- On the Parliament site
Last in Parliament May 2004, as NDP MP for Regina—Qu'Appelle (Saskatchewan)
Lost his last election, in 2006, with 32.45% of the vote.
Statements in the House
Equalization Payments May 14th, 2004
Mr. Speaker, Saskatchewan is still being penalized by an equalization formula and the recent $120 million payment to the province is welcome, but it is only a fraction of the $300 million that is owed Saskatchewan by the federal government. A fair formula would mean an extra $150 million a year for the province.
My question is for the Minister of Finance, who is from Saskatchewan. Not if, but when, is this injustice going to be corrected on behalf of our province?
Gasoline Prices May 13th, 2004
Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Finance. The Regina media today is reporting that by the time I get home tomorrow gasoline prices may hit $1.05 per litre in Regina and elsewhere in Saskatchewan. They are high right across the country.
When I asked the Competition Bureau last year to investigate the link between high gasoline prices and increased corporate concentration in the oil industry, it said that it did not have the mandate or the resources to do so.
In light of that, and I think that is the real question and not taxes, will the minister now immediately give the bureau the resources and the mandate to investigate the link between prices and increased corporate concentration in the oil industry?
Petitions May 13th, 2004
Mr. Speaker, I have a petition signed by hundreds of people across the country concerned that the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency should be held to the same standards as any instrument of justice by applying the principles of natural justice, the charter and common law, and that the citizens and taxpayers should enjoy all the protections provided by the law.
Specifically, it says: “That, in the opinion of the House, the government should introduce legislation to ensure that all Canadians have the same rights with respect to tax obligations as people accused of crimes; that is, to be presumed innocent until proven guilty, and that relevant legislation should be amended to this end”.
I am sure that all members would support this sentiment.
Criminal Code May 12th, 2004
Mr. Speaker, we in the NDP support Bill C-35 being sent to committee. I assume, like everyone else, that the Prime Minister will probably drop the writ for an election campaign very shortly and this debate will not continue until the fall sitting of the next Parliament.
However, I do want to make a few comments on the substance of the bill even though the motion before us today is to refer it to the standing committee for greater study. That is important because it will give the committee a chance to call in some expert witnesses. It will also give the committee a chance to see whether or not it is a useful bill for the prevention of crime and for the common good of the people of this country.
The bill itself would add certain criminal offences relating to criminal harassment to the list of designated offences to which a DNA data bank order can be made. In other words, the police can make a DNA data bank order for offences that are not now available for DNA orders. In principle, that is a good thing to do.
Bill C-35 would permit a data bank order to be made against a person who has committed an offence but found not criminally responsible on account of a mental disorder. If someone with a mental disorder is found not criminally responsible, the police can apply for a data bank order to be made against that individual.
Bill C-35 would expand the list of sexual offences under the retroactive scheme for persons prior to June 30, 2000 by adding historical sexual offences like indecent assault and committing a sexual offence, and the offence of break and enter.
A new class of offender would be added to the list of offenders who may be candidates for the retroactive scheme, for example, those who have committed one murder and one sexual assault at separate times.
The legislation would create the means to compel an offender to appear at a certain time and place to provide a sample of DNA evidence. Bill C-35 would create a procedure for a review of DNA data bank orders that appear to have been made for a non-designated offence and the destruction of samples taken from those offences.
Those are five examples of different things Bill C-35 would do to change the law. The NDP certainly supports the bill being referred to committee. In principle, it looks like we are going in the right direction. On behalf of the New Democratic Party of Canada, I want to reserve our final position on this legislation until we have had a chance to examine witnesses, study it further, and look at possible amendments.
Our party does have some concerns about any changes made to criminal law, particularly when it comes to something like DNA and fingerprinting. We are concerned about an individual's right to privacy. We want to ensure that an individual's privacy is not going to be violated by the suggested changes. We are also concerned about the individual's security. We want to ensure that there will be no violation of fundamental rights that are guaranteed under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
In principle, many positive things appear to be happening with the bill in terms of increasing the effectiveness of DNA samples as an investigative tool to be used by the police. Providing it is not a violation of people's security or an infringement on their civil liberties, it is certainly a step in the right direction.
The potential of DNA evidence is enormous. It has great power toward solving crimes, and ensuring that the guilty are convicted and the innocent are exonerated. It is one of the miracles of modern justice. We must ensure however that DNA evidence is accurate and is gathered without infringement on the rights of all Canadians to be free of unreasonable search and seizure. Bill C-35 should be sent to committee for further study.
I want to make one comment on the miracle of DNA evidence. It was brought home very clearly to a lot of us in my Province of Saskatchewan a few years ago. I am referring to the case of David Milgaard.
David Milgaard was convicted for a 1969 murder of a young Saskatoon nurse named Gail Miller. My recollection is that he spent 22 to 23 years in prison for a crime which was later proven he did not commit. David Milgaard might be still in prison had it not been for DNA evidence and DNA technology 10 or so years ago that proved that he was not the person who committed this gruesome and unfortunate act of murder. Someone else is now serving time, having been convicted for the murder of Gail Miller.
This is something that is a miracle of modern technology in terms of convicting those who should be convicted and ensuring that those who are innocent are not wrongfully convicted.
Over the sweep of history in our country, and indeed around the world, there have been many people who have been wrongfully convicted. There have been many cases in this country. I think of the Marshall case and many other cases that I do not want to get into at this particular time.
However, David Milgaard stands as a very good example of this. I commend the courage of his mother, Joyce Milgaard, for the fight to free her son. They came from rural Saskatchewan and one time lived in the Town of Langenburg which was part of my former riding of Yorkton--Melville. David Milgaard then moved around after that to Regina and other parts of Saskatchewan. This is a good example where DNA evidence has freed an innocent man and helped convict a guilty man of a murder.
We certainly support the reference of the bill to committee. The committee will have hearings and cross examine witnesses. I assume we will be making some amendments, after we hear the expert witnesses, and come out of this with something that is positive for the protection of Canadian society in order to bring individuals to justice, convict those who have done wrong, and ensure those who are innocent are not falsely convicted.
Electoral Reform May 12th, 2004
Mr. Speaker, my question is for the right hon. Prime Minister.
The Prime Minister often speaks about a democratic deficit in this country. Yet, he has bypassed nominating conventions and appointed several of his own Liberal candidates.
I want to ask the Prime Minister, would he agree to amend the Canada Elections Act to make it mandatory that where there is a riding association, to be a candidate in a federal campaign a man or a woman must be nominated by his or her riding association? Would the Prime Minister agree to that? It is democratic. It is a step in the right direction. Most of us do it. Would he do it as well?
Supply May 11th, 2004
Mr. Speaker, I did and I said that in British Columbia the NDP is skyrocketing in popularity. We will see on election night the great loss of Conservative seats in British Columbia federally as people react against the Conservative Party.
The member also asked about fiscal responsibility and about what social democrats do. I told him what happened in Saskatchewan and Manitoba, the record of Tommy Douglas and Alan Blakeney and Roy Romanow right up to the current day, or Ed Schreyer in Manitoba and Howard Pawley and Gary Doer in Manitoba. These are examples of governments that are fiscally responsible compared to the Conservatives.
The Conservative Party of Grant Devine, they worship people like them. They are their heroes. The Conservative government of Grant Devine almost bankrupted Saskatchewan. We could look to their great leader Brian Mulroney and the great debts that he had. Mulroney was the leader of the Conservative Party.
It is going to be very interesting in Blackstrap for example, to ask the ordinary people what they think of Brian Mulroney and the Conservative Party. There are some people here who fought really hard against Brian Mulroney and now all of a sudden he has endorsed the party, he is the former leader and they worship this guy. It is the same old party once again.
George Bush is running up a huge deficit in the United States and yet they worship him. They want us to go to war in Iraq. They want to send young people to Iraq who would be killed there. George Bush is the guy who lied to the world and lied to Congress about weapons of mass destruction, yet they support George Bush all the way.
People do not want that kind of extremism in our country. That is why the NDP is now the alternative to the government across the way. That is why the NDP is on the march. That is why that extremist republican party north is going to be marginalized after the next campaign.
Supply May 11th, 2004
Mr. Speaker, I am glad the Mulroney Conservatives are applauding that comment.
The member from British Columbia must be deaf in his left ear because I never even mentioned the sponsorship program in my remarks. He was complimenting me on my comments about the sponsorship program but I never mentioned it at all.
If is funny if the people of British Columbia are that upset with the NDP because the NDP is now skyrocketing to the top of the polls. His friend Gordon Campbell now is trailing the NDP in British Columbia, or he is darned close to trailing. I have seen polls in British Columbia that are tied with the NDP slightly ahead. At any rate the NDP is skyrocketing in British Columbia.
I am glad he also raised the question of fiscal responsibility. The record in this country shows that the NDP provincial governments in Saskatchewan and Manitoba over the years have been leading examples of fiscal responsibility. When there was a Conservative government led by his friend Grant Devine in my province, he almost bankrupted the province of Saskatchewan. His Conservatives also had 16 criminal convictions of fraud in Saskatchewan.
That great conservative hero of the member for Port Moody—Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam, George Bush, is running one of the biggest deficits in the history of the world. We could go back to the 1930s and who had the great debts were the Conservatives under R.B. Bennett. All over the place it is the Conservatives who are fiscally irresponsible with taxpayers' money.
Here we have the Conservative Party--
Supply May 11th, 2004
--that is also talking about health care, and now I am being heckled by the member from Vancouver.
With me I have a quote from the current Leader of the Opposition, from the Toronto Star of October 18, 2002, in which he was critical of the report on the future of health care and especially for its failure to call for privatization. He said:
Romanow virtually ruled out any new ideas for the provision of private-sector services within the public system, and even talked about expanding the existing system.
In other words, the Conservative Party is upset that Romanow did not talk about more private sector health care. It is upset that Romanow called for the expansion of public health care.
We know exactly where the Conservative Party stands. The Conservative Party wants two tier health in this country, a private system, a for profit system of health care in this country, where the rich can afford to pay for it and the poor line up at second-rate hospitals.
That is exactly where the member for Saskatoon—Rosetown—Biggar stands in support of her leader: for more private health care. I will be very interested when the people on the doorstep in Saskatoon—Rosetown—Biggar hear this from this party. People are watching this today. I will quote from the Toronto Star once again. The Leader of the Opposition is saying that he is critical of Romanow because of his failure to call for privatization of health care. He said:
Romanow virtually ruled out any new ideas for the provision of private-sector services within the public system and even talked about expanding the existing system.
Is it not a horror show that Mr. Romanow and the NDP want to expand public health care in this country? Here we are with the Conservative Party, which wants more private, for profit health care, that party of Brian Mulroney.
The people back home are interested in this too. The Conservative Party now has been endorsed by Brian Mulroney. In Moncton, Brian Mulroney, the great hero of western Conservatives, endorsed the Conservative Party. The current leader was happy to have that endorsement. The current leader is saying that history will judge Mr. Mulroney very well. Of course: this is coming from a Conservative about another Conservative. They are proud of Mike Harris, the Mike Harris who wanted to set up private hospitals and privatize health care and privatize everything in the world. They are proud of Grant Devine, another Conservative premier of my province of Saskatchewan.
That is the Conservative Party. The people of this country will not be fooled when they go to the polls and see this party of Brian Mulroney that wants to privatize health care. That is exactly where they are. I wonder where the old-fashioned, populist Reform Party has gone to. Those members get to Parliament for a few years and enjoy their salaries and their pensions, and then suddenly there is a metamorphosis and they come out as Brian Mulroney's Conservatives.
Supply May 11th, 2004
What has happened is that we have had radical cutbacks by the Liberal Party to health care funding in Canada. Back in the 1960s, the NDP managed to force the Liberal Party to bring in national health care. I know that the member across is running in shame and hiding his head.
When the NDP managed to force the Liberal Party under Pearson to bring in health care, it was funded on a fifty-fifty basis by the federal government and the provinces, but there have been massive cutbacks by the federal government. Now the federal government funds only about 16% of health care and the provincial governments about 84% in terms of cash payments for health care in the country.
What we in the NDP are saying, and it is what Roy Romanow said as well, is that the federal contribution to health care should be brought up to 25% of the total costs.
What does that mean? In my province of Saskatchewan, which is one of the smaller provinces of the country, the health care budget this year was $2.69 billion. That is an increase of 6.3% in the last year. In other words, the Saskatchewan NDP government has been funding health care at a rate higher than the inflation rate, so it has been keeping up, but despite that, health care is underfunded in my province, just as it is in other provinces. If the federal government increased its share from 16% to 25%, it would be an additional $306 million per year for the province of Saskatchewan. That would be a significant contribution to the Saskatchewan health care system.
In British Columbia--the member for Vancouver East is here--if the federal government paid 25% of the costs instead of 16% there would be an additional $1.1 billion put into the health care system there. In Alberta, it would mean an additional $751 million. In Quebec, there would be an additional $2.15 billion in health care funding. In Newfoundland and Labrador, it would be an additional $175 million.
In New Brunswick--the member from New Brunswick is across the way--it would be an additional $214 million if the federal government paid 25% of the costs as opposed to about 16% of the costs. Imagine what that extra $214 million would mean for a province like New Brunswick. That is an awful lot of cash for the health care system in the province of New Brunswick. We should not forget that is at only 25%. In the 1960s when the health care system was brought in, the federal government paid 50% of the costs. Now it pays 16% of the costs and the NDP is recommending 25% of the costs. That would be an extra $214 million for the province of New Brunswick.
Prince Edward Island would get another $43 million if the federal government paid 25% of the cost of medicare for Canadian provinces. Manitoba would also receive a large increase and Quebec, as I mentioned, would receive another $2.15 billion.
In every province in this country there would be a large increase if the federal government were to pay some 25% of the costs of health care.
Therefore, one thing that has to happen is more federal health care money coming into the health care system. The other concern we have is the privatization of health care in this country. It has increased during the Liberal Party's term of office. The main reason for it is that they have starved and strangled the health care system. When we starve the health care system, we force the provinces to look elsewhere and we have seen the establishment of some private clinics, some private health care facilities, some for profit health care facilities.
I believe that health care in this country should be provided on a non-profit basis. It should be a public system, accessible to each and every single Canadian, regardless of the thickness of one's pocketbook or wallet.
That is not the way the government across the way is going. The health minister himself was open to more privatization in the health care system. I do believe that is absolutely and totally wrong. The Minister of Health, just a few days ago, made this statement:
If some provinces want to experiment with the private delivery option, my view is that as long as they respect the single-payer, public payer, we should be examining these efforts.
So the Liberals want to explore the private delivery of health care, and we do not have private delivery in health care unless we build in the profit motive. The profit motive has to be there to attract private investment and the minister is open to private investment. He is open to for profit health care. I believe that is the wrong way to go.
It is the way of the Conservative Party. The member from Penticton is leaving. I remember that his great leader Brian Mulroney talked at one time of greater health care. His friend in Ontario, Mike Harris, did exactly the same thing, and Grant Devine in my province of Saskatchewan. Now we have this other great conservative party, led by the Prime Minister from LaSalle—Émard--
Supply May 11th, 2004
Mr. Speaker, today I rise to support this motion in the House calling on the federal government to end the drift toward privatization of the health care system. I want to share my time with the member for Palliser.
I want to say at the outset that, despite protests, the Liberal government across the way, because of its cutbacks in funding, has provided a great deal of momentum for the privatization of health care. In fact, it is sounding as bad as the Conservatives across the way. We all know where the Conservative Party stands, that party of Brian Mulroney, that party of Mike Harris, that party of Grant Devine, in terms of calling for more and more private health care over the years. Now the Liberal Party is doing the same thing.
I wish we had a member across the way. They are terrified in downtown Toronto, where the Liberal Party is going to suffer many lost seats on June 28. When the Prime Minister drops the writ, many of the members across the way are going to go down in defeat to the NDP, mainly because the Liberal Party in this country today is led by a conservative.
The people of this country need an alternative and we are providing the only alternative for the people of this country, for a publicly administered, single payer, not for profit health care system in Canada. It is not being offered by the Liberal Party and it is not being offered by the Conservative Party. That member hangs his head in shame on the backbenches.