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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was reform.

Last in Parliament September 2008, as Liberal MP for Kitchener—Waterloo (Ontario)

Lost his last election, in 2011, with 38% of the vote.

Statements in the House

The Budget February 23rd, 1994

Mr. Speaker, it was not too long ago that I and many of my colleagues were debating these very questions at all-candidates meetings. I have always been amazed at the extent to which it was hard to get the point across, particularly to members of the Reform Party.

Our position has been very consistent. It is in our red book. We went to Canadians. We told them about it. We put the plan forward and it is the foundation for everything we do. I believe this is where we differ from their approach. Fundamentally, we as Liberals believe in making this economy grow. We have outlined in our expenditure program that is exactly what we are going to do.

The Reform position was that it would eliminate the deficit within three years. Our position was that we would cut back the deficit to 3 per cent of the GDP in three years. The leader of the Reform Party has stood up on different occasions and challenged the government to attain that 3 per cent of the GDP. From looking at this budget and from studying the figures my answer is that we can.

I have to say to my friend from the Reform Party I hope he will stand in this House and applaud when we do accomplish that. We believe we have to make this economy grow. We cannot shrink it. If the economy shrinks we will go back into a recession. We have to believe in ourselves and we have to believe in the Canadian people.

The Budget February 23rd, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague and neighbour from my sister riding.

There is no question that the Waterloo federal riding and my community has a great history of involvement in environmental matters.

I refer to a situation which probably started in terms of heightening environmental awareness in Canada. In the Love Canal in the United States toxic substances were impairing the lives of people. The company working on that was Conestoga-Rovers which is located in Waterloo. It is one of many companies that has started up in our region.

I can say to the member for Kitchener that yes, this budget will very much enhance those operations. We hope to be one of the centres of excellence. I believe we already are and we can build on that to make sure in the new economy Canada gets its fair share of international business for cleaning up the environment.

The Budget February 23rd, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with my colleague from York-Simcoe.

As I was writing this, my maiden speech, I realized it was fitting to talk about my riding since I believe the success of the federal riding of Waterloo embodies the spirit of the government's budget plan.

My riding encompasses the city of Waterloo, part of the city of Kitchener, and Woolwich township in the heart of southwestern Ontario. I am proud to say the Canadian Chamber of Commerce recently selected this area as one of five model Canadian communities from which to seek advice in order to help other communities in their aim for success.

In addition, provincial government projections show that Waterloo region will be the fastest growing region in Ontario over the next two decades. My riding has been successful because there has been a partnership of business, academic and local government communities supported by the broader constituency. This has made Waterloo riding work.

As the government stated in the red book upon which the budget is based, we must do more with what we have by stressing the notion of partnership with all sectors of society and by taking advantage of economic and social opportunities that can only be realized when all of us are working together.

As an example we in the Waterloo region have what is called spinoff companies. These companies have used technology and human resources transferred from the university community as a prime ingredient in their business. These companies have already created over 2,000 jobs in Canada. The concept of universities and businesses working together is outlined in the budget.

Waterloo riding, apart from having many companies in the new information based economy, also has many traditional companies doing well. That is not to say we have not had our share of companies and people deeply affected by the recession: names such as Seagram's, Uniroyal, Goodrich, Labatt's and others. That is why the budget is important, as it creates the environment wherein businesses can grow and flourish to create the jobs which will put these constituents and others like them across Canada back to work.

To the victims of the recession and the evolution of the economy we need to show compassion. The status quo will not do for the 1.5 million unemployed Canadians and the millions who rely on assistance. I applaud the government for undertaking a major effort to build a responsible social security system that is fair, compassionate and affordable.

Canadians deserve a hand up, not a handout. The ultimate social program we can design should provide an economic climate so that every Canadian who is willing and able to work can find meaningful work. When Canadians work Canada works.

In particular the budget supports the small and medium sized business sector which will continue to be the number one creator of jobs in Canada. This holds true in my riding as well. Our strong economy is helped greatly by their entrepreneurial drive. The global economy is not just a catch phrase of local businesses; it is an integral part of their market.

The concept of networks of organizations outlined in the agenda of the budget has been practised in my riding for some time now. Local businesses, civic leaders and academics have formed networks for exporting, environmental companies, computer technology firms and total quality management. Total quality management practised for years by local governments in my riding has become a plan that will be pursued by the government with its commitment to streamlining government

operations and reducing spending to make them more efficient and effective.

The Prime Minister and the Minister of Finance are to be applauded for recognizing the concerns of my Liberal colleagues and myself that middle class Canadians would not tolerate an increased tax burden. I am pleased to note the Minister of National Defence has taken courageous steps in the budget to rationalize the excessive national defence infrastructure on the basis of need and function. He is further committed to examining my concern about government waste, including government moves, a commitment to cost savings and efficient operations in government. That has always been part of my public life and continues to be so in the House.

In keeping with this idea we should debate expanding the number of seats in the House. It is my strong wish that any reallocation of boundaries be reconsidered in keeping with the central premise that the number of MPs be restricted to the present number of 295. Canadians do not want more politicians; they want us to do more with what we have.

People in the community have also been working on creating a community venture capital fund by which the community could support its own entrepreneurs through capital investments. It is ideas like this one which embody the spirit of programs such as our Canada investment fund.

Environmental issues are not simply a current trend in my riding. The University of Waterloo has been a leader in environmental studies education for years. The Waterloo public interest research group was created by students from the University of Waterloo 20 years ago. Through voluntary contributions of time and money it has spent over $1 million on consumer and environmental concerns. Environmental related companies are a growing segment of our business community.

For this reason I join with Friends of the Earth to applaud the finance minister who is the first ever to speak about sustainable development in a budget speech and the government's commitment to this end.

To achieve this objective the budget outlines the establishment of a task force involving government, industry and environmental NGOs to identify barriers and disincentives to sound environmental practices and to find effective ways in which to use economic instruments to protect the environment.

The expertise of the riding's workers, managers and entrepreneurs is enhanced by the presence of the post-secondary institutions mentioned previously, namely Conestoga College, the University of Waterloo and Wilfrid Laurier University. These world class institutions participate in explicit transfers of expertise through their excellence in co-operative education and apprenticeship programs.

The riding can enjoy a recruitment advantage in this well trained pool of potential employees. As a result the post-secondary institutions of the Waterloo region offer their expertise to the community well before their students graduate.

Until now there has been an alarming trend for our best resources, these students, to look for a future in other countries. It was a sad commentary that these students were looking to companies such as Microsoft in the United States for jobs. In effect we had our own brain drain.

I am happy our government has addressed this problem by active promotion of programs such as the Canadian technology network and engineers and scientists program to keep our most precious resource, our youth, in Canada.

Our commitment to established programs financing expenditures to universities will be maintained. This government is concerned with education and literacy as demonstrated by fully restored funding to the national literacy program. This is important to my riding as well.

The public and Catholic school board systems offer high quality education to our region's students. Both offer progressive innovative opportunities for individuals in the region. The public school board offers the opportunity for the region's workers to complete their high school diploma through on site classrooms in the workplace. As well, the separate school board is world renowned for placing a priority on full and successful integration of challenged students into the mainstream classroom.

As the finance minister said yesterday, the budget reduces the deficit by $6 billion next year and by $7 billion the year after. This is an important accomplishment in light of the fact that the previous government underestimated the deficit we inherited by $13 billion. Over the next three years for every dollar of deficit reduction on the revenue side there are $5 of spending cuts by this government.

What was demanded by Canadians in pre-budget consultations was a fair and equitable budget. This has been presented by our government. It is our commitment to make this government transparent. We will work together, as I know personally from my riding that Canadians can, to build a partnership that will create opportunity for this country. This budget is the foundation that will make that happen.

Excise Act February 22nd, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the member for Wild Rose. I wonder if he studied sociology or the systems of the Soviet Union, Texas and South Africa in terms of law enforcement.

Excise Act February 22nd, 1994

Mr. Speaker, let me congratulate the member for Essex-Windsor on a very thoughtful presentation.

The speaker previous to her started a debate that got picked up by the member for Notre-Dame-de-Grâce. It relates to enforcement. There are two ways of doing that. Looking at policing nowadays, there is proactive policing which is being promoted by all police forces versus reactive policing. The concept of proactive policing is that we try to prevent crimes from taking place versus reacting to a crime and trying to catch the criminals after the fact.

Has the member thought about the distinction between the two and which she might find more preferable?

Excise Act February 22nd, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I wonder if the hon. member is suggesting that we not follow the advice of the commissioner of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police who, as a professional law enforcement officer, the top one in the country, said that if we are going to get a handle on the problem then we have to narrow the gap between the price of cigarettes in Canada and in the United States.

I wonder if the member does not recognize that our policies in the past have been an incubator for organized crime and we were actually growing the underground economy.

Given the position of the hon. member's leader when he would say that there was a tax revolt brewing in the country, do the members of the Reform Party not recognize a tax revolt when it bites them in the derrière?

Scott Tournament Of Hearts February 22nd, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to inform the House that Waterloo will be hosting the biggest women's sporting event held in Canada, the Scott Tournament of Hearts. It is the Canadian women's curling championship.

We are very honoured to be able to hold this prestigious event at our newest facility, the Waterloo Recreational Sports Complex, from February 26 to March 5. Teams from across Canada will be represented, including Team Canada from Saskatchewan which went on to win the world championship in Switzerland last year.

We in the Waterloo region are very excited about hosting this event. I would like to extend an invitation to my colleagues and to all Canadians to come and join us in these festivities.

Supply February 21st, 1994

Mr. Speaker, in conclusion our Prime Minister said there should be a referendum and the party supported that. There was a referendum because pressure was put on the government. That is important to note.

In terms of concluding this debate, I can only say as the member from Waterloo and as someone who believes he is accountable to his constituents, I have absolutely no problem in terms of how we have been handling petitions and the way we can feed them into committee. Any member in this House has the ability to raise that.

Let me say that we are all small r reformers and certainly the rookies in this House are. The fact that some are big r Reformers does not give them the monopoly. I make the plea that over the course of the next four years we on all sides of this House try to be as non-partisan and unsanctimonious as possible.

Supply February 21st, 1994

Mr. Speaker, let it not be said that there are no reformers in this place. In entering the debate I noticed the member for Lethbridge said was that we should change the way we handle petitions, that we should somehow handle them more seriously. If we were to do that the people who sign these petitions would take more care and be more serious in signing them. I did not totally follow the logic but so be it.

To some extent I too have been disappointed in the debate today. I come from a municipal background in which we actually had representatives from all the political parties. I had the good fortune to sit beside a Conservative member who was a good friend of mine. I notice that in this House they are few and far between. As a matter of fact we had more members on my municipal council of 11 than we have Conservative members in the House.

I go back to my riding and talk to them every once in a while because in some sense they have a more balanced perspective coming from right of centre. I appreciate that.

As a municipal councillor I have handled petitions on such things as people being opposed to a granny flat. Virtually 100 per cent of a neighbourhood said it did not want a granny flat

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because it would start the destruction of the neighbourhood. That happened in my community.

I took the petition seriously because the petition said that if we were to allow a granny flat, this was the thin edge of the wedge. The next thing we would have were high rises in single family neighbourhood housing.

I took the petition and went around knocking on everybody's door. I explained to them what the petition said was not correct. I explained to them that the character of their neighbourhood was going to remain the same. The fact was that virtually 100 per cent of the people in that neighbourhood signed the petition. I take every petition that I receive very seriously.

We received a petition on medium density housing, group homes and extended nursing homes. People opposed that. One would have thought the Hell's Angels motorcycle gang was going to establish a clubhouse. Instead we were talking about a nursing home where many of us, if we are fortunate enough, will go if we are around that long. We had petitions on day care, development, street pedlars, slowing down growth, reforming the Young Offenders Act, you name it, a municipal council gets it all.

In municipal politics any delegation can come forward and make a presentation to council. Therefore petitions are things I take very seriously and I believe most members in this House do.

I believe every member consults with his or her constituents on a regular basis. Somehow the suggestion that we are not to be trusted is wrong. Everybody who is in this House is concerned about serving constituents.

Let me put a petition to the House, because this is an issue that came up during the election campaign. It relates to pensions and double dipping and how I stand on this issue. I had no problem saying that I thought there needs to be pension reform. I said I would support the age of 60.

I disagreed strongly with the concept of double dipping. If I as the member wanted to get a petition ready and if I were to ask the question of whether the electorate agrees that there should be no double dipping, there would be an overwhelming number of people who would sign the petition. I would change the petition slightly, keeping in mind that we have three different levels of government, or actually four because in Ontario we have the municipal, regional, provincial and the federal government.

One of the things that the leader of the Reform Party has always said and I agree with him 100 per cent is that there is only one taxpayer. Keeping that in mind if I were to write a petition and it asks whether you agree that double dipping should be outlawed, the answer would be an overwhelming yes.

If I worked the petition a bit differently and ask whether they believe that if somebody is collecting a pension for sitting on municipal council or in a provincial legislature and they get elected as members of Parliament, meaning that is double dipping, do they think it should be stopped? I can tell everybody just from my talking with people that the answer would again be yes. I guess in some ways I really do wish that we could try to make this House a little less partisan and try to debate the merits of legislation that come up.

The speaker from Wild Rose was referred to after speaking in this House on Friday. He got into the whole issue of crime, justice and lawlessness in this country. I found the discourse rather bothersome because the crime issue is an easy one to pick on. Interestingly enough that is one of the examples being raised here. It talks about the Young Offenders Act. It was not too long ago when the Minister of Justice rose in the House and talked about a report by a gentleman by the name of Dr. Anthony Dube. Dr. Anthony Dube is a criminologist at the University of Toronto. He knows more about the public perception of the judicial system, he knows more about the public perception as to the extent of crime in Canada than probably any other Canadian. He is an expert on those issues.

He found that Canadians on the whole believe that they live in a much more violent society than they actually do. That is an interesting commentary. Where does that come from and what kind of implication does it have? I can tell you where it comes from. Dr. Dube outlined it. It comes from the fact that the popular media insists on feeding us a daily dose of some horrendous crime that takes place in Canada, and if nothing goes on in Canada, it will go to the United States; if nothing happens in the United States it will go to Europe, Africa, Asia, wherever it has to go.

We have news crews in this country ready to move on a second's notice, to go out to some crime scene so they can splash it all across the TV screen and the next day in the printed media with the sole purpose of somehow driving ratings. It is not hard to understand how people perceive our communities to be more violent than they really are.

When you compare us with the United States of America we are a much more peaceful society than it is. Unfortunately we are not as fortunate as Europe. This is talking in terms of hard statistics. There are places in Europe where they do not report on crime hardly at all because they do not see any socially redeeming value in it. The suggestion is there that it might be encouraging crime.

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The other thing that Dr. Dube talked about was the public perception of the sentences that judges hand out. He had two groups. To one group he gave the transcripts of the trial. Those people went through the hundreds of pages of exactly what went on in the courtroom. He gave the same trial information to another group of people but it came from the media.

He found that the people who got the information by reading what went on in the courtroom would more often find that the judges were just in their sentences or maybe even too harsh and alternatives to incarceration that might have been imposed should have been considered. In the cases of people reading the media information what the study found was that the people did not believe that the judicial system was working because they believed that the judges were much too lenient. That says something and it is an important lesson for us here. It means that when we take time to study all sides of the issue the solutions might not be as simplistic as they look at first blush. That is important to note.

In terms of the Young Offenders Act, the Liberal Party is committed to dealing with it and we want all members of the House dealing with it seriously in committee. We should make the best possible changes in the legislation that we can make, keeping in mind it will never be perfect because we are living in an evolving society and the dynamics change.

On the issue of killer cards every member of the House wants to find a way of getting rid of them. There is no question about that.

As to the recall of members, I have some difficulty with it. There is the underlying premise that when the electorate made a decision on October 25, 1993 it was not an informed decision.

I think that it was an informed decision. There is a responsibility on the part of the electorate when it does make a decision that government is going to be governing for a period of approximately four years.

It is the ultimate insult to say that the electorate, in making its decision, made a bad decision and somehow it has to be protected from the decision that it made.

We discussed petitions and how they are presented. As a new member in this House, I came to the orientation and one of the people who made a presentation to all members on petitions was the member for Beaver River. She told us how to present petitions. She is the one who made suggestions on it. I do not think she was telling us not to take these presentations seriously. I think every one of us takes these presentations seriously.

There is a fundamental premise in all of these motions and certainly references to the national energy program and going back to when the deficit started and the debt started. There is definite politics being played there. I wish it were not so but it is certainly being done.

I will refrain in the next four years in this House from referring to the Reform Party from the west as perhaps the party of alienation, that feeds on alienation, just like the Social Credit Party did. I will refrain from saying, the explanations by the member for Beaver River notwithstanding, that it was the members of the Social Credit Party involving the father of the present leader who got rid of recall.

I do believe that issues being raised in this House for debate, issues that this Parliament does not work, are a red herring. I say that because there has been a crisis of confidence in our democratic institutions, I recognize that, but that crisis of confidence has been fed by forces within this country. I would suggest that what we collectively do in this House over the course of the next four years is really going to determine the future of Canada.

To some extent we are going to be entering some very difficult debates. I do not for a minute think that we are going to avoid dealing with the issue in Quebec. We will at some point. I think every member believes that we are going to be doing that. However, it is important that we look at the parts of this country that work well. Our democratic institutions have worked for 127 years. We have one of the best governments in this world and every one of us should recognize that. We should not be saying that somehow this country does not work or that somehow this country has broken down, because it has not.

We can certainly all work together to make it better, but one of the first things we owe this country is to believe that we can do it. That is not by destroying the very institution itself.

In terms of being accountable, governing is not easy. Any governing party is going to have problems. However, we went to the electorate on October 25 and we went with a plan. We were elected with a majority of members in this House.

As a member, I do not totally feel good about what happened to the former government in terms of the number of seats it received. Somehow I do not think that was very fair. It certainly bothers me and I would like to see if during the course of this Parliament that can be redressed. When I look at members who are classified as independents I see members who are not really full members of this House in terms of what their privileges are. If I am to believe that every constituency deserves representation, which I do because it made a choice, there is fundamental respect that we should extend to that member in terms of rights.

Mention was made of the Charlottetown accord, but nobody mentioned that our Prime Minister when he was Leader of the Opposition called for a referendum on the Charlottetown accord. The Liberal Party believes that referendums have a place. I can say that in my constituency the split was almost down the middle. About 55 per cent were for the Charlottetown accord

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and 45 per cent were against it. I know that my colleague from Kitchener went the other way.

Controlled Drugs And Substances Act February 18th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I had the pleasure almost a year ago of attending a conference on crime prevention and community safety. It was chaired by a member who is no longer with us, Mr. Horner, I believe.

I was very impressed when I went to the conference because it was an all-parliamentary committee that produced a unanimous report. The committee took the approach that crime prevention could be best handled through better enforcement as well as social development.

I bring that up because in this past campaign I tried not to play politics with the whole issue of crime, justice and law enforcement. What impressed me was that there was all-parliamentary agreement. Every member of each political party had the same position in the committee when the report was finally put in place.

I would really hope that approach will continue with this bill. The reason I say that is that the problem of crime is a complex one which the committee report stated very ably.

If we as a country, not just political parties, are going to be able to deal with the issues of crime we cannot look for simplistic solutions. We have to understand the complexity of it. It behoves us all to try to give it the serious consideration it deserves.

If one looks at models in different communities or different countries, when Canada is compared to the United States of America, we are an incredibly good model. Our communities are a lot safer, there is a lot less crime, we have fewer people in prison and we do not execute people. We have a much safer community than they have in the United States of America.

We have to look at the issues as to why that is. It is important that as much as possible we take the politics out of it. Partisan politics are dealing with issues that have such an impact on our nation and our communities. We have to work together to solve the problem.