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

Government Intervention April 13th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, this past Monday on a U.S. news show, "Day One", it was reported that the Santa Monica Freeway destroyed by the massive California earthquake was set to reopen more than three months ahead of schedule.

U.S. and state officials call it a miracle because some experts predicted that it would take upwards of nine months to complete the repairs.

This early completion was no miracle but the result of common sense. Indeed, it was the eliminating of government red tape and paperwork that allowed the contractor to complete the work in record time. The elimination of government interference saved millions of dollars in transportation costs.

We as parliamentarians can learn a valuable lesson from this situation and work together to lower and eliminate needless government red tape and paperwork which have strangled Canadian businesses.

As we have said many times before, Canadian businesses can and will create the jobs if given the right environment. What better way to create jobs than to eliminate needless bureaucratic intervention?

Product Packaging April 12th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to speak in this debate today.

First I would like to thank the hon. member for Winnipeg North for raising this important issue. I believe that Canadian consumers are very discriminating when it comes to freshness and quality of food products. I also believe that it is in the best interests of the Canadian food industry and this government to ensure a healthy and safe food supply.

The issue that the hon. member is raising is one that certainly is deserving of our attention today.

I want to take the focus off of this particular motion for a moment and perhaps put a different focus on this. As a primary producer I want to tell my colleagues in this House that having been at the root source of the products that we sometimes take so for granted it is important to recognize that there has been a lot of effort put into the manufacturing or the producing agencies. The farmers have done so very much to ensure that we have safe products. As we walk through our aisles in our food stores we recognize and take for granted the food that we see there. There is so much of it, particularly those of us who have travelled in areas of the world where they do not have the abundance that we enjoy.

We also take for granted that all the food we have on our shelves is safe and that should be encouraged and I would hope that the policies that we enforce in this country will continue to ensure we have that safe supply of food.

Some time recently I read an article which indicated the calamities that befall those people who short-change the health inspection system. Our American neighbours in the process of trying to expedite things formed a system called the streamline inspection system. This system was brought into being so that they could accommodate the inspection of chicken products as they were going through the assembly line much more quickly.

There were consequences. An article appeared in a paper which indicated one child had died, another 300 people had fallen ill to salmonella. They have since turned from that policy in other directions concerning inspection.

In 1991 another article that was posted in a paper coming from south of the border indicated that meat safety labels were going to cost $500 million a year more because they were implementing new safe handling label requirements. These were announced by the USDA that particular day.

We see that we cannot short-change the system without consequences. Our food supplies in this country, while not only having been safe, have also been reasonably priced. I think that is another thing we need to recognize. Thirty-seven per cent of the food that we buy today is consumed in other than our homes, particularly in restaurants and other eating establishments; 63 per cent of the food that we buy is consumed in our homes. This came to light in a recent discussion we had in a public forum on GST debate.

We have to recognize that in this country we have been blessed. We have a great food source. We have reasonably priced food and it is also a safe source.

It is important to note that this is something we have perhaps taken for granted. We have all gone to our refrigerators and found that there was food there which we thought was quite edible and yet found that it was not. As my hon. friend has already indicated, there are codes which most of us do not read and perhaps all of us do not understand.

At this point I would like to discuss the packaging and the labelling regulations in Canada and some of the issues that revolve around them. Under the food and drug regulations which are administered by the Department of Agriculture and Agri-Food, the labels on most perishable and semi-perishable prepackaged foods with a shelf life of 90 days or less are required to show a durable life date, commonly referred to as best before date, in a clear non-encoded manner.

The product should also display storage instructions if it needs to be stored at other than room temperature. This is only applicable when the food is packaged at the non-retail level. When the product is packaged on retail premises the regulations require the label to show the packaging date instead of the best before date. For prepackaged foods with a longer shelf life, such as canned or frozen foods, manufacturers currently use a coded dating system for their own inventory control purposes. In many instances the manufacturers will voluntarily display a best before date for customers to use.

For example, peanut butter and salad dressing commonly have best before dates, though they do not have to.

The purpose of these regulations, which were introduced in 1974 and became effective in 1976, is to provide consumers with useful information regarding the relative freshness and potential shelf life of food.

It is important to remember that foods which have exceeded the best before date before being sold may still be acceptable for consumption but they may not be as fresh. However, this is not a health issue. When safety is an issue, such as with infant formulas or formulated liquid diets, products must carry expiry dates.

Consumer surveys show the importance consumers attach to best before dating. Many surveys done in Canada reveal that after cost freshness, as has already been mentioned tonight, is the most important food quality consumers look for, followed by nutrition and composition. The freshness of a product tends to be equated with health and safety.

A survey done for Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada in 1992 showed that 94 per cent of consumers usually or always look for the best before date when they shop for groceries.

The requirements for durable life dating information on food labels have strong support and acceptance by consumers and industry groups alike which see these as effective ways to produce useful product freshness information to consumers.

There is no doubt that best before dating is an important issue for consumers. The current system is working well in Canada and I think it should continue to be voluntary for products with longer shelf lives.

Canada boasts one of the safest and healthiest food supplies in the world. We are recognized internationally for the quality of our food and our safety standards. This is the result of co-operation between government and industry. I encourage everyone to keep up the good work.

I commend my colleague from Winnipeg North for this timely and important motion.

Commemorative Stamp March 25th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I am very happy to inform hon. members of the issuing last week of a commemorative stamp to honour the 125th anniversary of the founding of Eaton's department stores by one of Huron-Bruce's favorite sons, Timothy Eaton.

Canada Post has issued a prestige booklet which includes stamps, photographs and a written text outlining the history of the T. Eaton Company.

Last week in London at the Galleria Eaton store there was a presentation of an enlarged commemorative stamp to the Kirkton-Woodham Community Centre and to Ray and Wendy Venturin, operators of the Kirkton market, the ancestor of Timothy Eaton's original business.

After coming to Canada in 1856 from his native Ireland, he settled and eventually opened his first store in the Huron-Bruce town of Kirkton, Ontario. In a small wooden cabin with his brother James, Timothy Eaton operated a small general store and post office.

Later Timothy Eaton left Kirkton for St. Mary's, Ontario, where he began a small dry goods store. In 1869 he headed for Toronto where he founded the store that eventually became the famous Eaton's chain, which prides itself on customer service, and quality merchandise for a good price.

The Budget March 10th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I want to preface my remarks in my first address in this House by offering my own congratulates to our Speaker and our Deputy Speakers for the even-handedness in the way that they have conducted the interventions in this House.

We are witnessing a new civility and decorum in this place rarely witnessed in recent memory. I think all members, regardless of their politics, are showing Canadians that serious discussion, debate and, yes, some disagreement can take place with respect and honour.

I want to take a few moments to reflect on my riding and the wonderful people who elected me as their representative and voice in Ottawa.

My riding of Huron-Bruce is situated on the easterly shore of Lake Huron. It is a riding that consists of the entire county of Huron in the southerly half of the county of Bruce.

It stretches from Grand Bend in the south to Southampton in the north. This beautiful riding includes towns and villages such as Kerkton, Dublin, Teeswater and Zurich, and on the far easterly boundary, Paisley. My riding constitutes 43 municipalities in total.

It is without doubt one of the most truly rural agricultural ridings in Canada. It is decisively agricultural in its base, with pork, beef, dairy and poultry all being produced in great numbers.

The climate is also well suited for beans, navy beans and other cereal grains including canola. I would also like to mention that my hometown of Zurich boasts being the bean capital of Canada. While the town of Goderich boasts being Canada's prettiest town it is also the manufacturing base of Champion road graders which builds graders and other road building equipment. I am glad to see some of that equipment on the streets of Ottawa. Farther to the north of Lake Huron we have the Bruce nuclear power plant, the largest nuclear generation plant in the world.

Among notable Canadians to have come from my area of Huron-Bruce, Paul Henderson in 1972 scored what proved to be the winning goal and made world history in the Canada-Russia summit series.

Timothy Eaton, upon immigrating to Canada, established his earliest roots in Usborne township in the southeast area of my riding.

Kipple Disney, the grandfather of the famous Walt Disney, settled on the family farm in Bluevale. This is where Elias, Walt's father, was born and later went to central school in Goderich.

Most recently we were made proud when another famous person from my riding, Lloyd Eisler from Seaforth, or as he would like it to be known, Egmondville, the suburb, and his partner Isabelle Brasseur from the riding of Richmond-Wolfe won a bronze medal in the 17th Winter Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway.

To all those people who worked and voted for me in Huron-Bruce I offer my sincere appreciation and gratitude. Their friendship and encouragement are reward enough for a task that at times seems impossible.

Most important in my life has been my family, my wife Kathy and our two sons, Cam and Brian, their wives Kathy and Bonnie and our two grandsons, Brent and Shawn. They have all supported me in my efforts to come here and they have also given me great encouragement in the many years I served in municipal politics. Thank you for your love.

This being the year of the family causes me to reflect in the directions we take as we determine social policies for the country. My view, which I think is shared by many hon. members, particularly my hon. colleague from Central Nova, is that life is sacred from conception to natural death. This view will obviously give cause for some difference of opinion. I welcome the opportunity to debate and address this and other issues in this place of democracy.

Prior to the election, Canadians had lost confidence in their political representatives and the institutions in which they served. I believe we as the new government have begun to reverse this opinion and return people's trust and confidence in us as members of Parliament.

During the election the public had some clear choices before it, parties with very different policies and ideas. We as Liberals believe that the people should know exactly what they were voting for and that is why we put our policies in our famous red book.

Canadians overwhelmingly chose to support our party and, most important, our policies. This is where the confidence factor comes in. What better way to improve Canadians' confidence toward politicians than to give them exactly what we promised and ran on in the election?-not exactly a new idea, but one that has been forgotten for some time.

People's confidence is essential if we as a government hope to be successful in making the necessary reforms to a whole host of policy areas from social security to foreign affairs and defence.

Confidence in Canadian institutions has also increased due to the unprecedented level of consultation and open debate that occurred on recent peacekeeping missions in Bosnia and cruise missile testing discussions in northern Canada. This open consultation has also shown that this place does serve as a forum for constructive debate on matters of national interest.

These changes are just the beginning and I look forward to future debates and changes that will further improve our representative role.

If we look at the budget that the hon. Minister of Finance presented last month we see that the commitments made in the red book are almost kept item by item. If I look at page 111 of the book I cannot find anything that has not been acted upon.

As I have told my constituents, the contents of the budget should come as no surprise to anyone. This most of all will increase the people's trust in their representatives. I am also proud of this budget and have absolutely no problem with defending it and selling it to my constituents. It is a balanced, far reaching budget that lays the groundwork for future reform on improvement to programs and services.

In my riding over the last couple of weeks I have spoken with a great many people and have conducted several media interviews. In all instances people had a positive opinion of the budget. What I think people like about this budget is that it is realistic. People were tired of budgets that promised the impossible and then failed to deliver. It is realistic in terms of deficit reduction, economic projections and job creation.

What we did was lay out before the people the serious financial problems of the country which included a deficit that has skyrocketed to $45 billion, far more than what was expected.

We as Liberals believe in getting our fiscal house in order and that is why the minister has put forth a budget that over three years attains a ratio five to one in terms of spending cuts to revenue increases. This sets us well on our way to meet the deficit target of 3 per cent GDP in three years; again, something which was in the red book and is what Canadians supported.

To those who would say that we have not gone far enough, I want to say that we are not going to abandon those in need or risk spiralling back into recession by cutting and chopping, spending wildly or giving no thought to the consequences at a time when 1.6 million people are unemployed, when welfare rolls are skyrocketing and child poverty is up 30 per cent. It is not the time to abandon these people.

Those people who argue for deeper cuts forget that we did not get into this situation overnight and it will take time and a great deal of fairness and compassion to get out of it. These people forget that they were not on a different planet during the time of deficit spending. They voted and supported governments and benefited from the spending just like we all did.

We must now not take radical approaches but take a balanced approach that emphasizes building a framework for economic growth, restoring fiscal balance and creating jobs.

This budget pursues job creation, not in the old ways in which government provided the jobs, but in a way that produces the climate and provides business with the tools to create the jobs.

I also want to point out that the government wanted to invest in the infrastructure of this country, an investment that will enable Canada to stay competitive in this time of increased globalization. This will create approximately 50,000 to 60,000 jobs.

The minister has listened to Canadians who said that they wanted deficit reduction without tax increases. They wanted a beginning to policy reform without drastic cuts to programs for the most needy. They wanted job creation. They wanted a constant, systematic decline in the deficit. They wanted investment in R and D. They wanted economic renewal and revitalization, and they wanted a fair and more equitable tax system.

This is the budget we delivered and it is the one that I am proud to support.

Advance Payments For Crops Act February 23rd, 1994

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the hon. Minister of Agriculture.

In our short period in office Canadians have been happy to see that this government lives up to its promises and commitments. During the election we as a party promised repeatedly to reinstate the interest free portion of Canada's cash advance programs under the Advance Payments for Crops Act.

Can the minister inform the House when the government is going to eliminate the interest charges on the first $50,000 of advance payments?

Winter Olympics February 9th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House today to wish all of the country's athletes, especially two young and talented Canadians in the figure skating pairs discipline, the best of luck in the 17th Winter Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway.

Lloyd Eisler and Isabelle Brasseur are the reigning world pairs champions and are looking to become the first gold medal winners in pairs figure skating since Barbara Wagner and Bob Paul in 1960.

Here we have an example of two Canadians, Lloyd Eisler born in my riding in the town of Seaforth, Ontario, and Isabelle Brasseur, born in Kingsbury, Quebec, in the riding of Richmond-Wolfe, working together to become the best they can be.

As much as Eisler needs Brasseur, Canada needs Quebec. Instead of trying to divide the country, let us work together to make a strong and united Canada.

I invite the member for Richmond-Wolfe to come to my riding after the Olympics to meet the people and take part in what hopefully will be a gold medal celebration.

Rural Post Offices February 1st, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House today to speak on a matter of importance to the constituents of Huron-Bruce and to all rural Canadians. That is the future of rural post offices.

I am very pleased that the government has acted quickly after the election and initiated a 30-day moratorium and subsequent extension on post office closures, along with a review of Canada Post operations. This action has given rural Canadians a great deal of hope that the disastrous actions of the past government will not continue.

Since 1986 almost 1,000 rural community post offices have been closed or converted to retail outlets, 16 of which have occurred in my constituency. In small towns across Canada post offices lie empty, a constant reminder of job loss and abandonment. In many cases the post office was the only federal presence towns had.

I urge the government to restore federal postal service back to the affected communities and to take action to enhance service and ensure that future closures do not occur.

Home Buyers Plan January 25th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, over the past few weeks I have received a number of calls and letters of support of the extension of the home buyers plan which is due to expire on March 2 of this year.

In a recent letter on this subject a local real estate company referred to a survey by the Canadian Real Estate Association. This survey found that 86 per cent of first-time home buyers said the plan was instrumental in their decision to buy a home. Furthermore, 80 per cent of respondents said it was imperative to repay their first RSP loans and 41 per cent said they would repay it faster than the program required. According to the letter the CMHC found that a full 26 per cent of 1992 housing sales involved the use of this plan.

I am in full support of the home buyers plan and urge the finance minister not only to extend the program but to make appropriate changes to the law so that this type of plan is a permanent option to home buyers.

At this time of fiscal restraint we should be looking at exactly this sort of initiative, one that does not cost the government or the taxpayers any money.

Speech From The Throne January 21st, 1994

Mr. Speaker, first I am proud and honoured at the opportunity to represent the constituents of Huron-Bruce in the 35th Parliament of Canada.

I want to congratulate the Prime Minister on his first throne speech where the priority is on putting Canadians back to work from east to west and north to south and not on the Constitution.

The Prime Minister has shown Canadians his commitment to the promises he made during the election. I was pleased to see included in the throne speech a statement on our continued commitment to work with financial institutions to improve access to capital for such businesses.

I am sure all will agree with me that capital is the lifeblood of all small and medium sized businesses. Canada has an abundance of entrepreneurial talent and innovation. Therefore it must be our role as a government to ensure that businesses can unleash this talent by providing them with access to capital. Without this access Canadian small and medium sized businesses will not be able to compete globally, and therefore will not be able to create jobs for skilled, hard-working Canadians.