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

Resumption of debate on Address in Reply October 19th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, as we are all aware, back in 1987, a previous government introduced the Canadian water bill and in it provided some assistance toward the development of a national strategy for water. Unfortunately, shortly thereafter it was outdated. Clearly, in concert with all sides of the government, we will work together to ensure that the new information, whether it is contamination or the introduction of unnecessary chemicals, will be worked out.

I had the opportunity to actively participate in a founding meeting of the Canadian Water Council. The concern that the hon. member raises was raised there. A speaker from the federal government was there. We are aggressively working on looking at all the contributions to our water supply, whether they are natural or engineered.

I ask the hon. member to be assured that discussions in the environmental and sustainable development committee will deal with that, and very quickly the government will introduce legislation that will work hand in hand with the provinces and territories to address her concern.

Resumption of debate on Address in Reply October 19th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with another member.

I am proud to stand in this historic chamber and address my esteemed colleagues as well as my constituents who have shown their confidence in me by electing me to this Parliament. I am overwhelmed to have the opportunity to take my place with colleagues of such diverse accomplishments; from academics to physicians, to musicians, to CEOs, to representatives of the agriculture and fishery sectors.

We all have one thing in common. We believe that Canada is the most wonderful country in the world, a country where diversity of background and respect for differences shape the engine that drives our economy and the dynamic that maintains our uniqueness, our independence and our steadfastness even while competing interests try to erode these very qualities that are so essential to the ways we define ourselves as Canadians.

Ancaster—Dundas—Flamborough—Westdale is a reconfigured riding. It is a microcosm of all the lifestyles embodied in the Canadian landscape. Ancaster is a suburban area of substantial farms, gracious properties and stately homes. Flamborough comprises a rich diversity of quaint towns and hamlets with varied agricultural products, including beef, dairy and farm produce. Westdale is a suburb of the city of Hamilton with a true sense of community. Dundas, my hometown, is a charming and historic community with many preserved heritage buildings and a distinct and lively business and retail core. It is the area that I represented on various municipal councils for almost 20 years.

There are distinct historical connections between my riding and the House. The Hon. Thomas Bain of the former Wentworth North riding was a Speaker of the House of Commons at the turn of the 20th century. The tricorne hats that you, Mr. Speaker, and your counterpart in the other place wear, are made by John McMicking of Dundas.

The Valley City Manufacturing Company, formerly known as Valley City Seating Company, designed and constructed all the MPs' desks, with the exception of those in the front row, as well as several of the speakers' chairs. Some of the furnishings in the parliamentary dining room were also made by the same firm.

My riding is home to the world renowned McMaster University, famous for its medical school, teaching hospitals and research centres. It was my employer for over 25 years. My riding is also home to Redeemer University College, the first faith-based college or school in Canada to be granted university status.

Vast areas of protected green space include the Royal Botanical Gardens, the Hamilton and Halton conservation areas, hills, ravines and hiking trails, terrain which is very unusual in an urban environment.

A truly distinctive feature is that Ancaster—Dundas—Flamborough—Westdale is significantly impacted by four major modes of transport, namely the John C. Munro Hamilton International Airport, our Great Lakes port in Hamilton harbour, the 400 series of highways and national railways.

Notwithstanding the pride I take in being the first federal representative of this new riding, I am using this opportunity to communicate with my constituents both my appreciation and my blueprint outlining how I plan to represent them. I hope to confirm their confidence in sending me to represent them as their member of Parliament.

To date I have been appointed to two standing committees and two caucus committees. The Standing Committee on the Status of Women will likely be addressing matters of violence against women, workplace equity and human rights.

Women comprise more than half of our population and the majority is now in the labour force. Whether women are working outside the home because of financial need, which is most often the case, or to practise a profession that they have invested both time and money in acquiring, it is incumbent upon us as the committee responsible for the status of women to ensure that we devise the necessary measures to achieve equity in compensation. It is incumbent upon us to create support systems that facilitate full participation of women in the marketplace, the professions and political life.

My government has already embarked on a program to ensure that we achieve those goals as outlined in the Speech from the Throne. We have created a Minister of Social Development and a minister of state responsible for seniors, caregivers and persons with disabilities. We will develop a national child care program so that all women who wish to work or need to work outside the home will have access to superior support services for their children, their elderly ailing family members, or their disabled dependants.

There will be choices. For the first time in our history we are developing a network of services that will structure the environment to enhance the quality of life for the primary caregivers in our society. These are my priorities and they are my government's priorities.

My other standing committee is government operations and estimates. This committee is the oversight mechanism for all federal government expenditures and for quality control in the public service. I eagerly anticipate the opportunity to participate in the review of how the various government departments spend the taxpayers' money. I am keen to share this information with my constituents as it becomes available.

I also participate in the Liberal caucus committee on cities and communities, an area of special interest for me. In my previous life I was a member of Dundas town, Hamilton-Wentworth regional, and Hamilton city councils. I was fortunate to be re-elected seven times. Throughout my long service at the municipal level, I have had many opportunities to access various aspects about the problems and the solutions.

I am happy to say that my government's commitment to infrastructure and social structure is both timely and essential. The largest portion of Canadian life is organized in tandem with municipal life, hence maintenance enhancement of vital elements such as transit, roads, clean water and sewers are the lifeblood of dynamic and thriving urban, suburban and rural environments.

Targeting cities and communities for upkeep and refurbishment can be the driver for many related outcomes, such as civic pride, which in turn can lead to higher levels of education and employment and lower levels of crime and ennui.

I eagerly anticipate the opportunity to contribute to the cities and communities portfolio and in particular my own area of expertise, water quality, which I have travelled afar to share with citizens in such places as the Czech Republic, Japan, Africa and Central America.

The discussion of water, both quality and availability, leads me to another area of interest both to me and to my government. I am pleased that the new Minister of the Environment has mapped out a blueprint prioritizing sustainable development that is both forward looking on the environment preservation front and also essential for Canada to stay competitive in the manufacturing and export sectors. This will be an exciting agenda, one which I believe will galvanize Canadians and lead us to focus on a broad scale on how we can achieve superior results by applying a lighter footprint on our natural environment.

We will also be honouring our commitment to the Kyoto accord. Hence we will be working together with our European and now our Russian partners to ensure these goals are met. At the same time there will remain various purely environmental issues, such as the dumping of toxic waste in our offshore waters, ensuring drinking water free of contaminants and perhaps embarking aggressively on an inventory of our water sources, both above and below ground level. I eagerly anticipate leading the charge on that front as soon as the opportunity presents itself.

I will close with a final expression to my constituents and my colleagues in this House on both sides of the floor. I have come here with the intention of representing my constituents and working in the spirit of cooperation to prove that a minority government can indeed work to the betterment of everyone.

Resumption of Debate on Address in Reply October 19th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, my supplemental question is that the hon. member addressed the elements about the rural and agricultural issues, about which he is very clearly concerned. He referenced the minimal words in the Speech from the Throne. It is very clear that our government is working very productively. We are working with the various ministries and communities.

Is his concern the fact that it was only mentioned in what he considers a minuscule way in the throne speech or are there some concerns about the issues and approaches being taken by the government?

Resumption of Debate on Address in Reply October 19th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, adding on to the question of the hon. member from the New Democratic Party, he raised the issue about the Kyoto protocol. I would like the member to expand on that.

My recollection is that during the election the member's party indicated there was no support from the Conservative Party with regard to the continuing efforts and involvement in the Kyoto protocol. At this time the member is pointing his finger at us on this side of the House. Perhaps he would like to go further. There is condemnation on us, but there was a position taken quite to the contrary, and I do not know if it was by the member personally or the party. Would the member wish to comment on that?

I have a supplemental question on rural issues, too.

International Interests in Mobile Equipment (aircraft equipment) Act October 18th, 2004

Madam Speaker, although it is not applicable to the bill before us, the member's concern is very valid. My riding is currently under duress as a result of the steel industry, which indirectly affects his industry and the Auto Pact area. Clearly, our desire to introduce this legislation early shows that we have an extreme concern about the aviation industry.

I ask the member to be assured that our interest of ensuring that the automotive industry, the steel industry and everything else which is important to the industrialized communities in our country will be looked after in an expeditious manner. All ministries are working expeditiously to ensure the legislation is brought forward.

International Interests in Mobile Equipment (aircraft equipment) Act October 18th, 2004

Madam Speaker, clearly, the answer I will provide will not totally satisfy her. However, the Minister of Transport, his parliamentary secretary and various other ministries are working aggressively to ensure that we develop a very positive and proactive national strategy for our aviation industry, to provide new jobs and to ensure that there is safety of not only our assets, but also for the travellers. We will keep all members of the House advised as the information plays out.

International Interests in Mobile Equipment (aircraft equipment) Act October 18th, 2004

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to expand upon the introductory comments made by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport. I will take this opportunity to outline some of the anticipated benefits of adopting the proposed act on international interests in mobile equipment, that is, aircraft equipment, known as Bill C-4.

I believe we all agree that a strong, competitive aviation industry is an important component of Canada's economy in the 21st century. Adopting this bill will help the Canadian airline and aerospace industries compete more effectively in the global economy by facilitating their access to capital markets.

On March 31 of this year Canada signed the convention on international interests in mobile equipment and the protocol to the convention on international interests in mobile equipment on matters specific to aircraft equipment. The convention and protocol will establish an international framework for the financing of aircraft equipment. Within this framework, the value of the aircraft would be used as security for payment, like a mortgage or a lease.

Adopting legislation to implement the convention and protocol will reduce the financial risk to creditors, allowing them to access greater levels of financing available for aircraft purchasing. This would translate into lower costs for airlines purchasing or leasing aircraft, which would enhance their competitiveness and strengthen the airline and aerospace sectors. The expected result is a direct positive impact on airline earnings, investment and overall profitability.

Among the benefits of implementation are: greater security for creditors; an increase in the global competitiveness of the Canadian aerospace and airline industries; maintaining jobs in Canada; and spinoff effects for various regions within Canada. If Canada ratifies the convention and protocol and adopts implementing legislation in a timely manner, Canadian purchasers will be able to benefit from reduced exposure fees.

For example, in the United States, the U.S. Export-Import Bank is offering a one-third reduction in its exposure fee to companies whose home states have signed, ratified and implemented the convention and protocol before September 30, 2005. This offer recognizes that reducing uncertainty translates into lower costs. This kind of advantage would contribute to the industry's competitiveness. As the Canadian aviation industry becomes more cost competitive, the benefits could be passed on to consumers through increased airline service and lower fares.

A healthy aviation industry will of course translate into more jobs for Canadians. As airlines become more competitive and grow, they will expand their workforce. This has associated spinoff benefits for the aircraft manufacturing sector also. The airline and aerospace manufacturing industries generate many highly paid, specialized jobs. The importance of such jobs and their spinoff effects on the economy cannot be ignored.

Alberta and western Canada will benefit from WestJet's increased competitiveness. As the home of Air Canada, Jetsgo, Pratt & Whitney Canada and Bombardier, Quebec will no doubt enjoy a boost in its economy, and the presence of CanJet and Pratt & Whitney Canada in eastern Canada will provide a positive economic impact for these provinces.

Smaller airlines across the country will also enjoy the benefits created by the convention and protocol. In addition, aircraft manufacturers and their numerous subcontractors throughout Canada will be positively affected by the increased certainty that the convention and protocol will generate.

In short, adopting this bill will be an important step toward strengthening Canada's aviation industry, which will generate competitive and other spinoff benefits across this country.

Agriculture October 14th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, I respectfully request the opportunity to direct the following question to the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food.

Currently the United States government is severely restricting the importation of Canadian grown cut flowers at the Windsor and Niagara, Ontario borders. This measure affects producers in my riding alone to the tune of $1 million a week.

What action is the government taking to alleviate this serious disruption in trade?

Access to Information October 8th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Justice. Recently the Information Commissioner tabled his annual report. In this new era of openness and transparency, what did he have to say about the government's record, especially in comparison to previous administrations?