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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was system.

Last in Parliament September 2008, as Conservative MP for Prince Albert (Saskatchewan)

Won his last election, in 2006, with 54% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Supply March 20th, 2001

Madam Speaker, I will preface my question with a statement. There was once an American president who defined liberal economic policy. The policy was very clear and concise. It stated “If it's alive and it's moving, tax it. That will slow it down. If it doesn't slow it down enough, regulate it. And when the thing is almost dead, subsidize it.”

I believe we have an industry in Canada that is in the third stage through that type of policy. When the government starts subsidizing using the Liberal way, it does not want to make the subsidies too big because it might get healthy again. Keep it down.

There was some mention made in the throne speech about helping agriculture move to become a value added industry. We have a good example of what the president of the United States was talking about with liberal economic policy in Saskatchewan. The Americans blocked or restricted Canadian durum, the best durum in the world, from the U.S. market. For people who do not know what durum is used for, it is used to make spaghetti, pasta and those types of products.

A group of farmers trying to help themselves, tried to form an organization that would grow its own durum, build its own pasta plant, crank out its own pasta and export it directly into the U.S. market so it could get away from government regulations and subsidies. These farmers wanted to empower themselves to help themselves. Unfortunately, Canadian Wheat Board regulations prevented those farmers from going ahead with that very worthwhile venture.

Would the member comment on how we could get our regulations simplified so that farmers could empower themselves rather than being at the mercy of subsidies and governments for their support?

Supply March 19th, 2001

Mr. Speaker, I would like to speak on the matter of a specific type of financial accountability that I have experienced.

As the hon. member may know, I practised law in northeast Saskatchewan for 24 years. Over the years I ran into particular difficulties with trades people and suppliers who worked in good faith with band councils and so on. However, when the job was completed and the contract fulfilled, they had problems collecting their money.

It is certainly not good for business. It sends out a message that is not good either. It is difficult to get people to participate in band related matters because of this problem. In most commercial transactions where one party defaults one can attempt to garnishee bank accounts, to enforce a sheriff's writ, seizing and selling the assets, or to register a builder's lien, but too often these folks have no remedy whatsoever.

A small plumbing operation in my constituency has finished a job and is basically out $20,000. He provided all the materials and labour on the project and I cannot see a remedy available to this gentleman. It seems to me that there is a defect in the system of accountability if this practice is still carrying on. I could see that sort of thing happening 20 years ago but this is 2001.

Does my learned colleague on the government side have any suggestions on how that sort of problem could be sorted out so that people dealing in good faith with bands will receive payment for the work performed?

Canada Shipping Act, 2001 March 14th, 2001

Mr. Speaker, that is a good answer. It is part of the answer.

Let us say we have the guy from Afghanistan who has his ships registered in Liberia and who brings a ship into Canadian waters. He owns 14 other ships. He has not posted a bond or put anything in place in Canada. Let us say we find his ship in our waters with a toxic substance, maybe nuclear waste, and we know it is going to be dumped in our water because he does not know where else to take it. It is brought into Canadian waters. We seize it and it becomes our problem.

How do we track down this individual who owns these ships and bring him into this country and make him accountable for the damages? That is the real question. I can assure everyone that the wealthy people of the world, whether they are Greek tycoons or a Canadian family heavily involved in shipping, want to use these loopholes. These are the very kinds of problems we get into when a disaster takes place: hunting down these people and finding an effective enforcement remedy to deal with this.

This is something I think we should take a good, long, hard look at. We should not just rubber stamp the act, put it through and hope the system works. In the House today we heard about a number of cases in regard to the immigration department, where people were bound and determined to get into Seattle and caused major damage. They roamed around our country for seven years. There is another guy who, from what I gather, Hollywood could make a movie about. He is a dangerous person and he has been in our country for two years.

I am a member of parliament for Prince Albert trying to get some answers as to how this could come about. All I find is a bunch of buck passing. Quite seriously, it is just buck passing from one department to the other. No one accepts any responsibility.

I do not want a major environmental disaster to happen with an international shipper in our waters and have this sort of episode take place here. Now is the time to make sure we have good laws in place and a system that will get the outputs we want.

Canada Shipping Act, 2001 March 14th, 2001

Mr. Speaker, I am glad my hon. colleague raised those points. Those are the enforcement provisions which would certainly apply to Canadian owned steamship operations or to other shippers in our waters. There is no doubt about it.

The ambiguity in the legislation is what we do with someone who is not in Canada. The hon. member mentioned the $1 million fine. If the owner is in Afghanistan and registered in Liberia and causes $10 million worth of damage in the St. Lawrence River, what will we do? Will we send the Canadian army over to Afghanistan, round this guy up and bring him back just like we are dealing with the Mafia man here? These are not the answers Canadians are looking for.

Seriously, given this gentleman's background and knowledge as a journalist and so on, he ought to know better than to come up with an answer like that. He knows the public wants higher standards and clear laws, not dancing around or looking for technicalities, not lawyers and courts with technicalities to get wealthy people off fines and charges, because they can afford it. The wealthy people, whether it is through family trusts or steamship lines, can hire the army of lawyers. He ought to know that. He has a wealth of experience in the journalistic world and he should know that.

Canada Shipping Act, 2001 March 14th, 2001

Mr. Speaker, being from the prairies, rail transportation is an area that I am much more of an authority on than marine shipping. It seems to me that we should look at the safeguards other jurisdictions have in place to deal with this particular problem. They may have found a new and better way to deal with this sort of problem.

We have committees to look at those things. Hopefully a good transport committee could look at this sort of thing. We could then put down our political caps, quit playing games and look at some good solid proposals.

Why do we not make international shippers comply with our requirements? Why does one section of the legislation allow them to come into Canada under the bar even when they do not meet our standards. Maybe we should look at that.

When a business or a company wants to do business in Canada they must comply with all our requirements. We do not impose a bunch of requirements on Canadians and then allow foreign entities to come in and do business and bypass the requirements that apply to the rest of us. This would be one obvious answer to the question.

I hope my points in this area will be of some help to the government. I would welcome the opportunity to be on the transport committee where we could roll up our sleeves and look at creating a good tight law in this area.

Canada Shipping Act, 2001 March 14th, 2001

Mr. Speaker, I directed some of my inquiries to my hon. colleague from the Bloc, regarding the kind of safeguards, remedies and procedures that we have in place to ensure foreign shipping companies which enter our waters meet our standards. It is one thing to put into a bill or into a piece of legislation that we will allow them in our waters provided they meet or exceed our standards.

However, I would like someone from the government side, who has some knowledge on this matter, to clarify this whole area. What safeguards do we have if we had a real situation, such as Canada Steamship Lines Inc. entering our waters? If they were registered in Liberia and something went wrong, what steps could we take to protect the public interest? I would be very curious to see what the government has to say on that matter. This is an area of this act that is defective.

Let me expand on this topic a bit. Let us say this hypothetical shipping company is registered in Liberia. It has a fleet of 15 ships and staff of 1,500. The shipowner hires employees from the Ukraine to staff the ships and pays them $2 or $3 a day, which is much less than our Canadian standards and what my Liberal friends would say would be a compassionate level of remuneration. However, the ships do not comply with our safety standards.

The Canadian safety standards, inspection requirements and so on of ships are very demanding. Our manufacturing requirements for building ships are extremely demanding. If these ships enter our waters, we need to make sure they meet our standards in terms of safety and quality.

We are also be concerned with environmental matters. It is very easy for shippers without ethics and tough standards to dump garbage and different things into our waters which could pollute and cause problems. That is a major concern as well.

I would not be a bit surprised that some of the companies which register in Liberia or the Bahamas do that in order to escape the responsibilities, the liabilities and the high standards which we have in Canada.

I guess another concern is, if they do enter our waters and the ship crashes or sinks because of a lack of proper manufacturing safety standards, or it dumps a whole bunch of toxic substances in the St. Lawrence or the Great Lakes, or their employees bring diseases into the country because of third world type working conditions, what precisely would the act do to protect the Canadian public? What steps can we take against such shippers? Do we send something off like the Italians did concerning the Mafia person in Canada? Do we send something off to Liberia and ask the Liberian authorities to step in and help us out? Do we go to Liberian court and start some sort of court action to try to collect damages from that country? I think these are serious questions.

Members on the government side ought to know these are serious matters and they cannot be dealt with in a trivial manner. The Canadian public safety and interest is too important. This aspect of the bill should be shored up. When it goes to committee I would encourage government members to really zero in on this area and address it because it is very skimpy. The act says “meet or exceed Canadian standards” but I do not see anything in it that says how we are going to ensure that.

Is the Department of Transport going to send people over to Liberia, like it did with the Brazilian beef issue, and check everything out to make sure that it has top insurance standards on its ships, that it has good humane standards for taking care of its employees, that it has collective bargaining rights and tough measures in regard to environmental measures? Is that what the act contemplates? I do not really see that in the act.

A lot of people have the impression that many important and powerful Canadians are evading our laws by simply going offshore. They might preach and talk about Canadian values, high standards and the Liberal way of doing things, but as soon as they have an opportunity for their own self interest they go outside the country. They will circumvent our laws to suit themselves. This is something that should not be overlooked in the act.

It is a good act with a lot of teeth in it to make Canadian owners comply with the law. It is lacking detail as to what we do with international shipping companies that are not registered in Canada but enter our waters. That section in the act is inadequate. We need much better clarification on that point.

There is a whole list of things that this section invites. I would suggest that if international shippers are going to come into our waters we should require them to register just like Canadian shippers. This, as it is, is too easy a procedure.

Shippers can go to Liberia, or the Bahamas or some other country that does not have the Canadian standards, set up operations, then come into our waters. If they can convince someone in the Department of Transport, we could have the buck passing that we saw in the House this afternoon among the Solicitor General of Canada, the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, the Prime Minister and others. They all said they could not tell so and so or they could not tell this department or that department. In the meantime, the public could be sitting with a disaster on its hands.

Maybe it is like a ship that sinks in the Great Lakes, in the St. Lawrence or off the coast of British Columbia and causes a lot of problems, environmental or otherwise. We would then find out that we really have no way of dealing with the owners and that we do not have any enforcement remedies along the line. I think that is a very serious matter.

I am surprised that a Liberal government, of all governments, would not have identified the need to really have tough measures in place in this area. It is a fairly major omission in the bill. It is very tough on Canadians. It seems to be somewhat slack for international shippers who would want to come into our waters.

I am a new member of parliament and have practised law for 25 years. My attitude, based on 25 years, is that I have been shot as the messenger. Bad laws are passed by governments and I have to be the messenger for them. I have to deliver the bad news to my clients and quite often I am the one who gets blamed for it.

I am in a place today where I thought I would be at the front end of the process. Based on some of the questions of privilege raised in the House today I am not so sure that I really am at the front end of the process. I am wondering if I am not back in Nipawin, Saskatchewan at the back end of the load again.

As a practitioner of law, this is the time to tell the government to get the legislation clear in this very important area and make sure it is tough. It should be tougher on foreign shippers who come in here. Just because they are registered in Liberia or the Bahamas and Canada is written on the shipping line, it should not be a licence to come into our waters and abuse our jurisdiction. We should have very tough shipping laws. That is a major loophole in the legislation and it should be tightened up.

This should not be like the family trust matter in the Income Tax Act. There was some window dressing on that but still the tax experts, with whom I am familiar, said that the door was still wide open for wealthy families to evade and escape the tax responsibilities put into place by the Minister of Finance. We certainly do not want to see the same sort of thing happening with shipping in Canadian waters.

We had some major accidents a few years ago, such as the sinking of the Exxon Valdez off the coast of Alaska. We saw the environmental damage and disaster that caused. It is important that we have stringent and tough standards on international shippers.

I am not happy about a shipper coming into our country who is paying people who are down and out and in desperate straits. I wonder where the Liberal compassion is on the issue. The shippers hire these employees to staff their ships and pay them $2 a day. I have no idea what the safety or environmental standards are for people working on those ships. I conjure up visions of shoe manufacturers going to Malaysia to find people who are down and out and then pay them starvation type wages and so on. They then come to Canada and say that they believe in high standards and the values of compassion and fairness for Canadians. I guess that does not apply to people elsewhere.

If they are not Canadians and they can get through the loopholes, why should they not exploit labour, why should they not forget about collective bargaining rights and all the other things that the Liberal government has put into place for Canadians? This is a serious concern.

My reading of the act is that there is only one section that deals with the matter and it simply states that a foreign owned company can enter our waters for shipping if the authorities are satisfied that it meets or exceeds our standards.

Today and over the last few days I heard a lot of buck passing concerning a Mafia individual who is in Canada. Nobody wants to accept the responsibility for him being here. People were saying that they were not in charge of what happens in their departments and that other people were in charge. I hope that does not happen in a Valdez-type situation where there could be a major environmental problem or in a situation where someone is possibly hauling a banned toxic substance. This could be garbage from some other country which could be dumped in the St. Lawrence, on our shores or something along that line.

We should look at our immigration laws and how people look at Canada. They see our country as an easy place to escape their responsibilities and liabilities. We are seen in the world as the country to come to. If people are criminals somewhere else and the authorities are hot on their path, Canada is the country to come to. Our supreme court and our government have sent those signals out. If they can get to Canada, they will probably have three square meals a day and, if they are lucky, they might get out to Mission, B.C. and do some golfing with Colin Thatcher before it is all over, or go to the riding academy.

I think there is a problem with the bill. We see examples in other areas but the government says things are different here. There is only one way to make sure it is different. We must get the bill right the first time. It should have very tough standards in this area. The standards should be detailed and not contain just one clause that is a kind of platitude.

The bill contains very extensive details on the registration requirements but for an international shipper, it is pretty much a blank cheque. It seems to me we are giving the Department of Transport authorities an awful lot of room for discretion but with little direction.

I suppose the minister and the department could get together and have a briefing session to decide what kind of policy they would put in place. We in the opposition could then wait three or four years until one of those ships had a major calamity in our waters. We would again be embarrassed as opposition members because we would not know what had taken place behind closed doors or in starred chambers.

I encourage government members to take a very serious look at this area. I understand why some government members might be a bit intimidated to move into this area, especially ones who sit further back from the front row of the House, but it is important and they should not let the intimidation factor enter the picture. We must do our jobs and make sure that we pass good quality laws. We should not let our personal feelings toward other members enter the discussion.

This subject also raises the issue of foreign type international law questions. I do not know if there are any members here from Prince Edward Island, but authorities found, or thought they found, some sort of disease on one-quarter or 60 acres of land in P.E.I. so they totally killed the potato crop industry in P.E.I. They did this without checking it out and caused terrible harm to the people of P.E.I..

We almost did the same thing to Brazil. The government decided, in the context of a trade fight between Brazil and Bombardier and other matters, that the way to get the message across to the Brazilians was to hit them where it hurt, which was to shut down their beef export industry. The government came up with some sort of bogus allegation and said that in the name of public safety, it was shutting down that industry until it was satisfied that the beef was safe. We then send a bunch of people over there who find out there was really nothing wrong with the beef and the ban is lifted.

I feel we may also have a lot of problems with the shipping arrangement. The bar has been set very low for shippers coming into our country and international shippers who do not meet our standards come in under the bar. A disaster could happen and we would end up checking it out afterward. That is not the way to do things. We should make sure that the legislation is tight and that it does not have any loopholes. We have enough loopholes in our laws. We must address this area so it does not become a major problem.

My hon. colleague from the Bloc made some very good comments and I encourage the government to take a look at the concerns he raised. Details will kill us on these sorts of things but this area has no detail. The devil is in the detail and there are no details in this area. It is wide open. To me it is almost like giving a blank cheque to get into our waters.

Canada Shipping Act, 2001 March 14th, 2001

Mr. Speaker, our reading of the act is that it imposes high standards for Canadian shippers in terms of safety, the environment and the qualifications of people who man and operate the ships.

For clarification, the area we are concerned about is where the act refers to the offshore registration of ships. My reading of that section indicates that we would accept offshore companies if they met or exceeded Canada's very high standards. I think this area needs clarification. Many Canadians feel legislation too often leaves loopholes. Many Canadians feel, for example, that the family trust legislation allowed well to do people to escape taxation.

The concern I have is that there are lots of international shippers registered in countries such as Liberia and the Bahamas. For example, there is a company called Canada Steamship Lines International. I think some of the members on the other side might be familiar with the company. About the only thing Canadian about it is the name and maybe some of the ownership.

The question I am getting at is that we had the beef boycott in Canada, and in protecting the public interest we shot first and checked second. What safeguards does the public have in this act that international shippers, if they should come into our waters, will comply with our standards regarding environment and safety and the qualification of the people who operate the vessels? If they run afoul of those requirements what enforcement remedies do we have? What can we do with a company such as Canada Steamship International if something like that should happen? That is the question on which I would like clarification.

Judges Act March 12th, 2001

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for that very challenging question. I could go through a lot of decisions but I guess the most recent one I can think of is a murder that occurred in Washington state.

The victims were in Washington state. The crime was committed there. Canada really did not have any interest in this crime other than we do not like to see innocent people murdered. However the people who were murdered were not Canadian citizens, they were American citizens. Through good fortune, the people who committed the crime ended up in Canadian territory. With the Singh decision and so on, they had full rights to use our system or to basically exhaust it. They made it to the Supreme Court of Canada and the supreme court did something very astonishing.

As a lawyer, I respect the American process. It believes in reasonable doubt. One is innocent until proven guilty. One is entitled to a defence counsel. Long before that was ever an entitlement in Canada, the public purse provided one with defence counsel. The supreme court of the United States has a long history of appointing defence counsel to represent people who have limited means and so on and some major decisions have worked through the system. One is entitled to a trial before one's peers, a jury and so on. It is a system much criticized in the rest of the world as favouring the accused too much.

The Supreme Court of Canada decides that American judgment as to what it should do with criminals in America is not good enough, that Canadians know better, especially the Supreme Court of Canada, and that Americans have no right to decide the penalties if they are not in line with our penalty system.

Capital punishment is totally alien to our value system. The American supreme court never asked the people of Washington state or the other 280 million people in the United States whether they thought capital punishment was warranted in this situation. It knew better and decided to impose its decision on the Americans as if they were in some banana republic or in some dictatorship in Africa or in the Middle East or something like that. The Supreme Court of Canada has been doing that internally.

There have been many other cases. There was a case seven or eight years ago. It was actually from my province. A person, whose name I forget, killed 14 or 15 children in California and ended up on our soil. It was a decision very much like this. He worked his way through the system. Fortunately, the Supreme Court of Canada still had some people who had some good judgement. A four to three decision ruled that this guy should go back to California. The plane was running at the airport in Prince Albert. American authorities were waiting at the Prince Albert institution. They rushed him out of there, put him on the plane and flew him out of the country before some immigration lawyer could start another application.

My understanding is that this fellow is still working his way through the system in the United States. The Americans are not finished with him. However, I think in many ways the government would have preferred that this individual stay in Canada where we are much more compassionate and caring in regard to these sorts of individuals than a lot of other people.

They know better and we have a Supreme Court of Canada that definitely knows a lot better than the average Joe in Canada. Those people have a lot more wisdom. They have been on the 28th storey in Toronto, looking out the window through a lot of smog for a lot of time and that gives them a lot clearer picture of the landscape of the country and what should be done.

There are a lot of examples of this sort of thing. To me it gets right to the whole question of the justice system in the country. It is defective.

Judges Act March 12th, 2001

Mr. Speaker, we have a solution to the problem. We had two Rhodes scholars and another very intelligent lawyer, Peter Lougheed, who saw the danger. All three of them saw it. One was NDP. One was a middle of the road Tory. I think the other one may have been on the right a bit. They all saw the danger and they insisted on including the notwithstanding clause.

The prime minister at the time and the current Prime Minister, were very much involved with that process and they consented to it. However, since the adoption of that act in 1982 we have not had a prime minister decide to exercise that power in the face of some really outrageous things.

One example was the Singh decision. This person landed on our shores. The Supreme Court of Canada decided that even though he was not a Canadian he was entitled to the full protection of our Canadian legal system: the charter or rights, due process and everything along the line. Then there was a series of appeals and so on, and in reaction to it the government said the only way to deal with it was to expand the immigration department and all our internal appeal procedures.

Anybody who had anything to do with immigration law smiled from ear to ear. This was a new engine of growth for that whole area and there has been a flock of people move into the area. That is why we have these problems today. They are being debated in the House and taxpayers are spending a disproportionate amount of money on the whole system when common sense would say that there is a better way of dealing with it.

The government has not decided to take that action because it would mean exercising something called the notwithstanding clause which enshrined in our constitution the supremacy of parliament. The prime minister at the time would not have gone ahead with the constitution if he had not understood that. He was a very intelligent man. He understood the significance of what that notwithstanding clause meant.

I am really amazed at how governments since that period of time have failed to exercise that power. It is very frightening. I keep going back to my analogy of the hockey referee. I cannot see the owners ever turning all that power over to referees, not just to enforce the rules and call them fairly and so on, but to say that if they do not like the rules halfway through the third period they can be rewritten whichever way they want.

That is basically what the government has been doing with our system. It has given the nine men and women on the Supreme Court of Canada a blank cheque in this whole area. It has basically told them they have the ultimate authority, that although people elected them to be the Government of Canada they are wiser and smarter, and that the public really does not know what is best so they have the final decision.

Judges Act March 12th, 2001

Mr. Speaker, in this context I would like to ask a rhetorical question: in a democratic society, who should ultimately have the final political power and authority to make decisions?

In 1982 Canada made a major change. Up to that time we believed in the principle of the supremacy of parliament. We believed that the 301 men and women who were elected to parliament every four or five years would ultimately have the final say on our laws in Canada.

In 1982 we changed that. We brought in a constitution that included a charter of rights. The charter basically and essentially transferred the ultimate power and authority to our judges. That is like giving the referee in a hockey game the rule book and telling him that if he does not like the rules he can change them as he goes along; it is like giving the umpire at a baseball game the same kind of power.

Three premiers, all lawyers at that time and two of them Rhodes scholars, Mr. Blakeney, Mr. Lyon and Mr. Lougheed, saw great danger in this change. As a condition of adopting both constitutional changes, they insisted that we have a safeguard in our constitution. That safeguard was the notwithstanding clause. The notwithstanding clause was there to give parliament the final say on our lawmaking abilities in this place.

As a result of the federal government's unwillingness to exercise the notwithstanding clause, we have had a Supreme Court of Canada that has made some fairly major astounding decisions in our times, which have had tremendous fiscal impacts on Canada. I am talking about things that could have caught the Minister of Finance totally off guard, costing $5 billion, $6 billion or $7 billion a crack. Its decisions have had major economic and social consequences. I could mention specific cases but I do not think there is much merit in that. I will, however, mention the Singh decision, which has had a radical impact on immigration law in Canada.

What I am getting at is that if we are going to have this system in the future, we need a strong independent system for appointing people and we have to make sure that the people who are appointed are people with very high standards of integrity and honesty. That is very important.

We have already talked about some of the appointment criteria. I can give an example from my home province. It is well known among lawyers that one of the larger law firms had a lawyer in its employ that it did not really want or like, and since it was its turn to send in a name, as the member from Calgary mentioned, it sent in that lawyer's name. Unfortunately the public had to live with that judge for 20 years and with his decisions. There are a lot of inadequacies in the appointment process.

In terms of salary and benefits, I want to emphasize the point that service above monetary rewards should be the compelling reason to serve on a court of appeal or the Supreme Court of Canada. I know many noble and honourable lawyers who would find it a great privilege to be asked to serve on the Supreme Court of Canada. I have often wondered why we have to go around seeking applications from people. Why we do not seek out these folks and make sure that we get the very best on our Supreme Court of Canada? If we have a Gretzky equivalent in the legal community, why are we not seeking that person's service on our Supreme Court of Canada? I do not think money would really be a major problem with these people. They would see it as a great privilege to serve on the court.

I am a bit concerned that the court will ultimately have the power to decide whether this independent committee is independent enough. If it finds that it is not independent enough, we will receive some court decisions that sort of imply or suggest that the court would ultimately have the power to decide what are fair enumerations and benefits.

What is very important to note is that when the public interest cries out for action, it is parliament that has the final say on what our laws should be not the judges. If I go back to how I would like to see things operate and I would use the analogy of a hockey game. The league owners and teams decide on the rules. They create a rule book that they give to judges, who are called referees and officials, and they would decide off sides and whether its a goal and so on but they do not make the rules.

We are in a very difficult bind because we have given tremendous power to a handful of people at the court level. I wonder where this mentality came from in 1992. It seems to me that implicit in the whole argument of shifting from the supremacy of parliament to the supremacy of the Supreme Court of Canada was that there was something dangerous about democracy. It implies that to elect men and women to our system of government and have them make decisions is dangerous.

That sort of belief implies that because a person has spent a lot of years as a lawyer and a lot of years doing partisan things for his or her political party, and fundraising seems to be one of the things that lawyers are really good at in the partisan sense, that this somehow qualifies the person as an elite. It further implies that the elite know better than the democratic will of the people and that nine or ten people should have the final wisdom on decisions on public policy.

I find that whole notion very disturbing. Some people would suggest that if we took that far enough it would get us into an authoritarian type system. It would perhaps be a more benevolent type of dictatorship than that of other countries. However these folks are not elected. They do not have to face the media scrums after a day in parliament. They do not have to come into parliament and be accountable for their actions and decisions. They are pretty immune from it. The finance minister has to determine how he pays for their decisions and other ministers have to determine how to deal with the economic and social impact of the decisions. A lot of times it is like trying to drive a square peg into a round hole.

I think it would be far better if those decisions were made by our elected people. We have a lot problems with our elected system but, as Sir Winston Churchill said many years ago, it is a terrible system of government but it is better than all other forms of government invented by now.

I would be interested to hear what other parliamentarians think about the mentality behind the transfer of democratic power from our elected men and women to an appointed group of eight or nine people. Implicit in that appointment is that they are smarter and wiser than the public's will, as expressed through our election process, and that they are a better judge of deciding what is good for society.

My own view is that it is a liberal value. During the election we were going to debate values, but one of the legacies of liberalism is that it is better to have elites make the decisions for people. It is dangerous for people to make decisions for themselves. It is also dangerous to have elected democracies because these people are not quite smart enough. I recall one prime minister saying that we were nobodies when we were two feet out of the House of Commons. He had a lot to do with some of this stuff, if I recall things correctly.

It seems that some individuals had some good intentions. They were going to create a superior system of government, our parliamentary system and our present way of doing things. I refer to the words of William Shakespeare who said something that I think is very relevant to this topic, “The road to Hell is paved with good intentions.”

I believe the person responsible for this fundamental change in our system of government had good intentions. I am not exactly sure that living with the results of this system are really showing the sort of things we want in our society, such as accountability and good public policy. Judges can make very major decisions and simply walk away from it, leaving people sitting in parliament trying to deal with the carnage and the damage that results from these sorts of decisions.

I could give some very specific examples in recent times of those kind of decisions. The Marshall decision on lobster fishing rights off Nova Scotia would be one that is very current to me. That decision will cost us a lot of money and it will cause a lot of unnecessary conflict and division in our society. We will need to tackle those problems. The people that made those decisions in the Supreme Court of Canada are not accountable for those decisions.

I have major reservations about the bill. The Supreme Court of Canada said that if it had independent commissions to decide salary and remuneration, it would accept that. We should bear in mind that the Supreme Court of Canada will decide whether that is independent enough for it or not. With some of the cases involving provincial court judges, they superimposed themselves in there and have become the decision makers for their salary and remuneration. In Saskatchewan, there was a fairly significant increase in provincial court salaries because of this sort of approach.

Anyone who would review that process would know it is flawed. How can we have people with that much power decide salary and then use something like judicial independence as an argument for this sort of thing? Does somebody seriously think that our judges are in trouble because they are receiving $190,000 a year? Does anyone think that they do not have a roof over their heads, cannot put three meals on the table or take care of themselves, and so on? That is utter nonsense. They are in the top 1% of the country. Most Canadians would just love to have that level of remuneration.

I think the salaries for our judges have always been adequate. That is not a problem. I think it is absolute nonsense for judges to imply that somehow their judicial independence would be usurped by having salaries decided by somebody outside their own control.

They would have control in the final run as to what would be an independent committee. Parliament would not have that decision. Like all other things in society, with a government that does not wish to use the notwithstanding clause they would have the final say.