Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was budget.

Last in Parliament November 2005, as Liberal MP for Hamilton East—Stoney Creek (Ontario)

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

Statements in the House

Speech From The Throne November 7th, 1996

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to have the opportunity to speak this afternoon on the throne speech, a speech which reflects the real needs and concerns of Canadians.

The Liberal government's jobs and growth agenda has provided Canadians with renewed hope for the future and its agenda is focused on creating opportunity for Canadians, through a fiscal climate which encourages investment, through ensuring that our youth have the tools they require in order to fully contribute to Canada's growth and competitiveness and through strengthening our small businesses, a primary source for job creation and innovation.

Today we are faced with a markedly different fiscal situation than the one we faced when we took office. Interest rates are at the lowest point in 38 years and that means Canadians have new opportunities for investment and growth. All Canadians benefit from lower interest rates; from home owners to small businesses in my riding of Lincoln.

Inflationary rates are also at 38-year lows. Lower inflationary rates mean that Canadians can operate in a stable economic environment. They can more confidently plan for their futures.

Nowhere has the government's success in creating a stronger fiscal environment been more evident than in its efforts to reduce the huge deficit inherited when we took office. Indeed, getting the government finances under control has been the most effective way of getting interest rates down.

After program review and rationalization, we have brought government spending under control. Today, we have not only projected that the deficit target of 3 per cent of GDP will be met but this target will be surpassed and in 1998-99 the deficit target of about 1 per cent of GDP will be met.

Clearly the approach to restoring fiscal health has been measured, deliberate and responsible. It has involved carefully reducing spending, restructuring government and strengthening the economy. This approach continues to reflect the desire of Canadians to have their government develop a more sophisticated approach to deficit reduction. It has not imposed greater costs on the greater taxpayer by raising their personal income taxes. Nor has the approach been a slash and burn attempt to get government spending under control.

Borrowing on the backs of our children and grandchildren will soon be in the past. Speaking of our youth, they have been identified as being a vital resource in the continuing effort to stay competitive. Today many young people remain unemployed. Our youth are worried that the future will not hold jobs for them. Employers are saying that there are jobs but that they are having difficulty in finding the skilled labour they need in order to grow and compete. Experts are telling us that the pursuit of education is still important to success in the job market. Far sighted Canadians everywhere argue that the country cannot afford to squander the talents and creativity of our youth. I know that all government members are aware of these concerns and are actively seeking solutions. Clearly, young people need more help in making the transition into the working world. They need more help in getting that crucial first job.

The government has doubled its summer employment programs. It has also made a commitment to work with the provinces and with the private sector. This type of co-operation is being encouraged at all levels. Canadians want to know that all their elected officials are working together, no matter what jurisdiction they represent.

In this process, partnerships are essential. Many Canadians have expressed that only partnerships can solve the short and long term challenges of youth unemployment. More needs to be done for our

youth and they can be assured that progress will be made because on this side of the House it has been made a priority.

Let me also address the role of small businesses in our economy and in our country. Small businesses are the backbone of the economic community of my riding of Lincoln. This fact is not unusual given that the small business sector is very important to the entire Canadian economy. Indeed, hope for our youth and for the future competitiveness of our country rests with a strong small business sector. Small businesses, including the self-employed, now account for almost two-thirds of all private sector employment and approximately 60 per cent of Canada's economic output.

As a small business owner, I know that the entrepreneurial spirit that drives the small and medium sized business sector needs to be encouraged and fostered because our economic well-being depends on it.

What is the small business community saying? It is saying that access to capital in the start-up and expansion phase is still very important. The banks have done some work in this area and they can point to areas of success where they have increased their access for small business. But the demand is still there.

Small businesses are asking for higher risk debt capital. It is a paradox that there are a number of small businesses in the community which require more funds for start up or for expansion, yet do not have the collateral to support the actual capital requirements. At the same time they have good export ideas. If the capital was available they would be able to expand their business and create employment, adding to the GDP of the country. We need more of what I will call high risk debt capital. We would look at the credit rating of a particular small business person and based on that rating the banks would provide the required capital.

As a government we need to continue to fight and to work toward eliminating the regulatory barriers and the paper burdens. We have made some progress in that area. It is still a concern of small business and the government will continue to work toward the elimination of regulatory barriers and paper burden.

As I mentioned earlier with respect to our youth, there is a need to access skilled workers. There is still a mismatch out there. The small business community requires skilled individuals. It has positions to fill and is crying out, telling us that Canada does not have the skilled workers to fill those jobs. We need to address that, in partnership with the provinces, with the educational and post-secondary institutions. Those are the partnerships that need to be forged to deal with the question of providing skilled workers.

There is also a call from the small business community for a reduction in payroll taxes, for some help in that area because they claim they will be able to create employment if payroll taxes are reduced. There has also been a cry for some direct incentives to hire new employees and for some type of program that would help the micro businesses that may need some assistance and some type of relief. This would allow them to hire the one or two people they need in order to continue to grow, expand and contribute to the GDP of this country, to their local communities and to their local economies.

Those are a number of the issues and concerns brought forward by the small business community not only in my community but I am sure right across the country. This government will continue to work hand in hand with the private sector, with representatives of the small business sector to meet the needs of the small business community.

This government believes that the small business community is the engine and the backbone of the economy. We look to the small business community to assist Canada, to assist this government and to assist all Canadians in working, in being competitive, in being efficient and creating those employment opportunities and jobs. This government will continue to improve the climate for small businesses and certainly will allow them to continue to compete globally. This particular sector of our economy is crucially important.

In terms of what this government has recently done to assist in access to capital for the small business community, the Canada community investment program was announced some weeks ago. Communities from across the country are now participating in pilot projects. We in the Lincoln area were very fortunate to have had the opportunity to partner with the Hamilton, Brantford, Burlington, Haldimand-Norfolk area, along with the Six Nations in submitting an application for the Canada community investment program.

The government will go forward to provide infrastructure dollars to assist local communities in coming together to provide that increased access to capital for small business. Those in small business are the employers and they are the medium size and multinational companies of the future.

Small Business October 22nd, 1996

Mr. Speaker, companies with fewer than five employees spend 8 per cent of their annual revenue, an average of $10,000 per year, just providing information to the federal government.

What has national revenue done to cut costs for small businesses so they can stay focused on productivity and competitiveness?

Petitions June 20th, 1996

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36, it is my honour to table, on behalf of my constituents in Lincoln, a petition calling on Parliament to enact legislation to amend the Young Officers Act so that young offenders who commit a crime causing serious injury or death be treated as adults and face the same penalties as adults.

Youth June 11th, 1996

Mr. Speaker, on May 21, 1996 I had the pleasure of hosting another workshop in my riding of Lincoln, this one focused on the challenges facing our youth.

The issues of concern to today's youth are the issues of concern to all Canadians, issues like effectively addressing the school to work transition, tackling real barriers to labour market entry and understanding the changing world of work.

The government recognizes that without proper investment in the future of our youth Canada will not enjoy a competitive advantage in the 21st century. Funding of programs that encourage entrepreneurship and proper skills training enhance our ability to compete globally.

As a government we have no greater responsibility than to provide the youth of Canada with a country full of opportunities and to prepare them to compete internationally.

Agreement On Internal Trade Implementation Act May 13th, 1996

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak on Bill C-19, an act to implement the agreement on internal trade.

With all the issues we are faced with today, we may sometimes lose sight of how important trade is to Canada. From its very beginnings Canada has been a trading nation. It is the lifeblood of the country. The well-being of all Canadians depends on our ability to create and profit from competitive trading environments at home and abroad.

In the international arena we have been successful in negotiating and participating in a number of multilateral trading agreements. We are a founding partner in the North American Free Trade Agreement which has opened up our trading with the U.S. and Mexico.

Canada is a member of other trade organizations such as the WTO and GATT. We understand the need for formal agreements to set out rules that ensure fair trade between nations and that allow redress when a country fails to live up to the obligations it has accepted.

While we have long accepted the need to have rules of order and to have mechanisms to settle trade disputes on the international front, until recently we did not come to grips with the need to establish a framework to govern trade between provinces and territories within Canada.

We have that framework now in the agreement on internal trade. This bill, by making necessary and appropriate legislative changes within the federal jurisdiction, will enable the federal government to meet its obligations under the agreement and do its part to ensure the agreement is fully implemented.

The agreement on internal trade was signed by the Prime Minister and all other first ministers in July 1994. The agreement

is a made in Canada agreement to govern trade between provinces and territories and to open the domestic market to the freer flow of goods, services, people and capital.

The agreement provides a comprehensive set of rules that requires the reduction of existing ones and which prohibits the erection of new trade barriers. The agreement also sets out specific obligations in ten economic sectors.

It makes undertakings to streamline and harmonize regulations and standards between provinces and territories and has put in place a formal mechanism to resolve domestic trade disputes.

One of the most important points is that the agreement on internal trade, which Bill C-19 implements at the federal level, contains a formal commitment from all its parties, that is, from all 10 provinces and the territories as well as the federal government.

The commitment is to continue the process of trade liberalization within Canada within the framework of the agreement.

The need for this agreement has been well documented. We are all aware of examples of restricted trade practices or regulations which discriminate against certain businesses and labour groups.

These measures range from outright restrictions to bidding on government contracts to regulations affecting the mobility of labour or professionals between provinces, to differing standards for food or beverage products from one jurisdiction to the other.

We need to reduce these barriers through interprovincial trade in goods and services and to remove restrictions on the movement of people and capital within the domestic marketplace. The problems the agreement on internal trade is designed to address were built up over a long period.

Since Confederation there has developed in Canada a tangle of measures both well intentioned and deliberately protectionist which have prohibited interprovincial trade and restricted the free flow of persons, goods and services and capital between provinces.

Our government and all governments in Canada have come under strong pressures from the business community to change the scenario and to deal with the problems associated with internal barriers to trade and with the conflicting regulations on cross border flows of people and capital.

We have had representations from many leading business groups such as the Chamber of Commerce, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, the Canadian Construction Association and the Canadian Manufacturers' Association, to name a few.

It is important to point out this is not just big business speaking out. Small and medium size enterprises also feel the negative consequences of barriers to trade between provinces and territories. The criticism and pressure is not just that of isolated interest groups; it has come for sound economic reasons.

These barriers put Canadians and Canadian businesses at a comparative disadvantage by restricting the size of the domestic marketplace, the ability to develop competitive skills as well as abilities that allow Canadian businesses to compete globally.

In a time of increasing global competition and more open markets in other parts of the world this can have the additional negative impact of putting Canadian businesses at a disadvantage to international competitors even in our own marketplace. It is no wonder that a recent survey by the Canadian Chamber of Commerce found that 67 per cent of Canadian businesses thought governments were not moving fast enough to eliminate internal trade barriers and impediments.

There is a cost to labour and to consumers. Overall it has been estimated that barriers to trade within Canada cost Canadians in the order of $7 billion annually in direct jobs and income loss. This problem has a direct impact on all parts of Canada and on all elements of society.

Governments have become the subject of pressure from the internal market issue. The reason is that it is quite simply wrong for any Canadian government for whatever local politically expedient reason to discriminate against Canadians because of where they live or work, because of where they learned or developed their skills and first had them recognized, because of where they bank or do business or because of where they sell or manufacture their goods and services.

The economic cost to Canada is high. Internal barriers and impediments tear at our national fabric. It is a cause for which governments must bear responsibility. We in the House can do something to help correct the situation by passing this bill. Internal trade is not just a federal government issue. It ranks high on the agenda of all of the provinces.

When the provincial and territorial leaders met at the annual premiers conference in St. John's, Newfoundland they renewed their commitment to the objective of reducing barriers to the free movement of persons, goods, services and investment in Canada. This agreement belongs to all of its parties. Its implementation is the responsibility of all of its parties, not just that of the federal government.

In order to address some misunderstandings of parts of the bill and to make manifest the intentions of the government, the Minister of Industry introduced amendments that made clear the exact scope for federal action under the agreement's dispute settlement procedures.

The legislation before us now is the result of a long process of negotiation and consultation that has involved Canadians of different political persuasions and with different regional perspectives. Even with these different perspectives and priorities the result has been agreement on the basic rules and framework for ongoing intergovernmental co-operation on domestic trade and other economic issues. The agreement on internal trade has give us that framework. Bill C-19 meets the obligations of the federal government to implement that agreement.

We must turn the page on what divides us and work toward economic solutions for Canadians. Together we can better meet the challenges and bring changes that are necessary. That is why this bill is important to all Canadians. That is why I support passage of this legislation through the House.

Petitions May 13th, 1996

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36, it is an honour for me to present a petition on behalf of the constituents of Lincoln. The petition is signed by 410 constituents who are calling on Parliament not to amend the Constitution as requested by the Government of Newfoundland and to refer the problem of educational reform in that province back to the Government of Newfoundland for resolution by some other non-constitutional procedure.

Supply April 23rd, 1996

Mr. Speaker, I would like to be recorded as voting with the government on the amendment.

Young Offenders March 21st, 1996

Mr. Speaker, recently a constituent of mine, Mrs. Ferraro, lost her son in a tragic head-on collision. A young person has been charged.

In the hopes that no other family will have to suffer such a loss and experience her family's pain, Mrs. Ferraro circulated and collected the names of 7,785 Canadians requesting that Parliament take stronger actions against young offenders who commit a crime causing serious injury or death. These young offenders should be treated as adults and given stronger punishments.

I encourage all members of the House to work with the Minister of Justice and the members of the justice committee to see that changes to the Young Offenders Act are made. Being a young person is not and should not be an excuse for committing crimes causing serious injury or death.

It will be my honour to present this petition to the Minister of Justice on behalf of Mrs. Ferraro and her late son.

Borrowing Authority Act, 1996-97 March 21st, 1996

Mr. Speaker, again we are on the constant downward trend. We are meeting our economic targets of reducing the deficit and ultimately dealing with the debt. We are not doing it in a slash and burn fashion, which is how Ontario is doing it.

The easiest thing for us to do would be simply to come forward, slash and burn, and get the numbers down. However, that is not the goal in and of itself. We must take a balanced approach in dealing with the debt and deficit. We must deal with social programs. We cannot cripple the economy because we want to hit a certain number. We have to be balanced, measured and determined.

When we talk about tax reform, when we talk about wanting to change things, we have to get the fundamentals in place in order to deal with the main objectives of jobs and growth in the economy. That is what we are committed to on this side of the House. We are going to deal with it.

With respect to changes in taxes, we are talking about fairness, what is equitable. We made some of those changes in the last budget and we will continue to do so as we move into the following budget and the next election.

Borrowing Authority Act, 1996-97 March 21st, 1996

Mr. Speaker, I have to dispute the polling that was done. Certainly the polling I am doing in Lincoln states that the credibility of members of Parliament is increasing. Read the commentary that is out there.

I would be interested in seeing the poll, its sample and its size. Better still, I would like to see the question that was posed in order to get the response which the hon. member was looking for. I know there is always some doubt when we talk about the question here in the House.

The hon. member asked what we were doing with respect to the debt. Again, let us talk basic economics. We need to tackle the deficit before we can talk about the debt. We need to put the fundamentals in place.

It is astonishing to me when I hear comments which suggest that the party opposite or the member opposite is not concerned about the debt. No one in the House is supportive of putting a burden on our future generations.

We are committed to getting our fiscal house in order. We are committed to putting the fundamentals in place. We are committed to dealing with the debt. However, we have to deal with the deficit first.