Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was religious.

Last in Parliament November 2005, as Liberal MP for Ancaster—Dundas—Flamborough—Westdale (Ontario)

Lost his last election, in 2006, with 35% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Privilege November 3rd, 2005

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I am sure there will be a relevant question relating to the issue about the question of privilege, and the abuse of the 10 percenters and householders. I respectfully ask that the member move to that point now.

Pacific Gateway Act October 31st, 2005

Madam Speaker, I commend the hon. member for his remarks and his indication of support for the proposal for the Pacific gateway.

I come from Ontario, where we believe that the Pacific gateway will benefit us too. Because all of us in this country are the recipients of products that are shipped from coast to coast to coast, if access from the Pacific area is indeed improved substantially, the infrastructure and all the transportation linkages will improve. This gateway proposal is meant to benefit the four western provinces initially, but I am sure it will provide benefits to us in Ontario as well.

The member can realize benefits for his constituency as a result of this proposal, which he indicated is a good start. When it gets to committee there will be further suggestions. I would request that he expand upon how this proposal would affect his riding in particular. Perhaps he could provide some suggestions that could make a good idea even better.

Fall Fairs October 17th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, as autumn fades about us, I wish to recognize the important contribution that local fall fairs make to our communities each year. The fair board members and volunteers contribute long hours to highlight our regions' rich agricultural bounty and provide a showcase for local talent while bringing urban and rural folk together for an experience that is both educational and entertaining.

I want to congratulate the Ancaster Agricultural Society on celebrating the 155th anniversary of the Ancaster Fair and the Rockton Agricultural Society on celebrating the 153rd anniversary of the Rockton World's Fair.

I want to thank all those who contribute to the success of this important tradition that enriches our lives and celebrates our agricultural community each and every fall.

Parliament of Canada Act October 7th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for Sackville—Eastern Shore for bringing the bill forward for debate before the House today. He has my assurance that I will seriously consider his suggestion about speaking to my constituents about this. His latter suggestion was that if we were in opposition to what he was proposing, we should go back and talk to our constituents. Not only myself, but I would suggest a vast majority of members on this side of the House are not in support of the bill.

Bill C-251 raises very important issues for our government and the people it represents. Should members of Parliament be required to vacate their seats if they leave their political party between elections? It is our duty to debate the bill today and discuss its merits for Canadian democracy.

Other countries have struggled with this issue and it has been floated in and out of our Parliament in the form of private members' bills not less than five times in the past few years. Of those times, only once has the issue of requiring a byelection for changing party affiliation been fully debated. That time was when that member's Bill C-218 was debated in the second session of the 37th Parliament.

When we compare the circumstances of that debate and this one, three key differences stand out on whether Bill C-251 should be adopted by the House.

When the crossing the floor bill was last debated, like most private members' business, it was non-votable. In 2003 the entire manner of doing private members' business changed. Now the accepted presumption for private members' items is that they will be votable. This is significant. Individual MPs have more power than ever to influence the legislative agenda, to make law and to create policy.

Through motions, bills and concurrence motions for committee reports, members are acting as independent legislators in the House. In a fair and equal process, individual members get the opportunity to have their items heard through a draw to be placed on the list from which the order of precedence is created. Members can be put on the list regardless of party affiliation or the aim of their motions and bills.

Notably the space that private members' business offers is often distinct from the member's own party's agenda. For private members' business, many local constituency concerns get voiced in legislative form. The ability to address local issues in a national forum is invaluable to complementing the work of the federal government. In addition, individual MPs get to voice their own initiatives and policies that may not be reflected on any party agenda, injecting novel and interesting issues into the parliamentary process.

This difference in the manner in which private members' business works is momentous in the way this place operates. Last time, a significant portion of the speaking time of the member for Sackville—Eastern Shore was spent speaking to the point of non-votability rather than the merits. Today, we get to have a full debate on the merits because the bill has the potential to become law.

Indeed, the hon. member for Sackville—Eastern Shore acknowledged in a recent interview with the Hill Times that “The beauty of private members' business is you don't need caucus consent”. Because it is not dependent on party politics, he or she can bring his or her bill to the House, even though support for it is not consistent in his or her own party or others.

The second difference between today's debate and that of the last Parliament is intimately related to the way in which we do business in the House. In the current minority government context, governing in a common purpose is the best way for all members of the House to transcend party lines to improve the lives of all Canadians. We are each joined by a commitment to unity and an inclusion of all regions and all voices on the national stage.

As such, to complement the changes in the standing orders around private members' business, the government has worked diligently to improve the processes of government, infusing the spirit of inclusion throughout our public institutions. For instance, parliamentarians are increasingly involved in key government appointments and are more empowered to affect the government policy in parliamentary committees. All these measures are aimed at renewing Canadian democracy so we can be effective in representing the people of Canada.

However, Bill C-251 presumes that we operate under a completely different electoral and political framework. By requiring members to leave Parliament if they change their party, Bill C-251 ignores the function of MPs as “individual parliamentarians” and places a primacy on party politics over democratic governance.

Governing in a common purpose should be about seeking to build partnerships and compromises on important issues facing Canadians. In contrast, Bill C-251 seeks to entrench factionalism and create discord between parliamentarians. The bill disregards shifting circumstances that may legitimately drive an MP to change parties between elections.

This disregard is closely related to the third difference between the last debate on crossing the floor and this one. That was a time of great transition in the House. New parties were being formed, membership was splitting and merging, and the degree of party switching understandably heightened. Technically, some members changed their party affiliation more than once or even twice.

Were the provisions of Bill C-251 actually in place, there would not have been enough time to set up byelections between party changes from Reform to Alliance to Democratic Reform to Progressive Conservative to Conservative. The resulting cost to taxpayers and the administrative burden on Elections Canada would have been enormous. Would such byelections have really furthered Canadian democracy? I would suggest no.

Historically, MPs in Canada, as in England, have used floor crossing as a necessary last resort in seeking better ways of representing their electorate. Over time, many parties have divided or transformed as they try to structure the best organization for serving the people. The creation of new parties to accommodate regional or grassroots interests is a primary example of civic engagement and democratic participation.

Bill C-251 would capture all these instances of party changes, expanding the vulnerability of a member's seat far beyond anything that we have ever seen. Currently, aside from death and conviction of a very specific set of criminal acts, members are secure in their elected positions.

This system creates an environment that lends confidence and power to the individual member to act as she or he believes is in the best interests of the people and the people that they represent. Bill C-251 would turn this system on its head, essentially according party leaders the power to eject members from Parliament if they then sit with another party in the House.

Much has changed since this bill was last debated in the House. Changing circumstances are the business of politics. It is what we address and manage to protect and advance the lives of Canadians. Sometimes that change requires changing parties, building new alliances or reorganizing our current ones. For that to entail a loss of our status as a member of Parliament, our mandate from the people, is an unprecedented step that does not strengthen our democracy.

Members have more power to influence government than ever before and we should each be harnessing this power to govern with the common purpose of improving our country. This is why I personally, and as I have indicated the vast majority I expect on this side of the House, cannot support Bill C-251. The issues it raises are important, but the measures it proposes are counterproductive.

Each member of the House wants to strengthen and renew Canadian democracy. This is why we entered politics and came to Ottawa. That is the reason why I came here. Revoking a member's elected mandate because they change parties moves us backwards rather than forward toward this goal. I urge all parliamentarians in this House to reject this bill for this reason.

Relief Aid International October 7th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, I wish to recognize the efforts of the students and faculty of McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario for their hard work in creating a lasting response to the plight of the tsunami devastated people in the village of Kinniya, Sri Lanka.

Led by Professor Alison Miculan and Sri Lankan born Noor Nizam, the group has developed Relief Aid International, a voluntary NGO within the McMaster University community and the community of Hamilton at large, in response to last year's disaster. Almost $600,000 has been raised to date and contractors have started work on the project that will see the establishment of a vocational training centre, a manufacturing warehouse, a boat building facility and a school renovated and expanded to accommodate the village children.

I ask my fellow members to join me in congratulating the McMaster community on their tsunami relief efforts.

Amendment to Income Tax Act Regulations October 6th, 2005

Madam Speaker, I agree that there is absolutely no reason for us to have a discussion on this. However, since we are, I would like to participate in it. I would like to add to what my hon. colleague has already stated. I believe it is instructive to consider briefly some key aspects of our history when it comes to the taxation of foreign source income.

Prior to 1972 Canadian corporations could earn any type of foreign source income through subsidiaries located anywhere abroad and bring that income home to Canada as tax free dividends, as long as the Canadian company owned just 25% of the voting shares of the subsidiary. This meant that even passive types of income, such as interest on bonds, could be earned through subsidiaries in tax havens and brought back to Canada tax free.

This situation was rectified by the tax reform of 1972, when the basic features of our international tax system were put in place. Since 1972 Canada has taken a threefold approach to the taxation of foreign source income. First, active business income earned by subsidiaries can be brought home to the Canadian parent tax free if it is earned in a country with whom Canada has a tax treaty.

Second, active business income earned in a non-treaty country is taxable in Canada, but only when it is returned to Canada with a credit for any tax paid in the foreign jurisdiction. Third, passive income, such as interest or dividends on portfolio holdings, is imputed back to Canadian corporations or individuals and taxed in their hands on a current basis with a credit for foreign taxes, whether or not that income has actually been sent home to Canada.

This threefold approach has helped Canada to balance the goals of providing a competitive tax system for Canadian businesses to engage in active businesses in treaty countries. There are 80 of them now and I am sure it will build. At the same time, it prevents abuses involving the sheltering of assets to earn passive income in tax havens.

I believe the background I have just outlined highlights a key problem with the motion before us. The motion is aimed at active business income earned by Canadian companies through subsidiaries located in a treaty country, in this case Barbados. Those subsidiaries are used by Canadian companies to invest directly in Barbados and as financing structures to invest indirectly in other treaty countries.

The aim of this motion is to deny these subsidiaries the ability to send home profits to Canada as exempt dividends, even though those profits represent earnings from an active business there. However, that is precisely the kind of income that we intend to be exempt from Canadian tax when it is earned in a treaty country. The motion seems oblivious to the basic features of Canada's policy for the taxation of foreign source income and it should not receive the support of the House.

Workplace Psychological Harassment Prevention Act September 30th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, we have a policy to prevent harassment in the Public Service of Canada. It defines harassment as any improper conduct by an individual that is directed at and offensive to another person or persons in the workplace and that the individual knew or ought reasonably to have known would cause offence or harm. It comprises any objectionable act, comment or display that demeans, belittles or causes personal humiliation or embarrassment and any act of intimidation or threat. It includes harassment within the meaning of the Canadian Human Rights Act.

Our goal is to eliminate harassment from the workplace. There is no place at all for harassment of any type in any work setting, period. The key to achieving this is the creation of a positive working environment where any interpersonal conflict is managed early and well. The Public Service of Canada has been successful in reducing sexual harassment significantly and our efforts to eliminate other forms of harassment will be equally fruitful.

We take the problem very seriously and we are trying to deal with it from every possible angle. Harassment cases are often very complex and not easy to identify and solve. Our approach aims not only at helping employees who are victims of harassment, but creating a healthy working environment for everybody.

In fact, through the Public Service Modernization Act and our other important initiatives, the Public Service Human Resources Management Agency of Canada aims to provide the leadership and the focus needed to foster and sustain modern, effective, results-driven people management and leadership across the public service. Through excellence in HR management, the agency's ultimate goal is to enable public service organizations to deliver quality services to Canadians while upholding the values of integrity, transparency and accountability.

A fundamental component of this broad agenda is the development of government-wide leadership to support a strong culture of public service values and ethics. The Office of Public Service Values and Ethics was created to provide authoritative, high level leadership to the public service on values and ethics at a critical time.

In our responsibilities for dealing with harassment, we have focused on prevention and early resolution, and we have taken steps to increase awareness of harassment dynamics. Among other things, we continue to hold workshops in conjunction with the unions and we regularly meet with departmental coordinators for the prevention and resolution of harassment.

As well, we designed a practical online course on the prevention and resolution of harassment. This online course is accessible and free to all public servants. It is based on the key people and ethical values conveyed in the new Values and Ethics Code for the Public Service that came into effect September 1, 2003. Respect, diversity, integrity and responsibility are the key elements of that code.

The Values and Ethics Code sets forth the values and ethics of public service, to guide and support public servants in all their professional activities. Of the four families of values in public service, the cornerstone is people values; that public servants demonstrate respect, fairness and courtesy in their dealings with both citizens and their fellow public servants. We believe that respect for human dignity and the value of every person should always inspire the exercise of authority and responsibilities, and that people's values reinforce the wider range of public service values. Those who are treated with fairness and civility will be motivated to display these values in their own conduct and in return.

Adherence to the Values and Ethics Code for the Public Service is a condition of a public servant's employment. There are various ways in which a public servant can bring forward complaints about breaches of the code and many avenues for these situations to be resolved. They have the support of their unions through grievance processes. Concerns about wrongdoings can be made to either their internal disclosure office or to the public service integrity officer. Harassment complaints are managed through departmental specialists. Those who are found to be in breach of the code, to have committed a wrongdoing or to have committed harassment are subject to discipline up to and including the termination of employment.

We are aware of the critical role that managers and leaders play in developing harassment-free workplaces. We offer expert advice to managers at all levels on how to address difficult and problem situations before they escalate into harassment situations. Further, we are working to continuously improve the harassment policy and, most critically, its implementation in the departments.

The last policy update goes back to 2001.

It is now the subject of a major review in cooperation with employees, managers, experts and bargaining officers. The objective is to better understand and deal with the circumstances leading to harassment so that we can improve the success of our prevention efforts and so that we can resolve harassment cases more efficiently and more rapidly when they arise.

One new and successful method for leading improvements in departments is the management accountability framework, MAF, which sets out the expectations for sound management in the public service. Expectations are framed in relation to, among other things, people values. With the use of clear indicators, the MAF provides public service managers with a comprehensive and integrated model for assessing process and progress, and measuring results in departments and agencies, as well as strengthening accountability at all levels across government. In other words, not only is creating a healthy workplace for all an established goal, we will measure our progress toward achieving it.

In addition, each department and agency is now required to establish systems to ensure that employees at all levels have access to informal conflict management, ICM, assistance. The mandatory requirement for ICM represents an integral part of the new labour relations regime and a public service-wide availability. The use of ICM is expected to revolutionize the manner in which complaints are dealt with in most organizations. ICM is seen as the driver of cultural change in the workplace.

Informal conflict resolution is a vital method for bringing about the desired new HR management culture, ensuring departments or agencies in the core public administration will have a tailored system in place that enables and supports the informal resolution of workplace conflict rather than strictly adhering to formal redress mechanisms.

In short, we are working to ensure that managers are better equipped with people management skills, such as conflict resolution, facilitation, mediation, conciliation and coaching skills and that employees benefit from access to a wide range of options for dealing with workplace conflict.

We believe that the elimination of harassment depends on the commitment and cooperation of everybody in the workplace. We want our employees to feel free to raise issues without fear of harassment so that the problems can be resolved inside the organization. That objective is also in line with the professional and democratic values enunciated in the Code.

I am proud of the quality of service our employees provide to Canadians. Our public service is a dynamic organization that is continually renewing itself to maintain those high standards of service. It is understood that we can never take our achievements for granted. In this broader context we are placing a greater emphasis on accountability. Senior managers of some departments are being assessed on the basis of our new management accountability framework which is designed to enhance general management performance, including reduction of harassment in the workplace.

In conclusion, our commitment to values and ethics in support of respectful workplaces has been shaping our overall approach. We intend to build our capacity to make ethical decisions in everyday dealings and transactions. We have a new code and a lot of work is being done in departments to weave values and ethics into every aspect of work reality.

Departments are also reviewing their harassment prevention and resolution processes to improve rigour and credibility. We are confident that we are making progress and the numbers will show this progress in the future.

Carnegie Gallery September 30th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, it is a great privilege to rise in the House today to recognize the 25th anniversary of the Carnegie Gallery, home to the Dundas Art and Craft Association situated in historic downtown Dundas, Ontario.

The mandate of the Dundas Art and Craft Association is to promote and encourage the appreciation and production of Canadian art, especially through local artists in my region of Ancaster—Dundas—Flamborough—Westdale and the environs.

The gallery provides an educational resource both for members and for the community at large and serves as a forum where artists and craftspeople may dialogue and share knowledge and experience.

The Carnegie provides our community with access to art exhibitions of excellent quality and has been a driving force contributing to the vitality and development of the arts in the Hamilton area for years.

An Act to Authorize the Minister of Finance to Make Certain Payments June 20th, 2005

Madam Speaker, I commend the hon. member for his comments in this debate. Perhaps he will be able to explain to the House something which I find difficult to understand. All the dialogue that we have had led to the successful vote that was participated in by all last week on Bill C-43. There clearly was a positive contribution from the Conservative Party, the NDP and the Liberal Party in support of Bill C-43 and all the elements that are associated with it. There is the infusion of money for cities and communities, the movement toward the project green and the Kyoto protocol. There are so many good things, including the Atlantic accord which benefits certainly the hon. member and the area that he represents.

If Bill C-43 was so good for the members of his party just the other week, why are they having a problem with the enhancement to Bill C-43 that is contained in Bill C-48?

Child Soldiers June 17th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour of rising in the House today to discuss the efforts of a number of students in my riding to make the world a safer place for children.

Bryan Vanderkruk, Allison Klimeck-Stark and Brad Fonseca of the Hamilton District Christian High School have formed the Making A Difference Political Involvement Group. Working in collaboration with like-minded students from Hamilton's Westmount Secondary School and the St. Thomas Moore Catholic Secondary School, the students are trying to stop the use of child soldiers in armed conflict.

The students would like to see Canada play a leading role in bringing attention to this horrible tragedy that affects an estimated 300,000 children worldwide. I ask my colleagues to join me in saluting the efforts of these students to see that the practice of using child soldiers will not be tolerated.