise the decision makers on the full range of issues that impact on the effectiveness of the Pacific gateway and how well the Canadian economy can capitalize on those opportunities. It is not just setting up the infrastructure. We need to ensure that Canadian businesses across the country, small, medium and large, are able to capitalize on that.
We have been blessed in many respects. We have a lot of natural resources, wood, oil and minerals. However, our single biggest factor in making us successful is not the physical attributes with which we have been blessed. It also is the fact that we have the greatest people in the world. It is those people in the small, medium and large businesses who will capitalize on these opportunities.
Where they need help from the government is in the infrastructure. That is where we as parliamentarians can assist them. I have every confidence in the world that if the government can do the right thing in helping with the infrastructure and with some of the things we have talked about, then our small, medium and large business will be able to compete in this new marketplace.
It would be fair to say that they also need government assistance for the infrastructure. This is where I believe the government can take a very strong role. It is one of the reasons the Prime Minister and our party in the last election called for an increase in the infrastructure for municipalities. We believe we have a role to play.
I know some people on all sides who disagree with that. They have told the government to stay out of the jurisdiction of municipalities. In the vast majority of the cases, municipalities, certainly in my area and I think in all areas, welcome the infrastructure investment.
The council would consist of governor in council appointments with expertise in a number of areas. Those areas will be a cross-section. They include transportation, which we have talked about a great deal here today. They include international trade, which is extremely important. We need to ensure that we have the discussions on international trade. They also include labour, which also is extremely important.
As I said earlier, our people give us the great strength. The labour issues need to be addressed and talked about with the various labour unions. They are the producers of the great products that we are then able to ship out. Again, we have the best workers in the world, bar none, in virtually every industry.
The people in the area where I come from produce cars faster, better and cheaper than anywhere else in the world. It is not because of the infrastructure. It is because of the people. When I say that, I mean the Canadian concept. I know my friends, particularly from the Bloc, may not sometimes think of that. Canadians across the country compete with the Americans. There are producers not only in Ontario, but in Quebec. I say this for the aircraft manufacturing as well. We produce products faster, better and cheaper than anywhere else in the world with the great expertise of our people.
Pacific Gateway Act October 31st, 2005
Madam Speaker, I think what the member said in terms of the grand plan and so on is something that everybody can agree with, but in this day and age, and the hon. member in a past life was a treasurer in Alberta, it is very important to target specific money. I do not mean this to be critical, but I am hopeful that when opposition parties talk about things they would like to do, as I think the member and his seatmate talked about the run-up to the election, it is incumbent upon all members to talk about specifically what that would be.
I know the hon. member's responsibility has shifted into the trade area, but I think people need to know specifically, when he talks about helping B.C., what that will mean in terms of a dollar figure. If I could be so bold, and I know the member is not the critic but he is well versed in this area, what will that mean specifically in terms of the investment it would take to get to this so-called grand plan that he talked about?
Criminal Code October 31st, 2005
Mr. Speaker, I understand that I have only a couple of minutes to speak, but I will fully utilize the time. I will be voting against this piece of legislation.
Like many members of the House, I believe, I have received a lot of mail, emails and phone calls on this issue. The next time I speak to the bill I hope to go through some of that information.
I have also set up citizens advisory committees in a couple of areas, on seniors and on health care. We had a meeting of the citizens advisory committees about two Saturdays ago. I want to thank everybody who came out to that meeting. Some people were in favour of this bill, but the vast majority was opposed.
There were people there like Joanne Matters from Halton Pro Life, who said, as was recorded in the Milton Canadian Champion , “there is no such thing as an assisted suicide bill with safeguards. It is always about killing another human”. She went on to say that we “can't legalize a little bit of killing for those who ask to be killed. Eventually it will include those who don't ask. History speaks for itself”.
I also received information from many people right across my riding. I received a nice letter from the Reverend Charlie Jordan, a pastor at Mary Mother of God Parish in Oakville. He sent a letter saying that he is totally opposed to the changes proposed in the bill. He goes on to say that human life is too important to permit such a course of action. Instead, he says, we should be providing every help we can to prevent pain.
I also have received numerous letters on this issue from the Knights of Columbus, as I am sure all members have. Thomas Pepper sent one. Most of the letters were very similar. The feeling is that it is wrong to take someone's life and that such a change in law would be open to abuse. In an age when we hear a lot about elder abuse, this would not be an acceptable path to take.
I will continue my remarks next time, but I did want to get it on the record that I will be voting against the bill. I hope to elaborate on my reasons at the next opportunity.
Unanticipated Surpluses Act October 27th, 2005
Mr. Speaker, I want to take this along the same line of tax cuts. The members opposite seem to forget the big tax cuts that happened between 2001 and 2006. Those tax cuts, as they well know, were about $100 billion and it was the largest tax decrease in the history of this country. One hundred billion dollars may not be a lot to members of the opposition, but I assure them that it is.
In addition, in 2005 we provided even more tax relief to middle income people, increasing the threshold to $10,000 and removing about 860,000 taxpayers, including 240,000 seniors, from the tax roll. I do not think that is something the opposition will talk about.
I wonder if my good friend, the hon. member for Brant, would expand upon what that means to the seniors in his riding who received this tremendous tax decrease, the largest tax decrease, I say to the members opposite, in the history of this great country of ours.
Food and Drugs Act October 7th, 2005
Mr. Speaker, there has been some discussion and I think if you were to see the clock at 1:30 in order to proceed to private members' business, there would be consent within the House to do that.