House of Commons photo

Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was kyoto.

Last in Parliament September 2008, as Conservative MP for Red Deer (Alberta)

Won his last election, in 2006, with 76% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Pearson International Airport Agreements Act April 26th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I agree totally with that comment.

Pearson International Airport Agreements Act April 26th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, let me make it extremely clear. I am recommending we compensate no one involved in any part of this, including foreign companies that are now making claims in court. We should not compensate them. All I am saying is those claims are out there and it does not help our

image. That is all I am concerned about. Do not compensate them at all.

Pearson International Airport Agreements Act April 26th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I repeat that I agree with those comments. They are legitimate comments.

In a discussion with the Dutch embassy just now it feels Bill C-22 unjustly punishes third party firms associated with Pearson. It says that the Schiphol airport authority being non-political should not be caught up in the whole Canadian political corruption the hon. member mentioned. According to the embassy it is saying the company from Holland feels it has a claim.

Again I get to the diplomacy. I am not saying that position is right. Obviously the courts will determine that. However it has filed a claim in the Canadian courts about this deal. Therefore it is obvious it feels this is not a dead issue and that it is not something it should not raise.

Pearson International Airport Agreements Act April 26th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I certainly agree with that. I would agree wholeheartedly with the member's comments that they knew better and they obviously should not be expecting any compensation.

However, because some of these are international, and that is why I used Schiphol as an example, the diplomatic problem is possibly more important than the actual possibility of their getting any money out of the deal.

When other foreign governments start suing our government because they feel the government has interfered in business that is where, rightfully or wrongfully, the diplomatic problem comes in. That is why I used that example. Others could come up, certainly a number of the other airlines which had plans and had done some of their negotiating with that group. That is where the problem comes in.

In actual dollars it should not cost us anything. As I said I would not recommend paying a single penny in compensation to anyone.

Pearson International Airport Agreements Act April 26th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I agree with the previous speaker that certainly Pearson airport is the hub of the Canadian airline industry. Certainly the building of an airline and a successful transportation network within Canada is dependent on the hub and spoke concept. It is perhaps the single most important airport. As I have mentioned, it is certainly an important part of the infrastructure of Ontario and of Canada as a whole. Therefore the outcome of any bill or action surrounding the Pearson airport is of utmost importance to Canadians.

With this in mind Pearson airport must be a cornerstone in this whole planning process. Pearson International Airport operations generate some $2 billion in personal income, $4 billion in business revenues and $700 million in tax revenue.

Pearson accounts for one-third of Canada's domestic flights and 50 per cent of all international and transborder traffic.

We all agree that the deal that was struck between the Conservative government and Pearson Development Corporation last year was unacceptable. This is an obvious example of the old style of doing business. We agree with the Minister of Transport's statement earlier today that the deal should quashed because of backroom dealings and other unscrupulous behaviour. If the minister is correct and someone other than the government of the day was responsible for the Pearson deal, the current government must not honour the contract. If the contract was influenced unduly by lobbyists, again the current government must not honour that contract.

I believe these facts to be true. For this reason I feel that it is a wise move for the current government to cancel this deal. To legislate an end to the fiasco and hopefully open the process of revamping Pearson airport is acceptable to me and my party. What is not acceptable is the clause of Bill C-22 which allows the minister to negotiate the payment of out of pocket expenses to the contractors. The Prime Minister promised before the election that he would cancel the entire deal. He has cancelled part of the deal, but now the hon. Minister of Transport is going

to compensate those individuals who were involved in this sordid affair. The minister has done nothing to remove the secrecy surrounding this deal that began with the previous government.

Greg Weston of the Ottawa Citizen said in his March 9 column: ``The Grits have managed the remarkable feat of turning a highly suspicious and secretive Tory deal into a highly suspicious and secretive Liberal cancellation process. A secret inquiry followed by current secret compensation negotiations''. The government must not stop halfway on this issue by paying off those who were involved in this questionable affair. Quite simply, there should be no compensation whatsoever for anyone involved in this deal, period.

Many suspect excessive amounts of lobbying went on in the privatization of the Pearson airport, with both Liberal and Conservatives heavily involved. Key people include Charles Bronfman, Senator Leo Kolber, Herb Metcalfe, and many more. The list is some 50 people.

Liberals have appointed former provincial Liberal cabinet minister Robert Nixon and the Prime Minister's former law partner, Bob Wright, to lead the negotiations for compensation. The Liberal government with Liberal negotiators compensating Liberal backers is questionable at the very best.

What are the alternatives? This payoff of what has been reported could reach $40 million, could be funnelled back into Pearson directly. With the money that we will pay back for this deal we could do a lot of things in that airport. Many of those things have been mentioned earlier today.

We could help the airline industry, currently struggling to become more efficient and competitive in the international market. As just one other example, permit me to talk a little about the runway construction at Pearson and the many things that have to happen there.

The runway expansion is the most sensible, cost effective way to secure the future viability of Pearson International Airport. For example, the first runway that is required by the airport is a new crosswind runway and this is needed as soon as possible because it will help to eliminate around 50 per cent of all the delays at Pearson. These delays cost the Canadian traveller a great deal of money as planes circle and use large amounts of fuel.

There has already been some $30 million in preconstruction work invested in the north-south crosswind runway. A crosswind runway would greatly increase safety at Pearson airport. Recently pilots who fly into Pearson have cited the potential dangers of extreme crosswinds on the current runways.

Pearson could also use the $40 million the government is going to spend to buy off contractors to fund two east-west runways. That would raise Pearson to its optimum capacity and ensure the airport's place as an international hub.

Furthermore if this expansion does not occur traffic will soon have to divert away from Pearson airport. Currently there are no reasonable alternatives to expansion of Pearson. Moreover, attempts to divert traffic away from the Pearson hub will hurt the regional spoke communities. For many of these communities two-thirds of their traffic going to Pearson is connecting to another airport.

Finally these new runways can be built now without impeding any discussions on the future organizational structure of Pearson. Directing the money now slated to pay off contract expenses from the Pearson deal could be routed to runway expansion. It would create an estimated 2,500 construction jobs and up to 6,000 over the long term.

Therefore the bottom line is, like so many other decisions made by this government, the money that is to buy off a contractor could be put to good use in funding the expansion of one of Canada's most important pieces of public infrastructure, Pearson airport.

There are also international concerns which should be touched on. It has been reported in the Financial Post that one of those corporations seeking compensation is a Dutch government company called Schiphol.

Schiphol has filed a claim in Ontario court for $7.5 million in damages for loss of contract. The Dutch airport authority has expressed shock at Ottawa's willingness to use its power to pass laws to nullify a valid contract.

I am not suggesting that this government retract its stand on rejecting such a claim. However I do wonder out loud how this government will deal with a firm such as Schiphol which is non-political and has a good argument that it had nothing to do with Canadian political nepotism. Will it be compensated for out of pocket expenses? Will it be compensated for its original contract? What are the political and diplomatic ramifications of these international concerns?

What we want most is a transparent government, one which does not make behind the scenes and closed deals as is the example in the Pearson deal.

Kurt Browning April 26th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, on this past Sunday I attended an event in Caroline, Alberta, in the heart of my constituency of Red Deer. This event truly made me proud to be a Canadian.

The village of Caroline held a barbecue to pay tribute to a truly Canadian role model, Mr. Kurt Browning. People came from all parts of my constituency and from far beyond to honour this world renowned Canadian. Kurt has brought honour not only to the town of Caroline but to Alberta and to all of Canada. His four world championships are an inspiration to all Canadians. Kurt's accomplishments and his real Canadian spirit gives Canadians the sense of pride and national identification that is needed to unite the country.

The pride which glowed from everyone's face is what Canada is all about. Kurt's personality and true love of people and his country is demonstrated again and again. Today I ask the House to salute a true Canadian champion, Mr. Kurt Browning.

Non-Confidence Motions April 18th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I feel that the private member's bill before us today could be one of the most important that we will have in this 35th Parliament.

I think that all of us recognize that there is something wrong with this place and that is the reason we have to re-examine the very structure of the way it operates.

First, we have to look at what people are saying. I believe that to simply put our heads in the sand and not listen is a disservice to those people. People have lost confidence in this place. They believe that they send their MPs and they get gobbled up down here. Sometimes we have referred to that as Ottawa fever or whatever we want to call it. It leads to a situation where we have messages being taken from Ottawa to the constituency with the reverse seldom ever occurring.

I think that the election results probably were a good indication of where that sort of thing occurred.

What about the MPs themselves? They come here and they follow the party line. There is little free thinking. Attendance drops off. Mr. Fisher, in speaking to our caucus prior to us coming here, put it very well when he said that most or a lot of MPs become good constituency people. Really that is giving them the benefit of the doubt that in fact they must be working in their constituency because they are certainly not working here.

We have to try and find the answer. Some say it is in committee work. For others, it is that they had better toe the party line or be kicked out. Freer votes, I believe, are a solution to at least part of this problem. This was recognized in the throne speech in 1991. It was said that freer votes were definitely a way to make this better.

The famous red book in 1993 suggested that MPs should be given a freer vote and count for more in committees and in the House. So it goes. Freer votes have been dealt with by many, many people but have not been instituted as yet.

Why have we come to this conclusion? Why do we feel this way? Maybe we can examine a little deeper some of the reasons. The first one might be in committee work itself. It is said, as I have said, that you can make a difference in committee work and that it does not have to be just that old party follow the line sort of thing.

I have seen discussions occur in committee work. In our committee we had a two-day seminar where we looked at the areas of interest to our committee. Members got a feel for where the members of Parliament on that committee really were at.

When it comes right down to it, it seems that we will go back to the organizational phases of the committee. Here we should have looked at things like merit. We should have looked at where they were from in the country and whether there was fair regional representation. We found that the party whip or his assistant came along and made the decision that Bloc members should be the vice-chair of every committee.

It did not matter whether we had representation from all parts of Canada or not. We have been looking at the estimates. The party position seems to come through loud and clear. I suppose when we do our reports, again we will have a party position or that of the chairman, vice-chairman and so on because of the majority situation.

Opposition members will be left to do little else than submit a minority report and one does not really know whether anyone looks at it or not. What does that do? It makes one wonder why one really works so hard on committees. Let us look at the House.

In the House we sit and listen. I know that members are aware of the excellent ideas, the good research and the good speeches that are given here by all parties. Does it really matter because we always come back to voting the party line? I suppose the best example that was brought out to me was when I moved an amendment to a motion to exclude the Senate from joint standing committees.

I felt that was something the electorate was saying about the other place. Most MPs feel that way about the other place. Again we voted the party line. Again we could not have a free vote. We could not say what we or the people of Canada thought. Instead, we thought about the spin doctors of party politics.

How can we develop a national pride and trust in politicians if we are always going by party line? How should we decide a vote? How should it really go on any bill? We should listen to the speeches. As I have mentioned, the quality is certainly there. In committees we should go into the depth of the issues, look at the details, the facts and the solutions. All members should then be made aware of what occurred. That would be how they get their information.

We must get the constituents involved. We must have town hall meetings from day one. We should have phone blitzes, TV shows and householders that are not simply political propaganda or what MPs feel is good material. It should really count for something. We should really be trying to inform the electorate.

I am really impressed with how the general public communicates with its members of Parliament. Those people have given some thought. They expect their member to vote their will, not simply the party line of thinking. Members can see why many politicians and many members of the public have lost faith in the system we have here.

The procedures of Parliament as I would see them then would result in a bill being introduced. It could be stated up front whether it is a confidence motion. The committees would report in detail on the bill. The members would speak and other members would come to listen. It would count for something. The members' speeches would have some meaning.

Members must have the opportunity to communicate with their constituents. Finally, when the vote occurred it could be passed, modified or defeated. That would not change or put any aspersions on the present government. In order to make this happen, we must re-educate a number of people.

We must re-educate members of the media. They cannot look on every defeat of a bill as being a defeat of the government. They must see the positive side of having all of that extra input.

The government must not think of things as being a defeat or a win or a lose situation. The opposition of course must not take advantage of the situation where a bill is defeated and hold that

over the government. Instead it must be looked on as a constructive measure for the good of the country.

The public must realize the MPs they elect really do have a say in what happens. Then they will be more careful in their selection of their MPs. They will make sure it is someone they can trust to represent them and not just the party position.

Freer votes will mean that MPs will express the views of their constituents better. It will take government right back to the people. Some of executive power will be moved out of cabinet hands to the true representatives in the House. It will allow for a much greater accountability of MPs because members will not point to a party line when voting against the wishes of their constituents. MPs should always be responsible to the wishes of their constituents.

We have greatly underestimated the ability of the electorate to get involved, become informed and thus participate in direct democracy. The more complex form of representative government got us into the $500 billion deficit and other serious problems we now have. Let us let freer direct democracy get us out of those problems.

Members Of Parliament April 14th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the minister if he would undertake to provide answers to those questions for upcoming trips.

Members Of Parliament April 14th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Foreign Affairs.

The Prime Minister has indicated he wants us to tell of ways of saving money in our committees. I would like to know from the minister how a cost conscious MP can make a decision on taking an international junket organized by his department unless he has the answers to the following questions. What does it cost? What is the itinerary? How will it benefit the taxpayers of the country?

Bowden Institute March 17th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, a great number of constituents have asked this question and are quite concerned about it. At a time when they have to tighten their belts they are finding it a little difficult to understand this extravagant waste of money on this facility.

Could the minister assure us this sort of waste will not continue?