- On the Parliament site
Last in Parliament May 2004, as Canadian Alliance MP for Calgary Southwest (Alberta)
Won his last election, in 2000, with 64.81% of the vote.
Statements in the House
Member for Calgary Southwest January 31st, 2002
Mr. Speaker, my main purpose in rising at this time is to, first, thank the electors of Calgary Southwest and, second, to thank my colleagues for the very gracious tributes given today. They probably would have helped me if I had received some of them a little bit earlier. I thank my hon. colleagues for the sentiments they have expressed. They mean a great deal to myself personally and to my family.
I would like to make a few comments, looking back but also looking forward. My remarks will be brief because, as many members know, I have a particular interest in economy and budgets. The budget of the House is getting close to $300 million and we spend about a thousand hours a year here, which means that if one takes even 15 minutes of the House's time that is about $75,000. I am feeling fiscally irresponsible already for the time we have taken.
It was almost 15 years ago that a small group of people in western Canada decided that we would try to change the national agenda by using the tools that democracy gives to every citizen: freedom of speech, freedom of association, and the opportunity to try to convince fellow citizens to support a political program.
In our case, as members know, we used those tools to advance on the national agenda such ideas as debt reduction, budget balancing and tax relief, and also to demand a greater clarity and rigour on the part of the federal government with respect to secession and the revitalization of federalism.
Other Canadians and other members of the House may have different concerns and aspirations. We all do. I would hope that the experience of the Reform Party would inspire democrats in every party and in every part of the country to believe more passionately and actively in the tools and ideology of democracy itself.
That ideology and those tools still constitute the best way in my judgment to change the country. I trust that our activities will inspire people.
Like all members I am indebted to many people for anything I have been able to accomplish politically. I acknowledge that debt today. To the thousands of faithful party volunteers, supporters and workers without whom our democratic system would grind to a halt, I offer my deepest thanks and appreciation.
To the voters of Calgary Southwest, who never insisted that I attend any social, community or even political event in the riding as long as I kept working for their interest on the national stage, I offer my deepest thanks. It has been a privilege to be your representative in the Parliament of Canada.
To all the administrative and support staff in our party offices, parliamentary and constituency offices, and to the officers of this House, pages, security and maintenance people I offer my deepest thanks. Most of us politicians can look bad on our own. To look good we need the help of a lot of people and these are the ones who give it to us.
To all my colleagues, past and present, in the Reform, Canadian Alliance and democratic representative caucuses it has been a great honour and a privilege for me to campaign with these parliamentarians in the federal elections of 1988, 1993, 1997 and 2000, and to serve with hon. members in this place.
As Deborah said “I love that word reform”, and just as I was convinced that reform was the right word to describe much of the dynamics of what had to be done in the 1990s, I am equally convinced that the building of strategic alliances and principled coalitions will be the key to getting big things done in the next decade of this century.
How to operationalize that concept in practice is not yet clear. I wish the builders of strategic alliances and principled coalitions every success in the days ahead.
To the Prime Minister, and I had a chance to visit with him yesterday before he left for New York, to the members of the cabinet, to the leaders of all the parties and to all my parliamentary colleagues on both sides of the House, it has been a privilege for me to serve with them in the 35th, 36th and 37th parliament.
My only regret is that I did not get to know and appreciate more hon. members on a personal basis because the longer I observe life in politics the more I appreciate that it is the relationships we form in the course of our activities, more often than the activities themselves, that are the most important and enduring thing.
Actually I was always a little afraid that if I got to know some hon. members better I might get to like them better. If I got to like them better, it might make it more difficult to challenge their positions and policies with the vigour with which they deserved to be challenged.
Most important of all I acknowledge the constant help and support of my wife and family, without whom I would have long ago lost my balance and my desire to persevere in public life. I thank Sandra for her love, her encouragement, her advice and for being my partner in politics and in life.
To my colleagues from Quebec, personally, my limited knowledge of the French language always prevented me from getting to know you better and from having real heart-to-heart talks with you. But, politically, there is a potential connection between western Canadians and Quebecers, a connection that is promising for the future and that I want to point out today.
In Canada, two great regions have always supported political innovation by creating new parties and by calling for systemic changes to our federal state. These two regions are Quebec and western Canada.
In Quebec, there was the Bloc populaire, the Union nationale, the Ralliement des créditistes, the Parti québécois and the Action démocratique. In western Canada, we had Riel, the autonomy movements, the Progressive Party and the parties that were born during the depression, the Social Credit and the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation, which later became the New Democratic Party.
This trend reappeared in the 1990s with the birth of the Bloc Québécois in Quebec and the Reform Party in the west. Each has a platform that calls for fundamental changes. However, our platforms are so different that we were unable to work together.
I hope the next generation of agents of change in Quebec and in western Canada will have better luck and will be able to form strategic alliances and to implement the reforms that are essential to revitalize the federation for the benefit of all Canadians.
So much for looking backward. My real interest and preoccupation these days is in looking ahead.
Thanks to the good graces of several Canadian think tanks and universities, I am looking forward to exploring and addressing, from a non-partisan standpoint, some of the major public policy concerns of the present and the future.
My thanks especially to the Fraser Institute and the Canada West Foundation for providing me with senior fellowships at their institutions and to the University of Calgary and to the University of Toronto for inviting me to be a distinguished visitor at their institutions. Those hon. members who have sometimes suggested in debate that I should be institutionalized should now be happy.
I should also mention that I will be working with McClelland and Stewart to publish a book this fall describing my adventures in politics and parliament over the last 10 years.
Various hon. members of the House will be mentioned in the book. As in all good westerns, they will either be classified as villains or heroes. Those wishing to influence their characterization may wish to slip a brown envelope under my door.
Looking ahead, there will be a chapter on the next prime minister. Sealed bids will be gratefully received from anyone wishing to ghostwrite that chapter.
Several years ago, I was going back to Calgary on a Saturday morning flight and I sat beside a gentleman who introduced himself as Jerry Potts, Jr. He was a direct descendent of the original Jerry Potts, the great Metis scout who provided indispensable guidance to the early North-West Mounted Police when they brought peace, order and good government to the western frontier.
The more unfamiliar the territory and the more uncertain the future, the more crucial is the function of the scout, the person who will ride out ahead of the main company, study the weather and the signs of the trail, carefully note the dangers and the opportunities that lie ahead and then come back to the main company and try to help it make the right decision as to which path to take.
Once I am clear of my political responsibilities and my constituency responsibilities, I intend to do a little scouting on the frontiers of the 21st century, just as Jerry Potts scouted the last great frontier, the 19th.
Like many members, I sense dangers up ahead, dangers for Canada and Canadians, and want to explore the best paths for avoiding them or diffusing them.
Internationally, of course, we know there is the threat of terrorism and war in the Middle East and in Asia. What is the best path for peacekeepers, under those circumstances and on those frontiers?
Closer to home, there is the declining confidence of the Canadian public in the Canadian dollar. What is the course of action that preserves sovereignty in the face of globalization and perhaps a single North American or even hemispheric currency?
Even closer yet to home, to this House, 15% fewer Canadians voted in election 2000 than voted in the 1988 federal election. By what means do we restore the faith of Canadians in parliamentary democracy itself ? It affects us all; it is beyond a particular party.
Like many members, I also sense great opportunities ahead and want to explore the best paths for capturing them for Canada and Canadians. The frontiers of the knowledge and information economy are as vast and as exciting as those of the frontiers of the old west. What kinds of educational reforms and science policies would enable Canada to advance on that frontier?
There is now a public appetite, at long last, for health care reform. There is action on that front by the provinces. By what path will the new balance between federal and provincial or public and private resources in health care be achieved?
We are conscious of this in our own family, and many members are also, that a new generation of young people have grown up with as deep a commitment to environmental conservation as many of us in our generation had to economic development. What is the course of action that strikes the balance between the two?
These are some of the frontiers that I intend to scout, in the company of others like-minded, in the days ahead. As one scout who is somewhat familiar with the interests and capabilities of this unique company, if I see or hear something that may help members in parliament to deal with those challenges, everyone can be sure that I will let them know.
Finally, one of the signs that a democracy has fully matured is when it is able to wisely handle not only the social or economic or environmental or administrative dimensions of the public interest, but the ethical and spiritual dimensions as well.
In this country for a long time we have tended to avoid moral and ethical issues in the public arena for fear that would divide us rather than unite us or for fear that we would be misunderstood as trying to impose our particular values on others. Likewise, we have virtually banished expressions of religious faith largely now to the private or personal sphere because we simply do not know how to handle expressions of faith in the public arena. Two recent developments should cause us to rethink those positions.
First, this parliament will soon legislate on how to regulate the genetic revolution, one of the most exciting and potentially advantageous developments in the history of mankind. However because that science deals with the beginnings and the intergenerational transfer of human life itself, it cannot help but have moral and ethical dimensions of the most profound kind which parliament must openly and seriously discuss. I for one think this is a good thing, not something to be feared and avoided, but an opportunity to be embraced. I want to wish this parliament openness and honesty and wisdom and success in those deliberations.
Second, in the hours and days after the terrorist attacks on September 11, our Prime Minister and other world leaders rightly declared those actions to be acts of evil and the misguided faith of the terrorists to be a counterfeit faith. Such declarations have the effect of pulling at least certain aspects of defence policy and external affairs policy and justice policy on to moral ground and they oblige us as parliamentarians then to say by what standards we consider this act to be evil or this policy to be good or that expression of faith to be counterfeit and this expression of faith to be genuine.
In days past we would have avoided a debate like that like the plague. While it is a mistake to see moral issues where they do not in fact exist, I suggest it is an even greater mistake to fail to see them when they do actually arise.
Responsible leadership in such circumstances will require parliamentarians to engage in those types of issues honestly, openly, respectfully and cautiously but to engage nonetheless. Again I wish this House the courage and wisdom required to venture forward on that frontier.
In the spirit of the necessity to express ourselves openly on matters of faith and morality, I leave members with my favourite prayer by a 19th century statesman and democrat who wrestled long and hard with these types of issues and which he gave on the occasion of his departure from his political friends:
Trusting in Him who can go with me and remain with you and be everywhere for good, let us confidently hope that all will yet be well. To His care commending you, as I hope in your prayers you will commend me, I bid you an affectionate farewell.
Research and Development December 13th, 2001
Mr. Speaker, I will be around until the end of January so perhaps I will see the bill from the minister.
The subject of stem cell research raises hope for the treatment of degenerative diseases but it also raises major ethical concern. Embryonic stem cells have flexibility but their production involves the planned destruction of the human embryo. Adult stem cell research shows great progress and does not raise the same ethical concerns.
Will the minister tell the House what the government's priorities are when it comes to supporting and regulating embryonic stem cell research versus adult stem cell research?
Research and Development December 13th, 2001
Mr. Speaker, I have a straightforward question. It has been almost a decade since a royal commission said that Canada needed a legislative framework to deal with assisted human reproduction and related research.
Yesterday the health committee tabled a report which stated that it was urgent that we proceed with that legislation and that we get on with the job.
When can we expect a revised bill for the regulation of assisted human reproduction and related research to be presented to the House?
Committees of the House December 12th, 2001
Mr. Speaker, I rise to add a brief opposition comment on the report just tabled.
First I want to commend to all members the process which produced this report. It was one case where the draft bill went to a committee prior to first reading. The degree of agreement that was reached as a result is worth noting.
The opposition supports many of the major recommendations of the report, particularly the ban on reproductive and therapeutic cloning, the proposals for a new regulatory body and the mechanisms to hold that body accountable to parliament.
The one major difference between ourselves and the government that is noted in the minority report is an ethical concern about any research, such as embryonic stem cell research, which results in the destruction of the embryo. We would commend to members our recommendations that there be a prohibition on such research subject to a three year moratorium and a much stronger emphasis on supporting adult stem cell research.
In conclusion I would like to remind all members that this field of assisted human reproduction involves complex issues of science, health and ethics. There are two things that this report recommends to the House in order to resolve those things: first, to establish a regulatory arena where all those interests and conflicts can be represented and adjudicated openly; and second, for the House to give direction to that body, just a simple directive that where there is a conflict between what is ethically acceptable and scientifically possible, the ethical perspective would prevail.
I join the chair of the Standing Committee on Health in commending this report on building families to every member of the House.
World Trade Organization November 5th, 2001
Mr. Chairman, would the minister consider the following comments and perhaps respond to a question? As he knows, the public generally accepts the benefits of trade liberalization in terms of its contributions to economic growth, jobs and a higher standard of living.
However the main players in globalization that negotiate these big trade agreements have been the executive levels of government and multinational corporations. There is little opportunity for ordinary people, either themselves or through their democratic representatives in parliaments or legislatures, to have a say on either the terms and conditions of international trade agreements or on how to handle the social and environmental effects.
It is increasingly important to bring democratic governance and accountability to globalization and international organizations like the WTO. There must be some kind of democratic middle ground between high level executive meetings and riots in the streets of Seattle or Quebec City. Does the government have anything to propose on how to bring some sort of democratic governance to the WTO either in the present or in the immediate future?
Attack on the United States September 17th, 2001
Mr. Speaker, I think all members of the House are concerned about committing evil in response to evil, which hardly solves the problem of evil.
I suggest, and this is one of the historic teachings of the Christian faith, that if we take seriously our asking for a deliverance from evil in our own lives and situations, that itself is a restraint against going too far or committing evil against others.
That combination of being conscious of the reality of evil in our own society, in our own tendencies and in our own reactions and being aware of that, but also vigorously pursuing evil in others, can lead to justice which is what we are looking for in this situation.
Attack on the United States September 17th, 2001
Mr. Speaker, it is self-evident that if we want to protect the security of the North American continent, we have to look at the people who come here, particularly from countries that harbour, aid and abet terrorists. Whether the link is established in this case or not that is still a protection we have to take.
The other comment I would add is a more general one, but it is provoked by the hon. member's statement. Why do we always have to have a crisis before we exercise any leadership? Over 30 years ago, in 1970, Canada had the FLQ crisis with terrorism in Quebec. That was a miniscule crisis in relation to the one we are talking about, but the House brought into being the War Measures Act. The crisis was talked about as if it was war and we suspended the Canadian Bill of Rights.
Prime Minister Trudeau after that event said to the House of Commons that we ought to overhaul the Canadian Criminal Code in order to make it more effective in fighting systematic terrorism, which was the word he used, and that we had to introduce special legislation to deal with terrorism as part of the modern world. That was over 30 years ago. Yet we have followed up on none of that.
I suggest that maybe it takes this crisis to force us to improve our security in all the ways that have been suggested by members on this side of the House.
Attack on the United States September 17th, 2001
Mr. Speaker, among the family of free and democratic nations, the ties that bind the hearts of Canadians to the hearts of the people of the United States are among the strongest in the world. It is therefore entirely fitting that members of the House should meet today in response to the calculated and vicious terrorist attack on the people of the United States last week.
We join with our Prime Minister and all members of the House in offering our prayers and heartfelt sympathies to the families of the victims and our pledge of support for whatever actions are required to bring the terrorists and those who aid them and shelter them to justice.
My youngest daughter works in the financial district of the city of New York. For almost an hour after the first terrorist attack, our family waited frantically for that phone call to say that she was safe. Mercifully for us that call came, but we can only imagine the pain and heartache of those families, those moms and dads, sons and daughters and grandparents for whom the calls never came.
I have sat here all day and I have heard a great outpouring of feelings and words of sympathy for our American friends. The challenge for us is to translate our feelings and our words into decisions and actions that will make a difference in the days ahead. Almost all of us are agreed that something needs to change as a result of the enormous sacrifice of innocent lives on September 11. In fact we dishonour the memory of the dead and the suffering of the innocent if some fundamental change for the better does not occur as a result of these events.
What should these changes be and how should we ourselves change? It is self-evident that we in free and democratic societies must change our approach to personal, national and international security. A starting point for us in Canada, as many members have pointed out, will be to overhaul our system for screening persons entering our country from abroad, particularly those from countries known to provide a safe harbour for terrorists. A starting point for those responsible for security and intelligence systems in the free world will be to renew efforts to focus those systems on the new security dangers of the present and the future, such as international terrorism, as distinct from the security threats of the past cold war era.
The challenge in all of this will be to increase our capacity to anticipate, detect, deter and destroy the activities of international terrorists without in the process crippling or destroying the very freedoms and civil liberties we seek to protect and advance in the face of terrorism. However as we witnessed at the memorial services held last Thursday, in particular those held in St. Paul's Cathedral in London and the National Cathedral in Washington, there is a spiritual dimension to personal, national and international security which I feel we Canadians should not ignore.
It is my personal conviction that our response to the tragic events of September 11 will be transitory and incomplete if it does not result in a fundamental change in our attitudes and actions with respect to good and evil itself.
I know that by venturing into this ground, one is on dangerous ground in this country. We in this country and in the House shy away from publicly embracing the spiritual realities of life. In our secular and pluralistic society we seem incapable of even discussing, let alone taking direction, from Canada's spiritual heritage or clear standards of right and wrong based upon it. We are too fearful of being misunderstood and thereby dividing rather than uniting all people.
However, surely in the stark contrast between the black ashes of the World Trade Center and the light that shines from the efforts of thousands of ordinary Americans to aid and comfort the wounded and the grief-stricken, we can see and agree upon certain moral distinctives to guide us in the day ahead: that there is such a thing as evil in human nature and in our world, conditions and actions that result in the crippling and destruction of human life; that there is also such a thing as good in this world, even good that can come out of evil, actions motivated by love that result in the protection and nourishment of human life; and, most importantly, that good can triumph over evil. For that to happen we need to seek deliverance from its presence in our own lives and situations, resist its practice by others and pursue the good for ourselves and all mankind.
We have promised our American friends that our prayers are with them. We use that phrase very glibly. What should be the content of those prayers for this promise to be more than idle words?
Historically our nations, particularly in times of war and disaster, and that includes this nation, have sought deliverance from evil and the strength to do good through faith in the justice and grace of God.
My prayer is that the tragedy of September 11, 2001 will lead us to do so again, that our spiritual leaders will speak the truth in love or not at all and that our political leaders will be given the wisdom to fashion our response to terrorism and its roots in the light of the moral imperatives which this tragedy itself illuminates.
May we be delivered from the evils of false religion and indiscriminate revenge, inspired to new heights and depths of compassion for all those who suffer, while relentlessly pursuing justice for those who practice terror. So help us God.
Health May 3rd, 2001
Mr. Speaker, this morning the minister told the health committee “that a higher notion than science alone should guide science”. I agree with that.
The hon. member for Nickel Belt added that because of the moral and ethical dimensions of assisted human reproduction, he as a government member would welcome a free vote on relevant and related legislation.
Will the minister assure us that when the legislation comes to the House there will be a free vote?
Health May 3rd, 2001
Mr. Speaker, today the health minister presented the Standing Committee on Health with a draft bill on assisted human reproduction. The bill is incomplete and long overdue, but at least it is a start and the official opposition welcomes a chance to improve it.
Hon. members will know that our constitution assigns primary responsibility for health care to the provinces. Will the health minister agree to convene a federal-provincial conference on the support and regulation of reproductive technologies before the end of the year?