Last in Parliament April 1997, as Reform MP for Lethbridge (Alberta)
Won his last election, in 1993, with 52.56% of the vote.
Statements in the House
Questions On The Order Paper April 25th, 1997
Can the Minister of Justice indicate any/all individuals he, or his executive assistant, met with pertaining to the Airbus affair, including the name of the individual(s), the date(s), and the subject matter of their meeting?
Canada Elections Act April 25th, 1997
Mr. Speaker I would also like to add my thanks on behalf of the Reform caucus to you as Speaker of the House. I also note our appreciation for the give and the take, the adversarial system, the democratic system, working well in the House during the 35th Parliament.
The challenge was great for you when we started. There were some 200 new members you had to assist and bring through a very delicate process at times. We think you have done well. We would
like to thank you for your service and we look forward to the service that will be provided in the 36th Parliament of Canada.
Member For Lethbridge April 25th, 1997
Mr. Speaker, on the eve of a 1997 federal election, my wife asks the question, will she or will she not know what to do with me?
Before each of nine elections, she prepared herself for the vigorous schedule of the campaign, knocking on doors, the thousand-plus phone calls, dealing with the content and the discontent.
Thirty-odd years of having breakfast, dinner and quiet evenings interrupted by a concern in somebody's life, but seven days a week on the job was a good reason to stay young and let 34 years escape so quickly.
My wife and I can say that in 30-some years of political life together, we leave this part of public life with a good feeling of remembering every experience, whether with an individual, a group or an organization as positive and memorable. We leave with no hurt in our heart.
Today, I want to pay tribute and give my best wishes to all the spouses who will work side by side with their partners in this election. I also want to thank the spouses who have sacrificed for us in this Parliament and who were always there when we needed that quiet word of encouragement.
Today I want to say a special thanks and pay tribute to my wife, Ingrid.
Canada Endangered Species Protection Act April 24th, 1997
Madam Speaker, it is my pleasure to speak to Bill C-65 and the Group No. 2 amendments before us that reference habitat and other necessities to protect endangered species across the nation.
The bill is asking for a balance in legislation across the country. It is also asking for co-operative federalism where provincial government, municipal governments and local agencies are able to work with our national government and at the same time co-operate with other countries touched by bird migration across the continent. That may even involve the rest of North America, South America and other adjacent lands that form part of the bird migration patterns of the world.
When I think of one side of the balance where we must do everything possible to protect the endangered species, in terms of a cause it is good and noble we are working toward that. When we consider the aspect of protecting endangered species, we must ensure we take into consideration the players that will be involved. Private land owners, provincial lands, federal lands and adjacent nations need co-operative agreements.
I have looked at the legislation and have considered some of the content of the amendments in terms of habitat. Recently I saw a discussion of the specific bill on television. The person on the side of protecting all endangered species made a noteworthy comment at the time. He said that the legislation provided for protection of birds if they land in national parks, on federal buildings or on Parliament Hill. I thought maybe that was the way it was.
Subsequently I received a letter from the Minister of Environment, as have other members of this assembly, in which he outlined the concerns of the provinces. He indicated that Bill C-65 was more encompassing than just federal lands, national parks, federal buildings across the nation and Parliament Hill. The legislation was actually intervening, overlapping and interfering with provincial jurisdiction and responsibility. That is a major violation by the federal minister.
The federal minister signed an accord with the provinces on September 25, 1996 called "A National Framework for the Conservation of Species at Risk". The accord was signed with the idea provinces would be able to administer, take the major responsibility and be independent from the federal government for writing legislation that would take away from the autonomy of the provinces or their responsibilities. An agreement was reached by all the provinces.
They agreed to participate in the Canadian Endangered Species Conservation Council to co-ordinate activities and resolve issues for the protection of species at risk in Canada.
They agreed to recognize the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada as a source of independent advice on the status of species at risk nationally and to establish complementary legislation and programs that provide for effective protection of species at risk throughout Canada.
The agreement listed a long list of specific kinds of things the provinces would commit to doing. They would refer any disputes that may arise under the accord to the Canadian Endangered Species Conservation Council for discussion.
The provinces agreed, with the expectation that federal Minister of the Environment would write legislation to facilitate that kind of co-operation. That did not happen.
Subsequently we received letters from the Minister of the Environment, as mentioned by my colleagues from Vegreville and Calgary North, indicating that the federal government did not live up to its commitment and has written legislation that duplicates and adds to the legal tangles or actions to be put in place by regulations to protect endangered species. That is unacceptable.
In a time when provinces have matured to a point where they can take on responsibilities such as these, we should decentralize and give them the responsibilities. If there needs to be umbrella legislation to facilitate co-ordination or to fill in some of the blanks, the legislation would be acceptable.
As the chairman of the provincial ministers, the minister from one of the maritime provinces points out very clearly that Bill C-65, even with the amendments of groups one to four and those introduced by the government to try to deal with matter, falls short of co-operative federalism. It is just not there. The minister, the government and the Liberal caucus have missed the point being made by the provinces.
Recently there has been similar legislation to try to foster co-operation between the federal Minister of the Environment and the provincial ministers of environment. The legislation dealt with a variety of developments that would take place on the rivers of Alberta or on any other river across this nation.
The province of Alberta wanted to put a dam on a river. We went through about 20 years of studies and hearings. Finally we decided to build a dam on the Oldman River in the Three Rivers area. At the point when the decision was made and construction had even started, the federal Tory government found a piece legislation to allow it to intervene and start the whole process of hearings again. It cost a lot of money and delay. Fortunately the provincial government was able to work through that and proceed with the building of the dam, which will be a great asset to our province for many years ahead.
The lesson we learned was that the federal government had duplicate legislation that added difficulty to the process. It complicated and delayed the project, and it cost many dollars for the province of Alberta to answer interveners and so on and delayed construction. We learned a lesson. The legislation was changed.
The federal government was able to write legislation that avoided overlap and duplication. We thought the House of Commons learned something but I guess it has not. With Bill C-65, the federal government has written legislation that infringes on the rights and responsibilities of provinces. I do not know if the bureaucrats are at fault or who it is. You would think we would have learned something and would not do that again.
I recommend in my remarks, which are probably my final remarks with regard to this legislation, that the government rethink its position. If it really wants to work with the provinces, as it says clearly in this supporting document which was passed around to all members of Parliament, then it better back off and put in place some kind of umbrella legislation that facilitates the provinces in doing their job. Then there would be no overlap or intervening process to take away from local autonomy.
How can this kind of thing work for farmers who are affected? A major concern of my constituents is that if an endangered species is found on a piece of land, no compensation is listed here. The government only promises that a person who provides land for conservation will be recognized for that. It will be a donation of environmentally sensitive land and a partnership.
My final statement is this. Why should one individual landowner have to take all of the cost to provide the land? That is the responsibility of all Canadians when endangered species are being protected.
Questions On The Order Paper April 24th, 1997
Can the Government of Canada indicate which Ministers purchased copies of Stevie Cameron's "On the Take" and Paul Palango's "Above the Law" from their office budgets since October 23, 1993, as well as the number of copies that were purchased by each Minister?
Information Commissioner April 21st, 1997
Mr. Speaker, the Reform Party is prepared to accept the motion of the parliamentary secretary on the basis that the Information Commissioner is approved not only by the House of Commons but by the Senate. That process being in place is a good precedent for other persons appointed by government into a variety of positions.
Mr. Grace was appointed on July 2, 1990 and his term will expire on July 1, 1997. Certainly it would be of benefit to extend it to the end of the year.
In principle the other 2,000 appointments that are often considered as patronage appointments by government should receive some kind of scrutiny just like this appointment. That certainly would make for a better understanding by the general public and would most likely bring forward a better quality of person.
John Grace, the current Information Commissioner, has been extremely fair and diligent and has served Canadians well. We are prepared to move and support the extension of his term for six months.
National Parole Board April 17th, 1997
Madam Speaker, the government again and again tries to give the impression that it will now be tough on the criminal and have a criminal justice system that may be a little fair or which will consider the victims of crime as such.
We will look at the motives regarding what is behind it. The motive is very clear. On Sunday, April 27 the Prime Minister will call an election and the government requires a criminal justice package to convince the people of Canada that they should vote for the Liberal Party because it is tough on the criminal and is doing something for the victim.
The motives are wrong. They are absolutely wrong. If the motive were really to deal with the system and to take responsibility in a legitimate, reasoned way rather than doing something for only political reasons, we would have better government and better policy in terms of the criminal and certainly in terms respecting the victims of crime.
That is not the way it is. We see this knee-jerk reaction from government which is supposed to be good policy.
Now we look at the parole boards. How are they appointed? I know some of these individuals because I have been in active politics for about 34 years. I recall in Alberta Mike Maccagno was a good Liberal. He was leader of the Liberal Party of Alberta. He was elected to the legislature of Alberta and we became good friends even though I was a minister of the government.
I remember talking to Mr. Maccagno one day. He said: "Ray, I think I am going to quit as the leader of the Liberal Party because I am going to Ottawa heaven. I am going to be appointed to the Parole Board of Canada". Forever after he lived very happily because he got that appointment.
The problem is do we have people there with credentials? I do not think we have. We must appoint those people because they have experience and something to contribute. I know members will take that into consideration with regard to this motion.
National Parole Board April 17th, 1997
Madam Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity to speak on the motion of my colleague from Surrey North. Her contribution to this House has been tremendous and certainly it will be noted in history in terms of compassion for those in need, not only aboriginal families of this nation but many other people who need special attention and consideration in a very humane and humanitarian purpose. I would like to thank the hon. member for making that contribution.
I hope into this next election that there is an opportunity somewhere in Canada that she may play a role, become a candidate. That would be an exciting possibility as well.
Motion No. 139 lays out for us a motion that gives direction to the parole board of Canada, saying that the priority for that parole board should certainly be victims rights rather than criminal rights
and that there has to be a better balance. Through this motion my hon. colleague has tried to give direction for that.
That sounds like common sense for us. The question is why does it not happen. Why have we not over the years been able to recognize that victims rights must be considered before someone is put out into the general public or back on the streets with parole?
I have spoken with ministers of justice, the attorneys general of a variety of provinces with regard to this question and lawyers as well, legal people. They often say "The case before us is to judge this person who committed a crime as to whether he or she should be given parole or consideration or should be kept in prison for a longer period of time". That is the consideration. It is that individual on which they focus. They say "Our venue does not allow for the victims to come in and make some kind of presentation because it is not the victim we are judging". They say that is the dilemma that they are facing in making these kinds of judgments and carrying out their role either as a parole member or a judge in a court and so on.
Somewhere in that process we have to open our minds and recognize that if someone is paroled that person, prior to that, has committed some kind of a crime on the street, in somebody's home, in terms of somebody's private property or has invaded the privacy of an individual or hurt some individual in some way, serious or otherwise. That has happened and there is a victim there all the time.
Now that we are going to put this person back out on the street, why do we not consider victims rights and some input for victims?
This motion aims in that direction and tries to alert the parole board that it should happen, that we as members of the House of Commons, as the member says so well in her motion, should direct the National Parole Board that any benefit of doubt in hearings and deliberations on parole should go to the victim, the victim's family and public safety, and not for that person who has committed the crime.
What have we had from the government since we came to Parliament in 1994? In the year 1994 not much. My colleagues laid before the government case after case that the Minister of Justice was too soft on the criminal and there was not a consideration for the victim. I heard my hon. colleagues from Alberta and British Columbia lay that out over and over again. Section 745 of the Criminal Code comes into question where someone who has committed first degree murder is allowed to have consideration of parole after 15 years when they were given a 25 year sentence. We cannot see the common sense of that.
The many victims of the crime, as we laid the issue before the hon. Minister of Justice, were not considered.
All of a sudden we are into 1997, three years later, and the government is excited. It will do something with the criminals of this country. It will come down hard on the criminals.
I see a press release issued by the Minister of Justice and the solicitor general April 17. Again they are making the claim to the public of Alberta that they will come down tough on the criminal. They say they have introduced a package of tough new measures to target criminal gang activity.
It is all part of a facade. It is all part of a process by which the government thinks it must do this today, not bring some common sense to the criminal justice system. If that were the purpose, it would be excellent. The purpose becomes "I want to do this". This is what the Liberal government says.
K.D. Lang April 17th, 1997
Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House today to congratulate Consort, Alberta's very own singer-songwriter K.D. Lang on her decoration yesterday as an Officer of the Order of Canada.
My first introduction to K.D. Lang came back in 1985. Playing for the members of the Alberta legislature, she delivered a high spirited, foot stomping performance that soon became her trademark.
Since then she has gone on to build a magnificent career in the music business, winning numerous awards and honours, including the Canadian country music awards entertainer of the year in 1989 and album of the year in 1990 for "Twang".
A household name across North America, K.D. Lang is just one of a long line of Canadian entertainers who have not shied from the challenge of succeeding on the world stage. She is living proof that Canadian musicians can and do compete with anybody anywhere, not because of government assistance or policy but because of doing what they are good at.
To K.D. Lang a hearty congratulations on being named to the Order of Canada.
Criminal Code April 17th, 1997
Mr. Speaker, we understood the government was to make a few remarks in opening the debate and our speaker was to follow. We do not have a number of speakers but there are some remarks we would like to make on the matter.