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Last in Parliament November 2005, as Independent MP for London—Fanshawe (Ontario)

Won his last election, in 2004, with 38.08% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Canada Elections Act October 18th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, I vote no to the motion.

Civil Marriage Act June 27th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for his kind words about my work as the chair of SCONDVA. I can tell the House that the hon. member is the vice-chair and he, I and all the members of that committee had a very good professional and, I think, largely non-partisan working relationship. I regret the fact that in leaving the government party and becoming an independent, it was obvious they were not going to keep me on as chairman. That came as no shock to me. I do miss that work but I wish him and the rest of the committee well as they pursue important business for the Canadian Forces.

Last Thursday was an incredible experience. The first thing that struck me, and I am sorry because I have a couple of friends in that particular caucus, was the breathtaking hypocrisy of the New Democratic Party for one. We have a leader of the New Democratic Party up on his hind legs railing about the use of closure. I have heard member after member railing about the use of closure by the government or past governments. I heard the member for Sarnia--Lambton, the longest serving member of the NDP caucus, railing about the use of closure at the time of the free trade debate.

It saddened me to watch that particular party agreeing that closure was okay when it was on something the New Democratic Party wanted. I really was disappointed, surprised and shocked. Quite frankly, we saw the same thing from our friends in the Bloc Québécois.

To answer my colleague's question, I thought it was within the rules, technically, yes, but I thought it was a pretty dirty trick of bending the rules about as far as one could, and I was just shocked by the breathtaking arrogance of a couple of the parties in this House.

Civil Marriage Act June 27th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, with all due respect to the hon. member, the last comment is so silly that I will just let it go for another time.

I am really glad the member gave us all the repetition about the various judges but I would invite him to sharpen his listening skills. What I indicated was that the only court, to my knowledge, in the world that instantaneously ruled that we would have a redefinition of marriage was the Ontario Court of Appeal. It was none of the other courts that he enumerated. That was the atrocity, that was the arrogance and that is what the hon. member did not pay attention to in my comments.

Civil Marriage Act June 27th, 2005

Yes, that is what really happened. I was there.

There was a teaming up of some Bloc and some Liberal MPs. To do what? To deny quorum so we could not even put a second motion to appeal that ruling.

From that day forward, I was much less proud to be a Liberal member of Parliament. I have to say that. It really was quite an incredible display of undemocratic arrogance that we saw.

Now we come to the latest legislative committee. Let us recall one thing. There was no need for this decision to be referred to a legislative committee. It could have been referred to the standing committee. It could have been referred to some other special committee. Why was it referred to a legislative committee? To try to narrow the debate as much as possible. That is what it was all about. And everybody around here who has been here for a while understands what the game was.

I was quite close some weeks ago to leaving the Liberal Party. I went to the right hon. Prime Minister and said, “Look, Prime Minister, I was through one farce of a process. I will not stand still for seeing this farcical process repeated again.” He gave me his personal assurance that there would be full and fair hearings by the legislative committee.

I want to correct the record because I have heard some members on this side today make one error that I want to correct, in fairness to the Prime Minister and myself. I did not seek a travel committee because I knew that the justice committee had travelled extensively and I knew that most committee hearings take place here in Ottawa. I understood that would be fine. And I have no problem with the number of witnesses they heard.

However, as many members on this side have correctly said, I have major problems with witnesses being given less than 24 hours' notice to appear; with them being berated and lectured to by members of both sides of the table, in some cases, when they did show up because they were not speaking to these narrow parameters; and with the imposition of a ridiculous deadline of June 14. I have major problems with those issues.

What happened with the second process where we were supposed to have public consultation? It was rendered a farce, perhaps a bigger farce than the first committee. I have major problems with the process that took place.

I was proud to support a man a few years ago to be leader of my party, the Liberal Party, the right hon. Prime Minister. He spoke about the democratic deficit. I am sorry to have to say it, but the reality is that since this government has come to office, the democratic deficit in this country has increased, it has not decreased, and that is simply not acceptable to me.

When I saw the second committee process being rendered a farce, I made a decision that I could no longer in good conscience remain a member of the Liberal Party and I took a decision to become an independent member of Parliament. That was not taken lightly or with any joy. I felt very badly that the party I had worked in and represented for a number of years was shifting way over to the left, becoming the NDP light.

When we see our friends over in the NDP, I have a word for them. It is the New Democratic Party. Is it not interesting that that is the only party that is not allowing a free vote in the House of Commons? Shame on the New Democratic Party for not allowing that.

I will finish this way. I will support the amendments to the bill. Why? Because I want to see the best possible bill if we are going to have it become law. I will support the amendments because they do improve things like religious freedom, tax status, and so on. But in the end, I will continue to oppose this legislation because it is wrong for Canada, it is immoral, it is illogical, it is unnecessary, and most Canadians reject it out of hand.

Civil Marriage Act June 27th, 2005

Thank you to my colleagues, and to my wife, for sure, for putting up with me for 35 years.

She is just as determined as I am that this is a wrong decision, that this is an illogical decision. Quite frankly, for many Canadians, including myself and my wife, it is more than an illogical decision; it is an immoral decision, and it is not necessary to go down this road. Other countries have found a solution to this problem.

I have polled my constituents repeatedly. What have they told me? Over 90% repeatedly say do not change the definition of marriage. It is a man and a woman, full stop. But we recognize the signs of the times. We understand that people of the same sex are going to live together in intimate relationships. We understand that the courts are driving this agenda and that the courts, whether you or I like it or not, are determined to offer recognition to these people. Fine, recognize their relationship in some way, register it at city hall, call it civil union, like they do in France, call it something else, but do not call it what it is not: marriage.

I am fundamentally opposed to the decision itself, and I want to comment now and explain why I am so opposed to this incredible process that we have been put through. I see the hon. parliamentary secretary opposite. I listened to him from my riding office earlier today, in my riding of London—Fanshawe, before I flew here. I heard him and I heard other members of this House argue, including the government House leader, that there has been a full debate, all kinds of debate, a full opportunity for democratic process. That is sheer nonsense, and those of us who have been here know that is sheer nonsense.

The reality is that I sat on the justice committee from February to June 2003. Yes, we heard some 400-and-some-odd witnesses, but what happened in the end? We did not even report. That committee did not even issue a report. Our work was totally pre-empted by arrogant judges in the Ontario Court of Appeal who issued a ruling saying they instantly redefine marriage. Now what did the government of the day do? What did Minister Martin Cauchon and Prime Minister Jean Chrétien do? They rolled over and played dead on the issue. They refused to appeal that decision. Absolutely incredible. That was their agenda, and that is why the Supreme Court of Canada--and you didn't need to be a lawyer to know what they would do--refused to answer question four. They had not gone through the proper steps if they really wanted to appeal that.

The first committee, whose witnesses everybody likes to cite, did not even issue a report.

I would like to see the evidence that this latest committee referenced and how it worked those submissions into its final amendments and report.

The first committee was rendered a farce by the courts.

Then, of course, we had one of the most duplicitous situations at that time, where we were even denied quorum at the justice committee. Let us talk reality. I was there. A teaming up of the Bloc Québécois and some Liberal MPs on that committee--

Civil Marriage Act June 27th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to join the debate on Bill C-38 for the third time now. Regrettably, the bill has continued to progress. Quite frankly, I believe the most democratic thing the government could do in this case would be to withdraw this legislation. It simply has no democratic mandate to proceed on this legislation.

In the last election, one year ago, we will all recall that the Supreme Court had not even rendered its judgment, had not even spoken to these very important questions. The government had no proposed legislation to lay before the electorate of Canada; therefore, the conclusion is obvious: it has no democratic mandate to proceed on this legislation. If the Prime Minister and the government had political courage and were prepared to do the democratic thing and the right thing, they would withdraw this legislation and they would put it before the people of Canada whenever next the government goes to the polls, and then Canadians could factor in this idea, this proposed redefinition of marriage, along with all the other public policy questions, and they could then render a judgment democratically. That is what ought to be done, but I do not expect that to be done.

I am opposed to Bill C-38 on two main points. First of all, I am opposed to the decision itself, and then I want to speak to and explain why I am opposed to the process.

On the decision itself, it simply boggles the mind why this government is charging ahead, determined to make a decision that flies in the face of common sense, that flies in the face of the clear majority opinion of most Canadians not to redefine marriage.

I was proud that on Monday past my wife Evelyn and I celebrated our 35th wedding anniversary.

Extension of Sitting Period June 23rd, 2005

Mr. Speaker, I have listened to the government House leader tell us that there has been a very full and democratic debate on Bill C-38 but clearly the game here is to try to fast-track Bill C-38.

Does my colleague consider giving less than 24 hours' notice to witnesses to appear at a committee to be democratic and fair? I speak as a three time chair of the committee on national defence and veterans affairs. Does he consider having four witnesses at a time, meeting after meeting, to be sitting at a committee, which is unusual, to be a normal, democratic practice in this House?

Does he consider the imposition of an artificial June 14 deadline to report to this House normal and fair? I want him to answer that because if he does the Canadian people do not.

An Act to Authorize the Minister of Finance to Make Certain Payments June 21st, 2005

Mr. Speaker, I vote no.

(The House divided on Motion No. 2, which was agreed to on the following division:)

An Act to Authorize the Minister of Finance to Make Certain Payments June 21st, 2005

Mr. Speaker, I vote yes.

The House divided on the amendment to Motion No. 2, which was negatived on the following division:)

An Act to Authorize the Minister of Finance to Make Certain Payments June 21st, 2005

Mr. Speaker, I vote no.

(The House divided on Motion No. 1, which was agreed to on the following division:)