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

Federal-Provincial Fiscal Arrangements Act November 29th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, the member has just announced another study. Well here we go again. He then talked about the parameters. The parameters of that study are already well-known.

I want him to say several things to the House. He knows what the issue is relating to misleading the House and he has to choose his words carefully. Could he state in the House that he knows for sure that the technical decisions are based on a formula and that the formula will prevail and not politics in the end?

Second, will it be separate from natural resource revenue?

Third, will the formula, the data inputs and the process and product, as well as some analysis, be published on a website and be totally transparent so that a first year university student could go to that site and really understand what is happening? This is because in times past it has been almost incomprehensible?

Transparency has been claimed by the government and it has been repeated over and over again. I would ask the member, in the spirit of that theme, to respond to these three points. Does he know for sure about technical formula over politics in the end? Will it be separate from natural resource revenue, the big brouhaha in Newfoundland? Will it be fully published in a comprehensible form so that a first year university student could understand what is going on?

Citizenship and Immigration November 24th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, the evasions continue. We have heard about the Ethics Commissioner, but it cannot be used to cover for ministerial accountability.

I put this to the Deputy Prime Minister. Everyone knows that the immigration department is in an absolute mess. The Prime Minister promised during the election to clean things up.

Will the Prime Minister just keep his word, assign some real priority to this national disgrace, replace the minister of immigration, and stop the ongoing damage to Canada's international reputation with this very poorly run department?

Citizenship and Immigration November 24th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, 70% of my community casework is about this dysfunctional immigration department. We now learn that this favoured dancer that we have been talking about, and her husband, first went to their own MP and were told, “Follow the rules”. Then the couple went to the immigration minister's campaign office in the election and were able to trade their political work for a government benefit. That is against the law.

Members of this House obey the law. Why cannot the minister?

Department of Social Development Act November 23rd, 2004

Mr. Speaker, the reality is that when I return to my community, my constituents will say “You made a speech on departmental organization. How is that going to change what we've been getting for the last few years? Is our money going to be any more wisely spent?”

Then they give me an example of someone who is not being served. For example, supplemental training funds often have an age parameter. We had the case where two fellows were sharing an apartment. They both wanted to get some training. One qualified and one did not because one happened to be two years older than the other and was just arbitrarily cut off. He was really turned off about that.

There are all kinds of ideas in the House and in the voluntary groups out there that I think we need to pursue. Of course, it is a matter of priorities. I hope that the member opposite will be able to argue effectively within his caucus to redirect finances where they are really appreciated and where they can be really productive rather than in some of the historical wasteful programs that we have seen in the House.

Department of Social Development Act November 23rd, 2004

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate what the member had to say. It sounds like he has some good ideas. I have said in my speech that there are a lot of good things happening now, but often they seem to be half measures and very uncoordinated. I recently had a town hall meeting. Constituents asked fundamental questions of some very capable departmental officials. They were somewhat surprised at how constituents seemed to fall through the cracks.

The case example of course is that there is a constituency of several thousand Canadians who rightfully should receive benefits. They finally find out about the programs and begin to get benefits. However, they have been missing things, like the widow's benefit, for many years. Then the government says that it will only go back 11 months, that it is too bad, so sad. The government did not tell people what was available. We could end that kind of discrimination.

Also, we need to build into our systems client accountability. Taxpayers need to have some kind of bill of service rights, or whatever, so they can hold their local offices to account when they try to dial a number and are placed on hold forever or when they go to a local office to see somebody, but there is no privacy for them to talk about their personal situation or no coordinated system for them to take a number. They may mistakenly enter an office and wait an hour only to be told they are at the wrong office.

There are all kinds of local issues that do not allow large bureaucracies to really interact at the community level. That accountability feedback loop is still missing. We need to be client and service centred. Then we could also at the academic level come up with those large ideas. I think there are a lot on both sides of the House. We can do so much better for Canadians.

Department of Social Development Act November 23rd, 2004

Mr. Speaker, the government is proposing Bill C-22, an act to establish the Department of Social Development and to amend and repeal certain related acts.

The bill establishes the Department of Social Development, over which presides the Minister of Social Development. This new law also sets out the minister's powers, duties and functions. It deals with rules for the protection and for the providing of personal information obtained under departmental programs, other than those governed by similar codes found in the Canada pension plan and in the Old Age Security Act.

We have a new department, Social Development Canada, with hopefully a clear focus. The government went ahead and split the old HRDC ministry into two parts through orders in council. Now it expects Parliament to approve such a reorganization. The bureaucrats and their weak follower Liberal ministers seem to forget that government may propose, but it is Parliament as a separate entity that must finally vote the appropriations and approve the legislation.

We are now doing this bill after the fact. In a way, it is like institutional blackmail. Much effort, money and human capital has already been expended in advance of implementation and that puts unreasonable pressure on parliamentarians just to go along. It is a fait accompli. It is a done deal.

The point is, we must never forget that Parliament is not the government, but it is where the government must come to obtain permission to tax and spend the people's money and to get its legislation approved and passed. The government should be more careful about spending money for which it has no parliamentary approval. It should also be more respectful of Parliament as it attempts to administer in ways that Parliament has not yet approved. Although it is not an absolute model in every case, the record of the Liberals is, in general, they have shown this kind of disregard for the House in the past. They have done it in the past. The present situation with this bill is just one more example.

The ministry has taken on the role, under its name Social Development Canada, to attempt to reflect the understandings of Canadians about a caring society. Some of the responsibility of the new ministry is for people with disabilities. It also has children, seniors and the voluntary sector, all of which have direct links to the disability community. Canadians want people to have a chance to live a full and challenging life. It is up to us as Canadians to see how we are doing against our own ideals and to work with both formal and informal entities to bring us closer to meeting our own idealism.

Historically, the federal government has done better in the area of employment. These joint labour market agreements, which it has signed with the provinces and territories, have acted as a springboard to success in other areas. However, I still think we need to achieve consensus on the best mix of programs and supports and the right balance among employment, income, disability supports, areas that we will need to continue to work on together in the years ahead.

In this regard, I do not think the Liberals have any great new ideas. They just seem to be floundering. They know they have to be doing something. Canadians want it, but they are not quite sure what it should be, so they pick on departmental reorganization. At least there will be some impression of progress and movement.

There is work, however, internationally which Canada has done, such as in New York at the United Nations where officials from Canadian social development negotiated a new UN convention to protect the rights of persons with disabilities. These are efforts to set standards, generate expectations and encourage action. Let us hope that the national pride will cause other nations to try and better the other about their social safety net, so there is a gentle competition internationally, which sets the bar higher for everyone, and then we can all be better off.

Back within Canada, we need to work on provincial and territorial governments to determine the next steps in advancing the disability agenda. Some good things have happened in the past, but there has been much missed opportunity. Many resources have been wasted that could have done so much good if it had not been misspent by the Liberals.

We have to look to the future. Where can we be? How can we get there? What are our real priorities? We need to think about that and then envision it, see it in our minds. If we cannot imagine and ask why not, we will never move ahead. We need to work to develop a comprehensive disabilities agenda for Canadians.

I do not think anything can ever go far enough or fast enough for someone who has a serious need. Disability issues are a public priority. They also must become a government priority. The challenge is then for governments at all levels, for the charitable and non-profit groups, to create the chances and openings for those who need help and develop and learn so all can be players in life, where no one is left behind.

Now the Department of Social Development, this new entity, is now mandated with helping to secure and strengthen Canada's social foundation. It is to do this by helping families with children, supporting people with disabilities and ensuring that seniors can fully participate in their communities.

The federal level provides the policies, services and programs for Canadians who need assistance in overcoming the challenges they encounter in their lives and their communities. This includes income security programs, such as the basic Canada pension plan. I also hope social development will always be client-centred in its organization, and that is the point I tried to make earlier to the parliamentary secretary, committed to continually improving service delivery to Canadians.

Its vision statement says, “A Canada for all, where everyone participates and plays an active role”. The mission is said to be to strengthen Canada's social foundations by supporting the well-being of individuals, families and communities, and their participation through citizen-focused policies, programs and service. I believe that can be achieved by reducing barriers and facilitating access to opportunities, investing in people and strengthening communities, delivering seamless, innovative and responsive service, both internally and externally, working with federal partners and other governments and communities, supporting our employees and serving Canadians with integrity and commitment. Those are lofty goals for a government not known for either great efficiency or practical compassion.

The Minister of Social Development, the member for York Centre, and the Minister of State for Families and Caregivers, the member for Trinity--Spadina, both have a great task, but also an opportunity to do good things for the country. The deputy minister, Nicole Jauvin, seems capable and we wish her well. She was formerly the deputy solicitor general of Canada. Also the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Social Development, the member for Ahuntsik, should be a great help to keep things on track.

Their program responsibilities are really valued by the average Canadian. They count on it. They include income security programs, such as the Canada pension plan, old age security, guaranteed income supplement, international benefits, help for person with disabilities, the Canada pension plan disability program and the social development partnerships program, as well as voluntary initiatives. The list goes on. They are really valuable. They are very important.

It has been said that while the regulatory system we currently have in Canada has served us well at times, it was largely developed for an industrial economy, a different age. Canada now needs a 21st century regulatory approach that reflects the values of Canadians, the realities of the knowledge economy and changing market imperatives. At the beginning of the 21st century, countries are examining the effectiveness of their social architectures. They need to respond to the new social risks related to changes in family structure, aging population and the changing labour market.

Canada's social architecture was designed to respond to social risks facing the population as a whole. Unfortunately, we will always have people in need, although the context may change. Today, new social risks intersect an increasingly diverse Canadian population and a political environment in which the roles of different levels of government are shifting. They raise challenges for designing a new social architecture for Canada, challenges that arise in a country defined by diversity.

Some of the questions we need to look at include these. What varied risks do Canadians face in today's labour market and how do they shape the choices that Canadians make? Are new family structures creating challenges for Canadian families? What are the current risks of social exclusion in Canada? Are we by accident developing new elites in unforeseen and undesirable social stratification because of the limits upon education training? The world is changing and so are Canadians. Will our political and social institutions be adequate for the emerging social architecture?

We do get some help from various organizations, such as the Canadian Policy Research Networks and the Canadian Council on Social Development. We need to engage Canadians from all sectors of society to have an exchange of views where everyone is respected and not discounted in advance by the traditional insiders and the power holders. Of course we need the opinions of social science researchers and policy-maker, social policy stakeholders, members of the voluntary sector and every concerned citizen. Change begins with the recognition that a problem exists.

The government claims that it recognizes the challenges and the responsibility to serve Canadians. I wish it well, as it ensures and delivers measurable improvements for those at the extremities of services. May it never forget whom it does all this for and why we strive to do what we do.

Department of Social Development Act November 23rd, 2004

Mr. Speaker, I was pleased to listen to the parliamentary secretary. I thought I heard her say that Canadians are rather dissatisfied about “uncoordinated and incoherent programs”. By that she is as much admitting what the government record is because it is responsible for the present situation.

Then she went on to talk about the Liberals wanting to do social policy differently. Different from what? They have been minding the store and now they are trying to divorce themselves from their own record. When are they going to get on with it?

Her speech had a lot of nice sounding phrases and a lot of optimistic things for the future, but where have they been since 1993? Are they going to start now? Is this it?

When Bill C-23 is passed, what is going to be different for constituents in her riding, constituents in my riding? What difference are they really going to see in the benefits they get? The Liberals have been in charge since 1993, since I have been here, and now they are trying to divorce themselves. I think it is going to be more of the same.

I would like an example, a specific case, of how constituents are going to see anything different from what they have been getting.

Human Resources and Skills Development Act November 22nd, 2004

Mr. Speaker, yes, I did acknowledge the role of the standing committee of the previous Parliament. However, there are ways of bringing a standing committee to its conclusion, especially in view of the very lacklustre administration that we were getting from the government at the time.

What is the practical level of how it is delivered on the street for the average Canadian who pays the bills and who expects some service? They do not care about how departments are organized in Ottawa, but they can certainly measure outcomes by what is going on in the street. I am talking about that aspect.

The history of Liberal administration has been one of missed opportunity and that we are not necessarily in the forefront of innovation, skills training or support for higher education. I put it to the government that it should make the case, using case examples. It should talk about how the average person in my community will see a difference, rather than more departmental shuffling. That is the standard. We measure by actual outcomes at the community level. If we can achieve that and if the government can make the case, I really think that is appropriate. I am not being unreasonably critical about vision for the future, but I have to look at an estimation of future performance based on past behaviour and past results. It has not been particularly good. The history is of government mismanagement, of waste in the public service and not particularly great support for the employees at the lower level. The government has usually been in quite a tangle with its unions rather than developing a supportive work climate.

It is the practical outcome of departments that are supposed to provide benefits and services to Canadians. I am asking the government to make its case in specific examples so that it is not just an academic exercise, but in a simple way that average Canadians can approve of what is being done today.

Human Resources and Skills Development Act November 22nd, 2004

Mr. Speaker, I am addressing the presentation of the government's proposed Bill C-23, specifically known as an act to establish to the Department of Social Development and to amend and repeal certain related acts.

The bill establishes the department of social development, over which presides the Minister of Social Development. The bill sets out the minister's powers, duties and functions. It also describes the rules for the protection and the making available of personal information obtained under departmental programs, other than those covered by similar codes found in the Canada pension plan and the Old Age Security Act.

The bill proposes to legalize in statute what the government has already done by order in council. The Government of Canada is asking Parliament to approve this human resources and skills development act, but we must never forget the order of things. The governments may propose, but Parliament must ultimately vote the appropriation. Parliament is not the government.

I observe that there have been many within the Liberal orb who have been on the inside and in power positions so long that they think Parliament is just another hurdle in a process, and often just an inconvenience to them for the senior bureaucrats to have their way. Too often it looks like they have their way with these, what I would describe, rather weak Liberal politicians. It seems they are quite comfortable that they can manoeuvre these less than visionary politicians around to have what they want.

It is an approach that says Canada will get what the Liberals deem is good for the country, what they know is best for the rest of us. That whole superior attitude is what I smell in this bill and also with sister Bill C-22. The two bills take care of each part of the old department which was divided into two, and this being the so-called social development side.

Now the hon. member for Eglinton—Lawrence was made Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development upon appointment to cabinet. One wonders if he has looked more like a deer caught in the headlights about all the manoeuvring around the creation of these two departments out of the former one large department known as HRDC. It certainly was not this minister's decision to do so.

Human Resources Development Canada was reorganized into two new departments: Social Development Canada, SDC, and Human Resources Skills Development Canada, HRSDC. Both departments are presently still governed by the existing Department of Human Resources Development Act.

The Prime Minister, somewhere with his unelected advisers, agreed to what had been put to them by the bureaucracy about this plan. The Commons standing committee from the previous Parliament had also been led along to believe that this was the way to go. However, it remains to be seen just how wise this move is. Any such disturbing change is disruptive to lower level staff. There is always a lot of internal energy wasted with office changes, clarifying mission statements, shuffling of staff and their physical offices, creating new positions and then staffing them with all the subsequent union appeals and the hurt feelings that go along with it. New reporting relationships with new materials in hand with unspecified and unclear budget authorities also come at quite a cost. There is also a huge loss in productivity when there is such so-called reorganization.

I have observed that the Liberals have not been very good managers in the past, so why should this scheme go any better than the others? The best ideas on paper often do not deliver meaningful and productive outcomes for the consumer of the service. The effort to get from point A to destination B and C at the same time, with different parts of an old team, can be quite inefficient.

The Government of Canada has tabled the human resources and skills development act, which contains the mandate of the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development and the Minister of Labour and Housing. The mandate is included in the act to provide a foundation and a rationale for the department's programs. For the first time, the legislation includes a proposed harmonized code governing the disclosure of personal information of Canadians. This new code is supposed to provide more consistency in administering personal information than is currently the case, given the various statutory and regulatory provisions governing the disclosure of personal information. The Liberals claim the bill provides a greater degree of transparency for Canadians. We will see about that. If anything, the government has been anything but transparent in the past.

We go back to December 12, 2003, when the government had to do something to look like it was a little different from the previous regime, so it picked on this one. By means of a series of orders in council, made pursuant to the Public Service Rearrangement and Transfer of Duties Act, various portions of the Department of Human Resources Development and related powers, duties and functions of the Minister of Human Resources Development were transferred to the new Department of Human Resources and Skills Development Canada, HRSDC, to a new Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development.

Therefore, the arrangement on the ground is a done deal, and the shuffling has been going on, money is being spent and lives are being affected, but Parliament has not yet granted its approval. This is the way Liberals do things. They now admit that department legislation is required to address these new mandates and responsibilities of Social Development Canada, SDC, and the Human Resources and Skills Development Canada.

Maybe Parliament should not be blackmailed in this way. Maybe we should say no. Then what? Maybe we should raise the low hurdle around here and make the government really make its case for why this move is wise at this time and why the changes will substantially raise the quality and the value for dollar to the taxpayer. There is absolutely nothing that I have heard about case examples of how this change will help one single individual in his or her specific life situation.

The government says that the drafting of the Department of Human Resources and Skills Development legislation provides the opportunity to ensure that the minister and the department have the legal powers and tools needed to fulfill the minister's mandate. When has that ever stopped a Liberal? They Liberals claim that the HRDC is working closely with officials from SDC on legislative issues of mutual interest. I certainly hope so.

The minister then goes on to say that the proposed legislation includes a harmonized code of governing the disclosure of personal information. Liberals say that there are some enhancements here that other statutes of privacy laws do not sufficiently cover. If this is so and more legislation is really needed, that fact poorly reflects on the core law of privacy in Canada. I suppose more will be revealed about this whole mess in due course. They claim that this new code will replace the current five statutory and regulatory regimes that govern the disclosure of personal information. If this is needed, then where is the agenda to fix the whole thing? In a way, it is an admission of legal weakness for privacy law, but they will never admit that now will they?

Liberals assert that the additional new code will provide more consistency in administering personal information than is currently the case, given the various statutory and regulatory provisions governing the disclosure of personal information. They say that it provides a greater degree of transparency for Canadians resulting from this harmonization, and codifies the current administrative practices to protect personal information used for research purposes. It also includes an offence provision for knowingly disclosing personal information violating privacy laws. The code also describes departmental commitments, these nice sounding phrases of reassurance to protect the privacy of Canadians, including both the use of personal information for internal research and the conditions for disclosure of personal information outside the department.

The Liberals say that they are committed to improving the social and economic well-being of all Canadians, including the most disadvantaged, and will deliver accountable and efficient policies and programs. They have not done it yet, so I do not see any evidence that this rearrangement of the deck chairs on the ship will do much in that regard.They have not made its central case.

They put it this way. Liberals say, in the promotional literature, that Human Resources and Skills Development Canada plays a key role in meeting the commitments through its efforts to help Canadians acquire skills to get productive and meaningful jobs. They go on and say that it will enhance the access to a post-secondary education, promote skills development and promote a cultural of lifelong learning. They boast that these efforts will result in a better quality of life for all Canadians. That is quite a mouthful. One can ask those who do not have a job or who cannot afford to upgrade training how they feel about what is out there now for those who want to improve themselves, and one will find quite a different story.

That group has been in power for over 10 years. The situation on the ground is their responsibility.

Then Liberals claim labour and housing programs will continue to promote safe, healthy, stable and cooperative workplaces and will continue efforts to help communities reduce homelessness. Such promises do not make the grade. Any average Canadian knows that homelessness is much worse now than it was, say during the period of 1984 to 1993. Just try to walk to Parliament Hill. One has to be blind not to see the situation. The last Liberal leader actually claimed that he talked to a homeless person. At least our Governor General tried in east side Vancouver this year to do it. When was the last time our Prime Minister ever stopped his limo cavalcade to talk to and tune into what it is like for those sleeping on the sidewalk by which he zooms?

For the bill, there is also the assertion that the legislation will provide the framework to ensure that the Government of Canada continues to make Canadians the best trained and most highly skilled workers in the world. We have never been there internationally as a whole and despite this kind of overblown rhetoric, I am skeptical that the department reorganization will deliver the kind of sensitive and comprehensive help that is really needed to meet those kinds of inflated objectives.

I want to hear the government really make its case for these two bills, Bill C-22 and Bill C-23. I am prepared to compliment the government when it goes in the right direction, but so far what we have seen and heard is a lot of bureaucratese and not much reality selling of substance to Parliament, where the ultimate approval must be made. I wish them well.

International Interests in Mobile Equipment (aircraft equipment) Act November 15th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the member's comments, but I wonder if he could advise the House on how the bill relates to the international list of countries. How does it relate to the relationship to the United States and the European Union? Perhaps he could also talk about countries outside the European Union like the Soviet Union, Belarus and other countries. We have aircraft that go back and forth from these countries. However, the ability to have financial claims is a concern. Canadian investors have a great concern in investing in Russia because of the way it treats the discharge of debts.

Could he comment on how the bill relates to other countries on the list? Does that stand us in good stead? Are we ahead or behind or are we just following along?