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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was national.

Last in Parliament September 2008, as Liberal MP for Don Valley West (Ontario)

Won his last election, in 2006, with 53% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Pre-Budget Consultations February 1st, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the hon. member for his question.

It is extremely interesting, but in a way it is the paradox of Quebec, if I may quote the hon. member's leader. In other words, if it makes sense to have industrial clusters at the Quebec level, why not at the Canadian level? Because we control our own territory we can create a tax atmosphere that is not the same as that in New York but that could be the same everywhere in Canada.

What I have always admired most about Quebec over the past 30 years is the willingness to experiment that has found new funding formulas. The Caisse de dépôt et de placement, for example.

I agree that if the high-speed train makes transportation sense, if it is not just a luxury, then yes, it is exactly the type of joint experimental project we should be trying out. We have to take advantage of the fact that we are after all a common market.

Lastly, if we are going to create clusters, we have to concede that in some cases-atomic energy, for example-it makes sense to have the headquarters in Ontario. In the case of the aerospace industry, on the other hand, the headquarters should be in Montreal, with a branch plant, for instance De Havilland, in Ontario. The trick is to have networks all over the country that can benefit from all the resources. That's what we did not have during the unfortunate business of Connaught BioSciences Inc., where there were the resources, in Quebec as a matter of fact, both technical and financial, and we missed the boat.

Pre-Budget Consultations February 1st, 1994

Mr. Speaker, my first duty in this my first speech is to thank the people of Don Valley West in Toronto who put me here and to try to keep my faith with them. My second duty is to thank my family who helped me to be here as well.

Mr. Speaker, during the election campaign if you asked the people of Don Valley West what they wanted, they would give the same answer that all Canadians gave, which is two different things. They want these two things simultaneously. These two things can be found in our famous red book on page 111.

At the top of page 111 in Table 1 we talk about savings from cuts to Conservative programs, so Canadians do want spending cuts. At the bottom of page 111 we talk about economic growth and job creation. That is what I really want to talk about today.

When the Minister of Finance met late last year with various economists in Ottawa, when he talked to the various consultative groups across Canada, he heard a lot about the top of page 111, cuts to spending. As the leader of the Reform Party has just shown us, we are going to be hearing a lot more during this debate about cuts to government programs.

What the Minister of Finance has heard less about in his consultations with both the professionals and with ordinary Canadians is about the bottom of page 111: economic growth, primary wealth creation and jobs, jobs, jobs.

The Minister of Finance has a difficult role. He has to be both Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. He has to be nasty cop, but he also has to be nice cop. It is to his nicer nature that I wish to appeal today. That is why my remarks are going to focus on the bottom of page 111.

The most important single thing this budget can do is to create an atmosphere of hope, an atmosphere of experimentation, renewal and excitement for Canadians.

An economy is not simply a series of statistics and numbers. It is a psychological state. An economy will grow if people feel good about themselves and their country. If they feel good they will take risks; they will change jobs; they will start businesses; they will grow businesses; they will buy houses; they will buy cars; they will buy appliances.

The Conference Board of Canada last week noted the incredible boom in business and consumer confidence since the election. Business confidence went up 10 per cent; consumer confidence, 13 per cent in the last quarter of 1993. It is interesting to note that the same phenomenon took place in the United States after the election of President Clinton.

Thus it is crucial that our first budget keep that mood of confidence going. An optimistic mood will translate into economic growth and job creation. Too much emphasis on cuts to government spending will destroy consumer and business confidence. What the minister has to do with his split personality is to walk the narrow line between cutting spending and investing in the future.

I would ask the Minister of Finance to remember the spirit of another government which came in, in another era, in another country, the spirit of the new deal of Franklin Roosevelt in 1933. That spirit has been characterized as bold, persistent experimentation.

The red book mentions such experimentation under the headings of investing in people, equality under the law and culture. But the most challenging and economically stimulating and exciting experimentation must take place in the area of research and technology, specifically involving venture capital, increased research and development, the Canadian technology network and the engineering program.

Canada needs to create a national system of innovation or what the finance minister has called a long-term growth strategy. As the red book notes: "The crucial role of the federal government in such an innovation system is to work with the private sector to identify strategic opportunities for the future, then to redirect its existing resources toward fulfilment of those opportunities". This approach has been called in other jurisdictions the Quebec Incorporated approach or in our own, the Team Canada approach.

The point is that smaller societies like ours have to pull all their national resources off the shelf if they are going to compete as a team, if they are going to compete internationally. What happens when we do not? We have too many examples of where we have failed to do what we ought to have done: the case of Connaught Bio-sciences being bought by a French owned company, the case of Lumonics being bought by a Japanese company.

What happens when we get it right? History provides examples of that too. When Canada competed as an industrial team in World War II we built such extraordinary facilities as a major shipbuilding operation in Quebec, a major producer of artificial rubber at the Polymer plant in Sarnia.

The experiments we undertake will require new configurations of business and finance, new partnerships of the public and private sector. We need to create new business structures to realize these strategic opportunities. What some have called innovative business enterprises look perhaps to us more like Japanese Keiretsu or German banking groups or Swedish industrial groups than normal Canadian business organizations. Words like networks, consortia and virtual corporations can best describe these new entities.

What are some of these strategic opportunities? They abound. Their primary definition is that they are things which no one enterprise can undertake by itself and can only be undertaken collectively. In Ontario, for example, with our extraordinary base in auto production and auto parts, should we not be a leading jurisdiction in the production of green cars? Should we not corner part of that advanced environment market, whether it is in the fuel area or in the disposal area?

The previous Conservative government did something very good when it produced CANARIE, that extraordinary consortium to build the electronic highway, a consortium which defies all the rules of business. It includes traditional competitors like Unitel and Stentor and brings in provincial and federal governments, universities and research centres. CANARIE is a virtual corporation dedicated to a huge task which cannot be done by a single entity.

In health care we have the same opportunities. We have an enormous biomedical base and no receptor capacity in industry. In Alberta there is a consortium of small companies which is coming together to build housing in Japan. They are creating a new kind of business entity. That is the sort of experimentation we need.

In Quebec, 13 industrial clusters were established by the Minister of Industry, Gérald Tremblay. But one question must be asked: if an industrial cluster performs well, within Quebec, would it be possible for it to perform even better on the Canadian level? A cluster in the petrochemical industry, for example, or the aerospace industry. In summary, we need a social plan for the whole of Canada, using Quebec's model as a starting point.

In short, Canada needs a budget which shows that cutting spending, investing in experimentation and innovation must be simultaneous events, not sequential.

Canada's economic problems are as much a function of slow economic growth as they are of excessive government spending. Let us make sure that both the spending problem and the slow growth problem get equal attention in this budget.