Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was rural.

Last in Parliament November 2005, as Liberal MP for Parry Sound—Muskoka (Ontario)

Lost his last election, in 2006, with 40% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Social Security System February 2nd, 1994

Mr. Speaker, the way we are going to help the poor in this country is with what has been said for the last three weeks over and over again. We are going to help the poor by getting them back to work in this country, by giving them jobs, by creating jobs, by creating an environment in which the small business sector can create jobs.

That is how one gives them dignity. That is how one is able to afford it. The red book has outlined a policy through 122 pages. It details very clearly how we are going to renew the economy in this country, how we are going to put people back to work and how the poor will take care of themselves when they have those jobs.

Social Security System February 2nd, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his question.

There is indeed a great deal of difference between my point of view, which is a Liberal point of view, and that of the Reform Party. It begins with where we start. If we begin our deliberations from a simple bottom line, which is need, then we are going to end up where the Reform Party is going to end up.

Liberals do not do that. We begin with the need of the individual Canadian. We believe in the dignity of individual Canadians. We believe in that unwritten social contract of the last 50 years where we as Canadians have believed that we have responsibilities to each other.

As I said in my speech, we believe we will not allow Canadians to fall below a certain level. People will not die in this country for lack of medical services, they will not go hungry in this country for lack of food, and they will not die exposed for lack of shelter, because Liberal governments in the last 50 years have constructed a social policy in this country that has protected individual Canadians, and we as a government in 1994 are not going to try to dismantle it but find a way to make it continue so that we will continue to serve Canadians. We will continue with that social contact so that my children and my children's children will enjoy the benefits of what Liberal governments for the last 50 years have been able to accomplish.

Social Security System February 2nd, 1994

Mr. Speaker, with this referral of the review of social policy to a standing committee, our government is about to embark on what I consider to be the most important undertaking during its first term.

If we are to bring about social justice to this country, if we are to have any ability to bring our financial house in order, if we are to find new and innovative ways of conducting business in this country, then the reform of our social policy is absolutely essential.

Our government is committing itself to a most extensive public review process. This issue will be debated not only in this House, both during the preliminary stages and later when legislation is actually tabled, but also through the parliamentary committee to which this review is being referred. In addition, we will be dealing with both the political and bureaucratic components of the provincial government and, through a series of consultative processes, with constituency groups, the general public, and in particular those individuals presently charged with delivering our various and sundry programs.

In referring this matter to the standing committee, it is vital to outline what I believe to be important governing principles that should be considered in the deliberations. These principles include equity, effectiveness, co-ordination and accountability.

Whatever system we develop must be equitable. To me this means we recognize that as Canadians, as a government and as a nation we have a responsibility to each other.

Going back to at least World War II, there has existed in this country an unwritten but very clear social contract between Canadians and their government. This contract essentially says that on the one hand Canadians will tend to pay more for government than perhaps their counterparts in the U.S. and other nations, but on the other hand, in return for this we as Canadians and as a government have a responsibility to ensure that we will not allow individual Canadians to fall below a certain level. We have determined as a country that we will not allow people to die for lack of medical service, to go hungry for lack of food, to be exposed for lack of shelter.

This contract is basic to what Canada and Canadians are. Whatever the result of our social policy review, it must maintain this basic concept of equity that our parents' generation formulated, that our generation has attempted to maintain, and that we must protect for our children and our children's children.

The second governing principle that must be adhered to in our deliberations regarding social policy is effectiveness. Whether we are speaking about income support, job retraining or life skills development, we must ensure the program provides full value for each dollar that is spent. We need to set as an objective not a decrease in the number of dollars that are placed in the hands of individual Canadians but rather an objective that sees a reduction in the number of programs, a reduction in the administration costs and a reduction in the duplication of services. We do not need more money, we need money better spent. We need to bring to an end the bureaucratic practice of territoriality, we need to bring to an end the turf wars that consume so much of our precious resources, and we need to design our programs so that they put the necessary financial and other resources in the hands of recipients in a manner that does not require a massive bureaucracy be maintained.

The third principle that I believe should govern our deliberations is co-ordination; that is, co-ordination within our own government, co-ordination with other governments and co-ordination with the private sector. We must bring to an end the massive amount of duplication of services that presently exists in the area of social services.

If individuals today wish to receive training, the largest challenge they will face will not be the actual course they might take, but rather finding the correct entry point into the system. They will find that they have to choose from several entry points and sometimes from dozens. Our system must be designed so that individuals have one entry point into the system and one exit point.

Does it make any sense that our income support system is made up of numerous programs and that these programs are delivered by various levels of government and in some cases duplicate programs are delivered by duplicate levels of government? Income support should be provided by one system, administered by one bureaucracy and developed in as simple a manner as possible, one that reflects the economic realities of the 1990s and not of the 1950s or 1960s.

I can see absolutely no sense as to why an individual who has lost his job receives his income support in one form from one level of government for a period of time and then receives his income support from a different level for another period of time, administered by a different bureaucracy. We need one income support program, administered by one level of government and delivered in a cost efficient way.

The final governing principle that I believe should be adhered to in our deliberations is that of accountability, accountability both from government who administers the program and from the individuals who utilize the program. As a government we need to design our income support and training programs with clear objectives as to what they are attempting to accomplish. The effectiveness of these programs should be measured on an ongoing basis, both by this Parliament and by the people of Canada, as to whether they are achieving their objectives. We

should be prepared to change programs that do not work or amend programs that are in need of revision.

But accountability is not just on behalf of the government which delivers the programs, but also on behalf of the individuals who utilize them. Individuals who receive income support must have as their objective, where possible, re-entry into the work force and the ability to become self-sufficient. Their objective should not be to maintain an alternative lifestyle that entails perpetual government assistance from cradle to grave.

We do have individuals in this country, unfortunately, who will need our support not just in the short term but perhaps for the rest of their lives. But we also have individuals who, with properly designed programs and with the correct incentives, can become productive members of society, and we must ensure that our social policy review results in a system that will mandate this to happen.

In conclusion, let me simply state the one governing principle that I believe distinguishes a Liberal approach to the issue of social policy reform as opposed to one that has been pursued by the past government and that I believe is being pursued by some of the members opposite.

As Liberals, we start with the needs of individual Canadians, with the dignity of men and women, the importance of the human spirit and the sanctity of human values. From this will flow jobs, from this will flow renewed economic activity, from this will flow new personal and business prosperity.

If we begin the process with our concern being solely one of economics, solely one of business profits, solely one of bottom line, and we ignore the basic component, which is the individual Canadian, then we will continue to take us down a road that we have travelled for the past decade, which will create more hardship, more unemployment, less economic development and a nation that will not be living up to its true potential. It is the first option that Canadians have demanded and it is this option that we as a government intend to pursue.

Speech From The Throne January 20th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, the small business person in my riding does in fact create 90 per cent of the new jobs. They had to make many sacrifices as they worked to create those jobs. Each one of us in this House, each Canadian in this country, each constituents' group, each special interest group is going to have to come together. They are going to have to realize that if we are going to be successful in reinvigorating the Canadian economy, if we are going to create jobs in this country, if we are going to fix the major problems that we face in this country, we are going to have to do it together.

Each one of us, as each issue comes up in this House, and each person out there in the country, as each issue comes out, is going to ask themselves not just what will it do to hurt them but ask themselves: "What can I do to help the country deal with these problems". When we can have that kind of attitude in this House and in the country, we will be successful with the economic renewal that we need. We will be successful in creating new jobs and Canadians will go back to the prosperity that they rightfully deserve.

Speech From The Throne January 20th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, concerning the last question, as I mentioned, it is inappropriate to look at our job creation program and just take one aspect of it, the infrastructure program. That is the stimulus, that is the start, but it contains many more things.

If we are able to, and we will as a government, get more capital into the hands of small business people, we will in fact create long term jobs. When we reform the tax system in this country we will be creating long term jobs. When we are able to cut through the red tape that small businessmen and women have to face every day then we will be creating long term jobs. When we work with leading edge technological companies we will create long term jobs. The red book is filled from one end to the other with specific details on how we will create long term jobs.

Speech From The Throne January 20th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, it is important when looking at the government's job creation program that we remember there are two components to it. I always hear from members opposite in this House the complaint that it is an infrastructure program, it is short term and that it will be gone in a year or in two years, but that is not the reality of it.

When one invests in infrastructure one creates an environment where long term jobs can be created. In my riding if we put infrastructure into an industrial park and we put sewers there and we bring water to that park and as a result of that we are able to attract new industry to my riding then the infrastructure program has not just created short term jobs during the construction but it has created long term jobs as new business is able to move in.

Speech From The Throne January 20th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, the Small Businesses Loans Act which is presently in force does mandate that the banks are only going to take a 20 per cent guarantee. However, it does not work quite in the way the member has pointed out.

If there should be a default on the loan, the way the act works is that the bank will attempt to collect all security in advance of the government guarantee. In other words, all security must be exhausted before the government will honour its portion of the guarantee. Therefore, in reality the government comes to the table last and the small businessman loses first.

Speech From The Throne January 20th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, on this my first opportunity to address the House let me congratulate you on your appointment and your colleagues on theirs as well.

It is an honour to be here today in the House representing the great riding of Parry South-Muskoka and the thousands of people who call the communities in my riding home. I would also like to thank all those constituents for the trust they have shown in me by electing me their member of Parliament.

My area includes the Muskoka Lakes, Georgian Bay, and is the gateway to Algonquin Park. It is where north meets south in Ontario and where people from all over come to enjoy nature at and life at their very best.

It is also the riding which, until October 25 of this past year, was represented by the grand old man of the House, Stan Darling. Although we are from different parties I wish to thank Stan publicly and on behalf of the constituents of Parry Sound-Muskoka for his 21 years of service to the House and 50 years of public life. Stan was the true constituency member, home every weekend attending every event and always willing to help a constituent no matter how small or how large the problem was.

Those who sat in the House prior to 1993 know of Stan's tireless work on the acid rain treaty which will allow my generation and my children's generation the opportunity to continue to enjoy the beauty Parry Sound-Muskoka. Between Stan and his predecessor, Gordon Aiken, the Conservatives represented my riding since Bucko MacDonald, a former Toronto Maple Leaf and a good Liberal, who won it 40 years ago in 1953.

If Bucko, who unfortunately passed away three years ago, was able to intervene from above to end the 40-year drought for the Liberal team in Parry Sound-Muskoka, he will use his influence to end the slightly shorter drought for his other team and 1994 will be the year that the Toronto Maple Leafs win the Stanley Cup.

I cannot let this moment pass without taking the opportunity to thank my wife, Danielle, and my children, Christopher, Peter and Lisa, for the support they have shown me during the past campaign and the personal sacrifices they are making to allow me to serve my constituents as a member of Parliament. In this vein it is appropriate to recognize the sacrifices being made by the families of all members of the House. I salute each of them.

We are here today to debate the government's throne speech, to review and analyse the path my government intends to pursue during the first session of the 35th Parliament. Our program can

be best summed up by one very simple phrase: a belief in the individual Canadian.

Our government intends to invest in young people through an apprenticeship program and the Canadian Youth Services Corps.

Our government intends to invest in small business people by providing them with the capital they need to grow and by lifting the burden of unnecessary regulations and unfair taxation.

Our government intends to invest in the unemployed by giving them an opportunity to work today through the infrastructure program and by creating an environment that will ensure job creation for the long term.

Our government intends to invest in the less fortunate in our society by reforming our social safety net so that it gives people a hand up instead of a hand out and provides for them the training necessary to become productive members of our society.

The government intends to invest in women and young children by passing new legislation that will strengthen the ban on pornography and stop violence against women and children and by reforming the Young Offenders Act to establish a connection between inappropriate behaviour and inevitable consequences.

More than just an investment in people, the Liberal government intends to pursue a balanced approach to government. We are not the slaves of any particular ideology. We are not wed to the doctrine of social control by the left or unfettered capitalism by the right.

We do not seek to end this country by tearing from it the province of Quebec. We will not push that province and its people form this country through indifference or misunderstanding of the legitimate aspirations of the French Canadian culture. We intend as a government to pursue this balanced approach as we deal with the economic challenges facing Canada.

We understand as does every business person in this country that any income statement has two sides: expenses and revenue. If we were to concentrate on simply cutting expenses without attempting to enhance revenue through job creation, we would surely fail in our attempt to balance the budget.

We will cut costs and start to relieve the Canadian middle class of its enormous tax burden with a clear understanding the more taxpayers that exist and the more people who are working the less burden each one of us will have to bear.

I am particularly pleased that our throne speech has promised to bring integrity back to government. We have committed ourselves to several measures that will see this happen. We will proceed quickly with rule changes that allow individual members of Parliament a greater role in the drafting of legislation.

We will provide more power to House of Commons committees and actively and continuously debate important issues of the day in the House. We will appoint an ethics counsellor to control the lobbyists and others who seek to wield unjust and undue power.

The program that my government has detailed is not only of national concern. It is of great importance in my riding of Parry Sound-Muskoka. I represent an area in which unemployment exceeds 15 per cent, and that does not account for the people working part time who would prefer full-time work or simply the people who have given up altogether.

In some communities in my riding we face upwards of one in four people who want to work but who are unable to work. It was the demand to have this situation reversed, to put the people of Parry Sound-Muskoka back to work, that led my electors to choose a Liberal to represent them in the 35th Parliament.

The backbone of the local economy of Parry Sound-Muskoka is tourism. One in every two existing jobs relates either directly or indirectly to that industry. Every 1 per cent increase in tourism translates into $1.9 million of direct economic benefit and 39 person years of employment. The thousands of people who travel every year to enjoy our lakes and waterways, to be dazzled by the fall colours, or to try the snowmobile trails in winter are the mainstay and economic lifeblood of my riding.

Our government pledge to put Canadians back to work and to reform our tax system will add new vigour to tourism. I am committed to work with all people within my riding to formulate appropriate initiatives which will concentrate on creating a four season tourism economy.

We will work toward the development of an appropriate marketing strategy which not only will reach out to attract visitors from across Canada, but which will work within initiatives of the federal government to bring back to our area the American tourists and to reach out to new markets in Europe and the Far East. I will work hard to provide financial assistance to our tourist operators and to supplement our natural attractions with new tourism infrastructure.

If tourism is the engine that drives our economy, it is the small business person who is the backbone of it. Over 90 per cent of all jobs in Parry Sound-Muskoka are provided by the small business sector. Men and women every day risk their family fortune, their financial security and in many cases all they have are the foundations upon which our economic renewal will be built.

I have spent my professional career working with and helping the small business sector. I have seen the person who has played by the rules, worked hard every day, pushed themselves to the limit and has lost it all through no fault of their own. I have seen the pain and the devastation that record business bankruptcies have caused. Our government's policies and programs will

ensure that this is no longer the case and that that terrible trend will be reversed.

The small business sector of Canada needs and deserves our support. This government is committed to finding new ways to provide capital to our beleaguered business people. As a former banker I am doubly determined to work hard to find ways for government and the banking industry to work together and ensure that loans are available to small business people, to ensure that deserving Canadians are not denied credit solely because they operate in a rural area and are not denied credit because they work in an industry not looked upon favourably by the gnomes of Bay Street.

I will work with my constituents and with my government to reduce the bureaucracy which surrounds and strangles the small business person. I do not want to see good job creation projects die on the altar of bureaucratic red tape.

As part of a Liberal government I will work for the reform of our tax structure and work to stop the practice of using the small business sector as little more than tax collectors. We need to collect revenue in a manner which does not discourage consumption and drive to the United States the tourism dollars which are desperately needed in Parry Sound-Muskoka.

As important as tourism is to my area, as important as the retail trade which supports it is, and as important as the private service sector which maintains it is, we need more. We will always depend on tourism as our major industry. However we must work in Parry Sound-Muskoka for an economically balanced economy.

I have worked for many years actively pursuing economic development both as a business representative in my role with the chamber of commerce and as a member and active participant in the municipal economic development process.

I have pledged to work with the small business sector and individuals to bring them together with government to build a diversified economic base. We will create a climate within which new small business will be created in this country and, most important for me, in Parry Sound-Muskoka.

We will use our quality of life, our proximity to major markets, our superior transportation infrastructure and the innovativeness and hard-working nature of our people to attract new industry and new manufacturers on which economic renewal can be based.

The Minister of Human Resources Development has just pledged in this House to introduce and pursue innovative labour adjustment activities. We will work to create an environment within which those who have been excluded from the work force can learn new skills and be prepared to fill the jobs that economic development and diversification will create.

The residents of my riding and indeed the people of Canada find themselves at a crossroads. We have great challenges ahead of us which will demand our collective energy, knowledge and determination if we are to overcome them.

As Canadians we have a choice. On the one hand, we can take the easy road. We can believe that the problems we face are beyond our abilities to solve. We can look for simple solutions and feel disappointed when they do not work. We can ask for sacrifices from others and reject that we too must make sacrifices. We can blame our difficulties on the actions of others and accept no responsibility for what we may have done to contribute to our condition. On the other hand, we can take the other route, one which recognizes that we can do better, that we can have an effect on problems, that we are responsible for our actions and that sacrifices will come from each of us, not simply from some other group.

Our government has clearly demonstrated by its speech from the throne that it chooses the second option. We will not shirk our responsibilities. We will provide leadership to Canadians. We will be innovative, learning from the past but not fearing the future. We will be generous and most of all, we will care about the individual Canadian first and foremost.

Canada is a great country. Canadians are great people. We can and will do better than we have in the past. With the help of all Canadians and all of the members of this House, we will build a future of hope and prosperity for ourselves and for our children.