House of Commons photo

Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was farmers.

Last in Parliament September 2008, as Liberal MP for Huron—Bruce (Ontario)

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

Statements in the House

Competition Act March 20th, 1996

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to take part in the debate this evening on Bill C-221.

As a former machinery dealer and one who was involved in the industry for a good many years, I can tell the House that the bill has significant importance to me, as I believe it does for most of us in the House.

I am in complete support of this private member's bill as proposed by the hon. member for Lambton-Middlesex, which is a neighbouring riding to mine. I would like to commend my colleague for her efforts to amend the Competition Act.

The purpose of this bill is to put an end to a restriction in almost all franchise agreements that does not allow car or farm equipment dealers to sell a competitor's product. This practice is known as dualing.

As members will know, dealers are only allowed to display and sell the products of the manufacturer or distributor with which they have a franchise agreement because the agreement contains anti-dualing clauses.

In some cases the franchise agreement states that a dealer cannot dual without the written permission of the manufacturer. In practice such permission is rarely given. Franchise agreements can be cancelled and torn up by the manufacturer or the distributor if a dealer sells another line of products. For example, a John Deere dealer cannot sell New Holland tractors.

I have talked to the local farm equipment dealers having a part in those organizations over the years in my riding and in other areas of the province and country. They basically support this bill. They want to be able to sell more than one line of product.

Dealers with a franchise agreement are also required to invest large sums for facilities, equipment, personnel and training in order to provide the sales and servicing deemed necessary by the manufacturer. Sometimes the dealer's investment in inventory and overhead required by the manufacturer is more than economically practical, thus tying up funds that could potentially be used to sell and service a competitor's line if the dealer was allowed to do so.

In small rural areas it makes sense to offer variety. A Case IH dealer, for example, may not be able to go it alone but if allowed to combine with another product, could stay in business.

Franchise agreements with anti-dualing provisions are restrictive and should be trashed. Dealers are unable to provide their customers with the choice from more than one line and consumers are not given the advantage of being able to compare and chose between competing lines of product. This problem becomes more significant in communities and markets not big enough to justify a dealer making a large investment to sell only one line.

It is interesting and ironic to point out that franchise agreements with anti-dualing provisions are illegal in many American states such as Iowa, Missouri, New Hampshire and others. The threat of termination of an agreement is grounds for a civil suit in the U.S.

If American dealers have operated successfully for years without anti-dualing provisions, there is no justifiable reason whatsoever that Canadian manufacturers and distributors can argue to maintain them in this country. On top of that, many of these American companies, such farm equipment dealers, are allowed different products in the U.S., but these same dealers in Canada are not. This is a farce.

Canadian laws do not protect our car and farm equipment dealers from unfair franchise agreements. Current laws are not adequate in their terms or satisfactory in their enforcement to strike down anti-dualing provisions. Bill C-221 proposes an amendment to the Competition Act that will disallow anti-dualing provisions in franchise agreements. It will put us on a level playing field with the U.S. and help our small business people compete in our own markets.

Last year one automaker in Canada recognized that sales were plunging and agreed to allow its dealers to sell cars from other companies. Mazda Canada Incorporated was the first to do so, but others are sure to follow. Mazda had built a very large dealer network but it was not selling enough cars to justify it.

Today's market calls for diversification. Consumers will head to the dealer with the most selection. Competition is healthy. I believe it is the government's responsibility to provide a climate that will

end anti-dualing provisions in franchise agreements to allow dealers to sell products from competing manufacturers.

Manufacturers, distributors or suppliers can argue that scrapping anti-dualing rules is not the way to go. First, they may suggest dealer loyalty will be diluted if they are allowed to sell products from more than one producer. Dealer loyalty should be earned by a manufacturer, not forced or coerced by the threat of termination of an agreement. Imagine if a grocery store were only allowed to sell one brand of peanut butter.

Selling competing brands allows the consumer to choose. Again this is a capitalist system. This bill will strengthen and enhance the free market system.

Second, manufacturers may argue customer loyalty will be lost if dealers are selling products from competing manufacturers. I submit that customers will remain loyal to a dealer as long as they feel they are being dealt with fairly. I also submit a customer will remain loyal to a dealer that does offer them the choice of more than one product. Service and selection are the two main reasons for shopping for and buying any product, whether it is a car, a seed drill, a planter or a new suit.

Third, manufacturers may threaten to take away exclusive distribution of their parts from dealers. That is exactly what this is: a threat that could be used by a manufacturer against a dealer that takes legal action against anti-dualing provisions.

Fourth, a manufacturer may claim if anti-dualing is prohibited that a car or farm equipment dealer would or could become a monopoly supplier in the local market. But, on the other hand, is that not what a manufacturer is promoting if he argues that no other product line can be sold out of that dealership?

Another argument that could be brought forward if an end to anti-dualing practices is put into effect is that the number of dealers will decrease. However, we have to recognize that this is reality in today's marketplace. Companies are diversifying in order to survive. Today, as many MPs from rural areas will know, the farm equipment dealers are gone. There used to be five in the town of Dresden, a town of 2,800, and today there are no dealers left in that community.

In summary, Bill C-221 will allow for automotive and farm equipment dealers to sell products from competing manufacturers. This is diversification. The more selection dealers have to offer consumers, the more likely their businesses will prosper. The amendments in the bill are good for business and they are good for the consumer, who will benefit from more selection.

I applaud my colleague from Lambton-Middlesex for coming forward with this bill. She truly represents her constituents from her mainly rural riding in southwestern Ontario. As was mentioned last night during private member's hour on Bill C-201, partisan politics has no place during Private Members' Business.

I urge all members from all parties to support Bill C-221. It makes sense, it will enhance competition and it will put our small business entrepreneurs on a level playing field with those in the U.S. That is the direction in which we should be going.

Simon Peter Hallahan March 12th, 1996

Mr. Speaker, my riding of Huron-Bruce was saddened by the recent passing of a very prominent community figure, Simon Peter Hallahan. He was in his 96th year.

Simon was hard working and dedicated not only to his family but also to his community. He was always deeply involved in community and farm organizations in the township.

His accomplishments were many, as a member of the Wawanosh Federation of Agriculture, the township council, township reeve, active in the Huron County Ploughman's Association, Huron County Milk Producers, Huron County Pork Producers, Huron County Holstein Association, the Knights of Columbus and the Blyth Fire Board, just to name a few.

Simon was also a lifelong member of the Liberal association and was honoured by a visit to his family farm by the Prime Minister during his 1992 tour of Huron county.

Throughout Simon's life he truly lived. He gave his best for his family, his community and his country.

At this time I would like to extend my deepest sympathies to his wife Beatrice and his family. He will be deeply missed by all those who were honoured to know him.

Petitions December 4th, 1995

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36, a number of petitioners from my riding have asked me to present their petition. It draws the attention of the House to the following. The majority of Canadians respect the

sanctity of human life and human life at the pre-born stage is not protected in Canadian society. The petitioners pray that Parliament act immediately to extend protection to the unborn child by amending the Criminal Code to extend the same protection enjoyed by born human beings to unborn human beings.

Banks December 1st, 1995

Mr. Speaker, as a member of Parliament one of my greatest frustrations are banks and their limited interest in assisting small business.

My riding of Huron-Bruce thrives on the success of small and medium size businesses. Many Canadians are seizing the entrepreneurial spirit, some because it is their lifelong desire and others because they are unable to find employment. These people have skills, intelligence, energy and are willing to take risks to become financially independent.

Small businesses need to be given an opportunity. Canadian banks are making it difficult for entrepreneurs to realize their dreams. If entrepreneurs could afford to launch a new business or

if every mature business could afford to employ one more person, Canada's unemployment rate would decline drastically.

The government has taken the initiative to help small businesses with measures such as Bill C-99, an act to amend the Small Business Loans Act.

I encourage all bankers to help remedy our unemployment problems by taking an invested interest in our financial future and by ensuring that new and existing entrepreneurs are given a fair and equal chance to prove that they can contribute to the economy of the country.

Manganese-Based Fuel Additives Act October 31st, 1995

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to move an amendment this afternoon on Bill C-94.

According to the Order Paper, on the first amendment you will find that clause 9 of this bill will be amended by striking out line 27 on page 3 and substituting the following: "the use that is made or is to be of it".

The reason for this amendment is that the clause as originally drafted assumes the controlled substance was used within 30 days of the transaction, which may not always be the case. In certain cases this product could be put in stock until its future anticipated use. For that reason, I moved the amendment. I believe it is a good amendment and I hope we have concurrence on that.

On the second amendment, I would ask of this House if we could have unanimous consent because of the fact that the amendment on the Order Paper has been further amended. I would like to read that amendment at this time if I may. I wonder if we could have unanimous consent for this amendment to be changed.

The motion would read this way:

That clause 10 of Bill C-94 be amended by striking out line 45 on page 3 and lines 1 and 2 on page 4 and substituting the following: "of each transaction under the authorization, file a report".

The reporting requirement as it is in the draft is too lax to allow for effective monitoring by the minister. As an example, if we follow the current draft it could be as much as 12 to 14 months after the transaction that a report is filed with the minister. This would be much too long.

Mr. Vena from Environment Canada agreed with the suggested amendment. Ms. Fry from the Department of Justice also indicated that there was no rationale for the section as drafted, other than that this was an arbitrary line-drawing. Therefore I feel that the amendment as I have placed it today is in order and should be supported.

I would therefore seek unanimous consent of this House for the amendment I have just presented.

Small Business Loans Act October 27th, 1995

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour for me to speak on Bill C-99, an act to amend the Small Business Loans Act.

Along with my colleague from London-Middlesex this morning, I extend my thoughts to those people who have travelled from our various communities today to the heartland of Quebec, to Montreal. Our thoughts are with these people. We all share the same common sentiment that we want to have Quebec remain a part of us and share the business climate we have in this country come Monday of next week.

As the member of Parliament for Huron-Bruce, representing a small yet mostly rural riding, I do not have large municipalities. I do not have large urban centres. The largest community in my constituency is the town of Goderich which has 8,000 people. In Goderich there are two main plants, which employ 900 people: Champion Road Machinery, a manufacturer of road graders and other roadbuilding equipment, and Sifto Salt Mines, which produces the third largest quantity of salt in North America.

As a rural constituency, the businesses we have are largely small in nature. Many of the businesses are agri-related. When I was elected to be the member of Parliament for Huron-Bruce, I believed, as do all members of the House, that we were elected to create a climate of employment in Canada. We spoke about jobs and growth. This bill goes a long way in helping us to achieve those goals.

How do we create jobs? Government cannot by itself create jobs. Government jobs are largely jobs that do not contribute to the GDP of our country. While government cannot create jobs, government can certainly create an environment in which business can grow and prosper. The importance of Bill C-99 is that it becomes another avenue for small business to access capital and operating moneys.

As I said earlier, I represent a small rural constituency. We have many resources in our riding. Most of them are rural agricultural resources: wheat, hogs, beef and all the other commodities we grow so well in Huron-Bruce. The riding produces more dollar value in agricultural products than any riding east of Winnipeg. I therefore speak with a great deal of pride as I speak about my riding this morning.

The greatest resources in any riding are the youth of our communities. When we closely examine the resource of youth we find that many of these young people upon completion of their secondary education move on to other communities. For the most part they leave to further their education and then go on to careers often in large urban centres simply because job opportunities are not as plentiful today as perhaps they were a decade ago, certainly not in small communities.

Some of these youth are now returning to their communities of origin simply because jobs in the urban centres are not as plentiful as they once were. The young people are returning to their communities, in some cases to enter into a partnership with a family business or to enter into a partnership with an established business. In some cases they are coming home to seek the future they have dreamed of, a career of choice based on and related to the training and educational background they have achieved.

This is where the banks and the lending institutions become involved. Allow me to give a personal example. About eight years ago our two sons had a dream. Upon completing their secondary education they wanted to pursue a business career. One of the first things they had to do was find the capital required to begin a business. That was the first experience. Of course they had to visit the bankers. They found that the bankers were not all in agreement with their dream. In many cases they were turned away. However, there was one banker who, because of his appreciation for young people, sensed that there might be merit in the dream and that it might go somewhere. He invited them in. He asked their father to sign a few papers and these two young men began a business.

It has been eight years since they began the business. They have realized their dream. The dream will continue. It was only six months after they had begun the business that they asked the banker to remove their father's name from the papers. People are realizing their dreams in the country. This is an example of what can happen when we take those dreams to the ultimate end. Now that they have established their business it is the bankers who are knocking on their door to see if they can lend them a bit of money.

My point is that the risk in doing anything is always great but I believe we have to take some of these risks. When I chose this position in Parliament I accepted a risk. I was walking away from a

business that had given me 21 years of fruitful employment. My background in small business and in the agricultural sector gave me an appreciation for and insight into the borrowing needs of small business.

Early in my new career as a member of Parliament I quickly became aware of the inability of entrepreneurs to gain access to business capital. If there has been one area of frustration in my career as a politician it has been that of my being unable to resolve the matter of banks and small business.

A few months ago Bluewater Fibre Inc., with 150 employees in the northern part of my riding, found itself in the very untenable position of risking closure of its plant if a resolution of a border tax was not found. To the credit of the Minister of Finance's department, this issue was resolved and the jobs of 150 people were ensured.

Another situation concerns Tackle Windpower, a manufacturer of rotor blades for windpower electricity generation, which just recently began manufacturing in Huron Park in the southern part of my riding. Before this company turned one employee hour in its plant it had $9.5 million in guaranteed orders for a product it was about to build, but it had difficulty in obtaining a $500,000 operating loan. Through much difficulty and a great deal of effort on the company's part and a small effort on my part, financing was finally procured. This company started with two, three, four employees, and has now reached 28 employees and is quickly moving to full employment of 70.

Stories like this go on and on. How many members here would have believed that so much of our time would be spent on helping small business achieve funding and financing?

There are two million small businesses in Canada, and 82 per cent of new jobs created are created by small businesses. When one puts these numbers in perspective it puts a new importance on entrepreneurialism. If every small business would employ just one more person we would eliminate unemployment.

This is an important bill for two reasons: the increase in the maximum size of the loan to more accurately reflect the realities of doing business, and the movement of the SBLA to full cost recovery, a measure in keeping with our promises as a government to maintain fiscal management policies.

Given the extensive consultations with the major stakeholders, it is imperative that we seek swift passage of this bill for the benefit of all small businesses in Canada. I look forward to supporting this bill at a future time in the House.

Mining Exploration And Development October 4th, 1995

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise this evening and speak in support of Motion No. 292 which was put forward by my colleague, the hon. member for Timiskaming-French River.

The hon. member and I have much in common when it comes to sport shooting and matters pertaining to our great Canadian outdoors. We also share similar views when it comes to mining issues.

I congratulate my government colleague for submitting this motion to the House. Mining is a very important activity in northern Ontario. It is crucial to the economy there as well as in many other areas. Also, the fact that he is representing his constituents' concerns really matters. It should be the first and most important duty for us all.

As a member from southwestern Ontario, home of Canada's largest salt mine, I am pleased to speak in favour of the motion. I too recognize the importance of mining to the Canadian economy. The motion states:

That, in the opinion of this House, the government should consider implementing a new program of mining incentives which would encourage exploration and development in Canada.

That is certainly consistent with our red book. I refer to the October 15, 1993 mining policy announced by the hon. member for Sudbury, who is now the Minister of Health. She stated:

The mining industry is a vital part of the Canadian economy. Not only is it the lifeblood of over 150 communities, but it accounts for 330,000 jobs. A Liberal government will offer the leadership needed to ensure a strong future for Canadian mining.

One of the recommendations made in this policy is a direct connection to today's motion. Our policy proposed to undertake a comprehensive review of income tax laws with provincial and territorial governments, industry and other interested parties to ensure that the financial assurance mechanisms are complemented by federal tax policies and to provide policy support to help mining and mineral service industries expand their competitive advantage in foreign markets.

This is an important motion, especially in light of today's condition of the mining industry. It is facing a future of uncertainty. Public policy initiatives are needed to sustain the industry as a world class producer of mineral and metal products and to stimulate investment in mineral exploration and development in Canada.

I speak of an industry which accounts for 2.7 per cent of total national employment, one in which depleting reserves and mine closures outnumber mine openings, one which represents $23.6 billion or 17 per cent of total Canadian exports, and one which contributed $10.8 billion to the mineral trade balance. It is an industry in which the total value of mineral production was $14.6 billion, or $35.4 billion if fuel minerals were added. It is an industry which represents one of the highest industrial wages paid in Canada: $847 per week in some of Canada's most isolated communities.

As a result of these challenges, we need an enhanced commitment from the federal government especially in the area of exploration stimulation which will attract sufficient levels of exploration investment to ensure that the economic growth rate and the level of Canadian mineral reserves will not continue to decline.

Our mining industry is a world leader in technology innovation and information. We must always strive to keep it that way. As members know, mineral exploration and for nearly a decade mineral reserves have been on a decline as the developing world attracts mineral investment away from Canada. They do this through aggressive marketing, joint ventures and legislative and policy changes.

The competitiveness of Canadian mining in the 1990s is plagued by uncertainty. There are disincentives now in the mineral investment climate that are discouraging proper investment levels which are needed to maintain a reserve base.

These factors include mineral taxation, exploration incentives, environmental assessment, land access, aboriginal land claims, mine reclamation deductions and security of mineral tenure. The mineral potential in Canada is as inviting as any other country in the world. However we cannot maintain our position as a world leader among mineral-producing nations unless steps are taken to reduce the doubts.

I am sure all members from both sides of the House understand full well the implications of inadequate incentives for primary mineral exploration. Without ample exploration the mineral reserves necessary to replace what is being mined today will not be found. For many reasons, exploration levels have dropped dramatically since the mid-1980s. We all realize there is no quick fix for this problem nor do governments currently have the financial capacity to intervene in a significant way.

Along with an exploration incentive program as called for in the votable motion being debated today, there also must be an overall competitive and supportive investment climate. This will create the proper framework in which mining can thrive and this will in turn promote exploration.

We must work hard to find solutions. We must work hard to keep mining in Canada. While world demand for minerals is increasing, Canada's share of world mineral supply is declining and mining investment capital is leaving Canada for other parts of the world.

The mining industry has worked hard to reduce costs, improve its environmental and safety performance and increase productivity through technological innovation and upgrading of worker skills. Yet today the industry faces its toughest challenge of all to keep mining in Canada.

According to the Mining Association of Canada, in 1992 there were 28 closures or temporary shutdowns of mines compared with only eight openings, meaning a net loss of 5,800 jobs. From 1981 to 1991 there was a decline of nearly 40 per cent in investment levels in the sector. Between 1986 and 1991 Canada failed to attract a single new mining project with a capital cost of more than $250 million. By contrast, Latin America had five. These facts make support of my colleague's motion so important. It centres on the encouragement of exploration. This is crucial.

We know that investing in exploration and development is the only way to ensure a future for mining in Canada but from 1991 to 1992 more than 150 companies worldwide reduced spending on Canadian projects by 30 per cent. In 1987 Canadian companies spent 81 per cent of their exploration budget in Canada. In 1992 that number went down to 61 per cent. In contrast, over $7 billion has been committed to exploration and development in Chile, Mexico, Venezuela, Argentina and Bolivia.

It is ironic that Canada is the biggest foreign investor in mineral exploration in Chile with over 40 Canadian companies involved. The average government approval for a mining operation takes six months in Chile as opposed to three years in Canada. When Chile is admitted to the NAFTA agreement, what chilling effect will this have on Canadian mines?

Earlier in this Parliament, the Standing Committee on Natural Resources conducted extensive hearings with all the stakeholders. The result was nine key recommendations on mining incentives which my colleague from Timiskaming-French River has outlined.

Canada has the resources, skilled workforce, infrastructure and commitment to environment and technology to support a prosperous mining industry today and in the future. But without a strong co-operative effort to keep mining here, this may well be the last generation of miners in Canada. As future mining activities shift to other countries, the decline of Canadian mining would have a devastating impact on over one million Canadians living in mining communities or working in businesses related to the mining industry.

Through this motion, it shows we urgently need a national mining strategy with policies and actions that will reverse current trends. Mining is important to Canada and we must support Motion No. 292. Canada has always counted on its mining industry to be a key foundation for export driven growth.

Today mining is a $20 billion industry in Canada. We must keep it growing and thriving. I am certainly supporting this motion and I urge all hon. members to do the same.

Impaired Driving September 27th, 1995

Mr. Speaker, since 1980 the Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics has reported more than 100,000 charges for impaired driving in Canada every year. In 1993 alcohol accounted for one death or injury every five minutes.

Drinking and driving is the largest single criminal cause of death and injury in Canada. It is not just car related. Seventy-three per cent of all victims killed in snowmobile and all-terrain vehicle crashes had been drinking. Seventy-seven per cent of boating accidents were alcohol related.

Today I want to acknowledge the contribution made by Mothers Against Drunk Driving, MADD Canada, which has been actively working since 1981 to reduce deaths and injuries due to impaired driving and to help the victims and survivors of such tragic senselessness.

In this regard I would like to mention Lynne and David Magee and Barbara Rintoul of Wingham, Ontario, whose sons were victims of an impaired driver. These people have taken their tragedy and in dedication of young lives so needlessly lost, channelled their energy into positive action by forming the Huron-Bruce chapter of MADD Canada.

I would like to commend them for their strength at a time of such-

Firearms Act June 12th, 1995

Mr. Speaker, I would like to record my vote as being in favour of Motion No. 158.

V-E Day May 9th, 1995

Mr. Speaker, 50 years have passed since the allied victory in Europe. That victory was, as we know by our cost, hard fought and dearly paid for. Canadians, united in the struggle for a better world, fought shoulder to shoulder with their brothers in arms to bring freedom and peace to Europe, almost broken on the wheel of war.

In my constituency of Huron-Bruce we have a strong Dutch community. Its people are proud to be Canadian and their energetic contribution to our community is a continuing and valued one.

They say, as we must echo, those years of horror must never be allowed to return. I know I speak for all of us when I say we must never forget what price was paid for freedom 50 years ago. In remembrance and in gratitude to those who gave all that was theirs to give, let us dedicate ourselves to working toward a better world for ourselves and those who follow us so that the sacrifice of those who have gone before may not have been in vain.