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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was mmt.

Last in Parliament November 2005, as Conservative MP for New Westminster—Coquitlam (B.C.)

Lost his last election, in 2011, with 36% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Festival du Bois March 11th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, French language and culture are alive and well in British Columbia. Festival du Bois, le festival annuel de musique folklorique de Maillardville was celebrated for the 16th year in Coquitlam B.C., February 27 to March 6 this year.

The Flaunt your Frenchness, quelle bonne idée, is a campaign and festival about celebrating whatever one's Frenchness is: language, ancestors, fashion, music or preference for French food. C'est le printemps in my constituency.

I wish to thank the partners that make this happen: the City of Coquitlam, Citysoup.ca, Société Maillardville-Uni, Société de développement économique, Place Maillardville, L'express du Pacific, Alliance Française, Place des Arts, the Coquitlam Heritage Society and the federal and provincial governments.

Flaunt your Frenchness, fièrement francophone. It is good for everyone.

The Budget March 8th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, members of the Bloc have to come from a perspective of a government in waiting, and they have a tough time getting around that issue. They will never be the government and they do not have to address their minds to that perspective.

There is a separate issue between describing an alternative budget and criticizing the current budget and whether we shall have an election or not. Technically in the House, the role of Parliament is to approve the spending plans of government. If it does not approve them, then we have an election. Unfortunately, we are caught in that situation with a minority Parliament.

We can clearly outline our criticisms of the budget and people can hear that. They are not stupid. They can read the material. They also can give us the same message that they do not want an election. That is what they have told us. This is not some game-playing from the Conservative Party. If members go out and do some polling in their communities, they will come back and say that it is not time for an election. The people have given us a minority Parliament and we will make it work.

However, we are dealing with the budget. We are dealing with the material and the work at hand in front of us today, and we are outlining alternatives as to how that budget should be addressed.

Concerning the environment, the problem the Bloc has is it continues to confuse pollution and environmental cleanup with the issue of Kyoto and climate change. They are only related at a distance. The issues of Kyoto deal with water vapour and carbon dioxide, which are vital to life, and the theory that perhaps the predominance of that from human activity will change climate to such a detrimental point of view that it will affect the economy and the health of the world. We have to look at how much we are spending on the climate change issue rather than perhaps not spending enough on environmental cleanup, pollution regulations and enforcement.

That is our criticism as far as environmental spending. Let us deal with the very serious issues of clean water, clean air, eliminating brownfields and living responsibly. Then we can address climate change as a lower priority.

The Budget March 8th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, we appreciate at least the recognition of the military spending capacity. Change begins with the recognition that a problem exists, but I would have certainly liked to see one specific measure in the budget for this fiscal year that would be delivered and that would help.

For example, if we are to increase our recruits, we have to treat them properly. One of the ongoing difficulties within the military is living expenses and the cost of rents on the bases for inadequate housing. The helicopter decision was a tragic one that was made during the election of 1993. The government has had since 1993 to get on with reordering priorities for the military, and it has not produced it.

The address of the problem in the budget has been more for political reasons rather than to deliver any substantive result for the military at this time. We have to see some results this year.

The essential point I made in my speech was that any promise in the budget that is beyond the next fiscal year is basically a fantasy. Many other budgets will come down between now and then. It is fine for policy papers to outline projected spending into the future, where we should be going, et cetera. The House is full of that. The departmental shelves are full of long term studies, but specific budgets are measured year by year. I wanted to see some concrete measures in this fiscal year where the military could see that we were making gains in the proper direction.

The Budget March 8th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time.

I oppose this budget because it is far less than what the country deserves and needs. The priorities are largely misplaced and I will outline just a few of the reasons why. Nevertheless, we will not defeat the government on it because the larger issue beyond this pathetic budget is that the country does not want an election at this time.

My constituents will, I am sure, give me a clear signal when the time is due, when an election is being asked for. I am sure there will be a clear mood soon that they have had enough of these Liberals, but such is not the case right now. They do not like what they are getting from the government, but they like the prospects of an election even less.

I will outline some positive Conservative budget alternatives while letting this budget pass in order to avoid an election for the time being. The Liberals plan to spend $196.4 billion on programs in 2005-06, not counting statutory spending like pensions. That is $6,130 for every person in Canada, the biggest spending plan in history. That is incredible.

The national debt is still at about $500 billion and the service charges for it will be $35.1 billion. The spending rate is up 11% from 2003-04. The Liberals tax more than needed. They spend too much which results in government waste while we still owe too much.

While the government says that the budget is about delivering on commitments, we are seeing nothing but dithering. Most changes are supposed to happen long after the Prime Minister and finance minister are gone. By making plans long after many other budgets will come forward, all the way up to 2009, by definition, the substance of this budget plan will likely never happen.

Most of the money for child care, the gas tax transfer for cities, and climate change, is delayed until the end of the decade with no plan in place of how to spend it. Nevertheless, in this budget there are hints of what a positive world it could be with Conservatives at the helm.

The government is following the Conservative Party's lead on areas that are important to Canadians. Some examples of Conservative initiatives adopted in the budget are: tax relief for low and middle income Canadians; a reduction of corporate taxes to help stimulate the economy, create jobs and raise government revenue; funding for national defence; an increase in RRSP limits; an enhancement of capital cost allowance rates; a non-refundable tax credit adoption expense, our private member's Bill C-246; eventual elimination of the excise tax on jewellery, our private member's Bill C-259; a caregiver tax credit, which was the Conservative election platform; measures for agricultural cooperatives; and the removal of the CAIS program cash deposit requirement, which was a Conservative supply day motion.

Although these topics are at least mentioned, many of the positive steps in the budget do not go far enough or occur fast enough to have any substantial impact on the well-being of Canadians. The tax break provided in this budget amounts to about $16 for this year. The inadequate productivity enhancing measures in the budget illustrate that the government is not heeding warning signs that Canada's high priority programs could be put in jeopardy if comprehensive steps are not taken to grow the economy before the demographic crunch sets in.

The Conservatives devised a standard of living strategy in a prebudget submission published elsewhere that if implemented would ensure that high priority social programs are available to Canadians when they require them.

The key components of the Conservative Party's standard of living strategy are: the encouragement of investment in Canada's productive capacity; the reduction of corporate and capital payroll taxes; a streamlined regulatory environment; a more rapid reduction in the national debt; a reduction of federal spending to sustainable levels; the encouragement of education and training; and the promotion and stimulation of affordable housing development.

The reason for these is clear. A more vibrant economy would ensure that we could actually pay for the social programs we need. Sadly, the budget gives short shrift to individuals. Special interest groups get billions while the rest of us are thrown pocket change.

One of the byproducts of a culture of dependency fostered by the continued extension of the welfare state is that it guarantees a decreasing degree of dissension. It is a simple rule. The more people on the gravy train, the fewer people available to offer objective, critical analysis.

What the consensus analysis of the federal budget makes clear is that the individual is now left out of the equation. In spite of massive surpluses and record revenues, individuals themselves were tossed pocket change in terms of tax cuts while special interest groups were thrown billions of tax dollars.

Besides Conservatives, who else was going to be up in arms because the government promised in last year's budget to uphold the principles of financial responsibility and integrity, and then promptly turn around and proceed to overspend by $10 billion? Would it be the CBC, which once again saw its funding rise and owes its existence to government money?

What about business groups? I think we can safely forget about anyone in the aerospace industry, the auto industry and high-tech going after government, given that billions of dollars are flowing their way. No critiques coming from the film industry or the banking industry, which want favourable government rulings.

It is a little unrealistic to expect business groups like the Canadian Council for Chief Executives to take the government to task when its membership includes such regular recipients of government largesse like Bombardier, Ballard Power Systems, General Motors and SNC-Lavalin.

While the budget outlined billions more in new spending for well-connected groups, we can console ourselves with a $16 tax saving for the individual.

Government subsidies hurt the economy. How much are we willing to pay to secure one job in the auto manufacturing sector? Specifically, how many tax dollars are we willing to divert from other areas, including our own pocket, to help the shareholders and highly paid workers of big American auto companies?

About $435 million, or $870,000 per job. That is about right. That is the amount the federal and Ontario governments have decided to fork over to American mega-corporation General Motors in order to create 500 new jobs in three Ontario communities: Ingersoll, Oshawa and St. Catharines.

How many jobs are we willing to kill in order to create these 500 jobs? Unfortunately, when government spends $435 million on a business subsidy, it takes the money from somewhere. It can tax individuals, businesses or borrow it, but in each case, there are consequences.

Then there is the problem of regional disparity. The west coast port capacity is a national asset for the whole economy, yet Fraser Port, the number two port in Canada, is unreasonably burdened with the cost of dredging the river and federal dumping fees for sand. It is a special case. Forget the subsidies. Just do not tax away its future in the first place and let business get on with business.

Money taxed away from individuals results in less consumption or investment, which hurts business growth in other areas. Money taxed away from businesses robs them of the opportunity to expand their own operations, such as Fraser Port. Government debt charges eat up future revenues and expenditures.

There is a tremendous amount of research available that estimates that the so-called deadweight cost to the overall economy of government subsidies. The estimates vary but the majority put the cost to the economy of every dollar the government spends on subsidies at between $1.30 and $1.50.

Interestingly, the discussion surrounding health care is dominated by those who place far more value on saluting ideology of public health care as opposed to the delivery of timely quality care and the measurement of patient outcomes. That is the underlying reason why record amounts of money are spent on health care with few positive results. For the majority of the population, no specifics are needed as long as more money is spent within the public system.

The delusion of describing ourselves as a nation of peacekeepers becomes more laughable by the month as recent reports make it clear we cannot even equip our small band of front line personnel with standard-issue military boots.

The recent federal budget is another wonderful example of our love affair with talk. Virtually every media report heralded the major commitment to military spending, when nearly 80% of the promised spending does not even kick in until 2009 when this Prime Minister is long gone. According to the National Post's Chris Wattie, more than one-third of this year's new defence spending is offset by other cuts to the military budget.

Just like our firm commitment to Kyoto, phrases like “universal health care” and “a nation of peacekeepers” sound so good, but they are really hollow in practice. Today one does not have to be innovative, courageous, ethical or hard working to lead this country, one just has to care more than the average Canadian.

However, without meaningful action, we are mired in a fantasy world that, among other things, dooms thousands of natives to live in abject poverty, forces patients to wait months for life-altering surgery, makes Canada a bit player on the world stage, and has a comedian as the centrepiece of a non-existent Kyoto plan. We can only hope for the sake of this country that next year's budget will be a Conservative budget.

Immigration and Refugee Protection Act February 24th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, Bill C-283 is a private member's bill which seeks to amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations. The bill intends to allow a Canadian citizen or a landed immigrant to provide an enforceable guarantee or post a bond while sponsoring a visitor.

Sponsorship would provide stronger evidence of the potential visitors that they would return to their country of origin before the visa expires. The Canadian sponsor guarantees with money that the visitor would abide by the conditions of the visitor visa and would return home before the visa expires.

This bill arises in response to a big problem. While the government and the immigration department acknowledge problems, they are not prepared to do anything to improve the situation. I make that assertion because I have been complaining about these problems since I first arrived in this House after the 1993 election.

Since then, completely new legislation has been introduced for this department, but the basic problems remain. The system is not competent to figure out who should be allowed to visit and who should not. The bill attempts to add an additional dimension to the existing rules and processes that are in place to protect Canada from any abuse from visitors.

Canada must have an efficient and effective visa system that is able to handle temporary visitors. The bill would not minimize a minister's permit or inject political interference into the system. It would enhance fairness, not diminish it.

I would have hoped that the government speakers on the bill would have accepted more positively the spirit of creative problem solving which the bill's sponsor intends. The bill would essentially allow Canadians or permanent residents over 18 to apply to be an additional sponsor guarantee for a visitor from overseas by posting a bond provided that they have not sponsored an individual within the last five years who has failed to abide by the terms of his or her visa. That sounds reasonable, does it not?

However, it does nothing to water down the current rules and protections that we already have in place. What it does is support the process and adds additional levels of trust, predictability and surety. The Liberals are wrong when they claim that the bill would make it easier for more people to visit this country. It would just help enhance the screening to ensure that the right people visit this country and fewer of the wrong ones do.

Many of us have friends or relatives in far flung parts of the globe. We often think about them and wish to see them, especially at times of crisis or family celebration. The same is true for many of our constituents who are often forced to leave behind loved ones, close friends and business associates when they choose to put down roots in Canada.

We know that these people, if they came to Canada, would not abuse a visitor's visa, but often they cannot get a visa because the system is poor, overstressed, sometimes biased and fraudulent, or just not capable with the available manpower to perform its screening job properly. Change begins with the recognition that a problem exists.

Canada's visa offices routinely issue some 500,000 temporary resident visas each year in addition to processing many other types of applications. By comparison, about 100,000 or more applications on average are rejected each year, suggesting that there are in fact compelling reasons to do so. Well, that is the government line.

However, talk to constituents and users who pay for this system and they will tell a different story. The system defenders say they are deeply troubled by aspects of this bill. Their main problem is that they might lose some of their complete and final control, and that the thought of community engagement, community accountability, and community reference is just outside the box of how system bureaucrats think. It is beyond them to think that a Canadian might know a lot more about who should come and visit than a foreign embassy worker who is often a foreign national employed by Canada just looking at a file.

Just because the department could not run a bond system before does not mean that the idea is unworkable. It is fairly safe to say that bonds alone do not provide safety. That is not what the bill is about. The bill is created in full light of the fact that we have a world where individuals are willing to pay smugglers tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars for a chance to come to Canada to find a better life.

For a bond to be effective it would have to be high enough to prevent smuggling, but it also places demands of transparency about who is posting the bond and for what kind of an individual is wanting to visit. The bill does not seek to eclipse all the other factors which go into the balance of probabilities mix for a decision.

Bonds were said to discriminate against families with low income. The system already does that by making sponsors provide back copies of income tax returns to show that they have sufficient funds to support an invited visitor. The system already requires applicants to demonstrate sufficient financial status to show strong ties to their country of origin.

The financial game is much of what the system is all about. Consequently, complaints of financial discrimination from a Liberal just do not wash. That party is the origin of the great historical discrimination stories in Canada, and the current poor immigration system is one of the Liberals' recent design.

The claim that Bill C-283 would require more resources to deal with and investigate each sponsorship application to ensure that the financial resources were not linked to organized crime is absolutely spurious. It was said that it would require more resources to assess a sponsor's credit worthiness and to confirm his or her identity and status in Canada. It was said that more resources would have to go toward processing applications and that Canada would have to introduce an exit control system to ensure that persons complied with the bonds.

These arguments admit a lot about the poor system. If anything, providing additional levels of confidence by locals who are willing to put a lot of cash on the table helps the over-burdened system, not weight it down.

One of the most stupid arguments I have heard from a Liberal goes like this: “The bill creates an apparent lack of regard for the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and Canada's international obligations under UN conventions. Clause 5 would add a new subsection to the immigration and refugee protection regulations stipulating that a foreign national who comes to Canada under the terms of a visitor visa bond must leave the country at the end of that period authorized for that stay, even if the person applies for refugee status while in Canada. Such a clause could mean that the person would have to leave Canada before his or her refugee claim had been assessed on the merits of a fair and impartial tribunal. Such a provision appears contrary to section 7 of the charter which talks about the risk of harm to the person if he or she goes back and therefore the need to follow through on a refugee application. Moreover, it could lead to violations of Canada's obligations under UN conventions not to return anyone to a country where the person faces torture or where the person has a well-founded fear of persecution. We would therefore be in complete contravention of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms”.

What an argument. I must make the point that anyone who has a visa must obey its rules, which already says that the person must leave before the visa expires. That is already part of the rules and there is no charter violation. If someone makes a refugee application, it does not matter whether that person gets here legally or illegally because Canada has said that it will abide by the UN convention, and many legitimate refugees must come to Canada illegally in order to make their legitimate claim.

How many times have I heard Liberals mislead the House by saying something like the following, “Our present system works well and processes requests in an expeditious, fair and reasonable manner, but all of us still say we could do a lot better; we know we could do better”. That kind of talk is so disingenuous in view of the administrative history I have observed since 1993.

The next typical argument to facilitate doing nothing is that the change is piecemeal. This piecemeal argument is similar to what we hear about Senate reform and many other things. It goes like this: “We cannot cherry-pick pieces and fix the system by fixing the cracks. The way to solve the problem is to look at how we can make the whole immigration system, and the parallel system of refugee processing, work better. We have to look at the whole system and make that system more effective and efficient. Cherry-picking does not allow for that to happen”. I have been hearing that kind of shibboleth for years, but nothing changes.

The major problem with the bill is it reveals that the Liberals cannot manage even a basic system. The system defenders will never adjust because it would open the door to all the rest of the rot in the system.

We have to start somewhere. The first step down the road of repair and reform would be to pass the bill dealing with this narrow section and requiring the system to accommodate it.

Electoral Boundaries Readjustment Act February 22nd, 2005

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-336, an act to change the name of the electoral district of New Westminster—Coquitlam.

Mr. Speaker, it became very obvious during the last election that the name of the riding should be changed. Perhaps you could take notice that we should have private discussions to collect all such similar bills and at another time agree to pass all these bills at all stages.

There are a number of ridings that want a similar effect to my current bill which meets the community need.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Civil Marriage Act February 21st, 2005

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the spirit with which the minister has carried forward the debate, but I would caution him not to overstate and mischaracterize either the Conservative position.

In the spirit of tolerance that he talked about, I wonder if he would have the political humility to make his case to the voters in his riding, engage the debate in his community and then provide a vehicle for his constituents to instruct him how he should vote. We talk about rights, but this is also a matter about how society shall be structured and the democratic ability of the community to decide how it shall be structured.

I am wondering in that spirit of optimism in the future, about being at peace with our neighbour, if the definition of marriage truly should be changed, if it should have the consent and support of Canadians. He should be able to make that case appropriately to the community. Is he doing anything to engage the community? Is he doing professional polls, having town hall meetings, or whatever to obtain the political consent of his community about this matter?

Supply February 17th, 2005

Madam Speaker, I hope the member will get his pencil out because I have a number of questions for him which I hope will be answered during the day.

His motion states, “legislating mandatory improvements to vehicle efficiency in all classes of light duty vehicles sold in Canada”. We already have all kinds of controls and standards in Canada. I want to know, specifically, what are the benchmarks he complaining about?

He mentioned about a GST rebate for some vehicles that perhaps have a good mileage rate. However, is he also secretly talking about penalties on certain cars? We have had that in British Columbia.

What kind of pollution is he talking about? Is he talking about NO

x

and MOX and real poisons or is he talking about CO

2

and water vapour that is related to Kyoto? I heard him falsely mixing smog and poisons in the environment and real pollution with Kyoto and climate change. The two are not the same. Anyone knows that. Again, what does he mean by “light duty vehicles”? That certainly has to be defined.

Is he referring to the California standards for all of Canada? Let him be specific. To what plan and schedule is referring?

The current laws in Canada already conform to his motion. We could accept this motion because we could say it already exists in Canada. What specifically is he asking for? Where are we going? If he truly wants to advance the results for the environment, he better have a plan and he better have a schedule, rather than just railing against cars. What are the numbers and where are they? Where are we going to go with this motion?

Points of Order February 17th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, I am the vice-chair of the committee. I just want to provide the further information that the appeal to the House does not have the support of other members of the committee. The committee felt that it completed its business in a proper manner. We noted that there was a protest coming forward but that it really is from that member and that party only and does not have the support of the other members of the committee, especially the chair of the committee and me as the vice-chair.

Questions on the Order Paper February 15th, 2005

Madam Speaker, the issue of discrimination is very much inherent in the Liberal system. We decry the one child policy in China, the government control, and all the fines and penalties against families for lifestyle choices, but we have a Canadian version of that same kind of government fine.

Two families are living on the same cul-de-sac, with the same style of house and the same income, but if one has a single income and the other has a dual income, the system fines those parents because of their lifestyle choice. The government takes several thousand dollars away from them; let us say that both families have a family income of $100,000. That is government discrimination; let us try to find some international parallel to it. It is completely socially unacceptable. We want to fix that. The member alluded to that, so perhaps she could expand on how our party would end that kind of discrimination against families.