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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was aboriginal.

Last in Parliament September 2008, as Conservative MP for Portage—Lisgar (Manitoba)

Won his last election, in 2006, with 70% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Canada Post October 24th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, it is too bad the revenue minister cannot impersonate the revenue minister as well as our leader can.

The revenue minister is responsible for overseeing a tax system that should apply to all Canadians equally, but no other Canadian, not one, would get away with what André Ouellet has gotten away with. Government documents reveal that the revenue minister has known for over four months that André Ouellet will not provide receipts. He has done absolutely nothing about it. It is shameful. I want to ask him one question. Why?

Canada Post October 24th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, last year's Deloitte & Touche audit of Canada Post revealed that Andre Ouellette had paid himself enormous sums of money as pork-master general and he did not even bother to provide receipts. David Dingwall may be the prince of pork, but André Ouellet is still the king.

The government promised a complete audit of the office of André Ouellet more than a year ago. It begs the question, what is the government hiding here? If the Liberal government can come up with a whitewashed Dingwall audit in three weeks, why does it need more than a year for the André Ouellet audit?

David Dingwall October 21st, 2005

Mr. Speaker, the fact of the matter is that the rules at the Royal Canadian Mint were written by David Dingwall under this government's watch. The rules provide exceptions for David Dingwall. He can except himself on travel. He can except himself on hospitality. There are no fences on David Dingwall's pasture. He can graze at the expense of Canadian taxpayers to his heart's content.

The culture of entitlement that has permeated this government was most evident when David Dingwall testified the other day. Will the government continue and persist to pay David Dingwall severance?

David Dingwall October 21st, 2005

Mr. Speaker, how little expenses are handled tells us a lot about how a person will handle big expenses.

David Dingwall handed in receipts in April of last year for two candies for $1.43, a Globe and Mail for 93¢, a chocolate bar, a bag of chips, and a Winnipeg Sun . On December 16 of last year he handed in a receipt for a massage in Bangkok. This Liberal culture of entitlement has gone far too far.

Perhaps the government could tell us if David Dingwall is entitled to a massage at the expense of Canadian taxpayers?

Intergenerational Transfer of Farms October 20th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for Châteauguay—Saint-Constant for the thoughtful resolution that he has brought forward today.

I cannot help but refer of course, as members tend to do in this chamber, to my own family's background, which is, with my brother now in place on the farm, a fifth generation farm family. I have some very strong feelings emotionally about this resolution and believe at its heart it is good. It certainly has some technical aspects, which the minister's back-up over there has alluded to, but despite that fact I think there is more good in it than bad.

I would like to begin with my own personal experience on the issue of transferring farm assets. As the oldest in our family, when I graduated from high school my parents gave me a watch as a gift. When my sister graduated she was given a car. When my brother graduated he was given the farm. That is farm estate planning. That is how some families divide farm assets.

It works if the farm can be kept in the family and if there can be balance for other farm heirs and keep children loving one another and provide for the parents or the family members who are retiring. If a family can do those three things it has a good farm estate plan. If the family cannot, it does not.

Unfortunately, for many farm families cash is a big issue. As is the way of Liberal members who are in their ivory towers, most of them, unfortunately, are out of touch with rural situations. As the member alluded to in his comments, if farmers want a proper retirement income they should just buy RRSPs like everyone else. He does not understand the nature of farming or of farmers very well.

The principal investment that farmers make of course is back into their farms. It has been that way for years and, unfortunately, it has been increasingly necessary for it to be that way as the return on investment in the farming community over recent years has lessened. I could quote the statistics but I will not.

However there is less cash available. Many farmers are land rich, implement rich, seed rich or whatever but they are cash poor. Before I came to this place I was a chartered financial consultant by profession and I worked with farm families on establishing plans for the transference of their assets. I can speak with a little authority on the fact that this is a motion which will assist. It is not perfect and it does not pretend to be perfect, I am sure, but it does address a number of important issues. I think it is important that we appreciate that and support the resolution for that reason.

A 1994 study by StatsCan revealed that farmers invest a higher proportion of their savings back into farm assets than they do into RRSPs. That is no surprise to any of us who come from rural backgrounds. Therefore for many farm families their farm capital represents the bulk of their retirement funds.

There are a couple of aspects to this proposal that I would like to address. The first is the issue of capital gains.

The Liberal member, as is the tendency, unfortunately, defended the status quo rather firmly. However the status quo when it comes to the issue of the $500,000 capital gains exemption is not a status quo that deserves to be defended. That level has not changed for over a quarter of a century but farm assets have and farm values in terms of fixed assets, such as land, not uniformly but in general across the country, have appreciated in value so that now with regard to the capital gains exemption what once was exempt is not.

Therefore we need to address that change. The way to do that is to increase the capital gains exemption. I think that is an excellent idea and one that deserves support.

In doing a little research I always concern myself with what these proposals cost as does the Conservative Party. We want to make sure these are achievable measures that will work. However we also want to make sure that they fit into the context of our overall finances. I should mention the actual cost that this motion would incur if this measure were adopted.

We know that the Department of Finance estimates say the fiscal cost currently of the $500,000 lifetime capital gains exemption for farm property is about $220 million for 2004. It follows then that if we increase the exemption to $1 million, the maximum fiscal cost would be approximately that same amount of $220 million.

The member opposite said in his comments that this would only impact on a very few and used the class warfare thing, the rich farmers out there. The reality is quite clear to us from rural communities. We understand that farmland values have increased significantly in many areas across the last quarter century and that this is really catch-up is it not? This is really restoring the original measure and restoring the intent of the original measure.

I know this because the member very often speaks more for the Department of Finance than he does for the people of Canada. He certainly does not speak for the farm people of Canada. I know that he has raised the issue of preferential treatment for farmers. I know that the finance department would dearly love to do away with the $500,000 capital gains exemption entirely. I know, as a member of the finance committee, that we have been privy to some indications that is the attitude of members of the finance department and, I am afraid, given the increasingly urban nature of the diminishing number of Liberal members in this chamber, quite appreciably increasing in their ranks as well, the attitude that farmers should just pay like everyone else.

I will tell them this in a straightforward manner. I think they need to realize that the number of farms is diminishing and it is increasingly so across the country. It is in no one's best interest to have no one living in the communities between Montreal and Quebec City. It is in no one's best interests to have a half a dozen farmers living along the highway between Portage la Prairie, Manitoba and Regina, Saskatchewan. It is in no one's best interests to depopulate the rural parts of our country. It is in everyone's best interests to keep family farms in the hands of people who love the land, have an attachment to it and have a sincere desire and an appreciation for the quality of life and rural communities and a rural environment. That is in everyone's best interest.

Unfortunately, with the government we see too often a disrespect and a disregard for that reality. I think that is a shame.

I say by way of illustration that right now in this country there are fewer farmers under the age of 35 than there have ever been. Right now most farmers are over 50 years of age. In the next 15 years that number will appreciate considerably and over a third of farmers will be beyond retirement age in just a very short time.

How are they going to retire? Because they depend on the land and the farm assets that they manage, they are going to retire by selling those assets. Unfortunately, what that means is a further consolidation of farms and a further depopulation of the rural communities.

If we can take some steps today in supporting this resolution to support families staying in a place they love, that they appreciate and where they will invest and provide the prudent stewardship we need, I think that is a wonderful thing to do. I think it is a good and healthy thing for us to do for this country.

I want to share a couple of anecdotes because I think these are illustrative of the challenges that farm families face. I knew a family in a small community called Rathwell, which is in my riding. It is about a half an hour south of Portage la Prairie, which is my hometown where our farm is. When I came across this circumstance it was touching. What happened here was that a farmer in his late sixties suffered a heart attack and passed away. The family went together to read the will and the will read that everything was to be divided equally among three. His wife had predeceased him and so his three children shared that estate equally.

What was the estate? It was what he had spent his life doing, his farm. It went three ways: to his daughter who was married to a dentist in Victoria; to his son who lived in Toronto and is a computer executive; and the other third, I think members have guessed it, to his son the farmer. His son was a farmer. When his dad passed away this man, a friend of mine, lost not only his part, his best friend, his mentor but he lost his farm.

Today, we can take steps to ensure that this does not happen again. Rollover provisions and retirement savings programs that are available to farmers who do not have the income to qualify, in many cases to contribute to RRSPs, are a positive step.

I congratulate the Bloc member. Although the Bloc's separatism is abhorrent to me, I congratulate it on this positive step. This is a worthwhile motion to support and I thank him for bringing it forward.

David Dingwall October 20th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, in a recent negotiation the Prime Minister's chief of staff said, “—the PM will say we are not offering and making no offers. And I think that is the narrative we have to stick to it”. More backroom deals. Here we go again.

Here are the facts. First, the revenue minister encourages Dingwall, then the Prime Minister accepts Dingwall's resignation. Then they both try to sell us on severance for Dingwall. Those are the facts.

Will the Prime Minister admit that he knew in advance that his minister had spoken to Dingwall concerning his entitlements?

David Dingwall October 20th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister is putting the sit in democratic deficit.

Let us get this straight. Dingwall quit in disgrace. He did not fulfill his contract. He said he was leaving anyway, but now he is ready to sue us because he is entitled to his entitlements and the Prime Minister seems to agree with that.

For three weeks he and his government have been promoting the idea of paying Dingwall off with severance without providing us a single shred of evidence as to why. Dingwall could not successfully sue unless he had a deal.

Will the Prime Minister admit he did a Dingwall deal?

David Dingwall October 18th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, like the government, the minister runs faster backwards than forward. We all know that Dingwall could not possibly have been off side because there were no lines on the ice. Section 7.5 of the Mint's travel policy says, “Exceptions to this policy will require the approval of the President”. There also are exceptions in the Mint's hospitality policy for, guess who, the president.

These rules were written after the sponsorship scandal, after Ouellet, after Radwanski and after the Prime Minister came into office. Why has he done nothing? How many Liberal red flags does the Prime Minister need?

David Dingwall October 17th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister began claiming that severance was an obligatory aspect of the government's obligations and that it be paid immediately following David Dingwall's resignation. Yet the Prime Minister could not provide us with a single legitimate reason, no contractual obligation, no legislation, no legal opinion.

The only possible reason for the Prime Minister to pay Mr. Dingwall severance is that he promised to pay Mr. Dingwall severance. Why did the Prime Minister promise David Dingwall severance pay?

David Dingwall October 17th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, we have learned that the Prime Minister's Office spoke with David Dingwall before he submitted his letter of resignation. We also know that the Prime Minister knew that Dingwall's remuneration agreement did not include severance. Therefore, severance pay would be entirely at the discretion of the Prime Minister.

I would like to ask, when the Prime Minister spoke with David Dingwall who raised the issue of severance pay? Was it Mr. Dingwall or him?