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

Petitions February 21st, 1995

Mr. Speaker, the second petition has to do with the matter of the sanctity of life. The petitioners pray that the government ensures that the present provisions of the Criminal Code of Canada prohibiting assisted suicide be enforced vigorously and that Parliament make no changes in the law which would sanction or allow the abiding or abetting of suicide or active or passive euthanasia.

Petitions February 21st, 1995

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36, I have four petitions this morning presented to me by constituents in my riding.

The first has to do with the use of guns. The petitioners humbly pray and call upon Parliament to refrain from making further changes to existing firearm control legislation and direct the judicial system to enforce existing penalties more stringently in the effort to deliver effective crime deterrents.

Standing Committee On Agriculture And Agri-Food December 15th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, at yesterday's meeting of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food I tabled a report entitled "Future Directions for Canadian Agriculture and Agri-Food: A Huron-Bruce Perspective".

This report is the result of a series of intensive meetings which I organized in my riding with the objective of taking stock of where those who work in the agri-food sector today see their industry going tomorrow.

It was designed to support and enhance the objectives of the study on the future of agriculture on which the committee, together with its colleagues from the Senate, has been working since August, and which as a result of those who claim to represent the interests of the grassroots community has been effectively blocked from undertaking its most important phase, consulting directly with Canadians who work in Canada's agri-food sector in their workplaces.

I would encourage all members to initiate something along these lines to complement the work that is being done for what is after all one of Canada's major bedrock industries.

Petitions December 6th, 1994

In the second petition the petitioners pray that Parliament ensure that the present provisions of the Criminal Code of Canada prohibiting assisted suicide be enforced vigorously. They request that Parliament make no changes in the law which would sanction or allow the aiding or abetting of suicide, or active or passive euthanasia.

The petitioners also pray that Parliament not amend the Human Rights Act or Charter of Rights and Freedoms in any way which would tend to indicate societal approval of same sex relationships or of homosexuality including amending the Canadian Human Rights Act to include in the prohibited grounds of discrimination the undefined phrase of sexual orientation.

It is my privilege to present these petitions this morning.

Petitions December 6th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36, I have the honour this morning to present three petitions. The first is that 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.

Department Of Public Works And Government Services Act October 18th, 1994

Madam Speaker, on a point of order, I also wish to cast my vote on the side of the government on the motion itself.

Parliamentary Pages October 4th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, it is a particular honour for me to rise today in recognition of our parliamentary pages. Parliamentary pages have served parliamentarians since Confederation in 1867. Prime Ministers Sir John A. Macdonald, Sir Wilfrid Laurier, Lester B. Pearson, Mackenzie King and Louis St. Laurent were served by distinguished young Canadians.

Their many duties include carrying messages, Order Papers and Hansard to members' desks, even the occasional glass of water.

At one time the opportunity of participating in this program was a privilege only extended to young men. In 1974 this practice was changed to include young women who also serve us today.

There are 42 pages in the House of Commons program today. Each and every province of Canada is represented. These young students set an example for all young Canadians. One of them is Roger Label who comes from my riding of Huron-Bruce, more particularly Port Elgin.

The pages are hardworking and dedicated individuals. I would like to take this opportunity on behalf of all members of Parliament to thank them for their work and their support.

Parliamentary Pages June 20th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I am sure all members of the House will join me today in thanking an extraordinary group of young men and women, the parliamentary pages.

Often we come into the Chamber in a rush, preoccupied with our busy agendas, but we are always greeted with friendly smiles and cheerful attitudes. It may at times seem we take them for granted, but I wanted to let them know that we appreciate very much the work and assistance they give us while we are in the House. Without them our jobs would be much more difficult.

A couple of days ago I had the opportunity to speak with a few of the pages outside the Chamber. They were charming, intelligent and very much eager to learn about not only the political system but about myself and the people and riding I represent. Their dedication and enthusiasm needs to be greatly commended.

I want to say that the parents and families of the pages can truly be very proud of them and their achievements. I hope their experience here, although somewhat shorter than hoped, was enjoyable. I wish them well in their future lives and careers. I hope the next time they are in Ottawa they will stop in to visit us.

Department Of The Environment June 13th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I would like to remind members of the House as well as all other Canadians of the anniversary of the Department of the Environment last Saturday, June 11.

In just 23 years Environment Canada has made significant contributions to our understanding of the environment and the consequences of our interaction with it. The department in broadening its approach to environmental issues no longer focuses on individual problems but treats the entire ecosystem as a unit of interdependent elements.

In keeping with the department's quest for sustainable development and the notion that everything we do affects the environment, we as Canadians should continue to do what we can to help preserve our planet for the future.

Voluntary Firefighters June 1st, 1994

Madam Speaker, it is a great pleasure for me this evening to speak on this important private member's motion. I congratulate the hon. member for Haldimand-Norfolk for his hard work and diligence in the preparation of this motion and for his dedication to the volunteer firefighters who put their lives on the line every time they are called out.

The member has been working for a long time to get this motion passed in this House. I am confident all members will see the benefits of this motion and will call on the government to consider amending the volunteer firefighter's tax exemption from $500 to $1,000.

The Income Tax Act currently exempts $500 from taxation. This had been increased from $300 to $500 in the 1980 taxation year. Looking at inflation since that time based on 14 years it is certainly due time we recognize the firefighters for their efforts and the kind of work they do for their communities.

This is not the first time this motion has been presented. In one form or another it has been brought into this House on other occasions. This topic was discussed even as far back as 1982 and again in 1983. In 1989 the member for Haldimand-Norfolk reintroduced the motion.

I trust the next time we speak on this issue we will be passing the motion into law and finally giving volunteer firefighters the increased level of tax exemption they deserve. I saw the spirit and goodwill which can prevail in this House this evening in allowing this motion to become a votable one. I applaud members opposite and on this side as well for their diligence in doing this.

In the past members who opposed similar motions were worried about pitting one volunteer group against another. This is not the case in this evening's debate. All the motion says is that it is time to give proper recognition to our firefighters, recognition in the form of increased tax exemptions. This is not a question of developing a new exemption, but recognition of

the fact that the current exemption is not sufficient because of the effects of inflation over the past 14 years.

All across the country thousands of brave men and women, volunteer firefighters, offer their services to fire departments, fire associations and auxiliaries. Even in larger communities volunteer firefighters are heavily relied upon by full time firefighting forces. Without volunteer firefighters full time departments would not be able to provide the level of protection and service needed by communities.

I would like to read into the record the names of some of the departments and auxiliaries I represent as the MP for Huron-Bruce. I think of the towns of Zurich, my own home town where I have family members serving on that fire department, Wingham, Kincardine, Lucknow, Southhampton, Seaforth, Exeter, Hensall, and Bayfield. For those who do not know my riding there are places such as Dashwood and Huron Park which would be pleased to be recognized as also having volunteer fire departments.

I look forward to this coming Saturday when I will have breakfast with firefighters from the Brucefield Fire Department. I also had the pleasure of serving as one of the board members of the Bayfield volunteer fire department during my many years in municipal politics.

I congratulate all the firefighters of Huron-Bruce for the exceptional job they have done for us all these years. These brave men and women provide an invaluable service to the people of their communities. They literally have the lives of their friends, families, and neighbours in their hands every time they are called out. They serve their communities with honour, dignity and pride. It is for this reason we must acknowledge their importance and allow them exemptions of $1,000 in recognition of their important duties to their community.

The hon. member for Haldimand-Norfolk has better knowledge than some on the importance and value of volunteer firefighters. I can think of no better example of the dedication and bravery of volunteer firefighters than the Hagersville tire fire. That fire was deliberately set and took the time of many firefighters for many days. The extremely dangerous and volatile situation forced hundreds of families to be evacuated from their homes.

Who came to the rescue and became the first line of defence for the people in that area? Of course it was the volunteer firefighters of the local communities. They were outgunned by the fire but they persevered. After many long days, sleepless nights and personal sacrifice and hardship, they were able with some help to defeat the fire.

This is a great example of the dedication and professionalism of volunteer firefighters. Most of the time these individuals are ordinary people: farmers in our communities, store owners, plumbers, electricians, and so on. Once they are called upon to put on their hats and boots they become the protectors of their communities.

Often when called these men and women are docked pay from their wages so they can serve their communities. I would like to recognize the employers who in many cases continue to pay the wages of their employees when they are out fighting fires for their communities or doing those other services normally attributed to fire departments.

In addition to the financial cost, they experience personal sacrifice in terms of loss of time with their families and physical and mental strain. I am sure many of us tonight can relate to an incident where family members were called away from an important family occasion because of a fire or because of an emergency within the community.

Volunteer firefighters do not just protect their communities, they also volunteer their time and resources to charitable causes and community events. As the hon. member for Haldimand-Norfolk has already mentioned, these men and women volunteer for everything from supporting and organizing minor hockey and softball to raising money for the needy and organizing holiday events and celebrations.

They are an integral part of their community. After all, what we are really talking about is a sense of responsibility of community and volunteerism. In today's world of financial hardships, increases in violent crime and deterioration of family values, we are relying more and more on the help, protection and generosity of others.

I am sure that every member has in the past and will continue in the future to volunteer in some capacity to some worthwhile charity or cause. In every community across this vast country volunteers are lending a helping hand to many different people and worthwhile causes. The elderly, the young, the disadvantaged and the disabled all rely on a growing group of generous people for support.

We must do everything we can to encourage these types of actions and therefore when it comes to giving some tax breaks to a group of people who protect their communities, I fully support this initiative and feel its passage is long overdue.

In conclusion, I would once again like to commend my colleague from Haldimand-Norfolk for being persistent in giving the volunteer firefighters of Canada the recognition and support they deserve.